From all accounts the Global Conference for Agricultural Research Development (GCARD) is set to truly have an impact on global agriculture at all levels in one way or another! The GCARD2 will focus on the ways to implement the tasks identified in the GCARD RoadMap with special attention to “Foresight and partnership for innovation and impact on small-holder livelihoods”. As a young professional in agriculture, being part of this experience is nothing less than spectacular. Similar to its well planned and executed marketing strategy, the organisers of the GCARD2 have emphasized three major thematic areas, which maps out the direction and expected outcome of the conference. They are:
- Foresight for impact – matching research priorities to future development needs
- Partnerships for impact
- Capacity development for impact
However when placing the GCARD2 into context, one wonders of the ground level impact the events of the conference should have?
Concern arises as I am from a developing country in the Caribbean. Many countries of this region face severe problems of implementation at the national and community level due to political issues, lack of resources, corruption and lastly a disinterested populace that may have a poor or rather uneducated mind-set to agriculture and related areas on the whole.
Furthermore, despite having worked as an agricultural student researcher, much knowledge of the Consortium of the international agricultural research centers (CGIAR), the Global Forum for Agriculture Research (GFAR) and other organisers relatively new to the many sectors in the Caribbean Region. Many persons, students, governments, farmers, and other stakeholders in the local agricultural sector are unaware these international organisations and their work. With these two major issues, a problem is posed as it relates to the effectiveness of the GCARD2 on developing countries such as those found in the West Indies.
However, the GCARD2 team has taken this into consideration by placing emphasis on participation, capacity building, networking and effective linkages. Of particular interest is the theme of Partnerships for impact. “This theme will elaborate the roles and actions needed by all partners along intended agricultural innovation pathways – as projected for the CGIAR Research Programs and other national, regional and international partnership actions – to achieve impacts at scale against each major development objective.”
As a student and an executive member of the Agribusiness Society of the University of the West Indies, I can attest to the power of partnerships and its ability to achieve intended goals. We students are united in cause is to ensure adequate enabling conditions towards the development of agri-preneurs by empowering students through practical and theoretical learning, professional growth, networking, service, innovation and entrepreneurship. Fortunately we have been successful in this endeavour through our strategic partnerships.
Exposure to students: strengthens partnerships and capacity building
One of our main goals is to provide practical exposure our students. In order to do this we have embarked upon a yearly Study Tour activity, whereby we go to other Caribbean countries to investigation, understand and sensitize ourselves to particular sectors within the agriculture industry of that geographic area.
Although the activity is entering student development and planned, it simply would not have been possible without the close working relationship of the Department of Agricultural Economics and Extension, in which the society is based and the Inter American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture, Trinidad Office. Without the advisory, financial and logistical support of these institutions we may have been farther from achieving our goal which is based on capacity building, than we are today.
This exemplifies the strength of partnership and capacity development in effective planning and implementation.
Through these experiences I will be looking to the GCARD2 event for solutions to bypass issues of implementation to understand how expected outcomes are attained within developing countries such as my own.
Blogpost and pictures by Keron Bascombe one of the GCARD social reporters