Study on impacts of farmer-led research supported by civil society organizations

Decades of scientific research related to agriculture and natural resource management have brought limited benefits to smallholder farmers, including crop farmers, fishers, livestock keepers and other resource users. Therefore, donors, policymakers and civil society organizations (CSOs), such as farmer organizations and nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), are urging the formal research sector to make its work more useful to smallholder farmers. Many institutions of agricultural research and development are now seeking ways to engage more closely with smallholders in order to conduct research that is more relevant for and accessible to them, and are seeking examples and good practices as sources of learning. Some examples of research that is focused on smallholders and in which the process is co-managed and driven by smallholders can be found in “informal” research initiatives --specifically, those which are facilitated by CSOs. The purpose of this study was to identify such examples of informal agricultural research and development that could be documented and thus made accessible to formal researchers. This report also describes farmer-led research findings and their dissemination, and analyzes available evidence on the impact of farmer-led approaches to agricultural research and development on rural livelihoods, local capacity to innovate and adapt, and influence on governmental institutions of agricultural research and development.


Wettasinha, C., Waters-Bayer, A., van Veldhuizen, L., Quiroga, G., Swaans, K. (2014)
CGIAR Research Program on Aquatic Agricultural Systems. Penang, Malaysia. Working Paper: AAS-2014-40