Annual Reports

Key documents

CTA Annual Report 2004

As 2004 drew to a close we could look back on a year of celebration and consolidation. It was a year of celebration because 2004 marked 20 years since CTA became operational, and consolidation because we were able to put in place the last set of pillars upon which the Strategic Plan 2001-2005, drawn up in the context of the Centres revised mandate under the ACP-EC Cotonou Agreement 2000, rests.

The pillars related to the content and orientation of the services we offer and to our capacity to deliver these services. And their installation brought not only a clearer vision of the way ahead, but also a greater visibility of CTA within the development community and among the stakeholders in ACP agricultural and rural development whom the Centre serves.

Celebrating 20 years of service

The anniversary celebrations began with the publication of booklets recounting the achievements of the Centre over the past 20 years and culminated in June with a seminar to which many people who have contributed to these achievements were invited (see pp. 1617). We were privileged to have, as our keynote speaker at the seminar, Dr Monty Jones, winner of the prestigious 2004 World Food Prize for his work on New Rice for Africa (NERICA). He is the first ACP national to have been honoured in this way. We were therefore delighted to acknowledge his achievement and to hear his views on what is needed if ACP agricultural research is to make a greater contribution to attaining the targets set out under the United Nations Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). Later, he kindly agreed to write a Special Paper on this subject for this annual report.

The two previous directors of CTA, Mr Assoumou Mba (19841994) and Dr Rodney Cooke (19952000), gave presentations at the seminar, as did some of CTAs earliest partners and beneficiaries. The heads of our two regional branch offices, Dr Mohammed Umar of the Institute for Research, Extension and Training in Agriculture (IRETA) in the Pacific, and Dr Wendel Parham of the Caribbean Agricultural Research and Development Institute (CARDI), spoke on the relationship and cooperation between CTA and their institutes (see p. 59). CTA staff took the opportunity to trace the evolution of various services over the past 20 years. We showed, for example, how Spore, our flagship magazine, had progressed from being in English and French only to being produced also in Portuguese, and from being delivered in print form to now being available via the internet and via satellite. We described how the Question-and-Answer Service (QAS) had moved from being delivered by one office in Europe to 32 nodes in ACP countries, able to receive and answer farmers queries using a variety of communication channels; this year marked the establishment of the first of two QAS centres to be located in Papua New Guinea, the ACP Pacific regions largest and most agriculturally diverse country (see p. 21). Participants were able to see how various services, once separate, have become more integrated in their management and delivery; for example, the Publications Distribution Service (PDS) has absorbed, to great effect, the Dissemination of Reference Books on Agriculture (DORA) project, and the popular Selective Dissemination of Information (SDI) service has moved closer to the QAS, enabling us to capitalise on the facilities and strengths of the QAS centres.

We also took the opportunity of the occasion to show how far CTA has moved on the communications side of its mandate. While the Centre had developed a strong focus on information dissemination prior to 2000, as reflected, for example, by the length of the CTA publications list, we have sought since then to give greater prominence to the communications dimension of the Centres work and to the use of the tools emerging from the revolution in communications that is taking place around us. And this we were able to demonstrate by inviting the guests at our anniversary celebrations to look not only at the range of electronic services we are using, including web portals and the derived services these portals are providing to our target community, but also at our approach to more flexible sourcing of content and targeting of resources to a very diverse community.

Integrating communication tools

At the core of much of our work in 2004 was a drive to raise awareness among our partners and in the wider community of the possibilities that the integration of communication tools, old and new, offers for development. This was informed by internal work on communications and IT policies in relation to the differing needs of the community. One important goal was the provision of support to enable greater horizontal communication among ACP stakeholders without the necessity for intervention by CTA. As set out in a flyer we prepared for the ACP Heads of Government Summit in June in Mozambique, by taking cutting-edge information and communication technologies (ICTs) and applying them to such conventional means of sharing information as printed materials, radio, seminars and training, we have been able to reach more constituents, deliver more materials and better manage the information that is available to us and to our partners.

A major ingredient in this approach is the development of our web portals intended to facilitate goals in the broader context of our work. The first of these, Agricta, was set up in 2001 to provide a platform for electronic networking among our partners. After a slow start, its development was more rapid in 2004 as it became integrated into our work on regional agricultural policy networks. It was also strengthened by the launch in September of our newest portal, Anancy (see pp. 37 and 50). Named after a spider of West African mythology charged with spreading knowledge and which found its way into Caribbean legend thus, a manifestation of cultural integration Anancy is a multi-faceted facility, its multiple arms opening many doors, all of them linked to a central information hub. It is an online version of The Essential Electronic Agricultural Library (TEEAL) system and serves primarily as a gateway to global online sources of agricultural information, being linked to a number of major sites covering topics relevant to CTAs mandate and housed on Anancy. Access to more sites will be provided in 2005; for example, we hope to link into Agora, a website focusing specifically on food security, set up by the University of Michigan and the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO) (

Anancy is also, in effect, an enhancement of the traditional library at CTA. During the drafting of the Strategic Plan it became clear that this library did not provide staff with information quickly enough and it lacked versatility. Using Anancy, however, they now have access to a wide range of up-to-date information on priority development topics and on project management and evaluation.

The capacity development programme will also benefit from Anancy by being able to use the portal to follow up participants in CTA training courses. Staff will be able to see how the participants use the information and skills acquired through training, how their home institutions benefit from their learning, in what ways they think courses and course materials could be improved and how they can continue to get access to information being provided to current trainees. Thus, Anancy will provide what could be termed distance learning refresher courses, enabling former trainees to come back into the system,both to benefit from it and to contribute to its improvement.

Of the other three CTA web portals, one, Knowledge for Development, had begun operating in late 2003 and was fully operational in 2004, the page views per month rising from about 10,000 in January to more than 60,000 by September. It was established in response to a recommendation made by ACP science and technology (S&T) Ministers and stakeholders at a meeting in South Africa in late 2002 that CTA launch a site to facilitate the exchange of information on formulating and implementing S&T policies and to highlight the importance of encouraging farmer innovation. The portals role in ACP science, technology and innovation (ST&I) policy-making is described later in this Introduction, and its main areas of activity in 2004 are outlined on pages 4144.

The other two portals Agritrade and ICT Update can both be said to have come of age in 2004. The use of these portals increased significantly during the year (see pp. 37 and 58). ICT Update was originally seen as likely to be of interest only to ICT technicians in ACP countries. But this has turned out not to be the case. Many people involved in a broad range of development activities now use the portal to see how ICTs could be applied to enhance programme impact and improve rural livelihoods. An example of the source of this extended interest is to be had from the locust invasion in Africa in 2004. In response to a request from the ACP Committee of Ambassadors that CTA provide information on the nature of the problem and what could be done to address it, we were able to say that not only had we examined these issues in Spore over a long period up to 2004, but we had also, in recent issues of ICT Update, explored integrated pest management and ICTs and looked at how FAO was using an electronic network e-locust to share information and provide a locust invasion early warning system in some ACP regions.

The Agritrade portal, now a key information source on international agricultural trade negotiations, has continued to highlight the information needed to facilitate effective stances by ACP negotiators. Its coverage of commodities and themes was extended in 2004 to fisheries products, cereals, food safety issues, EU enlargement and Geographical Indications. In addition, analytical material was developed in response to two major developments in international agricultural trade: the EC communication on sugar sector reform and the World Trade Organisation (WTO) July framework agreement. In keeping with the launch of Phase II of the Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs) negotiations, we decided to go beyond the general EPA briefs and develop regional briefs that would highlight the issues faced by each region in terms of market access (e.g., residual tariff barriers, EU food safety policy, and preferences erosion) and reciprocity (e.g., trends in EU agricultural exports, and sensitive products). Two regions were covered during the year Eastern and Southern Africa; the other four regions will be covered in 2005. In order to encourage greater use of the Agritrade portal, a promotional brochure setting out its objectives and orientation was produced and distributed.

These web portals constitute just one aspect of our efforts to promote the integration of communication tools for development. Outside the Centre itself, we continue to take up other opportunities that present themselves. One such opportunity, for example, arose during discussions held at the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) in Geneva in December 2003. As a result of those discussions and in collaboration with the German Centre for Documentation and Information in Agriculture (ZADI), we are sponsoring a programme launched by Rseau des systmes dinformation sur les marchs de lAfrique de lOuest (RESIMAO). Its aims are to strengthen the national market information systems (MIS) through a regionally managed database and to facilitate the use of a range of available tools (e.g., geographic information systems [GIS], internet, mobile phone and radio) to ensure the rapid dissemination of information on market prices from market level to national nodes. A planning meeting was held in November, and further discussions are scheduled for February 2005.

With regard to the more conventional communication tools, we continued to ensure that the quality of articles in Spore remained high and, with a new production consortium in place, we successfully tackled a late-delivery problem that had arisen in 2003. The timeliness of production has been restored and the printed edition of the magazine continues to reach a wide audience, now estimated to be about 1 million. The book publishing programme remained lively, and bestsellers of recent years, such as Setting Up and Running a Small Food Business (the first volume in our Opportunities in Food Processing series), Where There is No Vet / Que faire sans vtrinaire, Poultry /Llevage de la volaille and Mmento de lagronome, continued to be popular among our PDS subscribers. As noted earlier, work continues on integrating the QAS and SDI services as part of a broader goal to optimise the use of the QAS nodes so that they can also serve as distribution points for other CTA products and services. An issue of AgriOutreach was produced as a prelude to the launch of a lusophone QAS.

Using ICTs to enhance food security

Nowhere was the effectiveness of integrating communication tools better illustrated in 2004 than in our annual seminar, where the topic this year was The role of information and communication tools in food and nutrition security in ACP countries (see p. 36). The venue was Maputo, Mozambique, chosen in line with an ACP-EU commitment to lend support to post-conflict countries. Due to cost considerations, however, this venue allowed us to invite only a limited number of participants. To reach a wide audience, including as many ACP stakeholders as possible, we supplemented the meeting a conventional communication tool with various electronic communication channels. The meeting, for example, was preceded by an e-conference which enabled those whom we could not afford to bring to Maputo to contribute to the agenda and content of the meeting; these contributions were included in daily reports delivered to those who would be in Maputo and were taken on board in the preparations for the meeting. Once the seminar itself got under way, daily reports of the proceedings were e-mailed to a wide audience who, in turn, were encouraged to feed back their comments to the meeting via the seminar web space.

Our focus in the seminar was specifically on the use of ICTs, from an institutional and information dissemination perspective, for prosecuting the goal of food and nutrition security in ACP countries. As such, we sought to complement the important work being done by other organisations such as the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) on addressing the issue from agronomic, technical and political perspectives. We supported, for example, a conference on the subject convened by IFPRI in April in Uganda. Similarly, for an ACP Joint Parliamentary Assembly (JPA) meeting in The Hague on food security and food aid in ACP countries within the context of raising political awareness of these issues, CTA supplied relevant literature on the subject, together with an analysis of the problem in general and of the importance of ICT tools in particular in the armoury of possible solutions. The discussions in Maputo, on the other hand, examined how ICT tools could be used to monitor those at risk of food and nutrition insecurity in the rural sector and to meet the information needs of these people and those agencies working with them. The cases covered the use of MIS in West Africa, Mozambique and Kenya, as well as a one-stop multi-language site on country-level information, the Food Security and Food Policy Information Portal for Africa (FSIP), Agora (see above), First Voice International (a satellite network) and the SIMBANI network (community radio). Of particular interest in the presentations was the information on how ICTs are being used in very specific ways to improve food and nutrition security. For example, KACE Ltd, a private sector agency, utilises meeting points and notice boards, along with the cellular phone short messaging service (SMS), the interactive voice response service, the internet-based regional trade and information system (RECOITIS) and websites to disseminate and sell information. Other entities were using either satellites with FM radios to deliver information on markets and meteorological conditions or community radio to deliver information tailored to narrow target communities.

The seminar discussions focused on the needs, tools, potential, constraints and achievements involved in the various initiatives and experiments. The purpose of such discussions is to eventually contribute to building a community of practice for such approaches, providing information on opportunities that could be exploited and on what could be done to optimise the use of both traditional and ultra-modern ICTs. The constraints ranged from (often inappropriately) restrictive State policies based on fear of loss of control over information to inadequate regulatory regimes, and the consequences were frequently a lack of either the supply or demand for the service due to the unaffordable costs of using e-mail or accessing the internet. Obviously, the challenges were therefore not entirely of a technological nature, but also attitudinal and organisational. So we explored what could be done at the institutional level, because poor institutional management of information, resulting in inadequate information, late information and poorly analysed and processed information, has implications for food security. It is in this regard that the Centre has provided support to many of our national and local partners on such subjects as post-harvest losses and nutrition education.

For the participants in the Maputo seminar, the occasion was an opportunity to see, at first hand, the countrys recovery from countless years of conflict and its use of an MIS in efforts to develop the rural sector. Participants were also pleased to experience the hospitality of the Mozambican government and people. Particularly memorable was the presence of Madame Graa Machel. Despite the heavy demands on her time in the run up to the countrys general election, she was able to join us and to give us an inspiring presentation on the needs of the rural community in relation to food and nutrition security, with a particular focus on women and children. In her inimitable style, she charged us to ensure that this would not be just another photo opportunity, but an event that would lead to a set of measures that, in 2 or 3 years time, could be shown to have been implemented with tangible benefits for those at risk of food and nutrition insecurity.

Supporting policy-making initiatives

The dual focus, as exemplified by the Maputo seminar, on both the institutional and technical constraints to development brings us to another major area of CTA activity information support for agricultural policy-making. When, in 2000, the ACP and the EU agreed to modify CTAs mandate so that it would cover policy-making, the change did not meet with universal approval. During my first meetings with the Centres Advisory Committee, it was clear that, among its EU representatives, there was concern about strengthening ACP voices on issues on which the ACP and EU did not necessarily see eye to eye, about duplicating the work of other agencies already working on policy and about CTA abandoning technical issues to devote itself to policy matters.

Four years later, however, I think we can say that these fears have proved to be unfounded. The ACP-EU political directorates decision to include policy in our mandate was based on the recognition that central to the institutional constraints to development in the ACP rural sector are the problems of decision-making and policy-making. We see this recognition underpinning much of the development work going on all around us now; it is evident in the current work on poverty, for example, and in the reviews of the Poverty Reduction Strategy Papers (PRSPs). When we fashioned the Strategic Plan, our intention was to provide information and communication support to decision-making and policy-making, and that is what we have managed to do, as illustrated by the nature of the support we have given to regional agricultural policy networks and, more recently, to the ST&I policy-making process in ACP countries. And, as shown by the activities described earlier, this has in no way detracted from our work on the technical issues involved in improving ACP access to information.
A good balance has been struck, and it is being maintained.

Roughly 10% of the budget under the Cotonou Agreement is earmarked for promoting regional integration. It is in this context that we have sought to encourage the establishment of regional agricultural policy networks which link the institutions and stakeholders involved in and affected by regional agricultural policies
(see pp. 2933). For several years now we have worked with two major networks in Africa

the Eastern and Central Africa Programme for Agricultural Policy Analysis (ECAPAPA) and the Food, Agriculture and Natural Resources Policy Analysis Network (FANRPAN) in Southern Africa. In 2003 the Ministers of Agriculture in the Caribbean agreed at a meeting with representatives of key regional and international institutions to establish a regional agricultural policy network. In 2004, we took the concept to the Pacific and prepared a report based on our experiences of the African and the Caribbean networks. The report covered the problems a Pacific network might face. Issues such as institutional rivalries, ownership and the fear of domination by larger neighbours will have to be taken into account. The institutions involved are looking at whether to take the idea up and how it might be adapted in terms of content and structure to reflect the concerns and priorities of the Pacific region.

A major challenge with these regional networks is to keep the institutions involved in step with each other. This often requires a level of management that is beyond the organisers capacity, so this is an area to which we pay close attention. There is also the challenge of keeping the network focused on regional priorities, and not diverted by national or international concerns, and thus to build up a community of practice where experiences can be exchanged and operational approaches can be developed and strengthened. Our work in this area has benefited greatly from the strong relationship we now have with the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA), and we are again linking up with IICA in their efforts with the World Bank and several Latin American institutions to set up a network focusing on agricultural distance learning, the ED-Rural Alliance. We are proposing to contribute to this network our capacity building and ICM skills and the benefits of many years of involvement in the Caribbean. Further down the line, we hope to apply the concept and lessons to Africa and the Pacific. Perhaps the greatest benefit for CTA itself, however, will lie in being able to utilise the content developed by this network for our Caribbean and other constituencies. After the Caribbean phase, we envisage moving fairly rapidly to West Africa, where the facilities of the Global Development Learning Network (GDLN) are available and can be exploited to benefit our partners and other stakeholders in agricultural development in that region. Also linked to this work is the development of distance learning materials in the field of policy-making that we are undertaking in collaboration with FAO, IFPRI and IICA.

In our work on S&T policy, in which our Knowledge for Development portal plays a central role and where the emphasis is on supporting, promoting and raising awareness of the importance of S&T policy in development, there was a shift in orientation in 2004 to include policy-making as it affects innovation systems. So now we are looking not only at policy formulation and how it takes account of the views of farmers, researchers, consumers and policy-makers, but also at the role of institutions in driving and managing change and innovation in the S&T field. It is not enough just to plant the seed about the importance of S&T policy, as it were; the soil on which it falls must be properly prepared so as to encourage and support continuous innovation. In February, in collaboration with the United Nations University/Institute for New Technologies (UNU/INTECH) and national ACP institutions, we launched an initiative to build ACP capacity to analyse national agricultural S&T and innovation (ASTI) systems. This has involved conducting studies in selected countries using UNU/INTECH methodologies to analyse sectoral developments in innovation systems; the studies are now being finalised and will be published for distribution to various stakeholders. We are also working with the New Partnership for Africas Development (NEPAD) which attaches great importance to the central role of effective S&T policies. While NEPAD brings to CTA information on the priorities in this field as seen by Africas Heads of Government, we bring to NEPAD our experience in the use of ICTs in support of policy development.

An important event in 2004 was the meeting at CTA of the Advisory Committee on Science and Technology for ACP Agricultural and Rural Development (see pp. 43 and 46). The first meeting under this name (it was known formerly as the ACP Informal Working Group on S&T), it endorsed the work CTA was doing in this field and provided guidance on future directions. CTA was also involved in various regional S&T meetings, including a major one in Kenya that we organised with NEPAD and the African Technology Policy Studies (ATPS) network (see p. 42). This meeting not only gave exposure to the ASTI initiative and to NEPADs S&T plan being effected through its Forum for Agricultural Research in Africa (FARA), it also sought to bring some coordination and rationalisation to the S&T work being conducted by many national institutions, some of them unaware of what others are doing and thus giving rise to duplication. Similar goals were set at the regional S&T meetings we helped organise in the Caribbean and Pacific. The Caribbean meeting led to a paper being prepared on S&T policy which we were privileged to be asked to comment upon. In 2005 we intend to organise an S&T policy meeting catering for lusophone ACP countries.

In early 2004 the failure of African governments to maintain the monitoring and control systems for locusts gave rise to costly consequences that were evident for all to see. This tendency to under-estimate the value of information and communication systems and to treat the under-funding of early warning systems as costless is not limited to agriculture. In late December, the world had a stark reminder of the tragic consequences of this approach (in this case, non-funding) by policy-makers. The tsunami that devastated much of the Indian Ocean seaboard was predictable, according to many experts, including the eminent Kenyan professor, Dr Calestous Juma, Director of the ST&I Program at Harvard University, had the regions governments not, in 2003, turned down the idea of installing a tsunami early warning system. Greater investment in providing good scientific information and ensuring that governments take account of this information in policy-making might, suggested Dr Juma, have led in this case to a different decision being taken.

Equipping CTA for the future

In order to work effectively with its ACP partners and address the needs of all stakeholders in ACP agricultural and rural development, CTA has to ensure that the ACP voice is heard in the EU corridors of power and that ACP countries are kept fully informed of EU decisions that have implications for their development. It was in this context that we held discussions with some of the new EU Member States. The focus of these talks was on the implications of their accession for ACP countries, on the ACP-EU institutional arrangements which affect CTAs work, on the reform of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) and on agricultural commodities, especially with regard to those countries that are major agricultural producers, such as Poland. We sought to sound them out on these and other issues and to see what opportunities there were for cooperation in agricultural development.

During the year we also made a special effort to meet the representatives of the six new Pacific States in the ACP Group. In November, for example, in the margins of the Council of Ministers meeting we held talks with the Prime Minister of Niue with a view to providing local institutions with agricultural documentation, and he made a number of requests that we shall follow up in 2005.

Facilitating all these discussions was our new-look Brussels office. A new programme was established for the office in 2004, under which it now liaises systematically with a range of individuals and institutions in Brussels with an interest in development and in ACP issues. So, in addition to maintaining contact, as it has done for many years, with ACP-EU supervisory bodies and relevant Directorates, it now also maintains close links with Brussels-based representatives of NGOs and other non-governmental agencies, including international aid agencies such as Oxfam. It seeks to make all these bodies aware of CTA activities and interests (partly through the web log it has recently set up) and to look for opportunities for collaboration. Particularly noteworthy in 2004 was the role that our Brussels office played in working with ACP cotton producers in preparation for a major seminar organised by the EC in June, helping them fashion a set of initiatives in their struggle to obtain viable prices for their cotton exports to the EU and elsewhere. This followed up on the support CTA provided for ACP cotton producers at the WTO meeting in Cancn in 2003 and for the website that has been established specifically to address this issue.

At CTA headquarters in Wageningen, we continued with our series of internal seminars aimed at ensuring that, in all their dealings with CTAs partners and target community, our staff are well versed in the relevant issues and methodologies. Following up on a suggestion from the CTA Advisory Committee, we organised a seminar on PRSPs, trying to glean lessons from these papers that could be useful to CTAs work. We also organised an internal seminar on youth, one of our cross-cutting issues, in preparation for our annual ICT Observatory meeting which, this year, was on Giving Youth a Voice ICTs for Rural Youth Livelihoods.

The Observatory participants produced a declaration inviting the ACP Group to implement activities aimed at improving the prospects for young people in the ACP rural sectors. A delegation from the meeting was selected to present the declaration to the ACP Committee of Ambassadors in Brussels. Although agriculture tends not to generate much excitement among ACP Ambassadors, the meeting was very well attended and a lively discussion was followed by a request from the ACP Secretariat for proposals on projects that might be funded within the Intra-ACP Cooperation framework. In early December we provided the Secretariat with proposals for funding several youth-related projects, thus ensuring tangible outcomes for the Observatory meeting and making use of the resources available to the ACP Group in pursuit of goals consistent with the objectives of that meeting and of the ACP Group as a whole. We also applied the GenARDIS concept, launched in 2002 and based on providing small grants for gender-related projects, to our activities on youth.

Our last internal seminar of the year focused on the participatory dimension of GIS. I mention this seminar by way of illustrating our approach to technical issues; that is, we are not concentrating specifically on the technology itself the tools in the GIS basket run the gamut of the conventional to the ultra-modern, including satellite links and digital mapping but rather on how the technology could be used to empower rural communities. While other agencies with the relevant mandate and skills focus on the purely technical side, we are looking at the social mapping possibilities that GIS offers and have already supported a few projects in this field. At our internal seminar we learned of a number of agencies which have developed a strong capacity on this front and with whom we could collaborate, including the International Institute for Geo-Information Science and Earth Observation based in The Netherlands, the University of Virginia in the USA, and the Cameroon-based Africa Humid Tropics Regional Programme of the World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF).

On the staffing and organisational side we made considerable strides this year. CTA had some difficulties between 2000 and 2002 because we were not able to recruit the skills to match the new mandate due to institutional and supervisory problems. When we were able to start recruiting, the process turned out to be a lot more prolonged than we had anticipated. Nonetheless, by the end of 2004 we had managed to fill all the approved key posts with people whose skills were complementary to those that already existed at the Centre. Traditionally, CTA has been staffed mainly by documentalists, librarians and agronomists; now we have brought in others with specific skills in such areas as ICTs, project management, electronic publishing and public relations.
We have also kept an eye on ensuring a good gender balance, with some senior management positions now being occupied by women, and on maintaining a geographic balance, recruiting new staff from Southern Africa and the Caribbean. With the exception of the Pacific, from which we tried, unsuccessfully, to recruit a representative in 2004, the balance between ACP regions is now somewhat more even than was previously the case.

With a full complement of staff and a good spread of skills that match the demands of our mandate, with our enhanced visibility in the development community and the way ahead clearly marked, I think we can look forward with confidence to another 20 years of fruitful partnership with the diverse range of stakeholders in the agricultural and rural sectors of ACP countries.

A challenging experience

In 2005, after 5 years as Director of CTA,
I shall be moving on. When I was assigned to the Centre in 2000 I perceived that the main management challenge was to add some economic skills to its armoury of analytical tools so that the reference to policy in the new mandate might be addressed. As the activities of 2004 demonstrate, we can be pleased with our achievements in this regard. As with life in general, however, the problem was really not quite that simple. Skills in communication (in its wider sense) were also sorely needed by the Centre, both internally to raise awareness of socio-economic issues and methodologies and externally to more sharply refine the use and targeting of messages and their recipients. This has also been successfully tackled, although the exercise is far from complete; one result of the work being done in the public relations area is the new tagline for our logo (see p. 64). Progress in these areas has conferred on management certain other benefits, chief among them being the ability to be more pro-active in formulating programmes and anticipating the constituencys needs. This ability meets one of the main criticisms of the Centre voiced in the report on the Mid-Term Assessment conducted in 19992000.

The reports and activities of the Centre also reflect the continuing struggle to create synergy in the collaborative efforts of the various operational Departments. This is not only a question of oversight and coordination of programmes, but also of a culture, of teamwork and of awareness among partners. It is a process that is still in train.

The extent to which CTAs partners value and contribute to its output and quality of work is not evident from outside. I was certainly not aware of this from Brussels, where I was based before coming to CTA and where the attitude to agriculture and consequently to the Centres work tends to be one of tolerance agriculture is not one of the sexy subjects. I was first struck by this asymmetry in appreciation during my meeting with the heads of the West and Central African Council for Agricultural Research and Development (WECARD) in Madagascar in 2001. The positive attitude of ACP countries is largely a testimony to the commitment of the very small cadre of staff at CTA with whom it has been my privilege to work. An equally valued privilege has been that of working with (and for) the ACP actors in the national and regional agricultural sectors. Both experiences have been highly educational and fulfilling for me. I leave the sector much wiser and more sensitive to current and impending challenges and needs. I hope that, for their part, those within and outside CTA whom the changes have touched can look at the fruits of our joint efforts and feel not only that the results justify the energy and commitment that have gone into this work, but also that this term of ACP leadership has set standards of which we can all be justifiably proud.

Carl B. Greenidge Director, CTA