Are you listening, CGIAR?

Carlos Pérez del Castillo and the rest of the CGIAR must ensure stakeholders' suggestions are genuinely incorporated into the modified thematic areas. Credit: GCARD

Listening to the feedback from yesterday’s parallel sessions, I was inspired by the delegates’ genuine passion to bring about change.

All the usual suspects made an appearance. As Kevin Cleaver of the International Fund for Agricultural Development put it on day two: “There’s not a lot that’s new here in concept – what may be new is that we do it this time.”

Delegates called for research and decision-making to be bottom up, conducted for the poor with the poor. “Think local” was the overall consensus, with a reminder to the CGIAR that they need to start from the user – not the product.

Capacity strengthening must be invested in early on, delegates reminded us. “Build individual and institutional capacity strengthening from [the] beginning, across all partners and beneficiary groups,” they said.

Partnerships, though “not a pancaea or cure-all”, were also considered of great importance. But not just any partnerships – ones where the participants set the agenda.

The concern that non-food security crops are being neglected (see Are the crop world’s “big three” stealing the show?) was presented. Their place within the reforms was not discussed, and I will be interested to see how – or rather, whether – the CGIAR addresses this.

Participants also wanted the broader context of agricultural research systems – how it fits in with other sectors, for example – to be taken into consideration, as well as detailed impact pathways that link research outputs to development outcomes.

I could go on, but it would require several more posts.

Monty Jones, incoming GFAR chair, assured us that the feedback would be incorporated.

“Fine-tuning means bringing together the key partners again. We don’t want the situation where we lock ourselves in a room and make a final decision. At every stage let’s get the key partners involved.”

Provided this includes the poor, that sounds like a promising start to me.

Naomi Antony
Assistant news editor, SciDev.Net

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