Partnership – the heart of bean research
If you had to choose just one word that captures the essence of bean research in Sub-Saharan Africa it is ‘partnership’ – between researchers, farmers, policymakers, nutritionists, private sector service providers and every other actor along the bean value chain.
From the moment Dr Gerardine Mukeshima, Rwanda’s Minister of Agriculture and Animal Resources, opened the joint Pan-Africa Bean Research Alliance (PABRA) network steering committee meeting in Kigali, Rwanda, 2 to 7 February 2015, to the closing remarks, partnership and collaboration were at the heart of every discussion.
Without partnership, those PABRA member countries without breeding programmes, such as Cameroon and Burundi, would not have been able to test and release new bean varieties; beans would not be part of Madagascar’s school feeding programme, which will help reduce malnutrition levels among children and support local farmers; and the private sector would not be engaged in bean markets in Kenya or Zimbabwe, helping to improve seed systems and lift farmer incomes…
Examples of bean research achievements from the last five years are abound. Many were shared by the 60 participants that attended the meeting, which was the first to bring together bean programme leaders from 28 of PABRA’s 30 member countries, including Botswana, PABRAs newest member. The first two days of the meeting were also attended by representatives from UN agencies and donors.
The aim of the meeting, jointly organised and hosted by the Rwanda Agriculture Board (RAB) and the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT), which facilitates PABRA, was to share bean research and development outcome highlights from the last five years; enable future opportunities for collaboration to find solutions to on-going and new challenges; and develop research activities for the coming year.
But most of all, it was a space for learning.
While every country has differing agro ecological zones, agricultural policies, culture and markets, each faces similar challenges when it comes to developing sustainable and nutrition sensitive bean value chains.
“It’s good to learn what others are doing across the network – to hear about their experiences and see if their solutions to challenges could be applied in your own country”, said David Karanja, bean programme leader at the Kenya Agriculture and Livestock Research Organisation (KALRO)….
This story first appeared on the PABRA blog on 23 February 2015 where you can read the full story.
By: Stephanie Malyon