Case study

category: strategy
Africa Rice – Stop & Think
"The mission of the Africa Rice Center is to contribute to poverty alleviation and food security in Africa, through research, development and partnership activities aimed at increasing the productivity and profitability of the rice sector in ways that ensure the sustainability of the farming environment."

Challenge 

Mandated by African Governments to support the achievement of rice self-sufficiency in Africa, AfricaRice faces a landscape of rising population growth and consumption that requires significant intensification. With the Global Goals, changing consumer preferences and the growing demand for more nutritious food, it is key for this process to be sustainable. Facing growing food insecurity and malnutrition, increasing import trends and the widening quality gap, AfricaRice’s relevance is clear in terms of need but remains a difficult operating environment that varies significantly by country context. Not unlike many organisations, AfricaRice is also facing a sharp decline in funding, with a donor outlook that requires a significant focus on impact, and preferably, at scale.

Action

In response to these drivers, SRI conducted an initial stakeholder consultation process with key and non-traditional partners, seeking recommendations to enhance AfricaRice’s relevance, its alignment with National and Regional priorities, and where AfricaRice could engage the private sector to enhance its Research-4-Development portfolio and to bring its technologies to scale. The findings from a literature review, this consultation process and an initial SWOT analysis were then distilled into thematic areas for consideration in a “Stop and Think Workshop” in Cote d’Ivoire.  Framed by its contribution to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the Paris Agreement, these findings laid the foundation for strategy discussions in terms of AfricaRice’s value proposition, financial opportunities and operating modalities, leading to solutions on how AfricaRice intends on working differently in response to this changing landscape.  For example, this dialogue highlighted the importance of smarter partnerships for alternate delivery and co-financing mechanisms, to more effectively engage Member Countries to understand and propose solutions to policy barriers and conditions and to produce market-driven products and services that respond to climate conditions and variances.

Impact / results

By leveraging a “strategy day” in AfricaRice’s Science Week, AfricaRice’s Leadership Team received inputs from over 60 staff across the Continent. This has enabled a shift in thinking that will support a wider transformation process that will be ongoing as AfricaRice begins to develop its next five-year strategic plan and build the road towards financial health. By articulating a revised value proposition within a value chain approach, AfricaRice will be in a stronger position to make the business case to Governments, the private sector and to donors, in a way that ensures the utilisation, dissemination and application of its research results and technologies, while attracting resources to support the sustainable intensification of the rice sector in Africa.