Platform for African – European Partnership in Agricultural Research for Development

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

INSARD @ the European Multi Stakeholder consultation

Interview with Stuart Coupe, Practical action, Policy adviser and UK Food Group delegate to PAEPARD.

Stuart answers the following questions:

  • What is INSARD about?
  • How different is INSARD from PAEPARD?
  • Is there a different understanding of ARD between NGOs and Research?
  • Is there an antagonism between both groups?
  • What are the limits of innovative partnerships?
  • How do you relate to the private sector?

INSARD (Including Smallholders in Agricultural Research for Development) is a 3-year project financed by the European Commission. It comes under FP7 KBBE "Networking of NGOs involved in ARD".

The European partners in INSARD are:

  1. ETC Foundation, based in the Netherlands;
  2. GRET (Groupe de Recherche et d’Échanges Technologiques), based in France; and
  3. Practical Action (formerly Intermediate Technology Development Group), based in the UK.

The African partners are:

  1. ESAFF (Eastern and Southern Africa small-scale Farmers Forum), based in Tanzania;
  2. PELUM (Participatory Ecological Land Use Management), a network of over 200 CSOs in Eastern, Central and Southern Africa, based in Zambia; and
  3. REPAOC (Réseau des Plates-formes nationales d'ONG d'Afrique de l'Ouest et du Centre) a network of national organisations in ten countries in West and Central Africa.

Over recent decades it has become increasingly clear that, given the complexity of small-farmer livelihoods, an innovation systems perspective on ARD is needed in which land-users and their organisations are not seen as mere recipients of new knowledge but are recognised as also potential sources and/or partners in its generation. This will have implications for ARD systems, staff, mindsets, tools and methods.

There is generally wide agreement that, in the current process of reorienting and strategising ARD and reforming ARD institutions, the input and involvement of Civil-Society Organisations (CSOs), Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs), Farmer Organisations (FOs) and Community-Based Organisations (CBOs) will be critically important. They are very close to small-farmer realities, have a long history of working on the ground and are a rich source of information on locally effective development practices.

Serious efforts have been undertaken in recent years to involve CSOs from both the South and the North in developing ARD policies and programmes and, to a certain extent, in implementing ARD. Unfortunately, the usefulness and effectiveness of the present forms of CSO consultation and involvement have been limited, as there are fundamental flaws in the organisation and coordination of the involvement.

What is needed is a more transparent system for CSOs to provide well-founded inputs and positions in ARD policymaking, strategy development and implementation. Existing networks promoting various ARD issues need to coordinate and organise themselves to increase their impact.

INSARD aims at addressing these concerns, developing a transparent system for good-quality CSO inputs into ARD design and implementation and formulating strategies for the continued functioning of this beyond the project period, including attention to the resource needs.

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