Knowledge for Development

Research collaboration in a globalised world

Research collaboration has clear benefits, but can be stymied by funding, ethical, trust and coordination issues, especially where multiple linkages require cooperation across different disciplines, several actors, areas of government as well as across different countries. The nature of collaboration is changing and becoming increasingly complex, with increasing recognition being given to the importance of South-South collaboration, and the evolution in the relationships of North-South partnerships.  

 In an article entitled, “European partnerships for demand-led agricultural research and capacity development: the case of Africa” Tim Chancellor, Michael Hauser, and Paolo Sarfatti of the European Alliance on Agricultural Knowledge for Development (AGRINATURA) describe the organisation’s work as part of the European Forum on Agricultural Research for Development (EFARD). Strategic partnerships with agricultural research and development (ARD) organisations especially in sub-Saharan Africa have been developed to address African priorities although emerging agricultural issues affect Europe too. The article highlights the practicalities of effective collaborations, and the increasing role of building research partnerships with farmer organisations in ensuring that research is focused on local needs and delivers greater impact on the ground. 

In “Partnerships in agricultural innovation systems: an African researcher’s perspective”, Moses Osiru. notes the difficulties researchers in Africa have in developing and sustaining balanced partnerships given the lack of reliable sources of long-term funding. The importance is stressed of North-South and South-South partnerships through targeted programmes and favourable funding mechanisms that allow African institutions to build capacity and negotiate greater leverage in areas where they have comparative advantage, with a focus on developing commercial products. 

A series of documents and links gives access to publications about best practices in developing partnerships and to useful networking information.

This folder was prepared by CABI, KIT and CTA in April 2014. 

Building a new generation of agricultural scientists in Africa: networking universities – capturing economies of scale

by Adipala Ekwamu, Executive Secretary, RUFORUM Secretariat, Makerere University, Kampala, Uganda., Malcolm Blackie, Senior Research Fellow, University of East Anglia, Norwich, UK., Joyce Lewinger Moock, Consultant to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and other philanthropic organisations.
In this feature article, Adipala Ekwamu, Malcolm Blackie and Joyce Lewinger Moock focus on the experiences of an African-led and -managed organization, the Regional Universities Forum for Capacity Building in Africa (RUFORUM), which aims to capture regional economies of scope and scale, to support innovative curriculum design, fill crucial gaps in the availability of postgraduate degrees, and ensure a quality standard for courses. RUFORUM, through its innovative programmes in its member university system and its established regional convening power is an effective advocate for transformation of tertiary agricultural science training and research.  15/09/2014

Partnerships in agricultural innovation systems: an African researcher’s perspective

by Moses Osiru, International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT), Bamako, Mali
National agricultural research systems (NARS) in African countries have evolved since independence was gained in the 1960s (Hazell et al., 2003). Structural adjustment in the 1980s and partnerships with institutions in the North and the South have guided further development. More recently, the NARS concept was expanded to the agricultural knowledge and information system (AKIS) and subsequently the agricultural innovations system (AIS) concepts (Table 1). Many African institutions have grappled with the change processes necessitated by this evolution and incentivised by much-needed funding support (Lynam et al., 2004). The guiding principles influencing research funding were often crafted at a global level, with an assumption of relevance or adaptability for all African NARS.    30/04/2014
Authors:          European Commission   Publication:     Report, European Commission, Brussels, Belgium   Date:                2009   International research collaboration (IRC) is getting more policy attention in all countries. There is a ‘narrow paradigm’ (stemming from the dynamics of science and research) and a ‘broader paradigm’ (stemming from additional policy objectives that use science, technology and innovation (STI) collaboration to achieve wider economic and social goals). IRC policies and programmes that combine various policy drivers usually have indistinct goals that are hard to measure. While policy makers and research funders apply many assumptions about how IRC affects policy goals, these are rarely specified. In the ‘broad paradigm’, the causal relationships between goals and programmes cannot be established. Given the variety of actors, drivers, and national starting position relating to STI IRC and the parallel use of bottom-up and more top-down strategies, a coherent evaluation and indicator framework will be difficult. However, such a ‘bottom-line’ framework and ‘narrow’ paradigm key indicators would be a necessary first step.    30/04/2014

European partnerships for demand-led agricultural research and capacity development: the case of Africa

by Tim Chancellor, Michael Hauser, and Paolo Sarfatti European Alliance on Agricultural Knowledge for Development (AGRINATURA).
AGRINATURA is a grouping of European universities and research organizations with a common interest in supporting sustainable agricultural development. It is a member of the European Forum on Agricultural Research for Development (EFARD), which represents the European constituency in the Global Forum for Agricultural Research (GFAR). EFARD is analogous to the Forum for Agricultural Research in Africa (FARA). AGRINATURA believes that research and higher education will underpin the innovations needed to increase agricultural production, productivity and sustainability to feed rapidly expanding populations and help protect the natural resource base for future generations.   30/04/2014
Authors:          Steinz, H.   Publication:     Master Thesis, University of Utrecht, Netherlands   Date:                2012   Science technology and innovation (STI) international research cooperation (IRC) used to be regarded as a knowledge flow from North to South. This study examined the change in the Dutch researcher and policy approach to STI cooperation with developing countries. A literature review and case studies indicated a changing approach. At the Dutch policy level there is a clear tendency towards Top Sector policy, with a focus on the Dutch benefits of the cooperation and private party participation. At the researcher level the changes in approach are more dependent on the development of the partner country. Over the years 2000-2012, Indonesia and China have gone through significant economical and scientific developments, making capacity building less relevant and flows of funding more even, and that cooperation is more equal as perceived by Dutch researchers. As Africa remains less developed, cooperation with African partners is still characterised by inequalities in capacities, resources and funding.   30/04/2014