Asia Pacific consultation participants claim for a research designed towards the real needs of poor farmers

The Asia Pacific regional consultation just passed the middle of the second week and started to get valuable input on the 10 discussion entry points. More than 140 participants are following the discussions!

In the over 100 messages that have been exchanged so far, several key words pop up over and over again: The need to develop low-input technologies, the potential role of successful farmers, farmer cooperatives as a solution to income and adoption, the role of women, youth and farmer families, the need to take the researcher out of the cities and into the field, the need to diversify practices and products on-farm and non-farm, the specific situations in Bangladesh, Myanmar and Kashmir… and many more.

Have a look at this tag cloud produced with the complete text of all contributions:

AP Tag cloud

Ideas for further discussion

  • We hear some very hard criticisms on the low performance of agricultural researchers to provide solutions for the poor farmer. It would be great to hear some scientist voices and reactions!
  • It also seems to me that we heard little about Fishery and Forestry. We hope to get specific input from those sectors.
  • We also got a request for comments related to possible research areas for people who do not own “land”, like pastoralists.
  • We also hope to further nurture contributions through the other regional consultations.

The below summary highlights the ideas that have been shared for each of the ten points, that had been suggested for discussion.

1.    Achieving Cost-effectiveness of research agendas

  • Develop low-input, but high return farm practices instead of diverting funds into Biotechnology
  • Take into account the integrated knowledge system of the farmers who have conserved soil and water, recycle crop residues, use weed as biomass, and follow organic farming systems.
  • Address malnutrition issues more than food production issues.
  • Focus on developmental programmes out of which will be identified the researchable and extension issues of the small holder farmers, to be followed by research on their fields and in partnership with them.
  • Involve more students and innovative farmers in the research

2.    Improving institutional arrangements / Researchable issues

  • Act at the farm / regional / micro level
  • Involve the private sector which should distribute seeds at economic rates.
  • Governments to promote creation of producer companies and have pro-poor, pro-women, pro-nature focus
  • Consider research issues of the landless farmers
  • Diversify our research effort on to a much broader range of crops including legumes, fruits and vegetables (benefits specifically women)
  • Develop varieties and practices adapted to heat and water, disease tolerant stress

3.    Enhancing farmer’s income

  • Reduce the number of middle men between farmers and consumers, hence the need for farmer-cooperatives
  • Ensure a multipronged approach to increase income of farmers through policy, social, infrastructure and market development
  • Enhance the agriculture based income of farmers from on-farm and non-farm activities, introduce diversity.
  • Assist post-harvest management of horticultural crops

4.    Bridging adoption-gaps

  • Develop affordable and farmer-friendly technologies for resource poor farmers
  • Bring out research from laboratories and research plots on to the farmer fields and real farming situations -> Action research
  • Let successful farmers lead/guide the extension system/ greater respect for farmer as the practitioner and for the professional knowledge of farmers (both men and women.)
  • Train farmers on crop production technologies and women training on quality preparations and utilization
  • Donor agencies must be willing to fund the more downstream efforts of R & D institutions to the degree they did 20 years ago.

5.    Revitalizing innovation sharing

  • Bridge extension centers to markets
  • Provide education, training, utilization, sharing concepts may be provided to the youths and farm women
  • Combine modern technologies (mobile, computer) with traditional media.
  • Performance of a Scientists should be measured not by just number of papers published and number of conferences attended it should be also measured by what the individual has contributed to the farming community by improved practice / Technology

6.    Enhancing value chain approaches

  • Provide monetary benefits
  • Use underutilized crops as entry point
  • Promote farmer cooperatives / producer companies

7.    Making agricultural education and research attractive.

  • Raise salary levels, create incentives (fellowships, participation in conferences)
  • Include the ‘traditional integrated agriculture system”
  • Improve infrastructure / labs
  • Increase funding for R&D to increase employment.
  • Keep educating plant breeders, entomologists, pathologists, agronomists, crop physiologists and other traditional agricultural disciplines. Having an increased supply of biotechnologists is not an adequate substitution.

8.    Strengthening Farmer’s competitiveness while assuring agricultural safety

  • Provide extension services at the grassroots level
  • Provide monetary benefits for farmers practicing various safety measures including for the environment.
  • Produce and consume food locally and in the vicinity by using eco-friendly agriculture following “organic principles” and still having sustainable high yields.
  • Develop new policies and advocacy for food, health and environmental safety and the quality of food products consumed.

9.    Reaching out to farmers through policy advocacy

  • Agricultural policies in developing counties must help the farmers and not the corporate system with subsidies for external input.

10.    Meeting the challenges of the Pacific Countries

  • Pass mainland technologies on a non-profit basis
  • These countries are not disturbing climates but due to the developed countries greenhouse gas emissions and increase in CO2 levels the sea level is increasing and these countries are suffering. Therefore, these countries need international financial support and cooperation in advanced education and technology.
  • More donor funds for IARCs plus collaboration between public and the small scale private sector within the region.
  • These states should not be allowed to be held hostage to the global seed companies whose limited suit of un-adapted hybrid seed is not the solution to the needs of such states or their small-scale farmers
  • Build food and nutrition security in each community through diversified farming systems and a system of self reliant agriculture. Surpluses could focus on low volume high value products with long shelf lives. Cross visits to similar communities across AP would be helpful.

One thought on “Asia Pacific consultation participants claim for a research designed towards the real needs of poor farmers

  1. We hear some very hard criticisms on the low performance of agricultural researchers to provide solutions for the poor farmer. It would be great to hear some scientist voices and reactions!

    AVRDC would like to challenge the idea that agricultural researchers are performing poorly for poor farmers. Too frequently in the past, farmers and donors expect agricultural researchers to wave their magic wands and solve all problems overnight. You should not expect it to work this way. Rather a long term commitment and engagement between farmers and researchers will bear good fruit. However, the current fashion for short-term special project funding is a problem in the achievement of longterm, succesful outcomes. We all know that pests and diseases are constantly mutating and interacting with their local environments. This means that local adaptive research is as badly needed as high tech. ARI-derived solutions from the West but this seems to be the part of the equation that has had its funding base almost completely eroded. Agricultural research can provide effective solutions for poor farmers but only if they have the opportunity to battle with the poor in the front line trenches of the developing for a sufficient period so that their newly derived knowledge can mature and be applied effectively.

    We also got a request for comments related to possible research areas for people who do not own “land”, like pastoralists.

    Please don’t forget one other major category of landless, or those who own very small plots, who are dependent on agricultural labour. Many of these are ultra-poor and having a steady job is one of the keys to better livelihoods. Happily, fruit and vegetable enterprises generate 5 times as many new jobs as the production of staple cereals. These may be in the field or in the processing and packing industries associated with horticultural production. Many of these jobs are traditionally filled by women and this in turn has a good knock-on effect in improving the nutrition of their households. It should be appreciated that half of all the vegetables produced in India, for example, are from small-holders and that back-yard family plots are critically important for the alleviation of under-nutrition in poor and land under-resourced households.

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