Food, Agriculture and Natural Resources Policy Analysis Network (FANRPAN) Food, Agriculture and Natural Resources Policy Analysis Network (FANRPAN)

Meeting the Demand for Effective Food, Agriculture and Natural Resources Policy Analysis in Southern Africa: Report on the FANRPAN Strategic Planning Workshop
26 September 2006 - 27 September 2006

  1. FANRPAN: Creation and Renewal

    A total of 35 experts met in Pretoria, South Africa to help FANRPAN position itself to meet the Demand for Effective Food, Agriculture and Natural Resources Policy Analysis in Southern Africa. Participants consisted of stakeholders with experience in policy making (former Minister and former Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Agriculture), Policy advisors, policy analysts from universities in the region, regional and international consultants in the FANR sector, representatives from CGIAR centres in the region, farmers and farmer organisations, the SADC, COMESA and NEPAD Secretariat, International donor organisations, as well as, social and scientific research institutions. Alongside the two-day workshop, the strategic planning core team members met with funding and technical partners from SIDA, DfID; USAID, IFDC; IFPRI; GECAFS, COMESA. The output of such a vast knowledge base cannot be under-estimated.

    The Workshop was intended to re-position the Food, Agriculture and Natural Resources Policy Analysis Network (FANRPAN), in terms of institutional sustainability and ability to meet the demand for policy analysis in a rapidly changing environment. It was part of a process that began in June, 2006. Stakeholders from various sectors around southern Africa participated actively and passionately to help renew and reposition the network.

    WHO NEEDS FANRPAN? FANRPAN was created out of the need for a strong and informed regional voice to support policy making in southern Africa. This need exists more than ever in a time of rapid economic, political and technical change in the region. New institutions have appeared that exert demands on the research and development agendas. Regional Economic Communities (SADC, COMESA) require analysis in support of efforts to plug Africa into regional and world markets. Africa-wide institutions (AU-NEPAD, FARA) and sub-regional organizations are creating frameworks for agriculture (CAADP, FAAP, and RISDP). All of these frameworks call for policy changes and the demand for policy analysis is derived from the demand for policy change. But which policy changes? FANRPAN is poised to provide relevant analysis at the national and regional levels.

    ORIGINS OF FANRPAN. The founders of FANRPAN were a group of economic and agricultural economics research institutes in universities, public policy units or para-public research institutes. Their regional network to encourage the exchange of skills, information and experiences and to coordinate comparative research is a logical response where skills in the region may be dispersed, there is little institutional memory and individual expertise is isolated. It was endorsed by the Ministers of Agriculture and ten research and policy institutions signed the Constitution of FANRPAN.

    In order to achieve the original intention to promote appropriate agricultural and natural resources policy, FANRPAN focused on: 1) improving policy research, analysis and formulation on key themes in the southern Africa region; 2) developing human and institutional capacity for coordinated policy dialogue, and 3) improving policy decision-making through the generation, exchange and use of policy-related information. In recent years, FANRPAN has placed increasing emphasis on managing policy dialogues and knowledge management, complementing its research and analysis roles.

    In its Strategy 2002-2007, FANRPAN highlighted priorities for policy research in seven thematic areas: 1) technology development and adoption, 2) natural resources management as a source of comparative advantage, 3) trade and market liberalization, 4) capacity building to enhance productivity, 5) natural resource conservation, 6) land reform, and 7) information and communications management.

    Since the publication of the initial strategy in 2002, FANRPAN has carried out useful research and analysis in four key areas, all consistent with its mandate and important to the region, but primarily reflecting the willingness of donors to provide funding. These four areas were: 1) markets and trade, 2) HIV/AIDS and agriculture, 3) biotechnology policy, and 4) rural livelihoods.

    The critical issue of funding is highlighted in the nature of FANRPAN's activities and adaptation to funding: 1) governance has been assured through the voluntarism of a few key board members; 2) coordination has been constrained by the lack of core funds for secretariat services at regional and national level (in only one year out of four, has there been funding for a full-time coordinator, and 3) the ability to develop and sustain longer-term research or to implement the full policy-change cycle is compromised(over 30 short term projects commissioned, with only 2 with a duration of over 15 months).

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