Windhoek, Namibia,1-3 November 2022,
Written by the ANAPRI Secretariat Team
The 9th ReNAPRI Stakeholders Conference which took place in Windhoek, Namibia from the 1st to the 3rd of November 2022 was designed to bring together like-minded stakeholders with an interest in strengthening Africa’s food system through increased productivity, climate resilience and adaptation. This annual convening was the venue for the continent’s think tanks, policy makers, farmers, donors and other keys stakeholders. The conference opened with a welcome address from Dr. Nalishebo Meebelo ANAPRI’s (registered as ReNAPRI) Executive Director who called on conference delegates to seize the opportunity to deliberate on policy options aimed at transforming Africa’s food system. The first session of the conference on ‘Megatrends Affecting African Food Systems: Implications for Government Action’ was populated by experts from think tanks, development institutions and national governments. These wise men and women deliberated for over an hour and thirty minutes towards recommending plausible actions that African governments should undertake to improve the food systems in their countries and regions. Key messages during this session were centered around increasing access to technology, innovation, finance, and locally generated research to ensure transformation of the continent’s food system.
The first session was a foretaste, ahead of the second session which focused on ‘Farmer’s risks and economic use of fertilizer in sub-Saharan Africa’. This session generated a rich debate with farmers, government experts and researchers proposing an array of initiatives that should be undertaken to improve the use of fertilizer across Africa, while ensuring that risks associated with fertilizer use remain low. The message was simple – there is a need to ensure access to fertilizers for the African farmer especially in rural areas. With session two done and dusted, attention was shifted to the highly expected opening session which featured leaders from the Government of Namibia, the African Union Commission, the United States Agency for International Development, Michigan State University, the Namibia University of Science of Technology, ANAPRI, the African Capacity Building Foundation (ACBF), the Agricultural Trade Policy Institute (ATPI) and the Southern African Development Community. Unanimous in their message and clarion in their call, these leaders pledged their support for change in the current status quo with regards to Africa’s agriculture and called on conference participants to use the ReNAPRI Conference to breed transformational ideas that are capable of catapulting Africa’s agriculture to the next level.
The last session of Day 1 was the High-Level Panel Discussion on the Africa Fertilizer and Soil Health Summit: Thoughts, Opportunities and Expectations. With the Senegal 2023 Africa Fertilizer and Soil Health Summit less than a year away, Africa’s Head of State and Governments will be turning to their national experts to seek an understanding as to why they as countries have failed to achieve the aspirations of the Abuja Declaration of 2006. Other leaders will be hoping that these experts can provide innovative ideas on how best to improve on the existing gains made in increasing their fertilizer use per hectare. A crème de la crème of respected practitioners sat on this high-level panel, and for two hours they provided a critical analysis of what is currently a very important topic. This spectacular session concluded with a clear message stating that ‘a focus on fertilizer alone is not a magic panacea to food insecurity on the continent, but rather that a holistic approach which encompasses all the key elements is needed to build an integrated system that caters for all the needs of the food system.
And we were not done yet for day 1. 10 years since the launch of the Regional Network of Agricultural Policy Research Institutes (ReNAPRI), it is clear in our minds the ReNAPRI has been on a positive trajectory, and this is despite the number hiccups along its journey as a young organisation. And so, what does the future hold for this organization? The future rests is ANAPRI – the African Network of Agricultural Policy Institutes which has seen the network increase its footprint in the continent. In the words of ReNAPRI’s Board Chair, Dr. Damas Philip, the organization has definitely come of age, and it is time to think beyond the original mandate and think ‘Africa-wide’. The organization’s pan-African aspirations were demonstrated with the addition of four new network members from Senegal, Rwanda, Benin and Nigeria, increasing ANAPRI’s network membership from 12 to 16 African countries. Going forward, ANAPRI is geared to play a key role in making meaningful contributions to economic growth across Africa through high quality evidence in support of policy making.
Day 2 of the ReNAPRI Conference started with an striking session titled ‘Informing Policy: Towards a 10-year African Fertilizer and Soil Health Action Plan’. This session was followed by a shift in focus towards the ‘Namibia Agri-Outlook Baseline 2022-2031 Report’ which emphasized the need for increased investment in Namibia’s agricultural sector.
With COP27 scheduled for Sharm El Sheik just around the corner, how befitting it was for the last session for the day to coined ‘Implementation of NDCs and NAPs in Africa under the Paris Agreement on Climate Change’. This session called for effective implementation of National Adaptation Plans (NAPs) which are required to combat climate change. A brilliant synthesis and words of wisdom from the Agricultural Trade Policy Institute’s Director formally closed the conference. Delegates were then treated to another interesting session by fellows of the Structural Transformation of African and Asian Agriculture and Rural Spaces (STAAARS+) program who presented interesting insights from research work done in Asia and Africa and this ended an exhilarating 2nd November 2022.
The last day, 3rd November 2022, brought us to the final session for the 9th edition of the Annual ReNAPRI Stakeholders Conference. This was joint event organized by the European Centre for Development Policy Management (ECPDM), during which experts advocated for more private sector investment in Africa’s agriculture ecosystem.
How exciting it was to witness the evolution from ReNAPRI to ANAPRI,10 years since a group of like-minded ladies and gentlemen came together to launch what is today, a go-to think tank in the African continent, supporting food systems development.
The future is definitely bright for ANAPRI as the network prepares itself for yet another exciting rendezvous at Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe – the 10th Annual ANAPRI Stakeholders Conference(10th AASC) in 2023. This is all thanks to ANAPRI’s partners and friends!