Members of the Committee in 2003-4 included Eloise Carter, Winfrey Clarke, Tag Demment, Don Ferguson, Bob Flick, Diane Hoefkin, Ed Kenemasu, Dick Sawyer, Sue Schram, Lakshman Vellupillai, and Cristina West. During most meetings, we were also joined by President Yohe, President-Elect Crawford, Vice President McWhorter, and Secretary/Treasurer Odom.
The Committee's Workplan of last June heaped its plate with four objectives: (1) contribute to the major AIARD campaign for membership by helping stretch agriculture and rural development to embrace allies in related fields (e.g., education, nutrition, and health); (2) continue to provide conceptual and intellectual leadership in the international agriculture and rural development policy community, in part by capitalizing on products already prepared by AIARD (the win-win case studies and the resource paper on agriculture, nutrition, and health); (3) strengthen further the program partnership with USAID; and (4) generate additional financing for the Association through projects initiated by the Committee.
In addition, we recognized that there would be (or there was) baggage we would have to schlep, liking it or not: (1) we would need to wind up credibly our strategic plan work with USAID; (2) we should be vigilant about the agricultural content of the MCA; (3) new allies are in the Monterrey Bridge and the Campaign for Global Leadership, which we may be joining, and we will want to learn how to work most effectively with them; and (4) President Yohe wanted to hold a Capitol Hill Forum 2004.
We spoke of the following potential deliverables:
- Finalize the resource paper and mount a workshop of researchers, practioners, and representatives of the policy community (including USAID) that explores further issues raised by the paper and the program suggestions it makes. In this instance, the deliverable would be the resource paper and a compendium of papers from the workshop. Financing would be required for professional time, meeting costs, and publications.
- New case studies could now be added profitably to the win-win case study book to update and expand its contents. We talked on numerous occasions about holding regional-level workshops for this purpose around the U.S.ófour or five. AIARD would need to distribute a meaningful budget to each region so the workshops could be prepared and pulled off "with class".
- For all AIARD public events (for example, the Forum), it was suggested that we prepare some short, pithy "issue papers" or "position papers" that can be distributed to participants.
- We need to "plug in" to the development process for the MCA, ensuring that agriculture has a central (if not a centralizing) role.
- A major deliverable was to be the Capitol Hill Forum 2004. The 2003 event was a wing-dandy. With plenty of forward planning and wide participation, we thought we could even do better in 2004!
How did we do as a committee? We met by teleconference nine times. Participation was acceptable to good.
The Capitol Hill Forum was the centerpiece of our activities during the year. Its development and implementation was more participatory than in years past and less dependent for progress on the voluntary efforts of one or two individuals.
The final program included a list of luminaries with excellent qualifications in the HIV/AIDS cum agriculture and nutrition areas. The cost of the event was about 50 percent more than in past years, principally by reason of a rising charge for food which AIARD has provided to participants gratis. However, former sponsors bought in, and new sponsors appeared. Therefore, costs were covered with some room to spare at last accounting. We estimate that the crowd was almost as big as last year (around 225), in spite of the fact that the weather in Washington, D.C., did not cooperate at all.
Assessments of the event from participants were extremely positive. They pointed to our having selected a hot and very timely topic and to our having invited a fine group of presenters. Most participants concluded that our efforts had served to bring agriculture forward as a primary vehicle for the fight against HIV/AIDS. In short, when all was said and done, most everything went right with the Forum!
Our paper that had been supported by USAID, "The Agriculture, Nutrition, HIV/AIDS Connections in Developing Countries," was completed before the event so that it was able to serve as a resource paper for the Forum. It built for AIARD some credibility and stature to address this very complicated topic.
After the Forum, we gave considerable thought to the appropriate follow up, or follow on activities. One idea was to press forward our proposal, contained in the resource paper and discussed at the Forum, for the creation of a "Fund for Agriculture, Nutrition, and Health Collaboration." The U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator, Ambassador Randall L. Tobias, was addressed concerning support for the Fund; and we were heartened that he did not turn us down flatly, even though we all understand that the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief is a health care initiative. We recently suggested that some AIARD members meet with staff of the Global AIDS Coordinator to assess the benefits and costs of establishing a results-based fund, as we had proposed. We eagerly await a reply to this suggestion.
A second follow up initiative would involve preparing and publishing a compendium of up to 25 carefully researched case studies of project interventions in developing countries that show the added payoffs to linking agriculture and food to health programs that address HIV/AIDS prevention and mitigation-a compendium that could feed into the Associations' next Capitol Hill Forum (likely to be held in 2006 rather than 2005). We have developed a "pre-proposal" and are just now in the process of exposing it to some potential donors. Substantial research would be required for this compendium, and (as a result) the budget is by no means of a trivial amount. We see AIARD as a partner in this enterprise, but a prime contractor will need to be identified for this initiative to go forward. (A similar remark applies to the first proposal, outlined above.)
So, although I may be somewhat biased, I think the Committee did pretty well this year. We succeeded in contributing to all our objectives by helping AIARD embrace allies in related fields and bringing agriculture to them, by capitalizing on products of the Association, by improving the program partnership with USAID, and by generating financing for Association projects. Too, the Association did join the Campaign for Global Leadership. AIARD also joined the Monterrey Bridge, but shortly thereafter the Bridge appears to have collapsed!
If we missed any bet, or neglected something that we thought should be of importance to us, I would point to our vigilance of the agricultural content of the MCA. There we did not take organized and sustained action, but did attempt to keep the Association informed about the Account's progress.
I stand ready to respond to questions AIARD members may have.
Reed Hertford, Chairperson
May 27, 2004