What about the farmers?

Rodrigo de Oliveira Andrade
Latin America correspondent, SciDev.Net

Yesterday at the Second Global Conference on Agricultural Research for Development (GCARD2) delgates heard some of the main recommendations that will constitute the meeting’s priorities over the next two years. At the same session, an overview of the parallel session over the past three days of meeting was also released.

During ‘Agenda for Action toward GCARD 2014’ we heard that the conference’s value goes beyond mere discussion. The key messages were: foster a culture to better enable partnership; develop guidelines and standards for partnership between research and development actors in particular; and promote innovative arrangements that enable, rather than frustrate, partnership.

Delegates also heard that there is a need to clarify what public-private-civil partnerships are, who they involve and under what conditions they work. New mechanisms need to be created to unify all partners within a trusted relationship that includes country-level platforms, regional investment forums and global initiatives.

Regarding public investment, it was recommended that GCARD and its stakeholders synthesise available information on investment levels and impacts by country and subject matter.

Lot of actions were proposed, but nobody knows who will put them into practice in the upcoming months. This was one of the main criticisms raised by Ajay Jakhar, from the Farmer’s Forum in India, who also said in his talk that in the next GCARD meeting, “the farmers need to have more representation”.

I only had the opportunity to hear what farmers and non-governmental organisations had to say about the meeting in one session throughout the entire conference, even though the official discourse had constantly said that farmers need to take part in the agricultural research process.

Once again institutionalist discourse has remained rooted in official discussions. And the question which hasn’t been answered is [again]: how is everything that has been discussed going to benefit smallholder farmers, particularly the poorest ones?

This blog post is part of our coverage of GCARD 2012, which takes place on 29 October–1 November 2012 in Punta del Este, Uruguay. To read news and analysis on agricultural research please visit our website.

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