2019 Derek Tribe Award recipient Dr Robert Zougmoré honoured in Brisbane

September 6, 2019

Dr Colin Chartres, CEO, Crawford Fund presents Dr Robert Zougmoré with the 2019 Derek Tribe Medal.

Dr Robert Zougmoré, an eminent African scientist at the forefront of science-policy engagement on the complex challenges facing agriculture in sub-Saharan Africa was awarded the prestigious Derek Tribe Award yesterday in Brisbane.

The Derek Tribe Award is made biennially to a citizen of a developing country in recognition of their distinguished contributions to the application of research in agriculture or natural resource management in a developing country or countries.

Dr Zougmoré is Regional Program Leader of the Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security Program (CCAFS) of the CGIAR, and as part of the award presentation he delivered an address titled, Building climate resilient agriculture and food systems in sub-Saharan Africa: challenges and actionable solutions

Climate change is a present and growing threat to food security and nutrition globally and is a particularly severe threat in Africa where the livelihoods of 70-80% of African smallholders depend on agriculture and renewable natural resources for their income, employment, food and wellbeing.

Robert’s address follows almost two weeks of activity in Australia across Tasmania, Northern NSW, the Darling Downs, Toowoomba and Brisbane where he met with farmers, researchers and policy advisers, who are dealing with the same issues that he is addressing in sub-Saharan Africa.

During his visit, Robert did an interview with Devex, the international development news portal, highlighting the importance of agricultural modelling to budding ag researchers.

“For young people considering a career in agricultural science and agronomy, I would encourage them to focus on modeling. I really see it as important to support the research, implement the research and to use the results of the research for decision-making. It is so useful. This is a tool that we need more, so having the capacity and people who can work around different models and help to plan our research — and further use the research for outputs — is crucial,” he told Devex’s Australian correspondent Lisa Cornish.

Robert is a very worthy recipient of the Crawford Fund’s Derek Tribe Award, and we are proud to bestow this honour on him, with particular recognition for the distinguished contributions he has made in building climate resilience into farming practices across sub-Saharan Africa.

His work has yielded significant outcomes for millions of rural people on the front line of climate change impact, and Australian farmers, researchers and policy-makers can learn much from his experiences.

For example, in Senegal, the diverse science and engagement activities he has led have resulted in the delivery of new climate-informed agricultural advisories to 7.4-million rural people so they can better manage climate risks. This involved collaboration to improve weather forecasting; forging links between the meteorological and agricultural communities; understanding the advisory needs of male and female farmers; understanding how traditional knowledge is used in forecasting and how science could interface with that; and, building the capacity of radio broadcasters to deliver probabilistic forecasts.”

Robert also developed a national climate-smart agriculture (CSA) and food security action plan for Ghana and designed a 100 million US$ CSA program in Niger.

Robert’s work has included leadership of cross-CGIAR teams, deep engagement with national partners, establishing science-policy forums and private-sector linkages in multiple countries, capacity enhancement, and forging links with key African institutions (e.g. NEPAD, FARA, regional farmers organisations). 

Through integrating multiple goals and managing trade-offs in the context of climate change, climate-smart agriculture addresses food and nutrition security issues at all levels. Concrete technologies, practices, tools and approaches resulting from the last ten-year’ CCAFS program research in SSA have been instrumental to the uptake of CSA in Africa.

It is estimated that the agricultural sectors absorb more than 26% of the total damage and loss from climate extreme events (this raises to ˃ 80% for drought). It is therefore crucial to scale up action and investment into climate adaptation and mitigation at local, sub-national, national, regional levels and across sectors, especially for the agriculture and food systems in Africa.