Will Farmer Participatory Research Survive in the International Agricultural Research Centres?
There have been several distinct stages to research at the International Agricultural Research Centres (Rhoades, 1988). Research in the 1960s to early 1970s sought to increase production through improved germplasm. Cropping systems research in the late 1970s and farming systems research (FSR) in the mid-1980s worked to increase the productivity of commodity-based systems and featured other crops, livestock, gender issues, and researcher-designed and researcher- or farmer-implemented trials. In the late 1980s, concerns for equity and sustainability led to interdisciplinary on-farm team research organised by agro-environments, and substantial farmer participation. Recent emphasis – driven by donors and the Consultative Group of International Agricultural Research Centres (CGIAR) – has been on ‘upstream’ or ‘strategic’ research and on greater collaboration with centres’ ‘stakeholders’. This is combined with the hope that national agricultural research programmes will conduct ‘applied’ and ‘adaptive’ research. In many centres, the current strategy may feature diminished on-farm research and so place less value on farmer participation.