Ms. Louise Fresco is the new Director of FAO's Research, Extension and Training Division (SDR). A national of the Netherlands, Ms. Fresco holds BS and MS degrees (cum laude) in Agricultural Science, specializing in Agricultural Extension and Tropical Crop Science, and a Ph.D. (cum laude) from the Tropical Crop Science/Extension Science Department of the Agricultural University of Wageningen.
After working with the National Food and Nutrition Commission in Zambia as a part of her research thesis in 1974, she returned to Holland and was one of the founders of the Institute of Applied Extension Studies, now an independent research and training institution in Wageningen. During this period, she was also a part-time lecturer at the Royal Tropical Institute in Amsterdam.
Zimbabwe requested FAO assistance following an ISNAR review of its national agricultural research system, which is mainly public sector-funded. SDRR will help prepare a medium-term plan, including a strategy for agricultural research, an organizational structure and a framework for the overall resources requirements. The aim of masterplan is to define, for the long-term (10-15 years), national and external sources required for implementation and an efficient organization and management system.
A separate project in Cameroon will build on a long-term plan formulated in 1994-95. The plan called for elaboration of a medium-term plan for the Institut de Recherche Agricole pour le Développement, formed recently with the fusion of the Institut de la Recherche Agronomique and the Institut de Recherches Zootechniques et Vétérinaires.
The Master Plans will be formulated keeping in mind need to reinforce scientific cooperation and exchange with the international scientific community at national and international levels, decentralize NARS and create regional centres.
Preparation of the Botswana and Gambia Master Plans will be undertaken after a review of their NARS by International Service for National Agricultural Research (ISNAR). A similar activity for Zimbabwe is under consideration.
The review will generate information on the priorities and needs of NARS, as well as opportunities for co-operation in research and technology development among them. The proposed exercise will build on experiences of the four organizations and would complement their current activities in the region.
In Phase I, NARS profiles will be prepared in participating countries; under Phase II, a regional workshop will be held in May, 1997 to discuss the outcome of Phase I and address key issues, including the decentralization of agricultural research and co-operation among NARS in West Asia and North Africa countries and across the Mediterranean.
SDRR will help fund the review, finalize its methodological framework and questionnaires, and assist in identifying resource persons for the preparation of NARS profiles.