KIT recently joined the 2023 AGRODEP Conference in Kigali, Rwanda. We supported the organisation of the conference in Kigali by mobilising the participation of three South Sudanese researchers and providing a key-note presentation on “The Impact of SeedAid on Maize Yields in South Sudan amid COVID, Conflicts and Climate Change”.
KIT signed an MoU with AKADEMIYA2063 late last year to develop a partnership to reactivate the African Growth and Development Policy (AGRODEP) Modeling Consortium, and further institutionalise it into a fully-fledged and Africa-based school for early and mid-career development economists working in Africa.
What is AGRODEP?
AGRODEP is a membership-based network of African development economists, led by AKADEMIYA2063 and supported by organisations like KIT and the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO).
Established in 2010, it aims to build the technical capacities of its members and provide them with work opportunities, like research grants and consulting assignments, to advance their careers and maximise their developmental impacts.
KIT contributes to this goal in four ways: by expanding its membership base; developing, financing and delivering training courses; providing research grants and consulting assignments to its members; and lastly, raising institutional funding for the establishment of a full-fledged AGRODEP school.
At this conference, like KIT, representatives from AKADEMIYA2063, FAO, the African Union, the Government of Rwanda, and AGRODEP members gave insightful presentations. In an attempt to understand how the African agri-food systems can better withstand shocks and prevent food insecurity, the overarching focus of the research presented during the conference centred on the effects of COVID, climate change, the war in Ukraine and other local conflicts.
A resilient and self-reliant seed sector in South Sudan
To build resilient agri-food systems across Africa it is crucial to understand the effects of projects, programmes and policies targeting fragile countries and vulnerable communities afflicted by recurrent shocks, such as epidemics, conflicts, climate change and market failures.
KIT is currently evaluating and managing the impact of several projects in fragile countries such as South Sudan, Burundi, Mali, Burkina Faso and Niger, as well as in particularly vulnerable communities across northern Nigeria. The insights from these projects could shed a light on interventions that are effective in fragile countries and vulnerable communities. So, at the AGRODEP conference in Kigali, our colleagues Nicola Francesconi and Esther Smits presented their findings from the A3SEED project in South Sudan, along with three South Sudanese colleagues from IFDC.
The A3SEED project aims to reduce South Sudan’s dependency on foreign-sourced seed-aid and humanitarian support, to develop a domestic and private seed sector. They argued that local procurement is key to ensuring the distribution of free seeds that are better adapted to local agroecological conditions and farming practices, as well as to incentivise the development of South Sudan’s private seed sector.
“At the moment, almost 90% of seed provided by humanitarian agencies in South Sudan is procured from abroad – mostly from Uganda. If these agencies increase their efforts to procure seeds locally from South Sudan, the distribution of free seeds has the potential to build the resilience of local farmers and their farming systems,” says Nicola.
“Our research also shows that the free seeds currently distributed are of the same quality as the traditional ones that farmers have been recycling for many years – not better,” explains Esther.
An upcoming call for new members
AGRODEP has about 200 members who are African economists and researchers specialised in economic modelling that supports agri-food policymaking, and in impact evaluation for agri-food development projects.
A call for new members will be soon announced by AKADEMIYA2063. KIT intends to work with AKADEMIYA2063 on recruiting new members and co-developing and co-sponsoring a series of training courses on impact evaluation for agri-food development projects in Africa. “By doing so we hope to establish a large African network of reliable and skilled impact evaluators, who can help us in evaluating the impact of KIT’s projects, especially those funded by the Dutch government, to scale up our operations in support of agri-food systems transformation across the continent,” says Nicola.