It is one of the most frustrating problems in the world of agriculture research. A seemingly perfect idea that works great in the laboratory or small-scale tests fails to perform on the average farm.
The problem, according to Max Olupot of the African Forum for Agricultural Advisory Services (AFAAS), is that many researchers do not consistently consult the people who every day are working with farmers to translate agriculture innovations into practical applications in the field: agriculture advisors and extension agents.
“Advisers and extension agents are the natural bridge between scientists and farmers and they should have a seat at the table when the research agenda is being developed,” said Olupot, who is based in Kampala, Uganda. “We know what is most likely to be effectively adopted by farmers and what isn’t so we can help ensure that researchers will stop replicating failure.”
Discussing the issue at the 5th African Agriculture Science Week and Forum for Agricultural Research in Africa (FARA), now underway in Burkina Faso, Olupot said the good news is that this long-overdue linkage is starting to happen. He said FARA is using its networking capacity to build stronger relationships between its partners who are involved in research and AFAAS members.
“FARA is where we can build up farmer organizations, advisory organizations and scientific organizations so that we can all come together to deliver a strong research agenda,” he said.
He also said there are new efforts underway at the national level to create stronger ties between agriculture advisers and researches. Olupot noted that in Uganda there is a new initiative funded by the World Bank that links research endeavors with advisory services and will evaluate the results “of both of them together, not each in isolation,” he said.