GFAR blog

Getting development into the right gear

Farmers and researchers

You cannot shift from 1st gear straight to the 5th. Similarly, you cannot bring significant development outcomes to smallholder farmers without undergoing a multi-level development program.

Capacity development should be far more reaching than just knowledge and skill advancement through training and education. It should ensure that good agricultural practices are embedded in the communities as the pre-requisite to new technology transfers and adoption by the smallholder farmers.

In pursuit of capacity building of smallholders, there is need to contextualize scientific and technological innovations that respond to the prevailing socio-cultural situations. This can be achieved by strengthening environments in which research can be tailored to address specific prevailing problems/challenges. Of importance is to have research and technology that can easily be accessible and distributed to all role-players in various positions that effect the developmental process.

The Third Global Conference on Agricultural Research for Development (GCARD3) extensively deliberated on the need to keep science relevant and future-focused.

Highlighted below are proposed key interventions around the discussions on the theme of capacity building:

  • Tailor-made research and technology development to respond to smallholder challenges.
  • Joint supervision and multidisciplinary approach in training and skills development e.g. university partnerships and collaborations.
  • Stakeholder involvement in research priority and focus areas, e.g. farmer organizations, agribusiness and policy makers.
  • Expanded agricultural extension services to help smallholder farmers access knowledge and information.
  • Meaningful involvement of the youth in global agricultural systems.
  • Availability of data and research knowledge to ensure the sustainability of the agricultural systems and to provide the basis for good research which leads to evidence-informed research projects

Smallholder farmer development cannot be fast-tracked; it has to go through a full cycle. Novel technologies of the developed world may not necessarily be a solution to capacity challenges of the smallholder farmers but could be supplementary to a strong foundation of good agricultural practices.

It is therefore imperative that the priorities in research and technology innovations should be crafted and embedded on prevailing social and environmental circumstances of smallholder farmers in order to ensure sustainability and positive impact.

Blogpost by Anne Wachira and Sikhumbuzo Mbizeni, #GCARD3 Social Reporters – A.Wachira(at), MbizeniS(at)

Photo Credit: M Gyles, ACIAR

This post is part of the live coverage during the #GCARD3 Global Conference in Johannesburg, South Africa, 5-8 April 2016. This post is written by one of our social reporters, and represents the author’s views only.


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