Virtual Roundtable Series

Kenya: Transforming agricultural research funding towards sustainability 

The issue
Agricultural research has a major role to play to develop sustainable agricultural practices and policies toward achieving greater sustainability, equity, and resilience. The importance of agricultural research has been emphasized in Kenya’s 10-year Agricultural Sector Growth and Transformation Strategy (ASTGS) as one of the core flagships for the sector. However, agricultural research still suffers from underinvestment.

Additionally, agricultural research in sub-Saharan Africa is currently dominated by highly specialized research, which produces isolated solutions. Inversely, holistic and transdisciplinary approaches that systematically approach multiples challenges of today’s food systems – such as climate change, rural poverty, demographic pressure or natural resource degradation – are not receiving a commensurate share of research funding. In order to contribute to Kenya’s Vision 2030 and realize progress towards the Agenda 2030 on Sustainable Development, more integrated research approaches are needed. For instance, agroecological approaches are now gaining momentum and support by an increasingly wide range of experts within the scientific community, international organizations and governments as a means to reach the SDGs.

Objective of the virtual roundtable series

The virtual roundtable series aims to provide a platform to discuss pathways for transforming agricultural research funding towards more sustainability, in line with agroecological principles.

Specific objectives:

              – Present the findings of a special report on funding flows to agricultural research in sub-Saharan Africa

               Develop action plans for Kenya and the region to strengthen integrated agricultural research for development.

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The virtual roundtable is organized as a series of interactive sessions, and aims to provide substantial inputs on the status of funding flows to agricultural research in sub-Saharan Africa and how they shape food and farming pathways. The factors driving research agenda setting and funding allocation will also be discussed. It will be based on the main findings of a recent study (Money Flows report), which builds on a set of case studies analyzing the funding flows of major institutions. The study analyzes investments into agriculture research in quantitative terms, and also sheds light on the political economy behind these investments in order to identify openings – or opportunity for change – for the emergence of new agendas in line with the SDGs. Participants will be able to further contribute their own experience and perspectives. Interactive discussions between participants will focus on the steps to follow to overcome the current deadlocks that prevent the transformation of food systems to sustainability and to promote greater investments in research on agroecological and similar sustainable practices.

Roundtable structure

The virtual roundtables will take place virtually in a series of three short (2 hour) sessions, which take place between April 2021 and June 2021.

Session 1: Definition: Discussing the status of funding flows to agricultural research in sub-Saharan Africa and factors driving research agenda setting and funding allocation (Output: Summary of deadlocks/windows of opportunity)

Session 2: Ideation: Developing ideas to overcome the current deadlocks and to use windows of opportunity for greater investments in research on agroecological and similar sustainable practices (Output: Draft recommendations specific for East Africa)

Session 3: Recommendation: Discussing draft recommendations and identifying concrete actions to further their application in policy and practice (Output: Final recommendations and action plan specific for East Africa)

Date and time:

  • Opening Session: 14th April 2021 (14.00-16.00 EAT)
  • 2nd session:
    23rd June 2021 (14.00-16.00 EAT)
  • 3rd session: 6th October 2021 (14.00-16.00 EAT)


Facilitated Zoom meeting


up to 50 participants from Kenya and East African region

  • official authorities
  • agricultural research for development community: leaders of research institutions, civil society organizations
  • public and private donor community



Participants to the roundtable series developped 6 key recommandations, urging for transformational change in agriculture and food systems research and research funding. The call to action outlines a number of priority actions for government, donors, research and education institution in Kenya and beyond to spur change.






Prof. Daniel Sila     



Dr. Robert Mbeche



Dr. Michael Brander

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