09 April 2010

The Spirit of Montpellier

The first Global Conference on Agricultural Research for Development in Montpellier, France, completed last week provided a special opportunity to engage with partners and stakeholders of the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR). An estimated 1,000 participants gathered in Montpellier, including researchers, policymakers, farmers, donors, and members of civil society from every region of the world.

The CGIAR has now issued a "Spirit of Montpellier" afternote.

I was especially pleased to read the following "We heard the call for strengthened
capacity for national agricultural research systems, for bottom up research agenda setting, and for putting poor farmers and food providers at the center of agricultural research at the international, regional and national levels."

There are many initiatives that are working to support farmer feedback on the performance of agricultural funders and implementers. I am involved in one of them, ALINe.

I hope the CGIAR does more than simply hear this call. I hope they act on it. One way to do this would be for CGIAR donors to insist on some farmer feedback components within all new monitoring and evaluation investments.

What do the history books tell us about the "spirit" of Montpellier? That it is a place that welcomes diversity and is traditionally respectful of and welcoming to a wide variety of perspectives and voices. Let us hope that this is indeed embraced by the new CGIAR.

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