The objective of the DeSIRA initiative (Development Smart Innovation through Research in Agriculture, in short DeSIRA) is to contribute to climate-relevant, productive and sustainable transformation of agriculture and food systems in low and middle-income countries.

DeSIRA aims to put more science into development considering that the solutions needed to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are context specific. It contributes primarily to the achievement of SDG 1 (no poverty), 2 (zero hunger), 5 (gender equality), 8 (decent work and economic growth), 13 (climate action) and 15 (life on land).

Its focus is on supporting research and innovation projects in Africa, Asia, and Latin America, and strengthening research capacities and research governance involving key actors at national, regional, continental and global levels.

With such a perspective, research for innovation needs to combine fundamental and participatory or action-research based on a plausible theory of change to achieve desirable impacts at scale. This means that research must embrace several activities in partnership with other actors: knowledge production, design of methods, facilitation, capacity building, expertise, etc.

DeSIRA | Climate Smart Dairy Eritrea
DeSIRA | Climate Smart Dairy Eritrea
Smart Innovation through Research in Agriculture
DeSIRA | Climate Smart Dairy Eritrea


Supporting Innovation Processes

To support innovation processes, there is a need to strengthen the capacity of researchers and research organizations to design, monitor and assess research to achieve impacts and address the urgent challenges. There is also a need to strengthen the capacity to innovate of a much larger range of actors: farmers, farmers’ organizations, local communities, NGOs, private sector, and public sector.

The top-down transfer of knowledge and technology model is no longer valid to address the systemic changes needed to promote sustainable food systems in a context of rapid transitions. Because innovation is a complex process, embracing technical, organizational and institutional dimensions, and mobilizing a wide range of actors (farmers, farmers’ organizations, NGOs, advisory services, private firms, etc.), public policies need to rely on a multi-stakeholder approach to produce new knowledge making use of scientific advances.


DeSIRA includes 3 pillars

The structure of DeSIRA

  • Pillar 1: Research and innovation in agricultural and food systems:

    Fostering innovation in agriculture and food systems is at the core of DeSIRA. It includes a broad range of thematics valorizing on agroecological principles

  • Pillar 2: Research infrastructure conducive to Innovation

    The institutional architecture for governance of AR4D at the global level and in some regions is well established, although still fragile. DeSIRA is supporting the organizations in charge of the governance of research at regional, continental and global level.

  • Pillar 3: Knowledge and evidence to feed policy design.

    The EU Scientific expertise is mobilized to support the whole DeSIRA, to provide strategic thinking and actions regarding innovation, and to help draw lessons for better research and innovation policies.

DeSIRA | Climate Smart Dairy Eritrea