“We need a revolution in agricultural research for development,” assert the members of the Global Forum on Agricultural Research (GFAR), an initiative that provides an open, neutral forum for discussion and action around issues in agricultural research. Established in 1996, GFAR was formed as a project for resource sharing—a commitment that remains the essential purpose of the Forum today. The platform provides an interactive space in which leaders, advocates, activists, and stakeholders spanning the spectrum between research and farming, including NGOs, the private sector, international research centers, farmers’ organizations, and the donor community, can participate in a united conversation about agriculture’s challenges and future.
This conversation, and the developments and innovations that result from it, are intended to be concrete and action-minded: “GFAR brings together their [the range of stakeholders’] voices and collective actions through processes that are inclusive and equitable, fostering rapid actions and working to ensure agricultural innovation delivers its intended development impact.”
The concrete goals of the organization are the alleviation of rural poverty, sustainable management of the environment, and food security. With a view towards these goals, the developments in agricultural research facilitated by GFAR would particularly impact under-resourced and poor farmers. As members of the GFAR conversation, farmers recognize the value of agricultural research and seek to become a part of the developments fostered by the organization. GFAR offers them an opportunity to have a hand in work that most directly impacts them.
Robert Carlson spoke on this point as a GFAR representative for Farmers’ Organizations (FOs) at the 2012 Global Conference on Agricultural Research for Development (GCARD): “Farmers want research, they do. They know it’s important, especially in this time of climate change; that they need help adjusting to variations in climates, pests, increased demand for food. They know they need research, they want research.”
GFAR identifies four arenas of conversation and research, which form the foundational strategies for action the organization fosters: Global Advocacy, Institutions for the Future, Inter-regional Partnerships, and Knowledge for All. Through its global conference series, open online fora, and partnerships with funding and action agencies, GFAR seeks to make tangible progress toward each of these four objectives; so that, in the words of GFAR Executive Secretary Dr. Mark Holderness, “we’re thinking not just about technologies and innovation and knowledge, but also, who they are benefitting. How do we better benefit the needs of women? How do we provide a viable future for youth in agriculture? And how do we share those objectives together and hold each other to account for achieving those objectives?”
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