Wednesday, 31 March 2010

Third day of the Global Conference on Agricultural Research for Development (GCARD)

30th April 2010. The Third day at GCARD was about better targeting collective actions – research themes identified for international agricultural research. The CGIAR has analysed where it feels its international research efforts could best be focused to meet tomorrow’s development needs. The collective programmes articulated by the CGIAR were presented the particicipants to the workshops were invited to comment as to how these fit with the views, focus, capacity, and investment needs of national AR4D stakeholders.
Mark Holderness, Executive Secretary of GFAR, opened Day 3 of the conference by calling upon the participants for decisive collection action: “We’ve set the theme over the last two days. I can see you are all fired up to do something; now is your chance.”

  1. Agricultural Systems for the Poor and VulnerableAround 70 participants attended a session moderated by Dr. Maarten van Ginkel, Deputy Director General of Research at ICARDA, on the agro-ecosystem research area, one of the 8 suggested thematic areas of the CGIAR.
  2. Enabling agricultural incomes for the poor
    Mark Rosegrant of IFPRI briefed session participants on the policy and institutional constraints and opportunities, and the CGIAR’s proposed thematic research focus, to support farm incomes for the poor. The absence of a platform that links the various actors along the research-development-policy continuum, from bottom up to the top, was identified as a key challenge the research theme hoped to address.

  3. Optimizing Productivity of Global Security Crops Explaining why this parallel session was exclusively focused on rice, maize and wheat, Marianne Banzinger of CIMMYT said that it was important to move quickly to study the anticipated gap between between yield and demand, which the world will face long before 2050, and that this big challenge required coordinated investment and partnerships.
    Participants were quick to point out that the CGIAR must include other essential good security crops in their analysis, particularly given that there is no specific food security theme within the CG centers.
  4. Agriculture, Nutrition and Health
    In a session moderated by Dr. Mark Cackler of the World Bank, participants in the agriculture, nutrition, and health program session noted the importance of fruits and vegetables for diversified diets against a backdrop of the rising obesity epidemic in poor countries.
  5. Knowledge, information and advice in agri-foods systems
    Research organizations, including the CGIAR, should not be satisfied just with producing high quality science,” noted Enrica Porcari of the CGIAR’s ICT-KM. “It is essential that research outputs are communicated and put to use, in the village, on the ground, in the lab, or across the negotiating table.”
  6. Agricultural Biodiversity
    This was a lively, interactive session where discussion ranged widely across many issues: including the need to bring all stakeholders into managing biodiversity, the importance of raising public awareness via the media to engage the public in that management, and the significance of advocacy in addressing policy-making on these issues.
  1. Improving PartnershipsAjay Vashee of IFAP opened the partnerships session, stating that, “you cannot improve what you do not believe in and you cannot improve what you do not measure.” Sophia Drewnowski of the World Bank emphasized the need for communities of practice to allow cross fertilization and a focus on improving current partnerships instead of just doing more and more. Dr. Lawrence Haddad of the UK Institute of Development Studies renewed important examples highlighting cases where participation by farmers leads to better impacts, and used examples of projects that build demand for better participation and provide the valuable “how.” The private sector group suggested that they should try to influence the thinking about development needs in terms of business case possibilities for all stakeholders involved. Participants noted that farmers could facilitate partnerships where resources are equally distributed, and farmers should be included in all the stages of the research and development cycle and take into account their competencies. Read about the study Perspectives on Partnerships See the pre-GCARD workshop Web site
  2. Addressing Gender for Inclusive Development
    Gender is a hot button issue at GCARD and the session on gender for inclusive development was no exception – a lively mix of videos, panel discussions and interactive nodes to map out practical ways to promote gender equality in agricultural research for development.
Open science session. The day ended with presentations about the potential that agricultural and wider science can offer for development impact.