A Brief Guide for Research Engagement with Development Partners
Aw-Hassan, Aden A.
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There is growing demand on agricultural research institutions to deliver development outcomes and impacts that are tractable and measurable within a reasonable time frame. In the conventional view, researchers who are dedicated to investigations aimed at finding solutions to problems are less inclined or poorly equipped to be involved in elaborating how solutions can be delivered to users at large scale. Development outcomes and impacts, nonetheless, represent the only evidence for returns to investment in agricultural research. One school of thought, that attempted to address the problem of slow progress in development outcomes and impacts of agricultural research, particularly in more complex production systems and natural resources context, argue that research is generating technologies that are not suitable for complex situations of smallholder farmers in developing countries, and the solution is to develop technologies as close or in collaboration with users/farmers. This leads to the development of the participatory research movement with different strands: participatory research, participatory research and development, community-based research, integrated research and development, etc. [1, 2, 3). Although the participatory research movement has increased the interactions between researchers and local communities/farmers, and perhaps yielded better diagnostics, and more context relevant solutions, it has become clear that large scale behavioral changes can only be achieved through “development multipliers”: national development programs, development projects, NGOs, who have much larger outreach than research. Therefore, research needs to find ways to link with development partners. Hence, there is now growing literature on exploring how research can engage with development partners [4, 5, 6].