The Central Asia and Caucasus (CAC) region, like many other regions in the world, is facing global transformations, including globalization and localization processes, the development of ICT, changing consumption patterns, ecological decline and resource scarcity, population dynamics, urbanization, and technology development. These drivers of change are interconnected. They will significantly affect the future of agriculture and food security, but in different ways depending on local specificities.
There is, therefore, a need to improve the capabilities of organizations in the CAC region to enable them to be more pro-active in setting the research and innovation agenda for food, agriculture and rural development as well as positioning research and innovation in the broader context of development.
Given the context of these current challenges, urgent changes are required in Agricultural Research for Development (AR4D) in the CAC region to address regional goals of enhancing Food Security and Nutrition (FSN), improving livelihoods, creating opportunities for income growth while ensuring environmental sustainability and more specifically, meeting the needs of smallholder farmers and consumers.
There is also a need for sensitization of the inclusive process of reform and enhancing innovative capacity that aims to mobilize the full power of agricultural science and innovation towards meeting agriculture and food-related development needs.
All these issues were put on the table for discussion at the #GCARD3 Regional Consultation for Central Asia and the Caucasus in Bishkek.
Many ICARDA and CRP Dryland System representatives attended the event. One of them was Dr. Botir Dosov who delivered a presentation called Overview of research priorities and challenges related to agricultural development and food security in the CAC region. The presentation was highly valued by the participants who attended the session on Transformation of agricultural research and innovations to address challenges of food and nutrition security in the CAC region.
Dr. Dosov highlighted the role and valuable contribution of agricultural research in achieving regional development priorities. He also indicated that the Central Asia and the Caucasus Association of Agricultural Research Institutions (CACAARI) periodically conducts broad consultations and reviews of the challenges and priorities of agri-food systems, as well as agricultural research and innovations. During his presentation, Dr. Dosov provided a concise description of the CACAARI constituency and partners. He also pointed to the lack of coordination between different actors of Agricultural Innovation Systems (ASI) and sectors across countries. In particular, he referred to the weak linkages among the key stakeholders (such as the public and private sector, or academic and civil societies) within the national agricultural research systems in CAC countries. This is evident in the poor planning, inadequate resource and labour distribution, defragmentation, and duplication of interventions in the agricultural sector.
In addition Dr. Dosov stressed that insufficient linkages constrained the application of innovation approaches for improvement of food security and overall well-being of the CAC populations. Functional linkages among agricultural education, research and rural advisory services, as well as other sectors also remained weak. It is envisioned that establishing Innovation Platforms would meet the needs for sensitization of interactions and collaborative innovations. To provide a better understanding of Innovation Platforms, Dr. Dosov presented a video entitled What is an Innovation Platform (Что такое Инновационная Платформа in Russian).
The response by participants to the video was very positive. Mr. Azizbek Sharipov, Chairman of the National Association of Dehkan Farms in Tajikistan, stated, ‘that without further strengthening the cooperation between different actors of the agricultural sector, we will not be able to achieve many overarching goals, such as FSN, improving the lives of farmers and the poor’. Mr. Shaibek Karasartov, Director of Training, Advisory and Innovation Centre (TAIC) for Kyrgyzstan, clarified that ‘in fact, it is a farmer who produces food. Other actors researchers, extensionists, donors are only helping him’. Professor Rysbek Nurgaziev, Rector of the Kyrgyz National Agrarian University said, ‘Everyone in AIS plays its own role. Scientists carry out research. Extensionists provide rural advisory services. Scientists have no time to provide rural advisory services. Therefore, we need work together as shown in Dr. Botir Dosov’s video’.
The participants of the conference agreed that AIS could play a crucial role in achieving more sustainable food security and nutrition in the CAC countries through enhancing cooperation, collaboration and multiple interactions between different actors of AIS.
Blogpost by Botir Dosov (ICARDA), who is also a #GCARD3 Social Reporter – dosov.b(at)gmail.com
Picture courtesy of Anna Hovhannisyan
Video was produced with ICARDA/CRP DS Innovation Platform Activity in Central Asia.