Centre for Coordination of Agricultural Research and Development for Southern Africa (CCARDESA), on Wednesday launched its Grants Facility.
The centre, which is a subsidiary of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) received monetary support amounting to 5million Euros from the European Union (EU) and World Bank.
Speaking at the ceremony to mark the presentation of the grants to the seven grantees, the first of its kind to be launched by CCORDESA, the EU Ambassador to Botswana and SADC Alexander Baum noted that the awards ceremony was of particular importance.
He said it demonstrated the SADC region’s continuing efforts to create a conducive environment to support agricultural research and development under the stewardship of CCARDESA.
Baum further said agriculture was the leading economic sector in most SADC countries as it represents 17% of the region’s Gross Domestic Products (GDP).
“About 70% of the population depends on agriculture for food, income and employment, and agriculture is also a major source of exports in several countries, contributing about 13% of total export earning,” he said.
Baum further said the EU was therefore pleased to assist the SADC region and CCARDESA in addressing the growing needs for research and development in the SADC region.
“The selected proposals cover a wide range of topics such as poultry diseases, the development of solar dryer and urban farming practices in the livestock.
“I am therefore confident that through CCARDESA Grants Facility, the SADC region will be better equipped to address some of the key challenges affecting the agricultural sector,” Baum said.
He recognised the award ceremony as a true reflection of the EU commitment to support regional integration in Africa and that the new integration programme would be supported to the tune of Euro 1.3 billion to run up to 2020 under the European Development Fund (EDF). Baum also said that over the past 15 years, the EU has been actively involved in the coordination of agricultural research and development at the continental and regional level in Africa. “Several initiatives throughout the African continent were therefore supported by EU to strengthen the capacity and improve research funding in the agriculture sector,” he said.
EU has provided funds to support the preparatory activities for the creation of the CCARDESA through the implementation and coordination of agricultural research and training project under the European Development Fund.
Representing the Acting Minister of Agriculture Patrick Ralotsia, Merriam Munamava noted the participation of the private sector in the regional Research and Development space saying it was a welcome and overdue development, which has to be encouraged.
“I also want to extend my ministry’s appreciation to the development partners on the assistance provided, in the EU assistance of CCARDESA Secretariat and of course we extend our warmest appreciation to the EU assistance that is being provided for the MDTF to support the implementation of CCARDESA priority activities.” The grants were awarded to the successful seven grantees of the 106 scientists from the SADC member countries that had applied and were represented by Professor Philemon Wanbura of Sokoine University of Agriculture (SUA) from Tanzania, Dr Moses Okoth Marenya of Agricultural Research Council-Institute of Agricultural Engineering, Professor Isaac Mpofu
Of the University of Namibia, Dr Germinus Tungu from Tanzania Livestock Research Institute, Dr Rosa Costa Kyeema Foundation, Professor Benedict Kayombo from Botswana College of Agriculture and Jeffrey Mkhari East Power PTY LTD.