Strategic planning for Small Country National Agricultural Research Systems in the South Pacific
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CTA. 1991. Strategic planning for Small Country National Agricultural Research Systems in the South Pacific. Spore 34. CTA, Wageningen, The Netherlands.
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Small Country National Agricultural Research Systems (NARS) face the same range of problems that confronts researchers in larger developing countries and yet have fewer resources to undertake the scope of research required. They therefore have to...
Small Country National Agricultural Research Systems (NARS) face the same range of problems that confronts researchers in larger developing countries and yet have fewer resources to undertake the scope of research required. They therefore have to find ways and means to integrate their research work at the national, regional and international levels. This challenge can be met by combining the vision and guidance that strategic planning provides with a better understanding of the characteristics for managing a small country's NARS. From 4 to 8 March 1991, CTA and IRETA, in collaboration with ISNAR and FAO, organized a workshop at the University of the South Pacific (USP), Alafua Campus, Western Samoa. The objectives of the seminar were to update and broaden the understanding of participants on the role of the agricultural research manager; to improve the capability of the agricultural research manager in the South Pacific to more readily recognize and act upon the challenges of managing a small country's NARS, and to provide an introduction to, and practice in the use of, strategic planning as a tool for meeting the evolving challenge of agriculture. The workshop built upon the one which was organized by CTA/IRETA in collaboration with ISNAR, ACIAR and ABD in 1987 on 'The planning and management of agricultural research in the South Pacific.' At the meeting the foundations were laid for senior policy makers and practicing research managers to define concepts and tools necessary for improving the planning and management of agricultural research in the Pacific. With the exception of Papua New Guinea, which is large by comparison, there are some 16 small to very small island nations in the South Pacific. The small, isolated and scattered nature of the islands pose serious constraints to research planning and agricultural development. Researchers in these small countries have to deal with a range of commodities grown or raised in a range of agro-ecological zones and a range of farming systems in spite of very limited resources available to them. When working under such conditions it is crucial that key areas of research be clearly defined and priority areas identified. The bulk of the research carried out in the region is at the screening and testing level. Only the larger countries Fiji and Papua New Guinea have the capacity to carry out adaptive, and in a few cases, applied research. Hence these countries are highly dependent upon technologies developed elsewhere. The small NARS have great difficulty in developing and maintaining linkages with the large number of institutions that produce technologies relevant to them. The situation is exacerbated due to the fact that relatively inexperienced research staff, having inadequate resources at their disposal, are to be found in the small NARS. ISNAR, FAO/UNDP, CTA and IRETA have been involved in assisting the small countries in the South Pacific to improve their planning and management skills in agricultural research for over a decade. In the past ISNAR has carried out reviews of research systems in some countries and have assisted a few countries in developing their research plan. FAO/UNDP has implemented various research projects in the region including the development of manpower for research in the region. CTA has assisted IRETA to develop an agricultural information network centre for exchange of information and improving the linkages of NARS with external sources of information. IRETA, a regional institution has the mandate to assist the regional countries in research, extension and training of manpower. It implements various research projects in the region and its associated School of Agriculture provides graduate and post-graduate training in agriculture. The workshop was attended by 16 research managers from Western Samoa, Vanuatu Kiribati, Solomon Islands, Papua New Guinea, Tonga and Tuvalu, and a Director of Research from the Seychelles. ISNAR sent specialists in each of the subject areas: strategic planning; small country research planning, challenges and opportunities; and international linkages. The FAO presented papers on project preparation, monitoring and evaluation. CTA/IRETA contributions were on linking small country research and the role of communication and training. The participants concluded that strategic planning was of high relevance for small country NARS. Even a topic like biotechnology can, if properly managed, be adapted and made acceptable to the small countries.
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