The transformation of the rural economies in Africa does not only require substantial financial investments from the international community but also, and most importantly, robust and rigorous research in this economic sector which harbours the majority of African population, particularly the poor.
A study which was jointly conducted by the World Bank and Elsevier to examine the research that was undertaken in Sub-Saharan Africa between 2003 and 2012 across different science disciplines suggests a lack of internal research capacity to produce high quality research output and very little inter- and intra-collaboration between African academics. For instance the report found that, while about 65 percent of all research in Sub-Saharan Africa in 2012 were produced through international collaborations, inter-collaborations among Sub-Saharan African researchers only amount to a mere 3.9 percent. Another disturbing finding that emerged from this study was a trend that shows very little collaboration between African academics and other major partners on the African continent such as corporate, government, and civil society organizations; which implies that these partners are less likely to rely on African-generated knowledge and research in their work and policy formulation processes on the continent. This little collaboration between African academics occurs in the context of ageing academics in Africa as it has been highlighted by a study which was commissioned by the Partnership for Higher Education in Africa in 2010.
The main objective of Young African Researchers in Agriculture Network (YARA) is to reverse these trends. Launched in 2014 at the African Union Head Quarters in Addis Ababa, the network brings together young and early career African researchers in agriculture in order to cultivate the culture of supporting one another, sharing information, networking and collaborating for research projects, all of which contribute towards enhancing research capacity in agriculture on the African continent. YARA ethos is built on the need to support and promote young scholars on the continent in order to secure the future of research, policy and practice in Africa’s agriculture. The network is based on the need to claim our space as young and early career African researchers in the African scholarship and promote African voices in different academic and policy forums through producing high quality end-user oriented research output.