INSARD (INcluding Smallholders in Agricultural Research for Development) is an EU-funded project that is working towards making it easier for civil-society organisations (CSOs) – both non-governmental organisations and farmer organisations – to be actively involved in influencing agricultural research systems in Africa.
Involving CSOs in agricultural research for development (ARD) is a great way for scientists to understand the needs of small-scale farmers. Such organisations are important for shaping ARD because, to have a positive impact on small-scale farmers, the research needs to involve them at all stages: in determining needs, identifying problems and opportunities, designing and testing new possibilities, sharing results, and assessing the way the research is done and the results shared.
Incorporating small-scale farmers into ARD in this way will help to better serve their needs and to discover and spread innovations that farmers have been involved in developing.
Some CSOs are already involved in ARD in different parts of Africa, but they know little about what each other is doing. Their efforts to influence the wider research agenda are not well coordinated. We try to help change that by:
- Designing a method that allows CSOs to participate effectively in regional and international discussions on ARD
- Linking European and African CSOs trying to influence ARD policy and practice
- Helping CSOs define research priorities and the best way to communicate these priorities to researchers and policymakers
- Starting to design research interaction between scientists and CSOs, firmly based on small-scale farmers’ demands
- Working with key African and European research organisations and donors to strengthen demand-driven ARD and to increase funds for such research.
INSARD is a partnership between:
- ESAFF (Eastern and Southern Africa Small-Scale Farmers’ Forum)
- ETC Foundation
- GRET, Professionals for fair development
- PELUM Association
- Practical Action
- REPAOC (Réseau des Plates-formes nationales d’ONG d’Afrique de l’Ouest et du Centre).
Start-up study: CSO mapping
In the start-up study, an inventory is being made of African and European CSOs involved in ARD in sub-Saharan Africa. It seeks to identify the formal and informal linkages between CSOs and other stakeholders involved in ARD. It also seeks to identify potentials and blockages in the ARD system to realising a greater participation of CSOs in prioritising, formulating and carrying out ARD. The study is looking into resource allocation for ARD in sub-Saharan Africa, and how and where and by whom the decisions for such allocations are made.
This study is meant to contribute to:
- Designing and implementing a consultative mechanism that allows various CSO representatives to participate meaningfully in African, European and international deliberations on ARD;
- Triggering the necessary change in direction of the ARD system toward a more demand-led, grounded and smallholder-focused research and innovation system; and
- Stimulating greater resource flows to research involving small-scale farmers.
A project workshop to discuss the study findings and recommendations will be held in Nairobi in late November 2011. The information compiled during the study, including an overview of donor organisations that support ARD in Africa, will be made available for wider reference and use.