The road ahead

So it’s over. The first GCARD conference closed on a high, with hopes for a new era of agricultural research for development – and a ‘roadmap’ to guide the way.

Walking to the train station, I thought about how the weather had paralleled the tone of the conference. Day one (sunshine) started with optimism, tensions mounted on day two (grey and gloomy) when delegates felt they weren’t having enough of a say, frustrations came to the fore on day three (rain) when they got to air their concerns – and today was bright once again.

But it’s not all sunshine and roses. Amidst the celebrations of a conference generally considered a success, there were pertinent reminders that the work begins here.

Kathy Sierra, chair of the CGIAR fund council, urged the conference to get going sooner rather than later. “We need to move ahead and focus on results. Without that, the collaboration and communication will fade.”

GCARD global author Uma Lele echoed the urgency, with her simple but memorable mantra: “Action, action, action.”

And let’s not forget about investment. No matter how much you fine-tune research to the needs of the poor and get them involved, nothing can happen without funds. Incoming GFAR chair Monty Jones warned the conference “I will be seeking your money”, to peals of laughter. He was smiling. But he wasn’t joking.

Naomi Antony
Assistant news editor, SciDev.Net

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