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PROIntensAfrica Report Summary

Project ID: 652671
Funded under: H2020-EU.3.2.

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - PROIntensAfrica (Towards a long-term Africa-EU partnership to raise sustainable food and nutrition security in Africa)

Reporting period: 2015-04-01 to 2016-03-31

Summary of the context and overall objectives of the project

The world is facing the challenge to improve food and nutrition security (FNS) globally. Africa has a major role to play in FNS, as Africa is vulnerable today, but has a high potential to develop as a major food basket. This requires, however, a transformation of the African agro-food systems, and calls for joining forces to explore and exploit the potential of African agriculture. As no size fits all, optimal use should be made of the rich diversity of pathways that exist or can be developed. This requires a profound understanding of the agro-food systems in combination with the utilisation of instruments that aptly assess the efficiency and effectiveness of different pathways.

PROIntensAfrica is developing a framework for a long term research and innovation partnership between Europe and Africa, focusing on the improvement of the food and nutrition security and the livelihoods of African farmers by exploring and exploiting the diversity of pathways to sustainable intensification of African agro-food systems. The exploration will include environmental, economic and social externalities along the whole value chains. PROIntensAfrica is formulating a research and innovation agenda, identifying the priority domains for further research to realize the potential of African food systems. In addition, PROIntensAfrica will propose governance mechanisms for effective partnership management and functioning and funding mechanism for research project implementation. Key in developing the framework is the perception that pooling resources is the best way to align existing and initiate new research. This perception follows the policy of the EC, where instruments of joint programming like ERA-NET, JPI and article 185 aim to accomplish synergy and increase the effectiveness of resources. Pooling resources goes beyond the scientific domain and reaches into the policy domain. Consequently, besides being rooted in sound and challenging research, a partnership proposal needs to meet national and international policies to fly. Therefore PROIntensAfrica pay specific attention to engage with the policy domain.

The rationale of the project is that a variety of pathways can contribute to sustainable intensification of African food systems. Different pathways are advocated in literature. High-input farming systems, for example, contrast with organic farming systems, each with their own supporters and criticasters. It is the conviction of the PROIntensAfrica consortium that moving beyond that debate will open exciting new pathways, and that combining elements of different systems will yield innovative systems that are optimally adapted to specific contexts.

A total of 23 partners, 8 African partners and 15 European partners joined forced in the consortium of PROIntensAfrica. The work is organised in 7 Work Packages (WPs), focussing on different aspects in formulating the future strategic research and innovation partnership. Each WP is co-lead by an European and African partner. WP2 (developing the research and innovation agenda) and WP3 (mapping of on-going sustainable intensification research) is addressing what has to be done in executing the future partnership programme, what will be the themes to be addressed and innovative approaches to be used in the research and innovation projects. WP 4 (public and private research and innovation funding instruments) and WP5 (governance options for the future partnership programme) address the issues related to the best ways of organising and managing the future partnership and the most effective ways to fund research and innovation projects. WP7 (expected impacts of the future partnership) focus on the impact of joint programming and the impact of the future research and innovation activities of the future partnership programme.

Within the project, two WPs support the other WPs in achieving the overall objectives. WP1 focus on project management and planning, policy alignment, and organisation of project-wide activities and will be responsible for the final output of the project, the framework of the future partnership programme. WP6 is responsible for the external communication of the project and the profiling of PROIntensAfrica, together with WP1, and the future strategic Africa-Europe partnership.

The PROIntensAfrica project started on 1-4-2015 and will run till 31 March 2017.

Work performed from the beginning of the project to the end of the period covered by the report and main results achieved so far

WP1 organised the launch workshop of PROIntensAfrica at FARA Headquarters in Accra, Ghana in April 2015. During this event, various meetings were organised, including the public kick-off meeting, the first General Assembly, the first Steering Committee meeting, and a series of technical meetings, allowing WP co-leaders and WP contributors to discuss approaches, detailed work plans and modes of operation. After the kick-off workshop, the WP1 team organised several face to face and virtual meetings to enhance a smooth operation of the Consortium, and it represented the PROIntensAfrica project at several high-level policy meetings.

During the first year of the project, WP2 worked on developing the methodology for, and the selection of case studies for, collection and analysis of real time field information for a better understanding of the sustainable intensification pathways based on actual intensification transitions occurring in Africa. A total of 6 in-depth case studies and 11 light case studies have been selected, and the teams are implementing the surveys and stakeholder meetings. These actions will be concluded in June 2016. WP2 also worked on the general literature review on the sustainable intensification concepts. As the selection of the various case studies and the development of the shared methodology was the priority to work on, the literature review started later than scheduled, but is now well underway.

The team of WP3 started with the scoping study of mapping existing agricultural research projects and programmes focussing on sustainable intensification. At first, WP3 developed a web-based interface, accessible through the PROIntensAfrica website ( The interface is available since the fourth trimester 2015, and can be used by PROIntensAfrica partners and external interested parties to upload information on their Sustainable Intensification pathways related project. Information on more than 100 relevant programmes and projects is stored in the database, but additional information would be welcome to improve the analysis.

The teams of WP4 and WP5 worked on the inventory of experiences with funding mechanism and governance mechanism respectively, of existing instruments for bi-continental strategic partnership programmes. Both teams produced the first expected deliverable, a report with the lessons learned. These reports will be the basis for formulating recommendations of the future strategic Africa-Europe partnership programme on sustainable intensification.

The partners working in WP6, responsible for the communication and information dissemination, developed the PROIntensAfrica communication plan, produced communication material, developed a project website and social media channels in the first months of the project. Now they are facilitating the project related communication through these channels.

WP7 worked on the first output, the programme review report to document the likely impact of research for development in relation to the advantages of joint programming on quality and impact of research for development under the future Africa-Europe partnership programme. The team started with developing a comprehensive and action oriented impact assessment methodology to be used for measuring the impact of a future IntensAfrica research and innovation programme.

In the table below, the expected deliverables of the periodic report period 1-4-2015 to 31-3-2016 are given, with the planned, actual, or expected date of delivery.

Deliverable Scheduled month Actual month Expected month
1.1: Report kick-off meeting 2 4
1.2: Report SC meeting 12 14
2.1: Literature review of results obtained from intensification pathways 8 15
2.2: Assessment framework developed including a list of criteria and indicators 9 11
3.1: A web-based interface built 4 10
3.2: A database of existing agricultural projects on sustainable intensification 12 15
4.1: Funding mechanism analysed 6 8
5.1: Governance structures for large scale partnerships analysed 6 9
6.1: Communication strategy and plan 2 3
6.2: Materials produced for information campaigns to target groups 2 3
6.3: Project website developed and running 2 2
6.4: Social media set-up 2 2
6.5: List of meetings for possible PROIntensAfrica attendance 3 3
7.1: Expected advantages of joint programming 7 11

Although a number of deliverables were made available later than planned, the overall progress of the project is good, and there are no major deviations from the original project plan (Annex 1). Corrective actions are not required.

Progress beyond the state of the art and expected potential impact (including the socio-economic impact and the wider societal implications of the project so far)

The PROIntensAfrica project started with the idea of preparing the framework for the strategic Africa-Europe research and innovation partnership first, and then exploring the opportunities to initiate this new initiative. Some occasions, however, provided earlier than expected chances to the PROIntensAfrica consortium to capitalize on the philosophy, concepts, and knowledge developed.

The first occasion was the publication in the Horizon 2020 work plan 2016 of a call on EU-Africa Research and Innovation partnership on food and nutrition security and sustainable agriculture (SFS-41-2016). This was a call for an ERA-NET Cofund project, in principle a collaboration between Research Funders, who are committed to pool their financial resources to launch a trans-national call for research and innovation activities in the important domains of FNSSA: Sustainable intensification, Agriculture and food systems for nutrition, and Expansion and improvement of agricultural markets and trade. Expected impacts of this new ERA-NET Cofund are: 1) Effective trans-national, European-African research and innovation networking and better coordination and synergies between national, international and EU research programmes relevant to food and nutrition security and sustainable agriculture; and 2) Support for the development of a long-term EU-Africa Research and Innovation Partnership on food and nutrition security and sustainable agriculture, connecting research and innovation networks to local multi-stakeholder research and innovation processes.

After the publication of the call, PROIntensAfrica partners aligned with the national research funders, and other existing networks interested to respond to this call. ERAfrica is an operational network of funding research organisations (Ministries and Research Councils) interested in a broader research agenda, including FNNSA. A large number of PROIntensAfrica partners were involved in developing the proposal. This will facilitate the use of PROIntensAfrica results in the new initiative. The proposal, called LEAP-AGRI, is coordinated by ANR (France) and has been submitted on 17 February 2016.

The second occasion was the endorsement of the HLPD roadmap for the Africa-EU R&I Partnership Food and Nutrition Security and Sustainable Agriculture (FNSSA) during a high-level AU – EU policy meeting held in Ethiopia early April 2016. In 2014 the HLPD Bureau commissioned a balanced group of African and European experts to prepare an input to a roadmap towards this Africa-EU R&I Partnership on FNSSA, with mutual priorities in the FNSSA domain for collaborative research and innovation, taking the whole value chain into consideration.

Back to back with the high-level policy meeting, a Stakeholder Forum was held in order to discuss the implementation of the Africa-EU Research and Innovation (R&I) Partnership on Food and Nutrition Security and Sustainable Agriculture. This stakeholder meeting was organised by the Bureau of the Africa-EU High Level Policy Dialogue on Science, Technology and Innovation (HLPD Bureau on STI) in collaboration with CAAST-Net Plus, RINEA, PROIntensAfrica, PAEPARD and ERAfrica. The Stakeholder Forum will be another occasion for PROIntensAfrica partners to contribute with knowledge, experience and resources to the food and nutrition security in Africa.

Related information

Record Number: 190420 / Last updated on: 2016-11-15
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