We are happy to present to you the inaugural issue of the WAVE newsletter. We are starting this bi-monthly journal as a way to keep in touch with a broad target audience, including scientists from around the world, students, farmer cooperatives, policy-makers, traditional rulers and the media, who are all an essential part of our journey.
We thought The WAVE would be a great way to share our stories of impact, our latest news and our partners’ events that touch close to home. We hope that through this new tool, you can get to know more about WAVE, our purpose and achievements, and that we can find ways to reach our common goals together.
In this first issue we will be introducing WAVE to those of you who are not familiar with our work. We will also take you backstage at the first WAVE-organized seminar of African cassava virologists and breeders as well as the Cotonou international conference we co-organized from 7–8 June 2018. Finally, we will share exciting prospects of WAVE’s forefront participation at the Grand Challenges Annual Meeting to be held from 15–18 October 2018 in Berlin.
We hope you will welcome this new effort of ours to connect with you. We want this newsletter to be valuable to you so please share your feedback and suggestions to help us improve.
Dr. Justin PITA
WAVE Executive Director
1. Can you describe the WAVE Program in a nutshell?
WAVE is a college of West and Central African scientists promoting agricultural science in an innovative way for the benefit of smallholder farmers to enhance productivity.
2. In its three years of existence, what have been the main achievements of the Program?
I will say our main achievement is the fact that WAVE has been able to establish an effective system showing that National Agricultural Research Systems can be trusted, that they can deliver if they have effective institutional support. We think that WAVE has been able to demonstrate it’s possible to trust the NARS in this regard.
3. What does success for WAVE look like? Or said otherwise, what do you hope to achieve with WAVE?
This question refers us back to our vision: success for WAVE means disease-free crops for income and food security for all in Africa.
4. As the Program’s Executive Director, what lessons have you learned over the past three years?
The main lesson I have learned is that we should be careful putting a network together. We have to choose the right partners and it is very important to take the time to put this network together by picking the best. We are lucky at WAVE to have the best Country team leaders and the best institutions in West and Central Africa. This is an important key to our success. To anybody who wants to put such a network together, this is an important part of your success.
5. What are the main challenges the Program faces today?
The main challenge is to get government support at all levels (for funding, to build a strategy to respond to viral disease threats). We really want to engage with the various governments where WAVE is implemented; this is our current challenge and we hope to be able to overcome it.
6. Tell us how you’ve approached change in order to achieve more impact
Our recipe is really thinking out of the box, but, by doing so, we have to listen carefully to those who have been there before us, who did it before us. You cannot always reinvent the wheel, so it is very important to learn from their mistakes and their achievements. For example, we learnt a lot from the Cassava Diagnostics Project in East Africa. We are also trying to innovate in the way we conduct our research while taking into consideration the specific context of the Program's location. This is very important.
7. What is your hope/vision for WAVE’s future?
Our short-term vision is to expand WAVE to more countries. We currently are in seven countries (Côte d’Ivoire, Benin, Burkina Faso, Togo, Nigeria, Ghana and Democratic Republic of the Congo). We wish to expand our activities to five more countries (Cameroon, Gabon, Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea) and to be able to show a model that can be duplicated for all types of crops, not just tuber crops. We would love to see scientists create a similar network for vegetables or any type of crop facing challenges. This is really our hope for the future. Our long-term vision for WAVE is to see the Program serving also as a plant clinic.
8. One last message for our readers?
I would like to invite The WAVE readers to visit our website on wave-edu.org to learn more about what we do, but also to contact us if they have questions or suggestions to improve the Program. Together, we will make WAVEs to change Africa.
15–18 October 2018: Grand Challenges Annual Meeting
WAVE will attend the 14th Grand Challenges Annual Meeting in Berlin, Germany where our very own Dr. Angela Eni, Country team leader in Nigeria will be a spotlight speaker. We will give you unprecedented front row seats to this exciting venture in a special issue of The WAVE dedicated to this meeting.
5–10 November 2018: Partnership for International Research and Education (PIRE) Project Meeting
The Biosciences Eastern and Central Africa (BecA-ILRI Hub) will be hosting the PIRE Project annual meeting at International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) headquarters in Nairobi. Bringing together partners from the Mikocheni Agricultural Research Institute (MARI) from Tanzania, International research institutions from the USA, BecA-ILRI and other partners (including WAVE), the meeting will be an opportunity to discuss the project’s work and progress.
26–29 November 2018: AWARD Steering Committee Meeting and 10-year Anniversary
This year marks the African Women in Agricultural Research and Development (AWARD) project’s 10-year anniversary. This is will be celebrated in Nairobi at the project’s headquarters, which will also be hosting the Steering Committee meeting. More to come on this in The WAVE December issue.