Strategic Partnership for Agricultural Research and Education

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Strategic Partnership for Agricultural Research and Education (SPARE) is a committee of the Board for International Food and Agricultural Development (BIFAD).

SPARE Meetings

September 2008 Meeting

During this meeting, SPARE discussed USAID's input on what ultimately became the Global Food Security Act, sponsored by Senators Richard Lugar and Robert Casey.

"Josette Lewis described the strategy and vision that USAID is beginning to develop in response to an invitation from Senators Lugar and Biden, to address the food crisis, beyond FY09. That strategy is broadly about food security, in which agriculture is an important tool in this strategy. The three pieces to this strategy are emergency response and the provision of food aid; attending to the chronically vulnerable; and expanding more traditional smallholder programs. Through a five-year plan, they are seeking to provide Congress with a clear picture of what they can actually deliver, with targets playing an important role in accountability and decision-making. They are exploring other initiatives as good models, including some discussion about developing country-based contracts, and using this as a platform to get agreement and funding by other donors. At this point, they need to determine what it is they want to take from this thinking to inform the incoming Administration.
"Initial comments and responses made by SPARE committee members related to the appropriateness of the increased budget, the need to address the whole of rural community development and current USAID activities to do so, and learning from people in developing countries as well as from US history. Several issues were raised regarding ensuring benefits -- particularly nutritional benefits -- to the poorest in these efforts. Further discussion focused on the need for better understanding and communication of how research and agriculture impact economic growth and poverty. Also mentioned was the role of SPARE in providing input to BIFAD and USAID in this development, and the importance of USAID and the new Administration protecting the essential aspects of funding for agriculture."

In attendance at this meeting were:[1] Sandra Russo, Sue Schramm, Ray Miller, John Rifenbark, Dawn Thomas, Wondi Mersie, George Wilson, Tim Williams, Harry Rea, Josette Lewis, and Bill DeLauder.

December 2008 Meeting

Present at the meeting were:[2] Sandra Russo (University of Florida), Sue Schram (ACDI/VOCA), Raymond Miller (University of Maryland), John Rifenbark (USAID), Dawn Thomas (USAID), Harry Rea (USAID), Josette Lewis (USAID), William (Bill) DeLauder (Delaware State University, NASULGC), Kerry Bolognese (NASULGC), Harriet Paul (Florida A&M University), Laura Powers (Disaster Assistance Technical Assistance Group, USAID), Robert Paarlberg (Wellesley), John Bower (AAAS Science and Technology Policy Fellow, Office of Agriculture, USAID). Some of the others joining in later included Deborah Rubin (consultant), Robert Hedlund (USAID), Raj Dwivedy (USAID), Robin Comfort (USDA/USAID), Jim Holderbaum (QED Group), Zachary Baquet (USAID) and many others.

The meeting began with a presentation by John Bower on capacity building.[2] The minutes do not include a definition of capacity building, but a USAID document defines it as "as a process that improves the ability of a person, group, organization, or system to meet its objectives or to perform better."[3] Another USAID site defines it by saying:

"According to the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development, building a country’s capacity
"...encompasses the country’s human, scientific, technological, organizational, institutional and resource capabilities. A fundamental goal of capacity-building is to enhance the ability to evaluate and address the crucial questions related to policy choices and modes of implementation among development options, based on an understanding of environmental potentials and limits and of needs as perceived by the people of the country concerned."[4]

Bower "outlined three long-term training pilot programs as well as the Borlaug Leadership Enhancement in Agriculture Program (LEAP), and the USAID/University of Florida Distance Learning Program: Strengthening Agricultural and Environmental Capacity through Distance Education (SAEC-DE), as current or upcoming capacity-building programs."[2]

The group then discussed using the Global Food Security Act as an opportunity to increase capacity building at USAID on global food security.

"The motion was made, seconded and passed that SPARE appoint a subcommittee to work with John Bower to create and present an action oriented 10page white paper for increased US commitment to capacity building for global agriculture development as defined in Title XII. It was decided that those on the subcommittee would include Harriet Paul, Robert Paarlberg, Raymond Miller, John Bower, and Harry Rea. Harriet Paul will work with Bill DeLauder to get his guidance."[2]

Also at the meeting, Josette Lewis presented on "the strategy and vision the Agency has been putting together given the backdrop of food crisis and the dialogue on food security" and Robert Paarlberg spoke about the "initiative of the Chicago Council on Global Affairs to produce a bipartisan white paper to shape US agricultural development assistance and strategy."[2]

February 2009 Meeting

Present at the Executive Session were: Sandra Russo (University of Florida), Sue Schram (ACDI/VOCA), Raymond Miller (University of Maryland), Dawn Thomas (USAID), Josette Lewis (USAID), Kerry Bolognese (NASULGC), Harriet Paul (Florida A&M University), Laura Powers (USAID), Ron Senykoff (USAID).[5]

Present at the General Meeting were: Sandra Russo (University of Florida), Sue Schram (ACDI/VOCA), Raymond Miller (University of Maryland), Dawn Thomas (USAID), Josette Lewis (USAID), Kerry Bolognese (NASULGC), Harriet Paul (Florida A&M University), Laura Powers (USAID), Ron Senykoff (USAID), Ken Shapiro, John Rifenbark (USAID), Harry Rea (USAID), John Bower (USAID), David Hansen (NASULGC), Tag Dement, John Edgar (USAID), Belien Tadesse (USAID), Ken Shapiro (University of Wisconsin, ICOP), Bhavani Pathak (USAID), Ron Raphael (USAID).[5]

John Edgar and Belien Tadesse were introduced as new Ag Officers at USAID. Edgar would go be going to Ghana and Tadesse to Ethiopia.

During this meeting they briefly discussed food security work, presumably relating to the Global Food Security Act and/or other work by USAID on agricultural aid. One of the points raised was the need for advocacy to get what they want from Congress: "From the advocacy side, people read the newspaper, and react to it. If we have some of the leading academics in the academic community discussing this in the media in enough key states, there will be the political interest."[5]

Articles and Resources

Related SourceWatch Articles


  1. "Summary of SPARE Meeting Minutes," September 11, 2008, Kellogg Room, NASULGC, Accessed October 21, 2011.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 "Summary of SPARE Meeting Minutes," December 11-12, 2008, Kellogg Room, NASULGC, Accessed October 21, 2011.
  3. Lisanne Brown, Anne LaFond, Kate Macintyre, MEASURING CAPACITY BUILDING, Carolina Population Center, March 2001, Accessed October 21, 2011.
  4. USAID Environment: Climate Change Capacity Building, Accessed October 21, 2011.
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 "Summary of SPARE Meeting Minutes," February 2, 2009, Kellogg Room, NASULGC, Accessed October 21, 2011.

External Resources