The Workshop’s objectives were to identify: prioritised agricultural research for development issues; and improved research processes to facilitate greater development impact and poverty reduction in Europe and the developing world. Following a welcome statement from EFARD , representatives from the EC’s DG-Development and DG-Research gave short addresses on their Directorates’ respective ARD interests. A description of the GCARD process and activities of the GFAR Task Force followed ; and an outline of the current version of CGIAR’s revised strategy and survey of research priorities was presented by a representative of the CGIAR Alliance. Following this global context setting for ARD, the next session was devoted to highlights of the GCARD regional review for Europe including a summary of the findings of the recently completed GCARD-Europe e-consultation. The subsequent structured discussion was aimed at challenging and clarifying some of the findings from these two activities.
Key recurring issues raised by the audience included:
Tthe need for greater focus by agricultural researchers and theirs donors on poverty issues in addition to productivity gains;
For research to be more demand (user/beneficiary) driven;
For research and development institutions to work closer together;
The need to involve a broader stakeholder base in agenda setting and research implementation ie.public and private sector institutions along the whole value chain between producers and consumers, including those dealing with the environment, natural resources management, governance etc.
The discussions laid the foundation for subsequent parallel break out group discussions on: i) global ARD priorities that are shared by European and developing countries; ii) agricultural research priorities for poverty reduction and development in Europe; iii) how European support for ARD in developing countries can be made more effective and achieve greater impact; and iv) why are new or stronger partnerships necessary and how should they be structured? The subsequent plenary session provided much lively discussion on these and other related topics. It identified a number of substantive research areas and process issues in need of early change. These were captured in a report on the workshop which will appear on the GCARD website shortly.
A short synthesis of all 3 documents (Europe review, e-consultation and Workshop report) will be available for comment by the end of October. Finally, in the spirit of learning by doing, feedback from the Workshop attendees will be analysed and provide lessons learned to the GCARD on the approach taken in holding the workshop.”
Browsing through the e-consultations of West Asia and North Africa, Central Asia and the Caucasus, Europe and Asia Pacific is a great pleasure. In total more than 350 participants share their insights, achievements and worries in those 4 e-consultations that run in parallel. The Africa consultation started today and the discussion for the Americas will initiate in one week with a record subscription of 400 participants.
See below a series of quotes that are taken from the ongoing consultations. They should give you an idea of the topics that are being addressed. React to one or several quotes by leaving a comment on this blog.
“Concerning profitability, rice is one of the most profitable crops to the Egyptian farmers”
“Farmers must sustain the farm with primary food security as goal & no commercial angle which hinders adoption of productive innovations.”
“In Bangladesh research on crop production & achievements are really encouraging, but market research analysis was not properly addressed.”
“Conservation of biodiversity by the farmers should also have some monetary element for the benefit of the farmers”.
“There are too many middle men between farmers and consumers, making much of profit on the cost of both farmers and consumers.”
“An innovation main approach is developing the women entrepreneurship in the rural and urban areas and to increase her participation in the economic development.”
“We need to bring together existing forces to address dev. needs. But institutional blockages are more constraining than financial ones.”
Western Balkan: “We have no clear picture about the situation & unfavorable position of the agrarian sector & rural areas in dev. policies”
“In India there is no dialogue or interaction between the Industry and the agricultural research scientists.”
“This is the main issue in Central Asia & Caucasus: the lack of a private sector and the insufficient integration of public with private.”
Putting the farmer into the center
“Agriculture research can have an impact on the poor when the original research question begins with smallholder needs and interests.”
“In India like in any other Asian or African nations food is still produced at home, and we love fresh food”
“Let’s begin to view the field from the small/marginal farmer’s perspective – the bottom-up approach for policy, research, and intervention.”
“To make the innovations reach the farmers we need to recognize enterprising innovative farmers”
“It took over 30 years for this research to impact on a few poor farmer families..We worked in isolation…100% top-down.”
“I am not against organic farming but it should be ecologic. farming with resonable amount of pesticides with non-toxic, biological origin”
“In Myanmar We need research on small-scale organic farming, and cropping patterns related to climate change adaptation”
“Large plot long-term study on organic farming ICRISAT: It’s possible to grow crops without agro-chemicals and produce sustainable high yields”
“Central Asia & Caucasus: In reality, we need research to introduce less popular, but high-calorie and high-vitamin crops into the region.”
“Central Asia & Caucasus: “Findings promote the idea of studying potential dietary synergies between wheat, potato, fruits and vegetables.”
“Malnutrition is a political issue, very sensitive in Central Asia.
“Underutilized crops will play a minor role in actual calorific food security, but play a major role when it comes to nutritional security.”
“Bangladesh population is plagued with deficiency related diseases.”
Attracting young scientists / Education
“To involve talented youth in agricultural research and environment protection we need joint regional and international cadre training programs.”
Azerbajan: “Speaking frankly the reason why young generations prefer other fields is that they are offered higher salary.”
“At the University of Gorokas we are advocating to change the Nation by addressing extension and development problems in schools”
“Climate change will be the main issue in Central Asia & Caucasus within a very short time. And CC affects the poor more than others”.
Farmers knowledge / Knowledge sharing
Azerbajan: “Farmers plan their cropping patterns without considering factors like soil preservation, environmental issues, crop rotation…”
“Present day agriculture (policies, technologies and support systems) has tended to bypass the traditional knowledge systems and practices”
“Unfortunately, the investment for information and knowledge sharing for agricultural innovation is extremely poor at all levels.”
“For food security, the promotion of local crops must be a priority. We need to protect the local knowledge associated with those crops.”
“May be time has come to redefine the concept of ‘farmer’ from ‘who grows field crops ‘ to ‘who utilize the knowledge for growing crops”
“We want to recognize the dynamics of indigenous knowledge (IK) and enhance farmers’ capacities to interact with others.”
“In Pakistan, special Programs for women and children participation have been successfully developed.”
“Given the high level of mobile phone penetration in India, we have worked on solutions to provide information services to the farmer.
Low input farming
“Agric. innovation can help dev. in rural Asian areas by focusing on locally available inputs without the need of heavy farmer investments.”
“Research projects need to be reoriented for developing low-input, but high return farm practices for the marginal poor farmers.”
“How much has agricultural research contributed to understanding agriculture in conflict, post conflict and socially unstable situations?”
“If you do not have a social stable system then this will impact over any effort that groups would want to implement to feed their people”
Pakistan: “For the first time we use Satellite Remote Sensing data, and completed a comprehensive inventory of glaciers and glacial lakes”
WANA: “Obstacles to the implement biotechnological innovations: Lack of adequate research facilities & infrastructure
“Biotechnology has become a fashion aimed at catching funds and foreign visits, rather than delivering the goods
”From my experience the issue of water is one of the most important issues affecting agricultural development in the WANA region.”
”Our region (WANA) suffers from water scarcity, severe drought, land degradation & desertification, low crop prod. & increasing yield gap.”
Investment in research
“Indeed few countries invest more than 1% of their GDP in research. Most of West Aasia & North Africs countries are below 0.5/0.6 %.”
WANA: “The weak linkage between research & extension/knowledge dissemination system needs to be addressed to make research more effective.”
“New technologies for cultivation of vegetable crops are now well being extended to farms of Armenia.”
“In Papua New Guinea the Agriculture extension system has died out and this time we should use new approaches”