Over a decade of experience of promoting farmer-led innovation through the Prolinnova network was showcased at the third Global Conference on Agricultural Research for Development (GCARD3) on 6–8 April 2016 in Johannesburg. The event was organised by the Global Forum on Agricultural Research (GFAR) and hosted by the South African Government and the Agricultural Research Council of South Africa.
Under the banner “No One Left Behind: Agri-food Innovation and Research for a Sustainable World”, GCARD3 convened over 400 people from almost 80 countries, coming from diverse groups: international and national research, universities, farmer organisations, NGOs, consumer organisations, donors, private sector and the media. The main aim was to discuss how to better align agricultural research with national development processes and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
The day before GCARD3, about 100 people met in the newly formed GFAR Partners Assembly. The invitees came from global organisations such as the CGIAR Consortium, FAO and the International Fund for Agricultural Development, regional ARD fora and a wide array of other constituencies, including youth, women and consumers. They agreed on the new GFAR charter.
GCARD3 consisted primarily of parallel group discussions, each with brief “catalyst” inputs on five themes: 1) Scaling up from research to impact; 2) Demonstrating results and attracting investment (where the Prolinnova experience was presented); 3) Keeping science relevant and future-focused; 4) Sustaining the business of farming; and 5) Ensuring better rural futures.
The main product of these discussions was a combined “Outcome Statement” of commitments by participants in the five groups to pursue Collective Actions. These included setting up farmer-led innovation platforms; producing 1000 PhDs per year with skills relevant for future agricultural research; continuing professional development in agriculture for innovation and entrepreneurship; developing a “culture of impact”; contributing to national measurement of progress to the SDGs and harmonising agriculture-related indicators; building value-chain partnerships while protecting smallholders’ access to resources and developing their business skills; and addressing public health and nutrition in agricultural research.
Laurens van Veldhuizen presented the Prolinnova network as an example of collective action during the GFAR Partners Assembly. Esther Penunia (in photo), director of the Asian Farmers Association for Sustainable Agriculture and member of the Prolinnova Oversight Group (POG), presented pilots in farmer foresighting. During GCARD3, Laurens presented the results of the Prolinnova “stocktaking” exercise. Other Prolinnova network members who took part in the GFAR Partners Assembly and GCARD3 were Sonali Bisht (Prolinnova-India) and Ann Waters-Bayer (International Support Team).
The PowerPoint presentation on 10 years of Prolinnova can be found here and the full report “Ten years of promoting farmer-led innovation: taking stock of achievements of the Prolinnova Global Partnership Programme and network” can be found here.