African Forum for Agricultural Advisory Services

CEA-FIRST, the Consortium Europe Africa on Research and Innovation for Food Systems Transformation Project Kicks off

12 – 14 February 2024. Tema in Accra, Ghana.  

The  African Union  and the  European Union  alongside a number of  implementing partners have launched the Consortium Europe-Africa on Research and Innovation for Food Systems Transformation #CEA_FIRST  Project aimed at operationalizing the first priority of the AU-EU High level policy Dialogue (HLPD) focused on AU-EU International Research Consortium on Food and Nutrition Security for Sub-Saharan Africa #FNSSA . 

CEA-FIRST, the Consortium Europe Africa on Research and Innovation for Food Systems Transformation began on 1 December 2023 and will run for 4 years.  

CEA-FIRST is funded by the European Union as part of the Green Deal’s “From Farm to Fork” strategy (Horizon Europe budget envelope). It  forms a crucial part of the EU’s “Global Gateway” strategic vision, which aims to establish sustainable and reliable connections serving citizens and the planet. This vision addresses pressing global challenges, from combating climate change to enhancing the competitiveness and security of global supply chains, particularly in Africa.  

The project brings together  22 partners from Europe and Africa covering a wide range of expertise and stakeholders (research, NGOs, donors, extension workers, etc.) involved in the field of food and nutritional security and sustainable agriculture. It consists partly on lessons from the former #PAEPARD initiative, to the LEAP4FNSSA and now extended with new public and private network partners.  

As outlined by the Coordinator of the Project, Dr Irene Annor-Frempong, the project have six main objectives  including the following:  

  1. Providing public access to an extensive platform of knowledge in food and nutrition security and sustainable agriculture. 
  2. Developing a robust methodology for analyzing Research and Innovation (R&I) activities and priorities. 
  3. Supporting the update of the AU-EU R&I partnership roadmap. 
  4. Establishing operational and  thematic research working groups
  5. CEA-FIRST will facilitate connections between the IRC and the AU-EU high-level political dialogue. 
  6. It will create a learning environment, including communication channels, to support multi stakeholder networks and to strengthen R&I coordination. 

CEA-FIRST will  operationalise the International Research Consortium (IRC) as a long-term platform on food and nutrition security and sustainable agriculture (FNSSA) in line with the FNSSA Roadmap of the AU-EU High-Level Policy Dialogue (HLPD). The project will be coordinated by the Forum for Agricultural Research in Africa (FARA) from the Africa side and the European Alliance on Agricultural knowledge for Development (AGRINATURA), an Association of European Universities and Research Centres.  

The IRC is a member-based, multi-actor platform and will work towards increasing synergies and coherence while reducing fragmentation and duplication of research efforts. Its aim is to promote higher returns on investments and impact on business development in Africa and Europe, by linking actors, research and innovation projects, initiatives, and funding programmes. 

The final output will be a fully functional IRC.  In the context of an essential transition in agri-food systems, compounded by the challenges of climate change and demographic shifts, the  IRC is positioning itself as a vital tool for fostering an equitable and sustainable research and innovation partnership between Africa and Europe. This partnership focuses on bolstering agriculture as a key driver of economic development.  

The IRC will also serve related AU-EU policy priorities, such as the  Climate Change and Sustainable  Energy and the Innovation Agenda of the HLPD, as well as the European Green Deal priorities (and farm to fork strategy) and the AU priorities including the Comprehensive Africa Agricultural Development Programme (CAADP) and the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA). 

In his opening remarks to kick-off the International Research Consortium and the  #CEA_FIRST  Project, the Executive Director of FARA, Dr. Aggrey Agumya  recognized: “How it represents a larger and far-reaching formation that promises to revolutionize the partnership and working arrangements between African and European institutions.” 

Project implementing partners from both Africa and Europe  

  1. Forum For Agricultural Research in Africa (FARA), Ghana (Coordinator) 
  2. European Alliance on Agricultural Knowledge For Development (Agrinatura), France (Co-lead) 
  3. Centre For International Cooperation In Agronomic Research For DEVELOPMENT (CIRAD), France 
  4. Wageningen University and Research (WUR), the Netherlands 
  5. Agricultural Research Council Institute for Soil Climate and Water (ARC), South Africa 
  6. Sveriges Lantbruksuniversitet (SLU), Sweden 
  7. Helsingin Yliopisto (UH), Finland 
  8. Food Agriculture and Natural Resources Policy Analysis Network (FANRPAN), South Africa 
  9. Regional Universities Forum for Capacity Building In Agriculture (RUFORUM), Uganda 
  10. Association Of Commonwealth Universities (ACU), United Kingdom
  11.  The Registered Trustees of The Association for Strengthening Agricultural Research In Eastern
    And Central Africa (ASARECA), Uganda 
  12. Council For Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), Ghana 
  13. National Research Agency (ANR), France 
  14. National Research Foundation (NRF), South Africa 
  15. National Fund for Research And Innovation For Development (FONRID), Burkina Faso 
  16. West And Central Africa Council for Agricultural Research and Development (CORAF), Senegal 
  17. Young Professionals for Agricultural Development (YPARD), Germany and Ghana 
  18. Entrepreneurship-Agriculture-Development Liaison Committee (COLEAD), Switzerland 
  19. African Forum for Agricultural Advisory Services (AFAAS), Uganda 
  20. Agricord, Brussels Belgium 
  21. International Centre for Advanced Mediterranean Agronomic Studies (CIHEAM), Bari Italy 
  22. Science, Technology, and Innovation Funding Authority (STDF) Egypt 

Source: FARA