Doing it for themselves

Stop focusing on what the international community is doing and start building capacity.

That was one of the messages to the developing world during the first day of GCARD, one I found particularly interesting given that the finger is more often pointed at the rich for failing to keep promises and not doing enough.

While acknowledging that donors’ funding commitments have certainly been questionable, participants said that this was no excuse to sit back. They called for developing countries to assume responsibility for their own agricultural development.

Uma Lele and Eduardo Trigo, who co-authored the GCARD report ‘Transforming agricultural research for development’ (see Global summit seeks to transform agricultural research), said developing country policymakers must pursue long-term investment  in capacity building to avoid “messy” scenarios in the future.

And Kanayo Nwanze, director-general of the International Fund for Agricultural Development, admonished the developing world for being too focused on what the international community is doing to help them. He cited a lack of political will as one of the key reasons investment in agricultural research is lagging, and called for developing countries to lead the process of change.

“Change cannot come from outside – it is an intrinsic process that comes from inside.”

World Food Prize winner Gebisa Ejeta agreed. Speaking for Africa, he said: “We have made agricultural research an activity of outsiders. We need to try and make it a country-led initiative”.

Key to this, said Nwanze, is promoting South-South collaboration and getting the BIC [Brazil, India, China] countries involved in the process.

Naomi Antony
Assistant news editor, SciDev.Net 

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