The Institute of Statistical, Social and Economic Research, ISSER, University of Ghana in partnership with International Centre for Evaluation and Development (ICED), Agricultural Technology Adoption Initiative (ATAI), the Feed the Future Innovation Lab for Assets and Market Access (AMA Innovation Lab) and Innovations Poverty Action (IPA)

has organized the first-ever West Africa Evidence to Action conference on Agriculture Development and Food Security at the University of Ghana, Legon.

It was held from 25th to 26thJuly, 2017 at ISSER conference and attended by delegates from Burkina Faso, Ghana, Liberia, Kenya, Mali, Niger, South Africa and Uganda.

The theme of the conference was: Towards an Evidence Based and Data-Informed Policy, Action and Practice in Africa

Ghana’s Minister for Monitoring and Evaluation Dr. Anthony Akoto Osei opened the conference.

In his opening remarks, he lamented the low utilization of data to provide cogent evidence for agricultural policy decision making and implementation and, the huge disconnect between researchers and policy makers as a major factor contributing to food insecurity in Africa.

Dr. Anthony Akoto Osei said that as the Minister for M &E, he has to demonstrate through credible data how program and policies of the Government are contributing to improve the economy and livelihoods.

“As Government, if our actions are not making a huge difference in the lives of our people, then we have to interrogate our relevance”, he stated.

The Minister challenged policy makers to make use of reliable data that can lead to formulation and implementation of and policies which could subsequently, cushion the continent from hunger and poverty.

He also outlined clear recommendations on how to ensure that M&E and evidence based research positively impact on national and regional priorities and contribute to the attainment of the development priorities of African Governments as well as the Sustainable Development Goals

A key note address was read on behalf of Dr. Owusu Afriyie, Agriculture Minister, by a representative from the Ministry. He stated that it was sad that 50 years after independence, the African continent continues to bear the burden of hunger which is exacerbated by shock levels of food loss and wastes. There is thus, a need for urgent and radical actions.

He noted it was imperative to focus on increasing productivity at farm level and scale-up efforts  at pro-actively implementing policy and practice recommendations coming out of research and evaluation projects being undertaken by various value chain actors in the development arena.

Dr. Owusu Afriyie challenged participants to go beyond the usual conversation and think outside the box and come with radical ways in which the Government can use evidence- based policy and evaluation to drive development.

He expressed his appreciation to the ICED Board of Directors and Management for choosing to organize the conference in Ghana.

Notable plenary presenters and speakers included: Professor Michael Carter, Professor of Agricultural and Resource Economics at the University of California, Davis who also directs the BASIS Assets and Market Access Innovation Lab, Dr. Samuel Benin, Senior Research Fellow in the Development Strategy and Governance Division at the International Food Policy Research Institute and Mr. Naman Keita Senior Statistician at the World Bank, Consultant (retired from FAO) in Rome, Italy.

The rest are Dr. Alan de Brauw, Senior Research Fellow in the Markets, Trade and Institutions Division of the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) who leads research clusters in two CGIAR-wide Research Programmes, Dr. Sulley Gariba, Evaluation specialist, public policy analyst, and retired diplomat and Dr. Felix Kwame Yeboah Assistant Professor of International Development in the Department of Agricultural, Food, and Resource Economics at Michigan State University

They covered topics such as temporary input subsidy, Africa evolving employment structure, progress in achieving key CAADP targets and outcomes, Africa agriculture statistics and policy implication, cash transfer and management advice for agriculture, and politics of evidence to action.

The two-day conference programme had eight (8) main plenary and sixteen (16) breakout sessions with 26 research papers presented by twenty-eight (28) researchers.

Evidence presented for policy, action and practices in the breakout sessions covered areas on Mega-trends in Agri-food systems, Post-harvest losses, Technology adoptions by smallholder farmers and Institutionalization of data informed decision making.

Others include Women empowerment, Risk and index insurance, Drip irrigations and the use of systematic reviews and theory-based approach to generalization of evidence.

The rest are Agro-dealers training, Africa agriculture statistics and capacity building and Agriculture Microfinance.

The conference was attended by 150 registered delegates including key decision-makers in agriculture, policymakers, researchers and agribusiness leaders, and representatives from non-governmental organizations, and civil society to discuss various presentations on Evidence to Action.

It was sponsored by Agricultural Technology Adoption Initiative (ATAI), Feed the Future Innovation Lab for Assets and Market Access (AMA Innovation Lab) and  

Innovation for Poverty Action (IPA) Ghana. IPA supported the conference with brand materials and communication/publicity materials which were branded with ICED and other partner logos.   

Conference facilities, breakout rooms and first night cocktail were provided by ISSER. The faculty and staff of ISSER supported the conference and took care of logistics, registration and hosting arrangements. Ushering of delegates, provision of Audio Visual (AV) equipment and media coverage arrangements and exhibition were well coordinated and managed by the ISSER team

There was a high visibility for the event with over 20 local and international journalists in attendance.

The main conference recommendations were: The need to harness modern technological innovations, methodologies and approaches that provide the evidence needed to inform policy and drive Africa’s development agenda and Scaling-up of knowledge and information sharing to provide evidence that inform policy decision-making and spur growth in Africa’s sustainable development.

Others include Documentation on best practices— identification of what works, where, for whom, where, how and at what cost, Forging of strategic partnerships for generating, sharing, and utilizing high quality evidence to support policy decision making and practice and Integration of youth and gender dimensions in all aspects of Evidence to Action –for informed decision making on sustainable development issues and policy,

The rest are: The need for a comprehensive youth employment policy targeting agriculture productivity, Promoting mentoring by using successful farmers as case studies, The need to mobilize and support decision makers to use evidence so that they may come up with better programmes and policies and The need to explore further, the binding constraints to input adoption and use, for any scaling up the programme. 

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