The DESIRA initiative

Brindging research and policy for agri-food systems

The DeSIRA initiative aims to bring the world of research closer to the formulation of policies in favour of resilient, sustainable and equitable agri-food systems in southern countries. 

DeSIRA-LIFT provides services to DeSIRA partners and projects in three areas:  

  1. Agricultural innovation systems and development evaluation approaches. 
  2. Support for African organisations involved in agricultural development research (CORAF, ASARECA, CCARDESA and FARA), extension (AFAAS), higher education (RUFORUM) and capitalising on experience in innovation (TAP and GFAR). 
  3. Knowledge and evidence to inform policy dialogue and action planning on agri-food systems in developing countries. 

Within this initiative, COLEAD has been mandated to lead the second area (in collaboration with the NRI – Natural Resources Institute). It is also expected to work closely with African research organisations, the Global Forum on Agricultural Research and Innovation (GFAR) and the Tropical Agriculture Platform (TAP). 

TAP was launched in 2012 as a G20 initiative,  to promote agricultural innovation in tropical regions Supported by the European Union and led by the FAO, TAP acts as a multilateral mechanism to facilitate greater coherence and impact of capacity development interventions in agricultural innovation systems.  

Since its inception, TAP has formed a coalition of over 40 partners, including national agricultural research, education and extension institutions, as well as civil society actors, farmers’ organisations and key regional and international forums, networks and agencies. 

DeSIRA-LIFT’s first collaboration with TAP took place during the 10th Annual Meeting of TAP Partners on 21-23 November 2023 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia). The three days were devoted to exchanging knowledge and learning about the role of TAP in addressing the challenges of agrifood systems in low- and middle-income countries. DeSIRA-LIFT’s contribution focused on two areas of interest: (i) approaches to agricultural research and innovation across continents, and (ii) women-led innovations in the seed sector in West Africa.  

A specific session brought together (remotely) regional research, extension and education organisations (RREEOs) from different regions of the world – IICA/ FORAGRO, APAARI and FARA – to discuss the balance needed between capacity building at organisational and individual levels, and improving the adaptability and influence of regional organisations in policy processes. (Summary of presentations available here). 

Another hybrid session focused on gender-sensitive mechanisms or incentives for local private sector engagement in capacity building of seed systems in Africa. Panellists representing RREEOs (CORAF/WECARD, FARA) and private sector operators in the seed industry (FASO KABA based in Mali and AMBALOSSO based in Burkina Faso) discussed in particular the need to strengthen a women-led seed industry network at regional and national level. 

All the subjects covered here are priorities because they are linked to the needed transformation of food systems. Such alliances and exchanges, to which COLEAD is committed along with all its partners and TAP in particular, can only contribute to the ongoing sharing of experience and lessons learned in the field of agricultural innovation. This sharing is vital to strengthen the global, physical and digital connections needed to develop and implement collective responses to global challenges. 

DeSIRA-LIFT (June 2021 – May 2025) is the result of close collaboration between Agrinatura (European Alliance on Agricultural Knowledge for Development), the European Forum on Agricultural Research for Development (EFARD) and the European Commission’s Directorate-General for International Partnerships (DG INTPA).