<div class="CurrentTextJust">
After almost four years, the DURAS Project was officially concluded through a seminar organized under the auspices of the Global Forum on Agricultural Research (GFAR) last 11-13 June 2008 in Rome.&nbsp;<br><br>The three-day event was attended by about participants including representatives from the 12 DURAS-funded projects, French Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs, and several other organizations. During this seminar, project participants presented their research results and shared their experience in project implementation as well as in partnership-building.&nbsp;<br><br>Despite the small size of the projects and their limited duration, some positive outcomes were achieved in several areas. These include, among others, contributions to new scientific knowledge (e.g., identification of a new biological control agent for nematodes); development and testing of methodological approaches for engaging civil society groups in collaborative research; facilitating changes in policy processes (e.g., in South Africa where enabling legislation was introduced to establish a new framework governing Geographical Indications); and leveraging additional funding to expand on project activities or develop them in new directions (e.g., accelerating local innovation in natural resources management through the use of Innovation Support Funds).&nbsp;<br><br>Discussion on lessons learnt were about project experiences in the challenges of combining local and scientific knowledge, in strengthening the involvement of civil society organization (CSOs) in agricultural research for development (ARD), in promoting public-private and market linkages and in facilitating knowledge exchange through networks and platforms. Participants then deepened their reflection and discussion in parallel working group sessions on these topics as well as on additional issues ranging from innovation systems, promoting, monitoring and evaluating partnerships, information and communication as well as how to ensure project sustainability.&nbsp;<br><br>With the discussions on the previous days serving as a background, Roundtable Discussions on “Personal and Institutional Change” as well as on “Prioritizing and Financing ARD” were also organized. In the first Roundtable session, Dr. Philippe de Leener (Université Catholique de Louvain) provided an introductory presentation on the topic. This was followed by reactions from a panel of consisting of a researcher from Institut de Recherche pour le Developpement (IRS), a Ugandan NGO (Environment alert) and a professional involved on institutional learning and change (ILAC Initiative). <br><br>In the second Roundtable discussion, experiences in research priority setting at the country and regional levels were shared by Drs. Aboubakar Njoya (IRAD-Cameroon) and Ibrahim Hamdan (AARINENA), respectively. This was followed by an intervention on Spain’s take on financing ARD by Dr. Ana-Regina Segura (INIA). A panel consisting of representatives from the donor community (France, IFAD), farmer groups (ASPRODEP-Senegal), group of northern NARS (ECART-EEIG) and international organizations (FAO, CGIAR). The event was capped by insights from persons external to DURAS as well as members of the DURAS Steering Committee and the project’s Scientific Partnership Committee.&nbsp;<br><br>Participants expressed over-all satisfaction of the DURAS project highlighting that their experience led them to better understand the importance of inclusive partnership in ARD. Their experience inspired them to either continue with their respective projects and/or develop successor initiative that is very much aligned with the DURAS “spirit.”&nbsp;<br><br>Workshop presentations and summary of discussions will be made available soon on-line. A special publication that will feature lessons learned on each of the 12 projects as well as their research findings will be prepared and disseminated by the end of 2008. <br>
<div class="CurrentText" align="right">
<i>Oliver Oliveros</i>

Also of Interest