Promoting farmer-led agricultural research in West Africa

By the Indigenous Partnership for Agrobiodiversity and Food Sovereignty

How can agricultural research be reshaped to include farmers’ view? To answer this question, a three day policy dialogue between farmers and the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA), a major funder of agricultural research in Africa, was held in Accra (Ghana), from 1 to 3 February 2012. The initiative, promoted by the International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED), gathered about 100 people, with half of them being farmers from West Africa and other regions affected by first Green Revolution, along with international donors and scientists.

Participants had the opportunity to interact with UK-based parliamentarians, the media, and members of the international development through a live video link hosted by the All-Party Parliamentary Group of Agroecology in Westminster. The bottom up approach was praised by the UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food, Olivier de Schutter, who co-chaired the meeting along with the Executive Director of Oxfam-Novib, Farah Karimi.

All involved saw the happening of this event as a significant step forward in bringing hitherto marginalised views of farmers to the table. Some convergences and ways of strengthening them were acknowledged and also the opposing visions/paradigms and divergences were identified.  It is clear that this policy dialogue has set an important precedent for policy making and the governance of agricultural research for development in West Africa. Small scale farmers and leaders of peasant organisations who travelled there certainly felt this way – a big step forward for them.

Read related stories

Putting farmers first (IIED press release)

West African farmers heard at UK House of Parliament (IIED blog on event)