GCARD: More than a mere conference!

October 2012 is going to mark an important event for those involved in Agricultural Research for Development (AR4D). More than 600 people from all over the world will attend the Second Global Conference on Agricultural Research for Development (GCARD2), organized by the Global Forum on Agricultural Research (GFAR), in association with CGIAR, the global partnership that unites organizations engaged in research for a food secure future. We expect close to 1,000 people to participate to the conference remotely, through our webcasting and social reporting.

Development changes needed to achieve the Millennium and Development Goals (MDGs) are often complex and require actions and interactions of multiple stakeholders at national, regional and international levels. The GCARD process is about reshaping agricultural innovation and its significance in meeting key MDGs. It brings together all sectors involved in AR4D: The public sector, national and international policy makers, agricultural Institutions, agricultural research systems managers, leaders of farmer organizations and cooperatives, non-governmental organizations, civil society organizations, universities, private sector enterprises in agri-business and farming, investors, donors and philanthropic organizations etc..
The GCARD process also provides a unique mechanism to collectively examine the realities of achieving impacts at scale and what steps and changes will need to be put into place now to reap the benefits of agricultural research, knowledge and innovation in meeting national and international development needs.

From GCARD1 to GCARD2

The First Global Conference on Agricultural Research for Development (GCARD 1) was held in Montpellier, France from 28th to 31st March 2010, during which the GCARD Roadmap was developed. The GCARD Roadmap proposes a series of transformative measures required to enhance the contribution of agricultural research and innovation towards development outcomes. The Roadmap sets out commonsense, practical measures, applicable and acceptable across all sectors and scales. It identifies 6 key areas in which the transformation and strengthening of Agricultural Research for Development systems is required to realize the full potential benefits of agricultural knowledge and innovation on the lives of smallholder farmers around the world:

  • Collective focus on key priorities as determined & shaped by science and society
  • True and effective partnerships between research and those it serves
  • Increasing investments to meet the huge challenges ahead
  • Enhancing  capacities to generate, share and use agricultural knowledge for development
  • Effective linkages that embed research in wider development processes and commitments
  • Better demonstration of impacts and returns from agricultural innovation

GCARD1’s regional and global analyses and the CGIAR Strategy and Results Framework both highlight the need to have a bottom-up approach that ensures all stakeholders who are involved in AR4D engage in policy processes and also contribute in implementing ideas into actions, so that by the end of the day the outputs from research have a positive impact on the lives of smallholders, whose development needs should be at the center of consideration. In doing so, together they will contribute in reducing poverty and hunger, improving human health and nutrition and enhancing ecosystem resilience, hence achieving the MDGs.

From Roadmap principles to actions

The GCARD2 will be a major step for AR4D as it will bring together the practical steps now being undertaken to deliver the changes demanded in the Roadmap, recognizing the diverse realities and political economies (the interacting political, economic, institutional, technological, social and cultural contexts) in which development outcomes are desired.

GCARD2 will identify ways of generating more coherent, evidence-based perspectives on our future needs from agricultural innovation and, from practice-based experience, what kinds of partnerships, capacities, actions and changes will be required, from smallholders to scientists, to achieve the desired impacts.

Are you involved in Agricultural Research for Development (AR4D)? What challenges are you facing and what changes do you think are required in order to make a greater impact?

This blogpost was written by Nawsheen Hosenally, one of the GCARD Social Reporters.


9 thoughts on “GCARD: More than a mere conference!

  1. I think the main challenge is to link the research to the crop, the researcher to the farmer… Often research is done too much in isolation, with solutions provided for problems unknown and problems going for years without solutions. Apart from all the good work done, it is imperative that we make a strong link throughout the AR4D chain.

  2. Research results might be there, even the implementation, but the national or regional policies might not follow suit up to now. Often farmers associations have no or only a small voice in policies.

  3. One of the big problems we’re having, is not so much food production, but rather “who’s going to farm the land”. We might find better irrigation methods and fertilizer, seeds with higher yields and solutions to all pests, but unless if the future of the world, the young people remain interested in agriculture, and agriculture remains interesting for the young, we will have nobody left to farm.

    Especially in the regions where smallholder farmers are crucial to the food production, “farming” is seen as a 2nd class profession. I am yet to see a farmer to say he sees his farm as a future for his sons or daughters… They might rather wish their kids can go to school and get a job in the city, even if it was in construction or sewerage cleaning…

    Very often also, the rural education, health care, infrastructure does not match those of the cities, even in the slums. And farmers live in rural areas. So no wonder, everybody want to leave…!

    We need to make “farming” attractive again for our kids. No farmers, no food….

  4. This will be a good opportunity to review the global status of AR4D, and to learn more on how to effectively link different participants (scientists, grass root people, communities, etc.) for the future. I personally hope to find more about the techniques of agricultural research that need to be promoted to ensure the sustainability of agricultural ecosystems but also how to meet up with soaring food demands from this conference..

  5. “Agriculture Research for Development”is self explanatory and has lots of action in it. I envisage this being an opportunity to turn things around for the benefit of the farmers. Tenusha you are right Agroecosystems is something that really need to be looked into seriously.

  6. One aspect that agricultural research/ers have failed to deal with is the major divide between the research recommendations and the socio-ecological niche the various farmer typologies are operating on. Farmers are diverse and dynamic yet agricultural research does not take into account these spatio-temporal and social differences. Agricultural research is yet to tap fully into farmers tacit/indigenous knowledge as a springboard for innovation and locally accepted superior technologies. Another issue is lack of coordination among researchers/research projects/institutions as all are chasing the few donor funds to do the next project. Unfortunately, in such a scenario, farmers are losers as they are worked out by the different players without any tangible benefit or impact on their livelihoods. A well coordinated agricultural innovation/research system at various levels can be of importance in this sense. I understand one aspect that the GCARD2 shall take forward is foresight analysis/futuristic thinking (GFARs Global Foresight Hub). As agricultural researchers we need to be cognizant of the danger of allowing ourselves as a select few who ply in field of agriculture to think for the whole world. Such initiatives should be locally owned and such capacities be developed for smallholder farmers to think for themselves about their future.

    1. Max, your Comment Hits directly on the nail. “farmers are diverse and dynamic, yet agricultural reaserch does not take into account these differences” Perhaps, research problems should come from the farmers… you know what am talking about? Action Research, its High time we go that direction and stop Imposing our research problems on them

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