The third African Chicken Genetic Gains program management team (PMT) meeting took place on 28-29 November 2016 in Abuja, Nigeria. It reviewed progress in each of the three program countries and the program’s various themes focusing on a few cross-cutting areas including collaboration, communication and gender.
The first program management team meeting was held in May 2015 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia and started the program off. The second PMT meeting, in Tanzania, in early 2016 focused on innovation platforms, which were at the time moving into full throttle, and the role of women and youth. This third PMT meeting brought together 35 participants from all country teams -and an expectedly larger Nigerian delegation thanks to the presence of the six sub-national coordinators (SNCs)- as well as thematic experts on data management, long-term genetic gains, innovation platforms and communication.
The meeting reviewed, extensively, the program’s progress including what worked and what did not since the last PMT meeting:
Program director Tadelle Dessie first gave an overview of the program in its entirety.
Then country teams then reported their activities in an interactive ‘marketplace’ format showcasing posters before all participants assessed successes and challenges related to farm/on station work, baseline data and data management, public-private partnerships and innovation platforms. The team also evaluated the successes registered by each country team in engaging private sector parties and developing a sustainable pathway for long-term genetic gains.
In a session focusing on ‘working together’ participants creatively and competitively developed activities that will help them work better as a team and collaborate more. The winning proposals focus on getting national project coordinators to meet physically once a year and how to enable stakeholder to better follow all innovation platform meetings to enhance understanding of program work.
On the second day, an innovation platform session focused on how to best engage different types of actors and how to connect the community and national level platforms to strengthen use of the approach.
A gender specialist from the Royal Institute for the Tropics (KIT) explained how the ACGG gender work, which starts in 2017 will be rolled out and, in this regard, feedback was collected on the best way to proceed both conceptually and practically.
The baseline data/data management team also collected feedback on how to make data work more useful in the future, paving the way for a training session that was scheduled for the day after the PMT meeting.
Throughout the PMT, the facilitation team, which was made up of communication specialists working with ACGG, encouraged the various country teams to share their feedback on communication work across the program including challenges, opportunities and personal commitments to improving it. Among the opportunities identified was the possibility of using a Whatsapp chat group to communicate in the country teams, finding space and writing more stories for the website.
In a final ‘open space’ session, participants were invited to pick up and address loose threads of conversation such as reviewing the marketplace format, community capacity development, the scope and linkages of graduate students with ACGG, data analysis needs, socio-economics (including market-related issues) etc.
The PMT week concluded with a one day training on the Open Data Kit used for ACGG’s data management and on presentation skills, followed by a fine-tuning of the country team presentations for the third Scientific and Industrial Advisory Committee (SIAC) meeting, which was held two days later. Meanwhile, a field visit to the nearby site of Karshi under the auspices of the local Emir allowed participants to compare the testing conditions of ACGG research with regards to four chicken strains present in the area.
The SIAC meeting concluded what was recognized by many participants as the most successful PMT meeting so far.
A number of issues remain on the agenda for future meeting of the PMT such as community innovation platform dynamics and capacity needs, the longer-term genetic gains program that needs further fine-tuning, and maintaining the engagement with private sector actors etc.
But 2017 priorities are now clear and the country teams will now get down to working on them.