Transforming agri-food research for citizen participation and the public good

Article, 15 July 2009

Throughout the world, public funded research shapes the choices that are available to farmers, food workers, consumers, and the environments in which they live and work. There is an increasing need to explore ways of democratising the governance of science and technology, ensuring that it continues to serve the public good rather than narrow economic interests.

This action research therefore supports the participatory design (by producers and consumers) of an agri-food research system that is democratic and accountable. Working with partners in South Asia, West Africa, West Asia, Andean countries of Latin America, and Europe, this multiregional process of citizens’ deliberations seeks to strengthen local voices and agency in national and international decision making.

This participatory policy process involves a diversity of relevant actors and focuses on issues around:

  • the control and allocation of funds for scientific, technical and socio-economic research
  • citizen involvement in setting research agendas and in defining strategic priorities and science policy
  • knowledge generation and research methodology according to different traditions of knowledge and practice
  • governance, oversight and inclusion in the production and validation of knowledge embedded in policies and technologies for food, farming and the environment, and
  • the transformation of knowledge needed in the natural and social sciences to develop more resilient, socially just and ecologically sustainable food systems

The policy and practical implications of setting up broad, multi-stakeholder platforms for democratic oversight of funding, priority setting and research will also be considered. It is anticipated that both national and international processes will be initiated with different partners on the reform or/and transformation of the agri-food research system.

Democratising the Governance of Food Systems: Citizens Rethinking Food and Agricultural Research for the Public Good
Planning and Methodological Workshop: 19th-24th November 2007, Monte Saraz, Portugal – See workshop report (PDF 1.6MB)

 Agricultural Research for Food Sovereignty – a report on a workshop held at Terra Preta (PDF 121K): Forum on the Food Crisis, Climate Change, Agrofuels and Food Sovereignty, 1 - 4 June, 2008, Città dell’Altra Economia, Rome, Italy

Transforming Knowledge and Ways of Knowing in Towards Food Sovereignty. Reclaiming autonomous Food Systems (Download in English PDF 6MB)

Hacia la soberania alimentaria: Reclamando los sistemas alimentarios autónomos en Reclamando los sistemas alimentarios autónomos (Descargar en Español PDF 6MB)

Media links for Mali
Rethinking agricultural research for food sovereignty - Press release

Selection of newspaper articles from Mali (to come)

Media links for India
Research trends worry agriculture scientists, Asian Age, New Delhi, July 10th 2009

Meet to focus on agri research, The Times of India, June 30th 2009

Technology alienating farmers: ADARSA, The Hindu, June 30th 2009

Facilitate democratising agriculture research, The Deccan Herald Paper