Agriculture in West and Central Africa faces many challenges, including limited access to new agricultural technologies and innovations. The R2E (Research to Extension) agenda seeks to address these challenges by facilitating collaboration between researchers, extensionists and farmers to catalyze partnerships for the dissemination of technologies and good agricultural practices.

This potential for disseminating agricultural technologies and innovations by fostering partnerships was highlighted at a side event organized by CORAF during the 6th Africa-Wide Agricultural Extension Week in Abuja from November 6 to 10, 2023.

From research to extension

The side event on the theme “From research to extension” organized by CORAF highlighted the need to facilitate farm advisers’ access to research technologies.

“Behind every farm advisory is a research result. Researchers and agricultural advisors are all tackling the same target, hence the need to harmonize all stakeholders and coordinate efforts, with each stakeholder in the value chain focusing on his essential responsibilities,” emphasized Dr Fatimata Bintou Hassedine DIOUF, Director of Research Development and Innovations at Senegal’s Agence National de Conseil Agricole et Rural (ANCAR).

The role of research institutions and the private sector in disseminating agricultural technologies and innovations was highlighted during the event. According to Nasser Aichatou, director of the Ainoma seed farm in Niger, there is close collaboration between her farm and agricultural research institutions at national level for the creation of new seed varieties adapted to local conditions for example.

 “We are also planning partnerships with rice-growing cooperatives to help increase rice production in Niger through the dissemination of innovative technologies (hybrid seeds, agricultural equipment and materials)“, Nasser Aichatou explains.

Expanding opportunities for technology dissemination

The theme “From research to extension” provided a better understanding of how to catalyze partnerships in the field of agricultural technologies and the dissemination of best practices. Conversations about digitalization and appropriate communication channels resurfaced, highlighting the need to go beyond internet-based channels to include traditional media.

“Collaboration between research, extension and farmers is not just a natural fit but provides win-win benefits across the scaling continuum of agricultural technologies in Africa towards sustainable food systems. Where knowledge flows, food grows“, insists Rex Chapota, Senior Advisor for Strategy & Growth at Farm Radio International. He reaffirms the importance and necessity of disseminating agricultural knowledge through the right channels so that farmers have access to it.

The recommendations from this side event also highlight the development of a sustainable mechanism for valuing producer-relays, the specialization of young agricultural entrepreneurs, the continued strengthening of the capacities of extension systems, the promotion of women’s engagement in conversations about the digitization of agriculture, support for youth-led initiatives, and the improvement of access to digital technologies and their affordability.