Wednesday, May 20, 2009

NAARAP Plans to engage ARDs at Global and Country levels

Initially, NAARAP plans to pursue the following three major interventions and link them to GFAR and APAARI processes at the national, regional and global levels:

1. To participate actively in determining the direction, content and conduct of ARD at national, regional and international levels
2. To generate, document and share knowledge, experiences, expertise, and replicate successful practices and lessons learned in engaging with ARD
3. To document the entire partnership process in ARD and to develop possible modalities to above with farmers ARD experiences in their local languages. The specific goals and objectives under each of above three interventions should be:

I. Regional NGO Priorities in ARD

NGO competencies in ARD were identified and areas where they could contribute were articulated:

Linking Small Farm Holders, NGOs, CSOs and Agri Research systems (ARS), small farm holders and other clientele groups (e.g. women, rural youth, etc.) at the national, regional and international levels

* NGOs be involved in the planning, budgeting and decision making process of ARS (National, Regional and international), to reflect needs of NGOs/CSOs and SFHs in their research plans and priorities.

* Conduct farmer-participatory research on SFHs’ technologies, backed with science and required documentation for adoption by ARS.

* Enable on farm production of inputs to facilitate adoption and replication of successful technologies by SFHs.

* Facilitate access by SFHs to information, appropriate technologies, expert data banks and ARIs.

Impact Assessment and Advocating Policy Changes

* Identify constraints to adoption and advocate policy changes needed to remove the constraints.

* Assess outcomes and impact of technologies on SFHs and document, share with key stakeholders.

Thus, the following agenda have been identified by NAARAP: i) technology development, ii) sustainable natural resource management, iii) facilitating farmers’ access to markets and other support services, and iv) agenda for overall partnership.

On Sustainable Natural Resource Management:
· Adaptation study on the impact of climate change focusing on the vulnerability of agriculture and the SFHs. Specific topics would include mitigating losses, risk transfer, increasing resilience, coping mechanisms, nutrition and health, and recovery and rehabilitation.

· Sustainable natural resource management (land, water, forest, etc.) based on bio-diversity, gender equality and genetic diversity.

On facilitating farmers’ access to markets and other support services:
* Developing models of linking farmers to market where small farm holders could get a fair price for their safe, healthy, tasty and quality products.
* SFHs promoting producer companies (PCs), by, of and for the farmers, staffed by professionals, to take over all risks and responsibilities, other than farming and on farm activities.
* Developing internal control system (and/or standard for organic products) that is nationally, regionally and globally acceptable.
* Establishing mechanisms to reduce farmers’ financial vulnerability such as micro/farmers insurance, microfinance/credit and savings for self-reliance.
* Facilitating farmers’ access to information (digital, printed, radio, video) and documentation of local innovation development.

On Agenda for Overall Partnership:
* Moving national and international ARIs (institutions) towards adopting a more inclusive NARS (systems) approach that have significant role for CSOs, NGOs, SFHOs and other institutions engaged in social reforms, as partners.
* Advocate for a new research paradigm that is small farm holder-led. It should recognize the holistic and sustainable approach in agriculture farming system done by farmers of the area, as well as the pivotal role of women. Develop technologies and interventions that empower farmers and enhance sustainable livelihoods among indigenous and rural communities with ARS, nationally, regionally and internationally.
* Joint advocacy with public and public policy on development priority that should be given to agriculture, food, nutrition, health and rural development; need for funding the work of various stakeholders such as CSOs, NGOs, SFHOs.
* ARD institutions and extension systems be restructured for effective partnership with the local area PCs, NGOs CBOs and SFHs.

II. Knowledge Sharing and Communication Strategy

The Consortium would have to carefully consider this process as to how they communicate specially with each of the above categories.

Following the identification of those the group would need to communicate with, the group considered the question of what they would communicate.

Based on the discussions in preceding session, the main messages would be related to:
i. Problems of farmers, the value addition chain and their solutions

ii. New concepts, processes, skills and technologies

iii. Awareness, Sensitization and Advocacy related to critical issues in agriculture and its development as applicable to the local areas

iv. Funding in agricultural development and support for the Consortium and its members

Having identified the key categories of messages, the group then considered how they would communicate with the various categories of their clients for their communications. They had to consider issues of availability, accessibility, relevance, usefulness, accuracy and timeliness of the information and messages as key parameters in deciding the content and process of their communications. Careful consideration of who was being communicated with and what was being communicated would be needed to identify how the information and messages were to be communicated and the medium to be used. A wide variety of media and in different mixes could be used for the Consortium’s communications.

A matrix which indicates to whom the Consortium would communicate to, the category of information and messages to be communicated and the medium to be used would constitute the core of the Consortium’s communication strategy or plan.

The use of new ICT, especially cellular telephony and the Internet was considered. It was felt that with rapid developments in access to this new technology, new avenues in communication were emerging. The use of this technology would need to be looked at seriously.

The group also deliberated on the need to incorporate the concept of assessing the outcomes and impact of communications at every level in the communication process. It was felt that the Consortium’s primary aim in communication was to change behavior and attitudes of all with whom they were communicating. The evaluation of the Consortium’s communication should also include assessing these changes.

The group then considered the fact that providing information alone in a passive manner would not result in knowledge sharing. Knowledge results from learning from useful information and adding experience. Thus, the Consortium will have to consider creating learning systems for those they primarily wish to communicate with.

APAARI and GFAR offered the use of their platforms, APARIS and EGFAR, respectively for communication within the CSO groups at national, regional and global levels and with other stakeholders in agricultural research for development.

The group also felt that Workshop, as held for the Sub Saharan African CSO Consortium, to develop its communication system, may also be planned for this Consortium.

III. Possible Modalities for Partnership

Several modalities for working together were culled from various presentations by GFAR, APAARI and NGOs. It was further noted that appropriate structures/ mechanisms for partnership will be necessary for working at different levels – community, national, regional and global. Further, NAARAP should consider the following:

On information-sharing, forums and dialogue:

· Sharing of information; e-forums

· Forums and consultations for discussion, dialogue and exchange

· Developing joint research agendas together with SFOs; identifying priorities for ARD where sustainability/increased net incomes are ensured for SFHs; ensuring SFH and civil society voices in developing research agendas.

On advocacy and policy dialogue:

· Joint public/media advocacy on the importance of SFHs in agriculture as well as the need for ARD; joint sponsorship of events. However, it was noted that any joint public advocacy should be based on consensus among partners.

· Linking up research with policy reforms; implications of research on policy; ensuring enabling environment for SFHs; direct policy advocacy

· Discussion and advocacy on global policy and trends (WIPO, IPR over PGR, PGR access and benefit-sharing, CBD, WTO in agriculture, especially in the light of emerging food crisis, GMOs and bio-safety, agro-fuels vs food production)

On joint research-related activities:

· Conducting and assessing research need assessments

· Developing participatory approaches and modalities; promoting paradigms and practice that recognize “farmers teach farming to the scientists”; linking science of institutions on small farmer fields/community indigenous knowledge; giving recognition for indigenous knowledge and innovations; new paradigm shift of “farm-to-lab-to-farm”

· Ensuring transparency in information, ex., on risks of new technologies

· Linking small farmers/producers with markets; improving the product chain to ensure benefit for small farmers

· Debate on risks of new technologies

· Producer Cooperatives (PCs) to link with markets

· Improving the value chain to ensure benefit for small farm holders

· Collaboration on actual comparative field-level research and development, based on farmer-led approaches

· On-field adding value/processing, using technologies and approaches suitable to the farm conditions and meets people’s aspirations

· Discussion and consensus on what makes a good agricultural practice (GAP), participatory guarantee systems (PGS) for traceability, Standards, etc, separately for each area,

· Scaling-up the most successful farming systems of each area and scaling out all packages of practices in force

· Developing modules on sustainable agriculture; documenting under-utilized crops

· Documentation on indigenous knowledge systems, e.g. science of monsoons

· Mandating ARS to do comparative studies, giving farmers different options

On capacity-building:
· Training and capacity building that recognizes the contributions of indigenous knowledge of farmers, putting in the best that formal knowledge of science has to offer to optimize their operations

· Ensuring that SFOs and NGOs/CSOs play integral roles in national ARDs, as APAARI’s focus shift from dealing with NARIs (institutions) towards supporting NARS (systems)

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