By James Laraki (January 3, 2013)
IT is easier to set guidelines and plans to go about doing something, but it may not be the same when it comes to putting them into practice. Certain factors come into play that may not allow for the implementation of planned activities or processes to achieve certain goal. One way to ensure such plans are being put into practice is take stock of its progress on a regular basis. This can be done by bring together all concerned players to take stock of progress made and to further direction going forward.
In view of this, an inter-regional meeting was organized last October for all regional fora to discuss the global roadmap developed by the first Global Conference for Agricultural Research Development (GCARD 1) in 2010.
The roadmap referred to as GCARD Roadmap highlights the urgent changes required in Agricultural Research for Development (AR4D) systems globally, to address worldwide goals of reducing hunger and poverty, creating opportunity for income growth while ensuring environmental sustainability, and particularly meeting the needs of resource-poor farmers and consumers. It was created through contributions and dynamic interaction of thousands of stakeholders from all sectors, providing a clear path forward for all involved.
The GCARD Roadmap establishes an inclusive, rolling process of reform and capacity development that aims to mobilize the full power of agricultural knowledge and innovation towards meeting agriculture and food-related development needs.
The GCARD 2 pre-conference meeting was convened to consider the contributions of the Regional Fora in putting the GCARD Roadmap into practice since 2010 and tangible achievements achieved to date in terms of their outcomes and impacts in putting the Roadmap into practice at the regional level.
Such gathering was necessary for all to have a clear view of how the roadmap was being put into practice before going into GCARD 2. The meeting facilitated by the Global Fund for Agricultural Research (GFAR) Secretariat was aimed at taking stock of progress made at national and regional levels in putting the GCARD Roadmap into practice. It provided an avenue for partners to discuss their outputs and achievements to date and for them to put forward suggestions for further collaborations and partnerships where required.
The meeting noted that regional fora play a leading role in advocating the transformation of global agricultural research and innovation. The feedbacks by partners after two years of putting the GCARD Roadmap into practice will give further direction, refinement and impetus to the activities of the Regional Fora in their respective regions.
Among key issues discussed was the lack of financial support to activities at all levels to pursue putting the GCARD Roadmap into practice. It was noted that investment in “research for development” programs and in capacity development related to implementing the GCARD Roadmap objectives were lacking at both regional and national levels. It was suggested that respective governments and other development partners to invest in the National Systems of Agricultural Research and Innovation. Such investment should allow them to build their capacities in managing partnerships and collaboration among their stakeholders especially the private and community/civil society sectors. It was noted that this now requires greater advocacy at senior policy and national levels.
This meeting expressed concern on the lack of support from governments and development partners at regional and national levels. This holds true for PNG. It is common knowledge now that support to agriculture in general, and in particular research is lacking. The National government and major development partners continue to neglect this sector and prioritized other areas such as health, education, infrastructure, and law and order as enablers of growth. Such situations make it difficult for us to put into practice such roadmaps and other plans we may have to achieve certain goal.
The meeting suggested that the following must be considered as the next steps for action at the regional and national level in further putting the GCARD Roadmap into practice:
Our national agricultural research system is part of this process and is required to put the GCARD roadmap into practice to transform agricultural research for development (AR4D) in collaboration with regional and global partners. Lack of support to research and innovation, education and advisory services, and weak linkages with wider development processes and with farmers, NGOs and the private sector, are major bottlenecks constraining the value and impact of agricultural innovation on the lives and livelihoods of our people. We need to make efforts towards putting the GCARD roadmap into practice and hopefully we will have some progress to report on during the 3rd Global Conference on Agricultural Research for Development.
Photo: A women group from Western Highlands Province displaying fresh vegetables at an agricultural exhibit at Bubia, Morobe province. Photo: Seniorl Anzu