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Research to Impact

Posted by David Shearer Wednesday, November 3, 2010

We all strive for sustainable impact that improves livelihoods and reduces poverty. But, how do we improve the capacity of new knowledge, new innovations and new approaches, developed through research, to have a long term sustainable impact and be integrated into smallholder farming systems.

Research, and in my definition of research I include technical, economic and policy, has the capacity to generate new knowledge that has been adapted to smallholder based farming systems, but it is often limited in its ability to generate sustainable practice change and impact on development goals.

A group from Sri Lanka, India, Mongolia, IFAD HQ, China, Vietnam and Australia discussed some of the constraints related to the ability of research to have sustainable impact at the smallholder level. The group agreed that research has the capacity to:

  1. Generate valued new information that can be delivered to smallholders to empower better decision making;
  2. Improve institutional decision making by substantiating the decision making process; and,
  3. Allows stakeholders to engage in new areas of development.
However, the group also recognised a range of constraints that impede the ability for the research to sustainably impact in the development continuum. These constraints could be defined as:
  1. Geographical separation that limits information exchange;
  2. Business to business competitiveness that prevents knowledge exchange;
  3. Ineffective timeframe alignment that reduces relevance of information; and,
  4. Resource limitations which diminishes the required commitment.
Improved communication and coordination, that integrates better knowledge management and institutional working arrangements has the potential to improve the impact of research but requires a commitment by the range of stakeholders engaged in the development continuum.

More to come. More ideas wanted.