This statement represents perspectives of the young researchers at GCARD 2010, a group of 40 young male and female researchers from 26 countries who participated in the Young Researcher’s Seminar organized by the French Initiative for International Research (FI4IAR: a joint venture of INRA and CIRAD) in collaboration with Agropolis Fondation.
We represent a range of geographic locations and disciplines but we all have interests in having impact in global agriculture. We are committed to environmentally and socio-economically sustainable development for smallholder farmers. Our interactions during the Young Researchers Seminar 2010 have resulted in the following list of priorities:
- Interactions: More opportunities for interactions among researchers are needed. It is important for researchers from the North to gain experience in conditions of the South, and for researchers from the South to have learning opportunities in the North. This mobility is critical for improved understanding and sharing perspectives, as well as building networks, to conduct effective research.
- Career pathways: In terms of outputs used to evaluate young professionals in international agriculture, both development outputs as well as academic outputs should be considered as important. More linkages between senior researchers and young researchers should be supported, such as mentoring programs.
- Interdisciplinary research: This type of research is key for bridging gaps between researchers. We need guidelines for conducting interdisciplinary research in our graduate training curricula. We need more opportunities for sharing experiences and results from interdisciplinary research.
- Bridging gaps: We need more links between farmers and researchers, and we need two-way knowledge transfer. We recognize the importance of both scientific knowledge and local knowledge. We think the end users should be identified and involved in research from the beginning. This means more participation and inclusion, taking farmers’ concerns as a starting point for the research. Young researchers are essential to bridge these gaps.
- Funding strategies: Agriculture includes many different aspects including crops, livestock, soil, water, etc., but it also includes humans, cultures, political environment, and socio-economics. To address all of this, a broader diversity of research approaches should be funded. Diversity of funding duration is needed to provide more funding opportunities and also support longer-term research, specifically for the time frame required of PhD training.
We, the young researchers, will be inheriting the system of agriculture research for development and we approach the future with optimism and a spirit making change. The future of agriculture research depends on us. We have a vision of a poverty-free world, and we know what it takes to make agriculture contribute to this vision. Agricultural research should be knowledge-based, dynamic, interdisciplinary, farmer-focused, and impact-oriented. We anticipate that the concepts listed here will be integrated into the restructuring of the international agriculture research system. We intend to share these perspectives with our own respective institutions worldwide.