Entitled “Online consultations to enhance agricultural research for development, the article by Simone Staiger-Rivas, illustrates some aspects around broad participation and trust of the ongoing GCARD process from the perspective of facilitation and technology stewardship.
The face-to-face meeting of the Asia Pacific region is to take place on October 30 and 31 at Bangkok’s Intercontinental hotel.
-> Read the concept note that represents the baseline for the upcoming discussions, and starts as follows:
“The Asia-Pacific region, encompassing South Asia, Southeast Asia and the Pacific sub-regions, accounts for 57 per cent of the world’s total population and 73 per cent of the agricultural population. But, it has only 37 per cent of the world’s agricultural land. As a consequence, land availability per person in agriculture in the region (0.3 ha) is almost one-fifth of that in the rest of the world (1.4 ha). Also, about 80 per cent of the world’s small and marginal farmers belong to this region. At the same time, its water and biodiversity resources have been shrinking as well as declining rather rapidly.”
The joint initiative of APAARI, GFAR and ADB, building on the outcome of the recently concluded very successful regional E-Consultation (see summary), will ensure that the proposed Face-to-Face (F2F) Consultation in Bangkok, involving all relevant stakeholders would seek as to what specific changes are needed in the agricultural research, extension and education systems to render them more effective in contributing towards development processes that benefit especially the poor.
The 4 main objectives of the meeting areas follows:
- Examine the extent to which development demands and associated research needs identified from the regional review and E-Consultation truly capture the key regional needs for delivering greatest development impacts for the poor.
- Identify a set of researchable themes to address the needs of various categories of farmers, especially the smallholders and resource-poor in the medium- and long-term.
- Suggest policy options to complement the research efforts to synergistically address development needs.
- Assess whether the themes highlighted in the CGIAR Strategy document match with the aspirations of the region and suggest creation and management of linkages and synergies between the emerging aims of the CGIAR Consortium and the realities of the innovation pathways in the region.
Further information can be seen at: http://www.apaari.org/face-to-face-meeting/
More than 70 representatives from the agricultural research sector in Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC) met at CIAT on 19 and 20 October to participate in the Regional Consultation on Agricultural Research for Development for LAC.
As for all the regional meetings the overall objective was to review GCARD consultation efforts in LAC. The GCARD process has produced a regional review document which has been discussed by more than 550 participants in a subsequent e-consultation. The face-to-face meeting aimed at distilling the issues that have been raised in those previous efforts and to gather the input needed for a document that should express the principle recommendations for regional actions. All those documents will then be integrated by a global team into a final document for the Montpellier GCARD 2010 Conference. It is worthwhile noting that Dr. Eduardo Trigo who summarized the e-consultation and has been part of the organizing team of the face-to-face meeting is also part of this global team.
The LAC meeting started on Monday, 19 October, with presentations that aimed at summarizing the GCARD process for LAC, such as the overall context of the process (presented by GFAR’s Jacky Ganry), and the results of the regional review with it’s 7 identified key issues (presented by its author Sergio Salles from the Universidad de Campinas UNICAMP). Those seven key issues are:
- Increase of production and productivity
- Diversification and differentiation of agricultural products and services
- Increase of food security and quality
- Challenges related to climate change
- Conservation and sustainable management of natural resources
- Development of agro-energy
- Promotion of institutional innovations
The presentation of the regional key issues was followed by a summary of the e-consultation presented by Eduardo Trigo. Ruben Echeverría, DG of CIAT and host of the event introduced the CGIAR change process and the 7 proposed Mega Programs that might represent the research portfolio of the future CGIAR. The session of comments that followed those introductions highlighted the need for a regional analysis that goes beyond a list of research priorities –“we have done already many in the past”, participants said– to move towards action and taking into account cross-cutting issues, like gender and inclusion of marginalized populations and sectors, or the private sector partnerships as well as environmental and socially sustainable components. It was also discussed weather issues 11 and 14 on climate change and institutional innovations shouldn’t be considered as cross-cutting.
The initial presentations created the baseline for the discussion groups. In two rounds of 4 parallel sessions, participants could discuss the seven key issues suggested by the regional review, as well as the suggested CGIAR Mega Programs. A discussion guide suggested highlighting the missing bits related to each issue of the review document, to analyze the mechanisms and alliances that are required to address those issues, and to think about the barriers and bottlenecks.
On day 2, participants reported back in plenary, a lively session where additional comments enriched the group discussion results. The organizing team had changed the agenda of day 2 overnight to adjust it to participant’s comment on the above mentioned cross-cutting issues. This is why it was suggested to form 3 groups to address the following question: What actions should be suggested to achieve innovative mechanisms for financing, enhancing and carrying out AR4D projects with a productive and social impact? In the afternoon the majority of participants visited CIAT. In the meantime the organizing team met to review the event. While it was clear that the participants enriched significantly the review document, it was also highlighted that a better job could have been done in framing the consultation to allow a more focused discussion.
In the final workshop session, brief summaries of the 3 working groups were presented and commented. Mario Allegri, President of FORAGRO made final comment with a specific mention on the expected use of the outcomes within the GCARD process. While waiting for the results of the participants evaluation, here are some quotes from short video interviews that will be available soon.
Claudio Barriga, President ANEGLA, Chile
“It was a very positive meeting. I was present when FORAGRO was created, and for many years I was the only representative of the private sector. I feel very comfortable today that there is recognition of the importance of the private sector [which is crucial] if we really want to accomplish the changes that we want to make. The future brings opportunities to strengthen relations, and there are many examples of successful things that have been done. Through joint actions mall farmer groups have benefitted for example from contract farming with the agro industry, or from working with seed companies. We are on the right path and I am confident as we strengthen that relation we will be in the position to present better projects and have better funding opportunities.”
Francis Asiedu (Cardi), Wendy Lee Yuen (UWI-UTT), both Trinidad Tobago and Marcia Smith (Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries), Jamaica
“First of all this meeting brought us together as Caribbean group and united us with the Latin American group. In many cases the Caribbean part of LAC is missing or silent. In the final session we hoped to see the final draft declaration of what will be taken to Montpellier. That should have been the main outcome of the meeting. Our message to Montpellier would be that agriculture is a business driven by science and technology. It is the science that drives innovation, and therefore at GCARD 2010 we are hoping that the concept of using science in order to improve food supply for the poor and to be able to maintain the concept of alleviating hunger and poverty can come through forth fully in France in 2010.”
Carlos Pomareda Benel (President, SIDE), Costa Rica
“Participants are clearly committed to be more competitive in a more sustainable way. For that you have to be strong in the field of innovations. To reach innovation you have to do valuable research that generates the right products. Governments and donors put money into research to generate knowledge; then you have to use the knowledge to generate outputs and money which is the link between public goods and private goods. We need to do more work to influence researchers towards this concept otherwise they do research for the sake of research and society is asking for more final products.”
Nicolas Mateo, Executive Secretary FONTAGRO
“This meeting is very critical because it provides a link between the CGIAR activities and priorities and to our context in LAC. We expect a closer alignment between both. This excise is excellent in that respect. We understand CG priorities better and the CGIAR gets a clear view on the key issue sand investments that are required for the region. It is positive that we are a large group, with a good representation of all sectors which provides a positive background. Yesterday we had a difficult beginning but then the groups felt comfortable and had good discussions.”
More information on the meeting at: http://www.ciat.cgiar.org/foragro_09/index.htm
As I packed my bags leaving Tashkent, I started wondering what I was taking beyond the tasty dried fruits and a bottle each of Armenian and Georgian Cognac that I had received as gifts from friends. I started making a list of new insights and reinforcements of old perspectives that I want to carry to Rome and the global ARD community.
Some of these are:
- The need for a transformative change in the way agricultural research for development (ARD) is conducted. The CAC Regional Review, E-Consultations and the face to face workshop further validated my perspective of ARD. To me ARD is complex, with almost each individual farmer, producer and actor in agriculture having his or her unique problem. ARD is not complicated if the problems are unravelled by identifying whose problem it is. Many a times the solutions are already with those who are suffering from the problem. They only need some support to solve their problem. The resource poor are not helpless. They are denied true help. Some problems of farmers can be clustered around categories (small, medium, large) and types of farmers (cereal farmers, cotton farmers, livestock keepers etc) as also around issues that may be bothering them, such as better yielding crops and animals, access and use of water, improving whole farm productivity, processing for value addition, marketing etc. Unfortunately, scientists and researchers do not see the issues in this way. They see problems as related to plant breeding, pathology, agronomy etc as per the discipline they are from. Sometimes the specialization goes to individual crops. We have to change this. We have to look at the problem and use our training in science, in structuring issues and resolving them through a constructivist approach rather than reducing the problem to introducing a gene or a machine. We have to consider the entire system, be it farming or market chain in developing solutions. We also have to involve the individuals and communities for whom the problem is. We cannot ignore them while we develop solutions.
- All farmers, and more specifically garden (dekhon) and small farmers, need cutting edge technology. They need application of Biotechnology, not necessarily genetically modified organism based, Information and Communications Technologies, Space Science and Material Science. We should not consider that only large farmers and those producing for markets in a large way need the application of cutting edge technologies and not the small farmers and those who produce for themselves and their local communities.
- We are severely neglecting the needs of farmers and producers who rear and produce from animals, fruits and vegetables, fisheries and forests. Most dekhon and small farmers produce a multiple of crops including fruits and vegetables, animals and animal products etc. We do not somehow see this and therefore neglect the needs of farmers beyond cereal crops.
- Investment in agricultural and rural development is critical for investment in agricultural research to fruit. We, as researchers, cannot keep on demanding increased investment in agricultural research without also demanding investment in other development areas. Demanding investment only in agricultural research is very short sighted and almost self serving.
- We, as researchers, are not really willing to look at ourselves and see how investment in ARD can be better targeted and used. This comes from the structure of agricultural research institutes and from systems of rewarding researchers. The more a researcher corners research funds the better researcher he is. We count success not in terms of how much the clients of research benefit from our work but the amounts of research funds we collect, the papers we publish and the International conferences we attend. This is because this is how research systems evaluate researchers.
- Frameworks and methods to evaluate and understand holistically research needs of agricultural commodities market chains, farming systems and productions systems are very few and not used. They are not even fully tested. We urgently need these tested frameworks.
- New capacities to do agricultural research in a fresh way are urgently needed, both in infrastructure and human skills all over the world. Our laboratories and field stations are becoming obsolete and decrepit. We are not able to apply cutting edge science and young minds in solving problems.
- Agricultural policy is important and so is agricultural research policy and strategy at various levels, sub-national, national, regional and global. Along with this is the political will to implement these policies. Agricultural research needs to contribute to appropriate policy making. As revealed at the CAC level, socio-economic studies important for agricultural development and agricultural research are too weak or just not there. There is very little advocacy where it matters on issues related to improving ARD.
- Getting and organizing ARD stakeholders to act together is vital but it is a complex, complicated and difficult task that needs financial investment and skills. In most cases, we think it will happen because we wish it so. It does not. That is why we need to strengthen the regional forums and bring professional management in them so that they are ultimately accountable to the stakeholders.
- There is a huge amount of knowledge in agricultural development with the vast numbers of ARD actors including farmers and others involved in agriculture and related livelihoods that is not properly tapped by agricultural research. We need to do something about using this knowledge locally and globally and building appropriate knowledge systems. This itself needs
Tashkent is beautiful by the day. It is iridescent by night. The marriage season continues. Yesterday, 16 October, there were two beautiful brides both waiting their turn for a grand entry into the ballrooms of the Hotel. There was a musical quartet that played “here comes the bride(s) “when they made their majestic entrance. Cameraman all over shot their photographs and videos and the traditional pipe and drum players made a crescendo welcoming the couple. Evil certainly got scared away.
On the 16 October, we started our CAC Regional Face to Face Workshop. The achievement of previous days of establishing the Farmer and NGO Consortia plainly reflected on Dr. Ahmadov, the CACAARI Chair’s face. After his welcome, Dr. Khalikulov explained the Sustainable Agriculture Program of CAC-PFU.
Dr. Roozitalab had come in the previous day (I had not known of his arrival) and his presentation had been translated into Russian. He made his presentation and I expressed a sigh of relief. There was good discussion after the presentation including why small farmers were not expressly mentioned, the impact of CGIAR’s work on poverty and livelihoods in the region. Some participants during tea asked me why, if the decisions of GCARD were not binding to CGIAR as presented by Dr. Roozitalab, we were discussing the priorities. I explained that GFAR was looking at ARD globally and regionally through the Regional Forums and it was for the CGIAR to decide after looking at what stakeholders said they needed to design their program. The CGIAR is a large International agricultural research body but it is not the agricultural research body of the world. The CGIAR contributes only about 4 percent of the public sector investment in ARD. The rest comes from Government and we at GFAR are aiming to convey the GCARD message to all ARD stakeholders and not CGIAR alone. Acad. Akimaliev, who also chaired the session expressed his concern at the ever diminishing role of CGIAR in the region in spite of ICARDA and other members of CAC-PFUs very significant achievements. He regretted the minimal presence of ILRI, Forestry and Fisheries Institutes in the region. He also was not happy of the constant turnover of the CAC-PFU Coordinators and the weak engagement with National Systems by the CGIAR. Mostly it is ICARDA that makes the engagement, not CGIAR.
I presented the progress on GCARD. Dr, Beniwal presented his summary of progress on CAC Region Review and Report for GCARD. There were many queries to Dr. Beniwal especially around the priorities for livestock production systems in the Region.
We went into the first Group session discussion around seven farmer categories and a variety of commodities they produce as per the matrix which looked at research needs at the input, throughput, output, post harvest and marketing and consumers levels. It was a huge exercise but the groups dealt with the issues confidently. There were animated discussions among all ARD stakeholders. I noted an MP arguing with a farmer representative who herself was a farmer. It was fun also.
In the evening we had a dinner where all ARD stakeholders danced together. I never knew how agile Dr. Ahmadov was until I saw him dance the twist with the lovely ladies present at the Consultation. We all had even more fun and there was a lot of merriment.
Today, 17 October is Deepawali, the Indian Festival of Lights and one of the most important festivals in my part of India, Gujarat. This is when the victory of light over darkness is celebrated. Tomorrow is the Gujarati New Year day. I wish all of you a very happy Deepawali and a prosperous New Year where all your endeavours are successful. Of course I feel a bit lonely for being away from my family. But then I am surrounded by friends who share my joy and the spirit of the festival..
First thing in the morning, we started with the presentations from the Group I session. These presentations were fascinating. . The differences in needs and also the issue of scale within similar needs of various categories of farmers, especially dekhon. small, small and medium farmers, came to fore in this group session. How wrong are we to lump everything together in identifying an agricultural research agenda!
We did not have a group discussing the needs of the Fisher folk and this was a bit of a weakness.
After this plenary, we went into the Second Group discussion on cross cutting issues. We had totally different grouping that the previous one in the groups. Again, I observed very deep conversations around the topics. Dr. Beniwal certainly has a job on his hands to sift through the enormously rich data coming from these group sessions.
All the presentations from the groups and the facilitators’ reports have been collected and given to participants.
The second group session brought to the fore the complexity of ARD. But to me it was heartening that all participants wanted cutting edge science employed in ARD to satisfy the needs of the poor especially the resource poor farmer. They wanted Biotechnology (though GMO was a controversy that evoked a very sharp response), Nanotechnology and ICT especially GIS, Modelling and Simulation applied to solve many problems.
After this group session, we summed up the research needs at the regional level and using nearly 20 flip charts went through a voting exercise on the focus of ARD as regards to the user community or thematic relevance and specific areas of research that would have development impact.
All participants appeared to be enthralled and very happy with the processes that engaged them fully. In this region, this was a unique experience for many. The involvement of all stakeholders, farmers, NGOs, researchers, donors, policy makers, University representatives all together and through an inclusive process of engagement and involvement in the Workshop. The voting sheets could not be immediately counted.
The Workshop ended with thanks to all, especially ICARDA and its staff. Anvar, Shanoza, Sherzod, Mussaffar, Farhad, the drivers and so many others who had spent several sleepless nights arranging these workshops and meetings.
More on the outcomes of the F2F Workshop later. Watch this space.