Agricultural research has been very scattered and isolated; highly specialized but seldom collaborative. There is a need to look at the bigger picture instead of working in isolation in different disciplines.
Investments in agriculture have been focused very much on research in the past decades, as evidenced by the Green Revolution. New varieties, new technologies led to increased crop production, crop diversification, and so on. However, in the pursuit of greater efficiencies, invisible walls in agriculture have been set up – with or without us being conscious of it.
In Tuesday’s Parallel Session that tackled Capacity Development for Sustainable Agriculture, differing views and perspectives were presented on which is the priority for investments: research or extension.
It is worth noting that one of the most senior scientists in the session – Dr. R.P Singh – sees the need to invest more in extension and information dissemination systems rather than in research. The past decades of research have produced groundbreaking technologies, but only a few have been maximized; or have even reached farmers. As a young professional in the field, I would agree that the world does not need more technologies but, rather, the translation of these technologies on the ground where farmers can benefit.
This is not to downplay the importance of research. But for research to have sustainable impacts, extension and advisory services (EAS) must be strengthened. Dr Virginia Cardenas of the Asia-Pacific Islands Rural Advisory Services (APIRAS) emphasized the need to strengthen global, regional and national EAS to address critical issues in agriculture, such as poverty, food and nutritional insecurity.
To do so, it is important for researchers to break down institutional barriers and walls and start looking at how they can complement each other in their work, and contribute to the bigger picture.
It’s time for the walls to fall to pave the way for sustainable agriculture. The issue is not whether research is more important than extension or vice versa. The key is to build a bridge between them and to understand that more can be done when there is convergence between them.
Let’s break down the walls, work together and see how our individual work contributes to the bigger picture of agriculture, nationally, regionally, and globally.
Blogpost by Jim Cano – #GCARD3 Social Reporter, jim.cano7(at)gmail.com
Picture courtesy Wikimedia
This post is part of the live coverage during the #GCARD3 Regional Consultation for Asia and Pacific region. This post is written by one of our social reporters, and represents the author’s views only.