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Ideas to Projects to Impacts: Results and Learning from the INSARD Project

Ideas to Projects to Impacts: Results and Learning from the INSARD Project

The European Union’s Seventh Framework Programme (FP7) supported a plethora of projects in areas of interest for both Europe and Africa. MARIANNE MEIJBOOM, project coordinator of FP7-funded food and nutrition security project, INSARD, spoke to *Research Africa's REFILWE MASHIGO about the outcomes of their work.

Including Smallholders in Agricultural Research for Development | INSARD

INSARD was a three-year project which ran from 2011-2013, with field work in Senegal, Tanzania and Zambia and coordination and policy dialogue in Europe. It aimed at improving agricultural research systems in Africa by involving non-governmental organisations and farmer organisations. INSARD was a partnership of the ETC Foundation, the Eastern and Southern Africa Small-scale Farmers’ Forum (ESAFF), Professionals for Fair Development (GRET), Participatory Ecological Land Use Management (PELUM), and the Réseau des Plates-formes nationales d’ONG d’Afrique de l’Ouest et du Centre (REPOAC). INSARD project coordinator, Marianne Meijboom, is a Senior Advisor at the ETC Foundation.

What were the objectives of the INSARD project?

The project sought to help civil-society organisations (CSO), both non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and farmer organisations (FOs), become more actively involved in influencing agricultural research and development (ARD) in Africa. The main objectives were to design a mechanism for coordination and communication among European and African CSOs (FOs and NGOs) involved in influencing policies and practices around ARD; agree on CSO research priorities and a strategy to communicate these to other stakeholders, bringing them into the international agenda; and lobby key African and European research organisations and donors to involve smallholders in ARD.

What was the nature of the research that was undertaken?

The research focused on how CSOs can better contribute to influencing ARD agendas. Studies were conducted to map CSO engagement and resource-allocation processes in ARD in sub-Saharan Africa and the EU and to identify opportunities and challenges for achieving greater participation of CSOs in prioritising, formulating, implementing, monitoring and evaluating ARD. Furthermore, the project piloted the joint development of smallholder-centred research proposals by bringing together farmers, researchers and CSOs. The project has demonstrated that CSOs can play an important brokering role in the development of good quality research proposals based on farmers’ own research priorities.

What happens next? Will the project’s research results be converted into, for example, a new service, product, or social outcome?

INSARD developed a policy-influencing strategy and made use of several key events to disseminate its message of the importance of increasing the participation of well-informed CSOs in ARD to better address smallholder research needs. For example, INSARD presented this key message at the
34th Brussels Development Briefing, the European Commission’s conference on Research Serving Development, the Second Global Conference on Agricultural Research for Development, meetings of the Global Forum on Agricultural Research, the European Forum for Agricultural Research for Development, and the Platform for African European Partnership on Agricultural Research for Development (PAEPARD), and other international and national workshops. INSARD also made use of strategic networks such as Prolinnova and PAEPARD that are committed to continue pursuing INSARD’s vision.

In what ways did the project achieve its objectives?

INSARD even overachieved on some of its deliverables. Farmers, CSOs and researchers in Senegal, Tanzania and Zambia developed nine joint research outlines instead of the three required as project deliverables. INSARD partners grasped opportunities to present their key messages in more
national and international events than foreseen. This reflects the relevance of and interest in the subject: for example, in Tanzania, high-level officials attended a national meeting to discuss the future of local seeds and smallholder farmers — the topic of a joint research proposal developed in Tanzania. However, much more still needs to be done to institutionalise the involvement of CSOs in ARD to better address smallholders’ research needs.

Learn More About INSARD

Download the INSARD Summary Periodic Report published on the European Commission’s Community Research and Development Information Service portal

*This article first appeared in the CAAST-Net Plus Magazine of December 2014.

[Image credit: INSARD]

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Disclaimer: CAAST-Net Plus is funded by the European Union’s Seventh Framework Programme for Research and Technological Development (FP7/2007-2013) under grant agreement n0 311806. This document reflects only the authors’ views and the European Union cannot be held liable for any use that may be made of the information contained herein.

CAAST-Net Plus is funded by the European Union's Seventh Framework Programme under grant agreement 311806
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