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CTA’s strategic vision for greater impact and results in African, Caribbean and Pacific countries

Read the interview with Michael Hailu, Director of CTA

December 17, 2015

As all international organisations, CTA assesses its strategies on a regular basis and redirects its activities, taking into account the needs of its partners and beneficiaries. Michael Hailu, Director of CTA, describes how the Centre has made a difference over the past five years and what new strategic options have been chosen for the next five years.

1. The CTA Strategic Plan 2011–2015 focused on new areas for CTA activities: policy processes, value chains and capacity strengthening in information, communications and knowledge management. CTA also concentrated on food security and nutrition, climate change and innovation. What have been CTA's main achievements in those areas over the last 5 years?

Over the last 5 years, CTA has undergone a major organisational change, building its competencies in its priority strategic areas – policy, value chain development and knowledge management. By doing so, CTA has changed from being an organisation that was largely seen as a publisher and distributor of books to a technically-competent convenor, facilitator and capacity builder in these areas. We have thoroughly revamped our internal processes and systems to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of our services and our support to beneficiaries. CTA has also enhanced the quality and depth of its partnerships with key institutions in African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) countries, including regional policy organs such as the African Union Commission, farmers' organisations, government agencies, private sector groups and research bodies. Its programmes targeting youth and women have been successful in opening opportunities for these groups and building their capacity. For instance, CTA has trained more than 3,000 people, mostly young professionals, in Web 2.0 and social media. Many organisations across the ACP are now organising their own Web 2.0 and social media training courses using CTA's methodology and training kits.

Over the last 3-4 years, CTA has substantially increased its support to producer organisations, helping them to raise their profile, to reach out to their members and to open opportunities in new markets. CTA has also initiated new programmes in areas such as value chain finance, regional trade, climate-smart agriculture and agro-tourism which are already bearing fruit. In all its work, CTA has been able to create space for its key constituencies – farmers' organisations, youth, women, local communities and policymakers – to share their experiences and perspectives in addressing common problems. CTA has made significant strides over the last 5 years that position it as an important player in transforming agriculture in ACP countries as an engine for inclusive growth.

2. The Centre is about to implement its 2016–2020 Strategic Plan. Are there new areas CTA is going to concentrate on? If so, could you explain why and how?

Yes indeed, CTA is in the process of finalising its 2016–2020 Strategic Plan. We are not planning a major shift from our current strategic plan because the path we defined 5 years ago still remains valid and resonates well with our stakeholders. However, the new strategy will take into account internal and external environment developments and lessons we have learned over the last 5 years. Primarily, the strategy will focus more on results and impact. It will also give greater priority to working with the private sector, through support to agribusiness development that will open market opportunities for smallholder producers and small- and medium-sized enterprises in ACP countries. We will also increase our work in areas such as climate-smart agriculture and nutrition-sensitive agriculture. These are in response to greater challenges the ACP regions are facing in the form of climate change and malnutrition – both micronutrient deficiency and obesity. In all our work, we will leverage our partnership with a range of institutions working on similar issues.

3. How do you see CTA's future 5 years from now?

The external environment is changing rapidly. New, unexpected events with profound socio-political impact are manifesting themselves more frequently than in the past. We cannot take anything for granted anymore. Such uncertainty will force organisations to become more adaptive and prepare themselves for perpetual change. While the 2016–2020 strategy will set the broad parameters for CTA's work in the next 5 years, we know that we will have to adapt it continually to remain relevant and responsive to the needs of our stakeholders. CTA is well positioned to play a more proactive role in the ACP-EU partnership to advance sustainable agriculture, agribusiness development, youth employment and inclusive growth. In the next 5 years, CTA will work for greater impact, with more effective partnerships and diversified sources of funding.