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'Research alone won't deliver agri progress'

'Research alone won't deliver agri progress'

Even focused research will not deliver agricultural progress unless donors also help join up links in the development chain.

When international development aid funds science, donors increasingly ask potential grant recipients what benefits they will achieve with the money.

And there may be many good answers! Ask 1,000 donors, policymakers, private innovators, farmers and development workers how science can best serve development, and you're likely to come up with 1,000 different responses.

So it comes as no surprise that a major international conference, which brought such a group together last week (29 March) to thrash out a new vision for agricultural research for development, failed to agree on an overall solution for translating agricultural research into effective development.

Unreasonable demands?

The Global Conference on Agricultural Research for Development (GCARD), in Montpellier, France, heard major donors to the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR) — a global network of 15 agricultural research centres — call loudly for results-oriented research that delivers real development impact.

But is it a realistic demand? The truth is that international research alone cannot guarantee agricultural development.

Research is just one component in the complex system that produces new knowledge and puts it to use. That system includes not only national universities and research institutes, but also seed companies, extension services, small enterprises, nongovernmental organisations, markets and farmers themselves.

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Please note that this is the opinion of the author and is Not Certified by ICAR or any of its authorised agents.