IPA/IGC/IFAD Agricultural Workshop

The IGC, in conjunction with Innovations for Poverty Action (IPA) and the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), held an agricultural workshop on June 19th 2014 in Freetown, Sierra Leone. The workshop had two main goals: 1) to share the recent research work funded by IGC and carried out by IPA in Sierra Leone, and 2) provide direct policy advice for actors engaged in the small-holder commercialisation program, one of the largest IFAD projects in Sierra Leone and one of the most important projects to the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Food Security (MAFFS).

Prince Kamara, the director of the MAFFS small-holder commercialisation program, chaired the workshop. Mr. Kamara is widely regarded as a powerful official in MAFFS and is the most important policymaker in Sierra Leone dealing with small-holder commercialisation. Also in attendance were other top policymakers from MAFFS. Herbert M’cleod, IGC Sierra Leone Country Director, opened and closed the workshop. IGC Sierra Leone was also very pleased that Ibrahim Stevens, IGC Country Program Director, attended a session of the workshop.

Presentations were given by Tavneet Suri (Massachuesetts Institute of Technology), Benjamin Jaques (J-PAL) , Amandine Poicon (IPA-Sierra Leone) and Jacob White (IGC-Sierra Leone). The workshop was divided into three sessions: Agricultural Technology and Extension, Markets for Inputs and Outputs, and Rural Finance. Tavneet Suri led the sessions on technology and extension and rural finance, while Benjamin Jaques led the session on markets. After each session, a study funded by IGC and carried out by IPA was presented.

Key policy takeaways from the conference were: try to make intermediaries more competitive, infrastructure is important for lowering costs and improving competition and from a research and policy perspective researchers need to understand the perspective of the farmer because often they know more than the experts advising them.