Global Conference on Agricultural Research for Development
28th - 31st March 2010, Montpellier, France
What is GCARD?
The Global Conference on Agricultural Research for Development, or GCARD 2010 (GCARD) will convene up to 1,000 World Food Prize Laureates, ministers, farmers, community development organizations, leading scientists, and innovators in Montpellier, France from 28-31 March 2010. The first of its kind, the conference seeks to spur sweeping changes in global agriculture.
To be held every two years, it is being organized by the Global Forum on Agricultural Research (GFAR) and will replace the GFAR triennial conference and the annual general meetings of the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR).
After decades of lagging agricultural investment, GCARD will seek to strengthen and harness the use of agricultural research to meet the enormous challenges of doubling food supply over the next 40 years (by 2050), lifting a billion people out of poverty and hunger, and doing so in ways that are environmentally sustainable.
Why have the meeting and why now?
The meeting has been sparked by the many recent major summits and reviews that have called for strengthening and refocusing agricultural innovation around the world, including the L’Aquila G8 Joint Statement of Global Food Security in July 2009. These reforms are seeking to turn agricultural knowledge, tools, and technologies into real change in the lives of the poor—whether it’s to develop new drought-resilient maize varieties in East Africa, new partnerships that link women farmers to markets to sell their harvests, or making much better use of water in regions where water scarcity is a serious threat. The meeting is part of a massive effort to better align the real needs of poor farmers on-the–ground with research priorities and concrete policies and commitments from donors.
Why does agriculture need reform?
Agriculture has to change at a speed and scale never before contemplated in order to surmount the challenges for food security and sustainable rural development in today’s world. Given globalization and changing diets, the financial and food crises, the demands of biofuels on the food supply, and climate change, major players in the agriculture arena are seeking to better pinpoint how to deploy limited agriculture dollars to yield even better results for farmers on the ground in the face of these enormous challenges. The stakes are very high when one superimposes the security threats and economic migration that could emerge from poverty, hunger, and further deprivation.
GCARD is described as a process. What did this process entail so far and where is the process going beyond the event?
During 2009, priorities of those engaged in agriculture have been identified by regional reviews, an electronic survey, open electronic consultations, and face-to-face meetings in each of the regions of West Asia, Asia-Pacific, Central Asia, Europe, Africa and Latin America/Caribbean. More than 1,000 participants gave input into the process, and the combination of these reviews has identified regional research needs in both areas for focus and changes needed to research and extension systems.
Currently, a core group of internationally-recognized consultants are producing a synthesis of all the regional inputs, together with knowledge from major recent global reviews and conferences, to reflect a global picture of needs and issues that are common across regions. This Global Team is composed of lead authors Uma Lele, Jules Pretty, Eugene Terry and Eduardo Trigo, working together with those who have previously produced the regional analyses. This synthesis report identifies a road map for changes required in agricultural research for development systems that will bring together the outcomes of discussions and analyses prior to and during the GCARD meeting. The report, together with the detailed reports from each region, will provide a reference basis for driving forward the reform and reorientation of agricultural research systems and innovation pathways around the world. Drawing on this framework for change, the GCARD conference will identify actions and responsibilities required at national and international scales among all constituencies brought together in GFAR and against which we can all review and assess our collective progress and change through successive GCARD meetings. These will develop a strategic series of actions to improve the orientation of agricultural research systems, structures and processes for maximum impact against key development objectives. In subsequent years, the GCARD will enable public accountability of progress and impact as research strives to meet these objectives.
What exactly will be the outcomes of the meeting?
The meeting will issue a document outlining “a roadmap forward” and an associated set of theme-specific actions necessary to begin to deliver on the plan.
What will be some of the sessions?
A major report will be released outlining the agricultural priorities identified by regions around the world and the sorts of institutions and behaviors required to reshape agricultural research systems to meet the needs of the poor. The conference will cover a range of topics and involve farmers, consumers, civil society organizations, donors, and other stakeholders who have rarely come together before as true partners with the agricultural research community. Session topics are outlined in the program which is available for download.
The research themes addressed bring particular focus on where new knowledge is most required across the spectrum of agriculture and food and where it is most likely to deliver beneficial outcomes for the poor. Strategic issues to be addressed include the need for greater investment and greater and more equitable partnership between different sectors; the role of new research providers; a stronger role for women in and as the focus of research; developing the national capacities required; and the basis for more collective international actions that can deliver development impact at a large scale.
Who is speaking at the meeting?
Invited participants will include:
- Fahd Balghunaim, Minister of Agriculture, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia
- Roger Beachy, Director, US National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA)
- John Beddington, Chief Scientific Advisor, UK Government, and Head of the Government Office for Science
- Joachim von Braun, Director, Center for Development Research (ZEF), and Professor for Economic and Technological Change at University of Bonn, Germany
- Margaret Catley-Carlson, Chair, Global Crop Diversity Trust and Global Water Partnership
- Sir Gordon Conway, Chair in International Development, Centre for Environmental Policy, Imperial College, London
- Jacques Diouf, Director-General, Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO)
- Gebisa Ejeta, Distinguished Professor of Agronomy, Purdue University, and 2009 World Food Prize Laureate
- Cary Fowler, Executive Director, Global Crop Diversity Trust
- Marion Guillou, CEO, French National Institute for Agricultural Research (INRA) and Chairman of Agreenium
- Monty Jones, Executive Director, Forum for Agricultural Research in Africa (FARA), and 2004 World Food Prize Laureate
- Jean Lebel, Director, Environment and Natural Resource Management, International Development Research Centre (IDRC)
- Kanayo F. Nwanze, President, International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD)
- Thomas Rosswall, Farming First Spokesperson and Chairman of the CGIAR Challenge Programme on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS)
- Ismail Serageldin, Director, Library of Alexandria
- M. V. K. Sivakumar, Director, Climate Prediction and Adaptation Branch of the Climate and Water Department, World Meteorological Organization (WMO)
- M S Swaminathan, Chairman, MS Swaminathan Research Foundation (MSSRF)
- Laurence Tubiana, Director, Global Public Goods, Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs, France
- Ajay Vashee, President, International Federation of Agricultural Producers (IFAP)
The meeting will bring together a very diverse assembly of international and national researchers, farmers, civil society groups, private companies and development funding agencies from all around the world. We also expect video addresses from high level leaders in addition to the interesting assembly of farmers, civil society groups, etc.
Why agricultural research for development (AR4D)?
This refers to the need for research that produces outputs that lead to substantially increased development outcomes and impacts for the poor and in particular poor farmers. These might include economic, environmental, food security or social aspects of development. Currently, such outcomes and impacts are limited, not only because of insufficient investments, but also because of insufficient institutional capacities, coherence and focus of research on the needs of the poor and poor links to the wider enabling environments and investments required for development.
The entire conversation about research for agricultural development comes down to a need to focus on the needs, lives, and perspectives of farmers, whose needs and roles are central to any research impact and requires integrating the best that science can offer with the realities and innovations that are found at the farm level.
How can I keep informed about GCARD2010 and how can I contribute to the event if I cannot attend it?
We suggest you check and subscribe to three information channels:
- This GCARD blog will feature updates before, during and after the event and allows you to react, ask questions and comment through the comments feature of the blog. Don’t hesitate to use it. We will channel your input to the organizers and speakers.
- The GCARD Newsletter will inform you about the event outcomes and next steps. Subscribe at: email@example.com
- GCARD Twitter alerts you about event updates and event related information.