Knowledge for Development

March/April 2015 K4D Newsletter

Author: Judith A. Francis

Date: 16/03/2015


Dear Colleagues:

We are pleased to present the March/April 2015 issue of the CTA and S&T Knowledge for Development (K4D) e-newsletter. Changes are coming to the K4D web portal and this is the final K4D newsletter. We have, therefore, chosen to capture some of the new thinking and changing dynamics on science, technology and innovation (STI) in agriculture. This is only fitting as STI was the genesis and raison d’être of K4D since it was launched in early 2004. The future looks bright for STI for agriculture and rural development if the momentum is sustained and STI policy and practice are further mainstreamed into national systems which are adequately resourced. Let us, therefore, hope that Queen Elizabeth or some other highly respected national or world leader does not have to ask the experts in the not too distant future ‘How did you get it wrong?’; ‘How did you miss the signals?’ if agricultural sector performance does not improve or perhaps drops and millions of smallholder farmers are further impoverished and their families malnourished and displaced.


In this final issue, we feature four new lead articles:

  • The 1st, by Kristal Jones, on the ‘Ethics of innovation in agriculture.  Jones asks us to ponder on the question ‘whose values and ethics should drive innovation in agriculture?’ and to remain committed to inclusivity and reflexivity. The ethics of STI was among one of the emerging issues we featured on K4D. If you have not done so, or have forgotten, please reflect on Gerard Toulouse ’s thought provoking opinion article.
  • The 2nd lead article on ‘Innovation and inclusive development’ by Lynn Mytelka, focuses on the need to build domestic innovation capacity. Some call Lynn ‘the guru’ of agricultural innovation especially based on her early work on the Canadian grape and wine innovation system. Many of us are familiar with the Mytelka diagram which remains relevant today and has been modified and reproduced in several publications. In promoting the concept of inclusivity, Mytelka asks that we reflect on current policies and practices in the commercialization of agricultural products and that we do so within the context of smallholder farming systems and with a longer term view. Smallholder farmers must be able to learn as well as innovate. Mytelka was among one of the first experts with whom we collaborated when we launched the CTA STI programme activites in 2003.
  • In the 3rd lead article on ‘Research on higher education and science and innovation policy: Policy implications’, Merle Jacob sounds a word of caution such that in the pursuit of ensuring education for all, the delivery of quality education is not compromised. She encourages governments and all other stakeholders to treat education as a system in which attention and resource allocation is paid to each part; primary, secondary and tertiary. K4D was also on target when we began championing tertiary education in agriculture in response to the concerns of ACP STI leaders that the desired agricultural transformation could not be achieved if attention is not paid to improving higher education in agriculture.
  • The final paper on the ‘Governance of science, technology and innovation, food security in Africa: A conceptual framework for developing indicators’, John Ouma-Mugabe proposes that a framework with indicators is necessary and that it should be built around the three principles of good governance; participation, accountability and transparency. Mugabe further points out that the institutional infrastructure is the bedrock of STI policy making and that political leadership is critical. K4D has been an active proponent of improving STI policy processes and the engagement of all actors in same, while recognizing the important role that scientists must play in not only generating the evidence but in collaborating with multiple stakeholders including policy makers and farmers.

 A range of additional material including documents generated through the 2014 CTA and S&T activities linked to food and nutrition security is provided. These include: (i) ‘Africa-EU STI Food and Nutrition Security road map’, from the CTA international forum; (ii) ‘Seed systems, science and policy’, a book which includes a policy brief; (iii) ‘Auditing instrument for food security in higher education (AIFHSE)’, an online tool and (iv) the publication of all 40 papers by African women and young professionals in science linked to the 3rd Africa-wide science competitions with the theme 'Feeding 1 billion in a changing world'. These documents form an essential part of our strategy of empowerment and engagement of scientists in STI policy making.

Please continue exploring all resources available on the K4D website. Please also share this K4D newsletter with your colleagues. You can also connect with us via Twitter or Facebook.

We thank you for being avid readers of the K4D newsletter as well as for frequently visiting and using the K4D web portal. Producing and disseminating the K4D newsletter has been an enjoyable challenge, and we hope that the selection of material we provided, triggered reflection and subsequent action. Your continued support over the years kept us motivated and focused.

Enjoy reading the final issue and please stay in touch.

 “K4D lets scientists and policymakers express themselves”

Judith Ann Francis, Senior Programme Coordinator Science & Technology Policy, CTA

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