Collaborate, Create, Communicate

CIARD – The business of putting research into use

If we are to address the twin issues of improving food security and the livelihoods of the poor, it is vital that the results of agricultural research reach the people who need it the most. The focus needs to be on the uptake of research outputs by all stakeholders in the agricultural arena, be they farmers, extension workers, policy makers, other researchers …

CIARD, the international partnership on Coherence in Information for Agricultural Research for Development, which includes, FAO, GFAR, the CGIAR, and CTA, among other organizations, is “committed to making agricultural research information publicly available and accessible to all. This means working with organizations that hold information or create new knowledge – to help them disseminate it more efficiently and make it easier to access.”

Towards this end, CIARD has adopted a checklist – based on the Triple A framework developed by the ICT-KM Program – that defines how an organization can ensure its research outputs are Available, Accessible and Applicable. Since developing this checklist, the ICT-KM Program has been actively benchmarking the availability and accessibility of research outputs in several CGIAR Centers: Bioversity, WorldFish and CIAT. This will be extended to include CIMMYT, CIP, ICARDA and ICRAF, who are in the first batch of volunteers.

To further cement its nascent standing in the agricultural community, CIARD recently held a workshop at FARA Headquarters in Accra, Ghana, the purpose of which was to raise the awareness of selected senior information/knowledge managers from agricultural research agencies and institutions in Africa and secure their collaborative support for the CIARD initiative.  About 40 people from national institutions and partner organizations took part in the event. The CGIAR was represented Michael Hailu, Director of Communications, World Agroforestry Centre, Nairobi, Kenya.

Participants had the opportunity to learn about and comment on the CIARD Manifesto and Principles, and offer guidance on how institutional support could be gathered.

The ICT-KM Program caught up with Michael shortly after the conclusion of the workshop.

“As a member of CIARD, the CGIAR fully supports the concept of making research information available, accessible and applicable,” he said. “The results of our research need to be in the public domain and widely shared. In that regard, all participants at the work shop were definitely on the same page.”

Talking about the change process that the CGIAR is presently undergoing, Michael thinks the Triple A Approach definitely has a role to play in the organization.

“In the new CGIAR, there will be an even greater need to make information more accessible,” says Michael

“During the workshop, the Triple A Approach was discussed in detail and the three concepts clarified to avoid confusion among the various members,” says Michael. “The CIARD Principals were also discussed, but I feel they are solid and timeless. Still, it’s important at this stage that we discuss how to make the initiative operational and come to a common understanding.”

As such, FAO has collected feedback from all the participants, and this will be taken into account when planning the way ahead.

“CIARD is still a work in progress and has a long way to go before it becomes a fully fledged initiative,” explains Michael. “But the good news is that everyone is working at making it work. We were all very positive about this and feel we can all benefit from it.”

Michael’s dream of making it ‘operational’ became real, when the “Pathways to Making Our Research Available and Accessible” were published.

“It’s an ongoing process, and as all change processing needs time… but at the end of the day, CIARD will be a fully functioning initiative tailored to serve the needs of its partners. We will make greater impact with our research,” says Enrica Porcari, who heads the ICT-KM Program.

After the Ghana event, the CIARD agenda was presented at the Inter-American Meeting of Librarians and Specialists in Agricultural Information, in Lima, Peru.

Look out for more updates as we meet our CIARD ambassador returning from Lima.