Stakeholder Consultation on Shaping the CGIAR Mega Program on ‘More Meat, Milk, and Fish By and For the Poor’
Side event organized by ILRI, WorldFish, CIAT, and ICARDA
at the FARA Africa Agriculture Science Week,
Tuesday 20th July, 14:00 – 17:00
The four CGIAR Centers hosting the session are developing a Mega Program (MP) focusing on sustainably increasing livestock and fish production for global food security. The session provided a forum for a range of partners and stakeholders to hear the initial thinking being developed within this research MP, and importantly, to provide feedback, guidance and suggestions that will improve the Program’s relevance, the science and approaches employed, and the partnerships on which it is built. Since this consultation is taking place at an early point in the MP development, feedback from this session will be able to be incorporated into the final MP plan and submission.
Overview of the session
The background for the MP was first explained, followed by a presentation on the MP concept that has been approved by the CGIAR Consortium Board and is now being developed in a full proposal, to be submitted in early September. The presentation highlighted key aspects of the proposed MP that represent a new approach for CGIAR research:
- A commitment by the MP to concentrate their efforts on catalyzing R&D investment in a few selected smallholder-based value chains with high impact potential for increased production and poverty reduction, in a few countries
- Working as the knowledge partner with development actors and the private sector in large-scale development interventions in the selected countries to transform the target value chains to ensure short-term, measurable impact.
- CG technology generation capacity linked to supporting the value chain development component, and both integrated with a strong targeting, M&E, and learning component.
- Capturing the lessons and proof-of-concept from the target value chain intervention to facilitate subsequent regional scale-out to create wider benefits.
- Also capturing and communicating the generic results from research to solve problems in the target value chain to benefit R&D partners more widely.
- The challenge for the CG partners to engage effectively with the relevant development and private sector partners.
After addressing questions of clarification, the participants were asked to provide feedback on a series of questions about the MP concept, the choice of the target value chains, and strategies for engaging the needed partners.
Nearly 40 people attended the session, with side event participants from at least 4 NARS, 2 international NGOs, 4 ARIs, 1 CG organization, 1 donor and 1 farmer organization engaging actively in the discussion.
- Underinvestment in livestock and aquaculture research was highlighted by one NARS, who endorsed the need for an MP devoted to the subject.
- Several participants, including 2 from NARS, supported the strategy to focus on selected value chains, though concern was raised by one NARS representative of the potential trade-off from losing comparability and diversity from working in fewer sites.
- The proposed approach makes sense and is ‘brave’, but the MP will need to articulate better how it will achieve balance between:
- Having impact in the target value chains and generating wider benefits regionally and internationally
- Keeping a focus on increasing production while addressing the environmental and livelihood implications
- Shorter-term adaptive research and longer-term basic research
- Waiting to prioritize where to work and on what, and initiating activities
- The proposition that successful interventions in a target country can be directly scaled out regionally across variable contexts and institutional environments is certainly not a given and will need to be supported.
- Effectively integrating the technology generation component with the value chain development component will be a major challenge, and the strategy for this needs to be clear.
- Partnerships will be key and need to be established while preparing the Mega Program.
- Uncertainty about how much of the CGIAR portfolio will be devoted to the Mega Programs raises questions about the CGIAR’s future ability to respond to requests for collaboration with other partners.
- Committing to measurable impact means that impact indicators must be established and agreed from the beginning. At which level of impact will the MP be held accountable? (e.g., improving productivity/increasing production, or nutritional improvements in the target group).