FANRPAN _Strategy Document

Date on source document: 
June 2017
Strategy & Implementation Plan

1.1 Background to FANRPAN’s Origins

FANRPAN’s origins can be traced back to the recognition of southern and eastern African Ministers of Agriculture that a sub-regional organization should be formed that could allow farmers, the agribusiness sectors, and researchers to make inputs into policy development. Its legal origins can be found in the official Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) Gazette (1994, volume 201, number 1, clause 23). The FANRPAN constitution was finalized in 2001, with a five-year strategic plan, and the regional network was formally registered shortly thereafter in 2003. FANRPAN was designed to promote the dissemination of policy research results across the region and to act as a platform for the engagement of the research community with policy decision-makers. A key element of the FANRPAN mandate is to generate policy dialogues with other stakeholders such as farmers’ organizations, agribusiness and civil society organizations. The establishment of FANRPAN was seen as an opportunity for the southern African region to reduce its dependence on the “external supply” of policy advice.

1.2 Achievements to Date

FANRPAN has led or is leading a number of very successful food, agriculture, and natural resources (FANR) research projects in Africa (see Table 6 in Appendix 1). Some of the most noteworthy include:

  •  The Limpopo Basin Development Challenge: A flagship success that was able to provide multi-national decision makers with the latest research on agricultural water management
  •  The Women Accessing Realigned Markets (WARM) project: An initiative designed to strengthen women farmers’ ability to advocate for appropriate agricultural policies. This project also helped to establish FANRPAN’s innovative Theatre for Policy Advocacy tool proved compelling in engaging communities, leaders, service providers and policymakers.
  • The Harmonized Seed Security Project (HaSSP): An initiative to streamline variety release, certification, and other policies to improve access to seed varieties for smallholder farmers
  • The Improving Nutrition Outcomes through Optimized Agriculture Interventions (ATONU) project: Awarded to FANRPAN following a competitive bid against 92 other organizations, the project aims to promote nutrition amongst grassroots farmers’ organizations and change consumer attitudes
  • The Strengthening Evidence based Climate Change Adaptation Policies in Southern Africa (SECCAP) project: An initiative aiming to enhance the capacity of policy analysts and scientists in the fields of agriculture, climate and socio-economics to collectively build a strong base of evidence on climate change adaptation to inform policies and investment decisions.

FANRPAN has established itself as a recognizable brand for research in Africa recognized by the following awards and accolades:

• The Yara Prize for an African Green Revolution in 2013

• Being recognized by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) as an observer

• Being ranked 13 out of 92 in Sub-Saharan Africa and 55 out of 175 globally in the 2015 Global Go-to Think Tank Index Report1, which illustrated FANRPAN’s strong visibility across Africa

• Helping to place agriculture onto the climate change agenda, at the 21st Conference of Parties (COP21) in Paris in 2016. This achievement commenced back in 2008 when FANRPAN launched the COMESA-funded Africa-wide Civil Society Climate Change Initiative for Policy Dialogues (ACCCID) in preparation for COP15.

These successes have both fueled and been enabled by expansion over the past eight years. FANRPAN has extended the number of Node countries in the network from 13 in 2008 to 17 in 2015, which has resulted in expanding its presence outside of an exclusive focus on Southern Africa. In addition the number of partnerships through memoranda of understanding (MoUs) has grown from 41 in 2008 to 70 in 2015, which has allowed FANRPAN to access specialist expertise and services.

FANRPAN has been successful in increasing the funding it receives to support projects. Revenue, mostly from donor funds, has increased since 2008 to US$3.7M in 2014, which suggests that funders support FANRPAN’s development narrative and strategic direction. This support has come about partly due to financial transparency and a positive reputation for financial and fiduciary management.

The first phase of the strategy process involved extensive stakeholder engagement to ascertain perceptions of FANRPAN’s strengths or areas for improvement and, in particular, where FANRPAN should focus their attention in the future. Six themes emerged clearly from this first round of consultations, namely:

  1.  FANRPAN’s role in policy monitoring and implementation
  2.  Regionalization and expansion
  3.  Ensuring accountability
  4.  Succession planning and building a high-powered workforce from top to bottom
  5.  The role of the node and the strength of the network structure
  6.  Sustainable funding

This Strategy 2016-2023 intends to address each of these important these issues raised by FANRPAN’s stakeholders.

1.3 Global Policy Frameworks

The strategic goals of leading think tank organizations are influenced by and aligned to policy frameworks relevant to their strategic intent and mandate, and in this regard, FANRPAN, as one of Africa’s leading think tanks, is no different. The global and regional policy context in which FANRPAN operates is informed by four prioritized frameworks:

  1. The United Nations (UN) 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and its Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)
  2.  The Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (also known as “COP”) and, in particular, the Paris Agreement it adopted in December 2015
  3. The African Union (AU) Agenda 2063
  4. The Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Program (CAADP) 2003 and the Implementation Strategy and Roadmap (IS&R) to Achieve the 2025 Vision on CAADP

The FANRPAN Strategic Goals and Objectives have taken these global policy frameworks into account and ensured that they are aligned (see Table 1).


2.1 Opportunities to Address Africa’s Agricultural Challenges

Though there are many challenges facing African agriculture, and whilst a detailed examination of these challenges fall outside of the scope of this document, it remains important to briefly introduce these to provide context for FANRPAN’s Strategy 2016-2023. There are three dimensions to the challenges facing African agriculture and food systems:

1) “Agricultural Transformation and Sustained Growth”, in particular:

  • Difficulty in providing the food and nutrition requirements of the population through sustainable food systems
  • Adverse impacts of climate change and other natural or environmental shocks on livelihoods and production systems
  • Inefficient Markets and under-developed infrastructure to facilitate regional trade and integration
  • Insufficient governance of land, water and natural resources

2) “Systemic Capacity to Enable Transformation and Growth”, in particular:

  • Limited support for evidence-based planning, review and dialogue in agricultural policy development
  • Shortcomings in agricultural leadership, management and technical capacity.
  •  Insufficient inter-ministerial, inter-sectoral and intra-African coordination, and under-capacitated leadership to champion the agricultural transformation agenda

3) “Investment, Funding and Institutional Support for Transformation”, in particular:

  • Limited agricultural investment models and attraction.
  • Low levels of funding and institutional support
  • De-prioritization for agricultural development by policy makers