The Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Cooperation (CTA) confirms closure by end of 2020.
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Agricultural expertise: a vital link

Analysis

© CTA

With CTA’s knowledge products reaching around 2 million people each year, dissemination of information through books and technical manuals has made a vital difference for people working in the fields of extension, education and at policy level.

For many years, hard copies of CTA’s publications were disseminated on a subscription basis to a growing number in ACP countries which, at their peak, totalled around 35,000 a year with the distribution of almost 200,000 publications. Feedback demonstrated the value of this unique service to those at grassroots level and also for key decision-makers. “This publication [Farming Change], though based on the Caribbean, is also applicable to Ghana. The problems analysed are similar and it is very helpful,” stated Hope K. Kumah of Ghana’s Ministry of Food and Agriculture.

Around 200 publications, including Practical Guides, Agrodoks and The Tropical Agriculturalist series provided invaluable material to farmers and extension workers. At community level, CTA was able to further extend its impact by working with local partners to establish rural libraries and community study groups. “The CTA books are appropriate for the information that we need for developing rural areas, particularly on food and household food security. They are easy to read, well-illustrated and focus on the context of our arid region,” said Jackson Ndlovu, Director of a community library in Gwanda, Zimbabwe.

Rural reach by radio

To provide essential, high-quality agricultural information to a wider audience, CTA provided over 200 rural radio broadcasters with the necessary material to make agricultural programmes. Produced between 1990 and 2009, the Rural Radio Resource Packs (RRRPs), which included farmer interviews recorded by experienced African journalists, promoted knowledge sharing between smallholders and were often translated into local African languages. “Farmers interviewed for RRRPs said that the programmes enabled them to quickly diagnose crop and animal diseases and seek treatment. This was especially important when they had limited interactions with extension advisors,” emphasised Busani Bafana, RRRP and Spore correspondent. 

“This was the role of CTA – scanning the horizon and introducing the future to the farmers of today.” Theo de Jager, President, World Farmers’ Organisation

CTA’s long-running Spore magazine – published for 34 years – was not the Centre’s only magazine. Created in 2000, ICT Update was established to capture contemporary developments in ICTs for agriculture; the trends, latest technologies and stories from the field. Almost 100 editions, published over 19 years, reached tens of thousands of readers and were used for various purposes, including for teaching and at field level by book clubs in Africa, and for developing strategy documents by, for instance, the Malabo Montpellier panel. Starting in 2013, CTA also produced Success Story publications to document innovations that were improving the lives of millions of people. Ultimately, the aim was to inspire farmers, researchers, business leaders, policymakers and non-governmental organisations to take up successful initiatives and accelerate the transformation of Africa’s agriculture into a more sustainable and profitable sector. With a move to digitalisation, publications were made freely available online; and in early 2019, all CTA publications were transferred to CGSpace, a repository of agricultural research outputs produced by CGIAR institutions and partners.

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Renowned and authoritative knowledge broker

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.

Reporting on impact and innovation

For over 34 years, CTA’s flagship magazine, Spore, offered unrivalled guidance to smallholder farmers across ACP countries enabling greater productivity and income generation. As a tool that contributed to sustainable agricultural transformation, the publication’s influence has been widely felt and is well recognised.

Trading up: making the most of markets

Web portals and publications by CTA and partners have provided detailed analyses and information regarding issues affecting ACP agricultural trade. Access to this material has informed and empowered ACP countries in their trade negotiations and strengthened domestic and regional value chains.

Brussels Development Policy Briefings: a platform for promoting policy

Organised by CTA, the European Commission (EC), the ACP Group of States and Concord, the Brussels Development Policy Briefings have been a flagship initiative providing an inclusive policy dialogue forum on discussing critical issues for ACP agriculture and rural development for more than a decade.

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