Capacity development in Agricultural Research for Development

A contribution to the development of coherent, coordinated, relevant and effective European policies for and investments in agricultural research for development.

Official project title: Capacity Development in Agricultural Research for Development - a study on European initiatives in support of capacity strengthening for ARD

European alliance

In 2011 CDI and NRI engaged in a study on Capacity Development in Agricultural Research for Development for AGRINATURA, an alliance formed by 31 European universities and research organisations working in agricultural research, education, training and capacity strengthening for development as part of the EU’s Thematic Programme for Food Security to contribute to the eradication of extreme poverty and hunger (MDG#1).

The role of capacity building for development

AGRINATURA members are involved in a broad range of issues related to agricultural research and education for development. They joined forces in the European Initiative for Agricultural Research for Development, EIARD, and consider capacity development to be central to attaining the following goals:

  • poverty reduction and contributing to the Millennium Development Goals;
  • economic growth, food security, sustainable natural resource management in developing & emerging economies; and
  • contributing to global development issues and knowledge generation. 

To reach these goals the effectiveness of European investments in ARD should be enhanced,  partnering with developing and emerging economy countries, resulting in more and better support to capacity development.

This study was meant to contribute to the development of coherent, coordinated, relevant and effective policies and investments in ARD supported by EIARD member countries.

Analysis of current policies

In a policy brief an overview is given of the main issues and recommendations on how EIARD member countries can enhance the impact of their capacity development interventions. In a comprehensive report the findings of the analysis of current policies, programmes and projects for capacity strengthening are presented in more detail and a set of recommendations on future directions.

Key messages

  • Support to capacity development for ARD needs to be increased to generate sustainable returns;
  • Capacity strengthening initiatives should have a stronger focus on organizational and institutional strengthening as opposed to individual training;
  • Multi-stakeholder initiatives should be encouraged; they are likely to lead to larger impacts than those targeted exclusively towards institutes of Research and Higher Education;
  • Capacity needs to be identified and institutionalisation of capacity strengthening processes facilitated, while participatory methods need to get more emphasis;
  • Planning, monitoring, evaluation and impact assessment of capacity strengthening initiatives is weak and greater efforts are needed to design and adopt harmonized approaches and to share relevant information;
  • More attention should be given to encouraging young people, especially women, to enter agriculture as a profession; the focus on vocational training should be stronger, combining distance and face-to-face learning.