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Global conference to reshaping agricultural research for development

By James Laraki (October 7, 2012)

HOW do we reshape agricultural research together so that it better answers the needs of resource poor smallholder farmers and fosters rapid rural development? This will be the key question that will be the focal point at the Second Global Conference on Agricultural Research for Development (GCARD II) to be held in Punta del Este, Uruguay at the end of this month. The GCARD II follows on and develops the outcomes of the first GCARD I held in Montpellier, France, in March 2010.

The 2012 conference with the theme “Foresight and partnership for innovation and impact on small-holder livelihoods” is being organized by the Global Forum on Agricultural Research in association with the reformed  Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR).

This conference will take stock of progress and experiences in developing and strengthening collaborative actions and partnerships transforming innovation processes towards achieving large scale development impacts, particularly affecting the livelihoods of resource poor smallholder farmers.

In 2010, CGARD I produced a Roadmap paving the way towards more responsive and relevant agricultural research for development systems around the world. The Roadmap was created to deliver change and urgent transformation to the way we do agricultural research and development to better meet the needs of resource-poor farmers and rural communities.

GCARD II will focus on the ways to implement the tasks identified in the GCARD Roadmap.    

 With this, the conference will become an excellent platform to build cooperation around key forward-looking agenda and plans of joint actions among all stakeholders.

The GCARD II will look at the questions: where are we today, how are we making these changes happen, and what impacts can we show. The GCARD II will address these as part of an ongoing process towards sustainable development and better impact. It will also open international partnership opportunities and help the development of concrete research and development programs that can lead to substantive impacts.

The GCARD II will provide us an opportunity to share experiences, build effective partnerships and plan our work together to meet future needs. The key elements that will be considered are:

  • What is each of us doing to deliver the key principles of the GCARD Roadmap into practical change?
  • How are our knowledge and awareness of future agricultural challenges and the needs of smallholder farmers helping to improve research prioritization?
  • What sorts of partnerships do we need along the complex pathways between research and development to improve the lives of millions?
  • What new skills and capabilities do we need and how do we attract and retain young people, particularly young women, into agricultural careers?
  • How can the specific needs of women producers be made central to agricultural research and rural development?

GCARD II also provides an opportunity for all sectors and regions to report their activities since 2010 and to agree on collective actions and next steps in implementation of the GCARD Roadmap and the CGIAR Strategy & Results Framework. The expected outcomes of GCARD II are:

  • Collective actions agreed through a Global Foresight Hub, bringing together many diverse analyses and reviews of future needs to better inform policies and priorities;
  • The CGIAR SRF Action Plan shaped by public consults with stakeholders;
  • Likelihood of successful impacts for smallholders enhanced through agreement on common purposes and mutual commitments to objectives of the CGIAR research programs (CRPs) and other global partnership programs;
  • Major new initiatives launched to address capacity needs around the world, increase investment, create more attractive careers and address key barriers to impact from agricultural research and innovation;
  • Collective actions committed to reshape AR4D systems to better reflect women’s perspectives and enable their direct access to innovation products and services
  • Demonstrating and renewing commitments to the transformation and strengthening of AR4D systems at national, regional and international levels.

GCARD offers a special opportunity to strengthen international agricultural research. The GCARD process proposes key challenges and opportunities facing agricultural research, technology generation, knowledge dissemination and delivery systems be prioritized and addressed. It identified the changes required in research and innovation systems so that millions of resource-poor smallholder farmers and consumers could benefit from environmentally sustainable productivity growth and improvement in systems that can increase their food security and incomes to tackle the root causes of poverty.

The National Agricultural Research Systems (NARS) in PNG is part of this process and will be represented at the conference by participation of Drs Norah Omot and Raghunath Ghodake of PNG NARI. Our NARS has already made substantial progress on this front and has realigned itself to take up the challenges.

We hope the necessary support is given to our NARS to meet the expected outcomes of GCARD II and to identify the changes required in research and innovation systems so that smallholder farmers and rural communities could benefit from sustainable growth and improvements that can increase their food security and incomes.

Photo: Part of the audience at the 2010 GCARD conference

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