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Two African development organisations have agreed to combine research efforts in a bid to increase Africa's agricultural productivity.

The New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD) and the Forum on African Research in Agriculture (FARA) will combine their strengths, in order to bring new agricultural technologies to farmers.

In consultation with the NEPAD member countries, FARA — which has over 100 members including national agriculture research institutions, nongovernmental organisations, farmer organisations and private enterprises — will identify priority activities for collaboration in African agricultural research.

In turn, NEPAD will use its links with the international community and development partners to support these efforts financially.

At the signing ceremony in Midrand, South Africa last week (20 February), NEPAD's chief executive officer, Firmino Mucavele, said agricultural productivity must be improved for Africa's economy to grow.

"It is our hope that the important efforts being put in motion by FARA will yield tangible results that will benefit the livelihoods of the vast majority of the rural farming population," said Mucavele.

He stressed that the partners will develop a joint strategy for disseminating information and knowledge generated by NEPAD's Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (see Major plan to boost African agriculture unveiled).

The organisations will also develop a joint capacity building initiative, including postgraduate training and short-term training of agricultural professionals at the regional and national level.

Mucavele said NEPAD is committed to supporting FARA in its "excellent efforts" in increasing African agricultural productivity.

James Keeley, researcher for Sustainable Agriculture, Biodiversity and Livelihoods at the International Institute for Environment and Development told SciDev.Net that the programme might provide new opportunities for African farmers and researchers. 

He appealed to FARA and NEPAD to engage the media in disseminating information on new agricultural technologies and research outputs.

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