| SPORE No. 65 - September-October 1996 |
CTA Working Groups Partnership practices
As part of a review of the Centre's objectives and operations, Dr R D Cooke, the Director of CTA, set up six working groups in September 1995. Their task is to make recommendations for inclusion in the mid-term plan currently being developed. These groups have advanced in their work through a process of meetings, consultations and studies. One group is looking at the existing partnership practices of CTA, and at alternative modes of partnership, and will propose a Plan of Action for partnerships as a basis for cooperation between the Centre and the different players in rural development in ACP countries. In this exercise, five categories of partners have been listed: planners and decision-makers; research community; training and extension services; information managers; and private and nongovernmental sectors.
The term 'partnership' is difficult to define adequately, but it is an important term which is widely used to describe the relationships between development players in the context of globalization and of the changing relations between governments and so-called 'independent sectors'. It would be wrong to regard all types of relationships as 'partnerships'; services based on 'clients' and 'target groups' are a different type of relationship. The best way to define partnership between organizations is to regard it as a voluntary marriage, as opposed to an arranged one.
Far-reaching changes are taking place in the landscape of organizations involved in agricultural and rural development in ACP countries. Governments and long-established bodies are changing their working practices, in line with adjustments to the resources available to them. New organizations are emerging in the commercial and non-governmental sectors, the latter being increasingly referred to as 'the civil society'. As the value of cooperation and of sharing resources between sectors becomes clearer, there are growing calls for the establishment of partnerships.
CTA is monitoring and following these changes, and is working to assist national agricultural systems (NAS) to develop the most appropriate strategies for their work in the field of information management. At a CTA seminar on the role of information for rural development in ACP countries, held in Montpellier in 1995, it was emphasised that "Ten years ago, the priority was to make available to ACP countries appropriate scientific and technical information, from sources often located in Europe. The beneficiaries of this information were usually central, or intermediate, players: planners, researchers, trainers, extension workers, and information managers. Since then there has been a far-reaching evolution in information and communication needs, in the nature of the players, in the role of information professionals and in information technology".
The notion of 'partnership' is crucial to working out new forms of cooperation between public and private institutions and, indeed, for CTA in its own relationships with other organizations with regard to the services it provides. The working group has established that, in comparison with other forms of cooperation, partnership includes greater elements of equity between partners, more sharing of risk and rewards, more enduring relationships and more dimensions. According to some studies undertaken by UNDP, partnership also includes more elements of flexibility, consensus and participation. Criteria for successful partnerships are being developed, with emphasis on each partner's openness and vitality, overall effectiveness, clarity and efficiency in governance and management and the sustainability of the organization.Hpar
The next stage of the group's work will be to test and develop these elements and criteria. The group's aim is to ensure that partnership issues can be not merely a fashion in development, but also a model for effective cooperation between the different sectors.
CTA Working Groups - 2
Technology foresight and media of communication
How to extract maximum benefits from new information and communication technologies (ICTs) for agricultural and rural development throughout ACP Member States has been the underlying concern of another CTA working group set up to help shape the Centre's mid-term plan.
Given the pace and volume of the drastic changes arising from ICTs, a major task for the working group on "Technology foresight and media of communication" has been to clarify the complex picture which consists of media (print, visual, spoken, electronic) and the ever-growing range of products and services (books, fax, CDROM, Internet, e-mail, World Wide Web, video).
This has not been an easy task, since some of the new ICTs are adding new dimensions to the use of media. For example, some books and journals are now published only electronically: on CD-ROM or on the Internet. Library catalogues and photo-libraries can be consulted instantly across the world, sound recordings of radio programmes can be 'shipped' within minutes between continents. Farmers, traders and researchers can diagnose pest damage using graphic video databases or obtain the latest information on market prices, quality control and safety requirements for products.
In the context of many ACP countries, many ICTs are only appropriate if special attention is paid to socio-economic, technical and utilization aspects. These include the availability (cost, maintenance and technical access) of equipment and communication networks; user-friendliness and, above all, matching of the media to the user and to the 'audience'. These issues become most complex when considering inter-active use of global communication networks. Questions of infrastructure, pricing and public access are real barriers to participation in the global economy and in global educational, scientific and cultural exchanges.
For many ACP countries, the situation is changing fast. Since the launch of the working group in late 1995 the number of African countries with open, public access to the Internet has almost doubled. The group sees a need to communicate and harmonize steps to remove these barriers through cooperating with several initiatives, notably the African Networking Initiative, and Bellanet.
The group believes that CTA can play a unique, pro-active role in helping to ensure the most appropriate use of ICTs for agricultural and rural development. In the short- and medium-term future, they provide a complementary medium for performing, and extending, established roles in information, training and institution building. In the longer term, some ICTs can serve as areas for new forms of activities.
Appropriate roles are being identified for CTA. At the policy level, this may include seeking a presence m network initiatives as well as moves, at national and international levels, to help ensure that ICTs become, and remain, accessible to players in agricultural and rural development. At the institution building level, CTA will act through publications and training to enable partners to appropriate ICTs. CTA is thus aiming to identify and seize the opportunities of ICTs which, according to a consultative meeting convened by the group, are "perceived as icons of rapid change, sometimes alien, sometimes unattainable, sometimes diversionary; they can better be tamed, mastered and appropriated, rather than ignored, or worse, dismissed." •
Publications available from CTA
Goat breeds of the world
Goats have been kept and used by man since time immemorial, but in more modern times there has perhaps been more awareness of their destructive potential rather than of their useful contribution to agricultural production systems worldwide. More recently, however, awareness of the goat's merits has increased. These merits include adaptation to adverse climates, an ability to survive extended periods of drought and to utilize certain poorer pastures better than other livestock, and the advantage of being a small, but efficient producer of meat and milk.
This book suggests that improvements to goat production should not be sought by resorting to crossing-breeding native goats with improved breeds, unless the potential of local breeds has been fully explored. It is therefore important to know the local goat populations, their distribution and properties. The book lists goat populations which are described as breeds and for which basic data are available. The data are based on published documentation supplemented by information supplied by livestock authorities in most UN member countries.
One hundred and sixty breeds are included, 97 of which are illustrated by photographs. Data are given on conformation, growth, milk and fibre production. There are also 242 bibliographic references.
Goat breeds of the world by Christian Gall 1996 ISBN 3 8226 1251 4 A joint CTA-Margraf publication available from CTA
Hazards and opportunities
This book is about the challenges faced by people living in dryland areas. Lessons for policy and practice are drawn from a detailed case study carried out during the first half of the 1990s in Chivi communal area, in southern Zimbabwe. This book shows, that even over relatively short distances, different histories, different ecologies and different economic and social relations mean that there are significant contrast in responses to risk and uncertainty. However, some central themes of this book are of wide relevance to dryland development in Africa and elsewhere.
Chapters in the book discuss the processes of farmer innovation and experimentation and their articulation with scientific research and formal extension; the historical evolution of agricultural landscapes and how they are shaped by external policy, macro-economic factors as well as farmers; and the dynamics of drought including local-level coping strategies and the implications for food relief policy. All of these issues are the subject of intense debate in the search for sustainable development in Africa's drylands. All are brought into sharp relief by the case study analysis.
Hazards and opportunities - farming livelihoods in dryland Africa: lessons from Zimbabwe compiled by Ian Scoones et al available from CTA
Agriculture and environmental research in small countries
Developing countries are finding it increasingly difficult to maintain research institutions that can support the broad demands of their agricultural and natural resource sectors. In many countries, this is due to a diminutive economy and population which limits the resource base upon which to build a viable, productive research system.
This book examines the ways small countries have approached these problems and how they can use their small-scale institutions and limited resources to best advantage. Based on the experience of small countries with small research organizations, the book provides valuable lessons for all policymakers and scientific leaders who are looking for innovative ways to address the growing complexity of national agricultural research in the emerging global system.
Agriculture and environmental research in small countries: innovative approaches to strategic planning by Pablo Eyzaguirre, IPGRI 1996 ISBN 0 471 96074 8
Small-scale freshwater fish farming
This booklet aims at providing basic information on how to set up a small-scale fish farm for subsistence purposes with regard to daily protein needs. Since practices are so diverse, this manual focuses on land-based, freshwater fish farming. In the tropics, pond fish farming is the most common form of aquaculture and so, the information provided concerns pond construction and pond management.
The first part of this manual describes the principles of fish farming, including site selection and type of fish farm. Fish farming practices are presented, including the selection of species, nutrition, health aspects, reproduction, harvesting and pond maintenance. The second part gives specific information about the culture of common carp, tilapia and catfish.
Small-scale freshwater fish farming
Agrodok series no 15 by A van Eer, T van Schie and A Hilbrands available from CTA
Dairy cattle husbandry
This booklet is aimed at farmers who have experience with goats, sheep or cattle and who want to start improving their cattle keeping. It is especially meant for smallholders who are confronted with changing surroundings, whether ecological (such as in semi-arid areas) or economic (such as increasing demand for milk). These farmers may be wondering whether improvements or intensification in their cattle keeping will help them to improve the profitability of their farm. This booklet should help them to make those decisions.
Dairy cattle husbandry - Agrodok series No 14 by P Bonnier, A Maas and J Rijks available from CTA