VenueReed Hall, Veitch Room
9.45 am –5pm Thursday, 24th June 2004 .Introduction A day long workshop which began by discussing problems in third world agriculture and moved on to consider ways of dealing with these problems.
Topics covered included problems of rural poverty and hunger and how technology has changed these historically. The afternoon session focused on new technologies and how they could they help or hinder in the future. Delegates examined the real choices that could put these technologies into practice and how to influence policy concerning plant sciences and third world agriculture.
Delegates were a mix of local activists and academics, invited because of their interest in the subject. All received background material on the DfID’s Plant Sciences Programme in advance. British tax payers’ money is put into developing these technologies and delegates were asked to look at them and formulate a position statement.Insights The papers presented at the meeting offered various insights into the problem of global poverty and hunger. Professor John Wibberley, Royal Agricultural College (Visiting Professor and former Head of Agriculture) and RURCON (an otherwise all-African team of Christian leaders working in rural development, ) gave an insight into relieving rural poverty from the farmers point of view. After this, Professor Steve Hughes of Egenis gave a talk on molecular markers, what they do, and how they are useful for plant breeding. Dr. David Reece of Egenis then talked about institutions that are using these technologies on behalf of the rural poor in Vietnam. The workshop then split into groups to address the case study material and returned to give their verdict to Dr. Jonathan Wadsworth from the Department for International Development who fund the programme they examined in the case study material. He then explained the DFID strategy for research in this area.Message The core message to policy-makers that emerged from the debate following the papers was that all plant sciences research should take place within the context of applying the technologies effectively on the ground. Delegates felt strongly that too much emphasis had been placed on genomics research in the past, and too little on the problems encountered when getting farmers to adopt the technologies in the field. Farmer-farmer groups were suggested which needed to interact with (and in same senses be in control of) researchers developing the technologies for their benefit and the institutions that mediate them.Research Questions
A number of research questions need to be addressed as a result of the Workshop, including:
In what ways can applied research into genomics-based technologies be linked to the needs of poor rural people in developing countries?
What are the most effective ways in which our own policy-makers can manage research in this area?
How can technology policy be coordinated with trade policy to maximise benefits for the rural poor?
Delegates were very happy with the workshop, especially given the opportunity to put their point of view to DFID.