GCARD is all about uniting the various stakeholders in agricultural research. No surprise then that one of the plenary sessions on the opening day was ‘Partnership for a better future’.
Gordon Conway, development expert at Imperial College, London and moderator of the session, identified three types of partnership vital for agricultural research for development.
First, are partnerships that build bridges across disciplines. Conway argued that the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR) was the “quintessential body to get research institutes working together”.
Second on Conway’s list are partnerships linking researchers with farmers as innovators.
Ajay Vashee, president of the International Federation of Agricultural Producers, argued that a critical first step for this was to create fora where farmers can raise their concerns, evaluate proposed research and monitor the impact of that research on their lives.
Third, are ‘scaling-up partnerships’— where something that works well locally can be taken to the national level. Conservation agriculture is a good example of how farmer-to-farmer partnerships can achieve results in this arena. The private sector is likely to be another key player, said Conway.
“We live in a global world with many partners that we can bring into operation,” said Conway. The key to doing so, he added, is to “focus on the problem rather than the programme. Focusing on problems brings people together. It is particularly important that partnerships really relate to the needs of individual stakeholders and get them passionate about working together.”