Agricultural research for development products: Increasing the applicability of our research
For a couple of years now, CIAT’s communications and knowledge management group has been working on the objective to make more out of CIAT’s research results, with the aim to involve broader audiences and increase the applicability of our research. Three types of knowledge products CIAT and other research centers focus mainly on three types of knowledge products:
- Journal articles, book chapters, scientific databases etc. which are essential to communicate and discuss science quality, and are mostly intended to reach other scientists and academia. They are part of scientist’s daily agenda, and represent a crucial ingredient of their interaction with peers. They are the main pillar of their career path.
- Compelling science stories and accompanying materials online and in print to enhance the visibility of research, diffused through various channels, including blogs, other social media, and occasionally the mass media. Public awareness and the related science stories came into the picture in the 1990 when secure core-funding declined and when it became necessary draw donor’s attention to our research achievements and influence the public opinion.
- Knowledge products for development, often co-created with partners, for audiences such as development professionals, technicians, extensionists, farmers, policy decision makers. There is no doubt that the current trend towards research that follows the rules of Results-Based Management (RBM) will lead to a steady increase in the creation of knowledge products that should contribute a great deal to achieve intended results in agricultural development.
- Defeating cassava witches’ broom: a cartoon guide for extension workers and farmers in South East Asia. The cartoon was conceived with the CIAT pathologists and illustrated by a regional designer. The printed version was distributed in local languages to farmers in Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam.
- Gender Inclusive Research: Why and How. A student in interactive media design created an animated video during her internship with CIAT. It was launched on International Women’s Day and was screened during a major event on climate change and gender that took place in Paris in March 2015.
- A communications and promotion plan was developed jointly with local actors to increase the uptake of climbing beans in Rwanda, and promote economic growth in East Africa. The plan builds on recommendations formulated during a stakeholder workshop that took place in Kigali in October 2014, and will be implemented throughout 2015.
- Pay more attention to instructional design! We want and need to learn the do’s and don’ts in creating knowledge for development products. Therefore we need to find partners, probably universities with installed capacity to receive guidance in the process.
- Involve and commit the proponents to monitor and evaluate the product in order to actually understand its usefulness and applicability of the product! While we planned for example to test the cartoon guide in the field, this step felt through the trap and we neglected to get feedback from the intended audience.