A legacy of agricultural transformation

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Changing lives, making an impact

For over 35 years, CTA has effectively demonstrated how agricultural innovation can be documented, shared and scaled up to achieve significant improvements in incomes, productivity and food security. CTA’s lifeblood has been the brokering of successful partnerships to foster sustainable agricultural transformation, in particular for the smallholder farmers that are the backbone of many African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) economies.

CTA’s strong brand and track-record in serving ACP communities to deliver development impact by building the capacity of smallholder farmers, extension workers, researchers, young entrepreneurs, and policymakers is also well acclaimed and appreciated. As a result of CTA’s capacity strengthening, organisations have become more competent, enlightened and empowered, which has consequently contributed to organisational transformation through enhanced institutional growth and increased effectiveness and impact.

A smart approach

As a fairly small organisation, CTA has adapted its strategy over the years to better respond to evolving challenges. It has also kept pace with the changing times by introducing pioneering approaches as demonstrated by the early focus on ICTs and introducing new technologies for providing information (e.g. CD-ROMs), as well as providing valued training in rural radio, Web 2.0 and social media. In recent years, CTA has been a catalyst in the use of digital technologies, which are making agriculture more efficient and climate-smart, and allowing farmers easier access to advisory services and market information.

“The reach and the multiple topics that CTA has dealt with over the years really makes it stand out among a lot of other organisations, in particular regarding its size.” Ousmane Badiane, Director for Africa, International Food Policy Research Institute

Through CTA projects, young women and men with vision and ambition are being attracted into agriculture and are using digital innovations to reach and impact millions of farmers. Since 2016, CTA has supported more than 1,500 young ICT entrepreneurs and helped to digitally profile more than 500,000 smallholders including women and youth. “CTA has been a great advocate of digitalisation by galvanising interest in the sector and demonstrating what is already there,” states Agnes Kalibata, President of the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa.

With the end of the Cotonou Agreement between the European Union (EU) and the ACP Group of States, the financial and legal framework that supported CTA expires at the end of 2020. As its final focus, CTA created synergies with partners and interested funders to support the continuation of its work. The EU, for example, is one of the major investors in the digitalisation of agriculture. CTA has directly contributed to the EU’s Digital for Development policy, in particular relating to sustainable agriculture and entrepreneurship, and CTA hopes that its work serves as a basis for the EU’s continued focus in this sector.

CTA as an institution may cease to exist but a rich portfolio of valuable assets remains, including knowledge products, databases and extensive networks, and CTA staff and partners can be proud of the impacts achieved in inspiring innovation, nurturing networks, promoting policies and driving digitalisation.

© photo: King Baudouin African Development Prize


Driving the agenda

CTA has played a key role in asking – and answering – critical questions about the future of agriculture and sustainable development in ACP countries. Leveraging its expertise in agricultural knowledge, innovation and technology, the Centre effectively contributed to pushing these issues higher up the policy agenda.

Read More
Inspiring digital entrepreneurs to modernise agriculture
Going digital: the benefits of bundling
Flying high: drones take off in Africa
Ensuring digitalisation: a force for good for African agriculture

Information and Knowledge

Providing information to 79 ACP countries is no mean feat for a relatively small organisation. Nevertheless, CTA has been on the frontline of the communications revolution in creating, sharing and disseminating information, knowledge and learning products to enrich ACP agriculture.

Read More
Reporting on impact and innovation
Trading up: making the most of markets
Brussels Development Policy Briefings: a platform for promoting policy
Agricultural expertise: a vital link

People and partnerships

As a small institution with an extensive mandate, building smart partnerships has been critical to CTA’s success in bringing about sustainable transformation in the agricultural sector.

Read More
Strengthening data capacities for agricultural transformation
Digital solutions: catalysing change
Agritourism: a trailblazing agenda
Mapping for change: the power of participation

CTA milestones and achievements

Over 35 years, CTA has been at the forefront of providing agricultural information and capacity strengthening to a diverse range of ACP individuals and organisations. Promoting innovation, empowering women and youth and driving digitalisation in agriculture have also been a key part of the Centre’s focus.

A final word

Michael Hailu, Director CTA

CTA has provided invaluable services to the agricultural and rural development community in ACP countries for over 35 years.

Established in 1983, the Centre has worked to shape the future of farming and contribute to agricultural transformation by providing access to information, fostering innovation, sharing actionable knowledge and building capacity in ACP countries. At national, regional and global levels, CTA has brought people together and mobilised unique partnerships to share experience on critical issues and to boost investment in agriculture.

In the last decade, after the fall-out from the global food price crisis, there has been a renewed focus on the importance of agriculture as an engine for economic growth, food security and nutrition across the ACP countries. In 2015, with the introduction of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) and with SDG2 focusing on Zero Hunger, the increased role of agriculture and food security on the international agenda became more evident. CTA has been supporting the transformation of agriculture by capacitating ACP farmers to acquire skills, technologies and resources that engender innovation and success. Since 2016, CTA’s focus on promoting youth entrepreneurship, advancing digitalisation in agriculture and encouraging adoption of new technologies and practices in climate-smart agriculture in ACP countries has had a positive impact on the lives of millions of smallholder farmers. And, over 35 years, CTA has effectively demonstrated how agricultural knowledge and innovation can be shared and scaled up to achieve significant improvements in incomes, productivity and food security.

A lasting legacy

CTA has played a critical role in drawing attention to significant issues, related to agriculture in ACP countries. In print and online, CTA has been a beacon of knowledge for millions of agricultural students, researchers, extension agents and farmers not only in the ACP but globally. And, in a number of areas, including most recently with the focus on digitalisation for agriculture, CTA has been at the forefront of driving these critical topics up the policy agenda. CTA is a recognised leader in the promotion of ICTs for agriculture and has been at the vanguard of the move towards precision farming, especially targeting smallholder producers.

“I think in 50 years from now we will look back and say ‘wow – were it not for the way CTA linked up the latest technology, the cutting edge of new developments to smallholder farmers in the poorest countries in the world, we would not have been able to wipe out poverty and hunger in our lifetimes’.” Theo de Jager, President, World Farmers’ Organisation

For a relatively small organisation, CTA has reached far and wide in promoting agricultural transformation through knowledge and innovation. But the far-reaching impact of CTA’s interventions would not have been achieved without its strong partnership with a diverse range of actors, which has also facilitated South-South and triangular co-operation. The European Union’s generous funding over the years has been instrumental in supporting this vital work.

As Director, it has been a real honour and privilege for me to meet and work with so many outstanding and committed individuals, and for CTA to be part of so many critical partnerships. It has been immensely satisfying for me to see the real difference that CTA’s work is making in the lives of farmers, entrepreneurs and agricultural professionals, and, particularly youth and women. In years to come, CTA may not exist as an institution but the momentum of our work will continue and we are proud of the legacy we leave behind.

Michael Hailu
Director, CTA (2010-2020)



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