Introduction

On 12-14 May 2015, the West African Workshop on Approaches to Farmer-Led Research and Development in Francophone West Africa was held in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso.

The workshop was an initiative of a diverse group that included civil-society organisations partnering with Germany-based Misereor, members of the Prolinnova/PROFEIS[1]network in the region, the McKnight Foundation’s Collaborative Crop Research Program (CCRP), the CGIAR Research Program CCAFS (Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security) in West Africa, the AgriProFocus (APF) network and the Swiss Development Cooperation (SDC).

It was held immediately before a two-day West African Farmer Innovation Fair / Foire de l’innovation Paysanne en l’Afrique de l’Ouest (FIPAO) on 15–16 May 2015. FIPAO was an important platform to present the recommendations of the workshop to policymakers and others visiting the fair. Both events followed in the spirit of the International Year of Family Farming (2014) and the Year of Agriculture and Food Security in Africa (2014) declared by the African Union.

The workshop had three main objectives:

·         To generate insights and lessons on using and promoting research and development approaches by and with smallholder farmers in the francophone West African Sahel;

·         To formulate recommendations for strengthening and mainstreaming farmer-led research and development approaches in the francophone West African Sahel; and

·         To create linkages and encourage networking among advocates of this approach as a basis for exploring further collaborative action.

During the workshop, numerous experiences with farmer-led research were presented and discussed using various interactive workshop methods such as lesson-focused posters, groupwork and Open Space. Through this process, the workshop: i) critically reviewed the experiences with farmer-led innovation development, identifying strengths and weaknesses of different approaches; ii) analysed the institutional context within which the farmer-led approach is being implemented; and iii) formulated lessons and recommendations for further promotion of the approach in the region.

The main outputs of the workshop are:

1.    Electronic proceedings with full text of posters, papers and syntheses of thematic sessions;

2.    Content for social media;

3.    A workshop report and collective document outlining lessons, recommendations and policy messages; and

4.    The Ouagadougou declaration (in French: http://fipao.faso-dev.net/wp-content/uploads/2015/05/D%C3%A9claration-de-Ouagadougou-FIPAO-final.pdf)