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#GCARD3 The third Global Conference on Agricultural Research for Development

The #GCARD3 event was organized by the GFAR and it is part of a continuing, interactive reform process, and builds on what has gone before in, and around, the previous two GCARD conferences.

#GCARD3 was an inclusive, participatory process and an opportunity to shape the future. It had encouraged conversations for setting a new agenda for agricultural research for development and new pathways for uptake. The overall outcome that clear – and transparent – identification of local, national and international research priorities and what’s needed to achieve future development goals; in particular for family farmers and poor communities.

These were just some of the commitments that came out of the Global Event of the Third Global Conference on Agricultural Development (#GCARD3) that ended in Johannesburg on Friday (8.4.16). More than 500 representatives from education and extension services, science and research organisations, development agencies, civil society, farmers' groups, and the private sector participated in event.  Working on the theme, "No One Left Behind: Agri-food Innovation and Research for a Sustainable World", participants joined together over four days to discuss how to turn research into impact for the benefit of farmers in developing countries, and how to strengthen national research and innovation systems to respond to issues like climate change, food security, nutrition, youth employment, gender equity and rural development.

Extensive national and regional consultation on countries' priorities and needs over the course of 2015 and 2016 had identified five key challenges in realising the full development value from agricultural and food innovation systems. They were:  to ensure better rural futures; keep science relevant and future-focussed; scale up research results for impact; showcase results and demonstrate impact; and to sustain the business of farming. To address these challenges, participants agreed to 17 actions that they would take collectively to help deliver on the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

To ensure better rural future, participants called for the establishment of foresight platforms that bring together research and innovation actors to develop a shared vision for their futures. Together they can then plan, design and implement initiatives to achieve that future vision.

To keep science relevant and future-focused, agricultural education programmes will be overhauled in 100 universities on five continents, to combine multi-disciplinary training in agriculture-related sciences with skills in leadership, entrepreneurship, interpersonal relations and team building. Continuing professional development will focus on innovation and entrepreneurship in agricultural practices, products and services.

In scaling up research to achieve more impact, the #GCARD3 committed to developing a 'culture of impact' across the agri-food research sector, to lobby for investment and capacity building, and to embed research and innovation into country's own national agricultural systems.

To better demonstrate the impact of investment in research and innovation, stakeholders will contribute to national measures of progress toward the SDGs, and build countries' own capacity to undertake integrated measures, as well as engaging with farmers, youth and women. Agriculture indicators will be harmonised and linked to the SDGs.

To support farming as a sustainable business, actions will include "clustering" of smallholder farmers so they can better participate in research and development and develop links to finance and markets. Evidence-based and demand-driven data will be developed to enrich policy and attract finance. At the same time, research and science will recognize the value of traditional farming methods and knowledge.

This third #GCARD Conference comes at a pivotal time for global agenda-setting on development action, as the Sustainable Development Goals demand a concerted effort to eradicate poverty and hunger by 2030–challenges that can be best met by ensuring sustainable food systems and by increasing investment in agriculture. The Conference will provide a forum for those involved in the GCARD process to further engage and make commitments on working together to make agri-food research and innovation systems stronger, more effective, and more sustainable.


Photo courtesy: GCARD3