The latest edition of LEISA magazine- Magazine on Low External Input and Sustainable Agriculture (June 2008 volume 24 no.2) features an article by Janice Jiggins entitled “Sustainable agriculture in the news: International study stresses role of farmers”–see article

This article is based on “A ground-breaking three-year study that recently concluded that the agriculture sector should use the know-how of small-holder farmers better“.

This is at the very heart of much of the work that is being done by the Knowledge Sharing in Research project and its Pilots–finding ways to share knowledge with stakeholders, including how to understand the needs and situations of beneficiaries on the ground, recognising and valuing their knowledge, skills, experiences and ideas, and finding ways to collaborate and learn with them.

Janice Jiggins opens her article by stating that “Global Agriculture is not delivering all it should.” She poses the question of “what kind of agricultural knowledge, science and technology do we need to solve these problems?

The article highlights a massive study which has been recently undertaken: the International Assessment of Agricultural Knowledge, Science and Technology (IAASTD). She informs the readers that “the broad conclusion was that agricultural knowledge and technology need drastic changes: ‘business as usual is not an option‘ “.

Interestingly she presents three main transitions that the study suggests to help move practice in the desired direction. Of note to our work in the Knowledge Sharing in Research project are:

“First transition: Science must complement local knowledge…”

and

“Second transition: Issues like subsidies, markets , access to land and know-how must take the necessities of small-holder farmers into account.”

The article concludes with:

This assessment highlights the contribution of strong collaboration between researchers, formal science, and the knowledge, skills and expertise of small farmers in moving sustainable agriculture forward.

This is an interesting support to work in the KSinR project and some of the Pilot projects who have been experimenting with approaches to knowledge sharing with stakeholders, beneficiaries and end users especially the:

  • International Farmers’ Conference of ICARDA with presentation of stories from farmers themselves
  • Participatory monitoring and evaluation with communities in an adaptive management fisheries project by WorldFish
  • Collaborative work on wastewater research and message dissemination by IMWI in Ghana
  • The use of a Learning Alliance approach in IWMI’s WASPA project to work directly with stakeholders to identify problems and solutions

How can we derive, share and apply lessons and best practices of ways to engage with farmers in order to learn and make use of their needs and knowledge in our agricultural work?

What has been/is working? What should be replicated or mainstreamed?

How can we improve our collaboration and learning efforts?

Hopefully lessons from the KSinR project will start to contribute to this larger discussion and movement.

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