Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Selecting sites to make science work, some thoughts from Bihar (India)

One of my jobs at ILRI is to support the site selection for our Livestock and Fish program. Some of you might think, this is an easy task, as one just need to take care that we take some different agro-ecological zones into account. However, science has changed over the last years,  we want to do relevant science, science for development : a science that has impact on the poor.
To have impact as a scientist, one needs to do science for people who really need it. But because research is not a development agency, we need to work hand in hand with development partners, but also with the private sector and any other stakeholder on the ground.

Selecting sites in such an environment has become more complex, as not only the agro-ecological diversity is needed for getting relevant scientific output, but also the right set of partners who can help to define what is relevant and can promote the different result back to the farmers and other stakeholders. Involving these partners into our goals means finding common ground where science and development can make sense of each other.

Last week I was visiting Bihar in India to select the sites for livestock and fish dairy value chain. It has been a long process starting with analyzing geographical layers and identify where the poor livestock keepers are. In a second stage stakeholders have defined what other criteria should be considered. For Bihar they have, for example, mentioned the level of agricultural development, the type of livestock breeds, accessibility or social capital. Also the stakeholder have ranked all the district for these criteria.

As a result of this we had a set of 4 promising districts, we visited (or in our jargon groundtruthed) to make a final selection. We met interested and dedicated people on the ground, we have seen agricultural systems, dairy cow and buffalo, rice and banana tree... It has been a long journey full of adventure, lessons learned and great encounters.

In the upcoming weeks, my blog will take you along this journey under the Bihar sites series, sharing with you some of the most impressive stories! I hope you will enjoy the virtual trip!

I would like to thank Vamsi, the ILRI value chain coordinator for India, and all the NGO representatives, governmental representative, farmers, vendors, sweet sellers, directors, drivers and anyone else who crossed our journey for having made this visit such a beautiful and interesting experience. 

All picture in this post are from Avinash from Kaushalya foundation

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