Saturday, 22 March 2014

Dr Irene-Annor Frempong - deserves to be the Ambassador for the Science Agenda For Agriculture in Africa (S3A).

As a follower of this blog, you are probably wondering as to who is Madam Irene-Annor Frempong and why am I saying she is the Science Agenda for Agriculture in Africa Ambassador?

You are probably wondering as to who I am to declare her the Science Agenda and what qualifies her to be the choice for this distinct honour. Yes, indeed I have no authority and neither any power to do so, but I am just using my own thoughts and hope, that if I had that chance, I will definitely do so. I am also advancing this idea to have Madam Frempong as the Science Agenda for Agriculture in Africa as its BRAND because of her vision for Africa in this regard. Yes, I know that she will say the agenda was not formulated by an individual and she has infact already acknowledge all those who worked tirelessly to bring the project at the level where it is today - under the umbrella of FARA. But still, I have seen the Science Agenda for Agriculture in Africa Ambassadorship in her.

FARA's Dr Irene-Annor Frempong. Photo taken from FARA's website.

Well, apart from the fact that she is senior FARA official and a scientist as well as one of the strong women Africa has to offer, I do not know Madam Frempong personaly and neither did I had quality time to discuss this matter with her, but having been a meber of the  Forum For Agricultural Research in Africa, FARA's Community Network Practice on this subject, I have listened to her and saw her passionately articulating the Science Agenda For Agriculture in Africa.

Her Science Agenda For Agriculture in Africa resilience and commitment as well as CONVICTION registered more in my mind during the CAADP Partners Platform - particularly at the streaming work on this subject when she explained why this agenda will transform agriculture on the continent.

During her powerpoint presentation which summarized FARA prepared 73 pages Science For Agriculture in Africa document to the participants of the side event of this agenda, Madam Frempong outlined the various processes that led to the formulation of the agenda. She said a 12 member eminent experts who were selected in their individual capacity and not necessarily institutions were the drivers of the processes with four of them assigned to actual formulation of some aspects of the agenda. Referring to what is known as the Accra Consuses of the Science Agenda - since this project was heavily deliberated on in Accra, Ghana in 2013, Madam Frempong outlined the objectives of the agenda and how it would be aligned to CAADP's framework to realize the envisaged results. There were various dialogues and consultations among experts, regional economic groupings, national chapters with specific emphasis on farmers who are the end users of the research that is carried out to improve farming trends and other stakeholders including partners/investors.

Dr Irene Annor Frempong addressing participants of the Science Agenda For Agriculture in Africa streaming work side event.

Participants were requested to give their input in special guided topics as part of further consultations of the agenda that was being prepared for the next stage of the Joint AU  Conference of Ministers of Agriculture, Rural Development and Fisheries in April 2014. The final stage - for the purpose of this agenda will be at the AU Summit - for the debate on theme in June/July in Malabo, Equatorial Guinea.

Some of Group 4 members

Each group consisted of a Facilitator and a Rappoteur. For some reason, Madam Frempong and I ended up in the same group of that discussed the sharing of resources, facilities, personal, knowledge and information at regional level and how that would benefit the science agenda in achieving the set goals. She was the facilitator. Madam Bongiwe Ndjobi, another extra ordinary senior official was the Rappoteur. The team was so enthusiastic, I believe the zeal of Madam Frempong and passion as well as the energy when talking about the science agenda engulfed the team.

Madam Bongiwe Njobe, (wearing a black jacket) Group4 Rappoteur 

After various groups worked on their input as per the sub-themes - the stakeholders were asked - throgh their Rappoteurs to share their points with the rest of the bigger group. The outcome was so marvelous - and the drive was amazing as each table wanted to voice its agreed upon recommendations. As if that was not enough, each group was asked to put the overall recommendations in a sentence or two which must be said in less than a minute. All the teams were so excited to do - and group four led by Madam Frempong was extra charged with positive energy of excitement and managed to put across its overall statemnt in less than 30 seconds or 28 seconds to be exact. The idea to cut down on the wording of the recommendations was to prepare the Science Agenda team to find the way to sell the idea to the Ministers and mainly the Head of State to get a buy in - but such a message must be in a language that is easily understood but with realistic impact and hope on the agricultural transformation in Africa.

Dr Irene- Annor Frempong - Group 4 Facilitor in a blue dress. The author of this post, Ms Menesia Muinjo is next to her.

Some of the displayed Science Agenda text in Hall 4A
As explained by Madam Frempong as also as highlighted in the Science Agenda for Agriculture in Africa green document (2014) on page 11 the S3A is defined as referring to the science, technology, enstension, innovations, policy and social learning Africa needs to apply in order to meet its evolving agricultural development goals. The agenda identifies the key strategic issues that will impact on science and agriculture and presents a suite of high level actions/options for increasing and deepening the contributions of science to the development of agriculture at the local, national, regional and continental levels in Africa. Its purpose is fundamentally about the strategic investments in science, technology and innovation that are needed to contributed effectively to productivity, equitable development and sustainable productive environments. The principal focused on target populations, themes and production environments.

Some of Group 4 members

The theme for the agenda is "Transforming Africa's Agriculture for Shared Prosperity and Improved Livelihoods, through harnessing opportunities for incluvise growth and sustainable development. The sub-themes include increased agriculture production, productivity and value addition, functioning agricultural markets at country and regional markets and trade, increased investment fianncing, public and private along the agriculture value chains, towards ending hunger in Africa by 2025 and building resilience and managing risks.
Dr Frempoing and some of her Group 4 members

All these points came out so clearly as Madam Frempong shared them with the participants. Previous participants referred to her as the person who kept on reminding fellow scientists that there was no country to successfully tranformed the agricultural development without applying science. On the other hand, there was a quote that was used now and then both verbally and in the FARA documents and branding that Africa's Agricultural Science was too important to be outsourced to partners, and that african leaders and investors needed to rather invest in this noble efforts and manage this project in-continent.

The pillar thought on which Africa's Science mut be based.

That's why I am saying without having been with Madam Frempong outside FARA platforms, something in me rang a bell that she indeed was the "brand of Africa's Science Agenda for Agriculture in Africa". When you see Madam Frempong, you see the Agricultural transformation in Africa - her passion and conviction is so obvious and the influence she continues to impart on many including non-scientists like the author of this post.

Once again, I do not know Madam Frempong personally and neither has she promised me anything or I am not intending to get any favour from her - but once you see and hear her articulating the science agenda, you will definitely get a cue as to why I took this line. You will not need the whole day to get what I am adovacting for - as her commitment for science and agriculture and improved production and farmers' livelihoods is sponteneous.

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For the information of those following this post, I googled Madam Frempong's professional and academic background and came across this information on FARA's website, that state that Dr Irene Annor-Frempoing is the Director of NSF4, responsible for developing and implementing FARA’s capacity strengthening strategy. A Ghanaian by birth, Dr Annor-Frempong holds a PhD from the University of Bristol, UK, and an MSc in Animal Production Science from Wageningen University in the Netherlands. She worked as a graduate research assistant at the Reckenholz Research Station in Zurich, Switzerland, and as a lecturer at the College of Education, Benue State, Nigeria. In 1988, she joined the Meat Quality Group at the Animal Research Institute in Zeist, the Netherlands. In 1989, she was appointed as a lecturer at the University of Cape Coast and was later promoted to senior lecturer. In 2004, as head of the Department of Animal Science in 2004, she pioneered development-oriented curricula and facilitated the new post-graduate program in Livestock Systems Management. She developed the first prototype of the local-closed meat kiln in Ghana in collaboration with Food Research Institute. In 2005, she joined the National University of Lesotho as a senior lecturer and was also tasked with coordinating training of research supervisors in the use of the Genstat statistical package. She has supervised numerous undergraduate and postgraduate research work. Dr Frempong is a Technical Committee member of the Regional Universities Forum for Capacity Building in Agriculture (RUFORUM) and a member of a number of professional bodies. She has authored several refereed papers. After joining FARA in 2008, Dr Annor-Frempong oversaw the development and implementation of Strengthening the Capacity of Agricultural Research and Development for Africa (SCARDA).

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