Platform for African – European Partnership in Agricultural Research for Development

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Re-orient science policy towards locally adapted farmer knowledge

03/09/13 SciDev. Brian Wynne and Georgina Catacora-Vargas. Farming and knowledge monocultures are misconceived.

[extract] How to strengthen sustainable approaches?

The key is a critical analysis of how science is understood, channelled and practised, and how it links with industrialised agri-systems and global markets. Socially and environmentally responsible food production and distribution requires global science policy to be reorientated towards locally adapted farmer knowledge, and essential local and regional networks.

  1. As a first step, researchers, funders and policymakers need to identify and then re-evaluate assumptions about science, innovation, and food supply and access. 
  2. Second, they need to ask the right questions about sustainable global food security, which is more than a short-term production issue. Instead of asking almost exclusively how to increase short-term yields, we should ask why even existing global production is denied to many needy people, while generating mass obesity and enormous amounts of food waste elsewhere. 
  3. Third, they need to support small-scale and low external-input farming — both in terms of food production and research — providing tangible support for grassroots innovation. This will help integrate local practical knowledge systems with innovative scientific research and diverse food networks. 
It is already known that scientific research can be integrated with grounded and farmer-orientated innovation systems. This approach could not only strengthen food security but also promote responsive food-supply networks more connected to real needs. And it could help initiate an authentic, sustainable science for society.

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