Wishful thinking

Margaret Catley-Carlson asked the panel what they would like to see in the final strategy. Credit: GCARD

“What one thing would you want the new [GCARD] strategy to include that you think would result in more funds for agricultural research for development?”

That was the question posed by Margaret Catley-Carlson, chair of the Global Crop Diversity Trust/Global Water Partnership, to donors at an afternoon session on effective investment.

The answers ranged from the very broad to the very personal.

Kamal Elkeheshen of the African Development Bank said the way forward was backwards. He hopes the strategy goes back to look at the big picture of increasing food production. And the Food and Agriculture Organization’s Hafez Ghanem wants to see research that will translate into real benefits for smallholders.

Other wishes included clear plans to prepare agriculture for climate change; research priorities set from the bottom up; excellence in research and negotiations guidelines.

Both Prabhu Pingali of the Gates Foundation and the World Bank’s Jurgen Voegele took the opportunity to express scepticism about new ‘mega-programmes’ proposed by the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR).

“We would like to see two concrete mega-programmes because I don’t believe we will get beyond the rhetoric unless one is forced to write it down,” said Voegele.

Pingali was even less optimistic.

“I’d like to see the CGIAR system rise above their immediate concerns of maintaining current research portfolios to think about a dozen or so major problem-driven, results-oriented outputs.

“The current thematic programmes are not the place to start.”

Ouch. Keeping watching the blog for more CGIAR action.

Naomi Antony
Assistant news editor, SciDev.Net 

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