“The fourth FARA general assembly, with its large, diverse and vigorous participation, provided a fertile source
of information and knowledge on the opportunities and problems currently facing African agriculture,”

Hon. Lulama Xingwana, Minister for Agriculture and Land Affairs, Republic of South Africa 

FARA held the Africa Agricultural Science Week (AASW) and Fourth General Assembly (GA) at the Sandton Convention Center in Johannesburg, South Africa, from June 10-16, 2007. This event was the result of more than a year of planning and close collaboration between the FARA Executive Committee, the FARA Secretariat, the South African Ministry of Agriculture and Land Affairs and the Agricultural Research Council (ARC), and a South African Local Organizing Committee. 
The theme selected for the week’s event was “Promoting the productivity and competitiveness of African agriculture in a global economy”.

The General Assembly was attended by approximately 670 delegates from African Ministries of Agriculture, agricultural research and development organizations, universities, advanced research institutions and CGIAR Centers, NGOs, farmers’ organizations, the private sector/agric-business, development partners, and the media.

Dr. Monty Jones (FARA Executive Secretary) stated that “This year’s general assembly was undoubtedly our most successful to date. With ten sub-themes and only a week to work through all of them, we are thrilled with the resolutions that have been brought to the table”. 
The resolutions include:

  • the promotion of intra-African trade in food staples and international trade in high-value products;
  • the development of endogenous innovation capacity, including the ability to identify and adapt potential foreign innovations;
  • maximising the impact of agricultural research and development by providing policy makers with evidence-based pragmatic options, preferably developed jointly by researchers and policy makers;
  • endorsing FARA’s integrated set of networking support functions as a sound basis for continent-wide contributions to the work of the SROs;
  • advocating and facilitating the strengthening of research management and agricultural sciences;
  • developing adequate veterinary capacity, livestock disease surveillance, and epidemiological and response systems;
  • addressing the broad and systemic issues in capacity strengthening to focus on causes rather than symptoms and to assure that the capacity strengthening initiatives reflect established demands;
  • redressing gender and age imbalances and inequities;
  • recognising sub-Saharan and North African civil society organizations;
  • regarding research on peri-urban agriculture as a mainstream activity, but one that requires new approaches to research;
  • mainstreaming indigenous science into agricultural research and development;
  • making the necessary personal and institutional adjustments that are required to enable communication and joint learning between practitioners of the different sciences.

During the Business Meeting that took place on June 16th, the FARA Strategic Plan was endorsed, along with various changes to the FARA Constitution and Governance Manual and the FARA Secretariat’s response to the two external reviews conducted in 2006 and 2007. The General Assembly congratulated the FARA Executive Committee (ExCo), Dr. Monty Jones, and the FARA Secretariat staff for the many accomplishments that have occurred since the Third GA in Entebbe in 2005. Particular thanks were extended to the departing Chair of the FARA ExCo, Mme. Njabulo Nduli; Dr. Denis Kyetere (Director General, NARO-Uganda) was elected as the new Chair of the FARA Executive Committee, and Dr. Tiemoko Yo (Director General, Centre National de Recherche Agronomique, Côte d’Ivoire) was elected Vice Chair. 

GFAR Chair Dr. Adel El-Beltagy, after opening the CSOs side event on June 10th, made a presentation at the plenary in the Opening Ceremony. His presentation “Enabling inter-regional partnerships around issues of global concern” focused on: a) sensitising participants on what GFAR is and how it operates; b) the new GFAR business plan; c) previous GFAR-FARA collaboration; and d) FARA role in future GFAR activities.

All presentations and documents from the side events and plenary discussions are being posted on the FARA website. Proceedings of the AASW-4th GA will be published later this year to document all the discussions and recommendations.