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Innovations in Feedback & Accountability Systems for Agricultural Development

gce square[Originally posted on, we thought this is worth another look: a search for solutions that improve the feedback loop to ensure that the voices of small farmers are actually heard and that their feedback is properly incorporated into development programs.]

Smallholder farmers should be full participants in defining, implementing, and evaluating projects intended to improve their farms and lives. When agricultural development projects include systematic farmer feedback, they tend to be better targeted, locally-owned, and more sustainable. Over the past few decades, various approaches and research methodologies have been developed to transform “top-down” projects – in which smallholder farmers are passive “beneficiaries” in donor-driven actions – to farmers as the protagonist or proactive “constituent” co-owning projects that are intended for their benefit.” Proposals are being accepted through November 12, 2013. $100,000 grants. Read more about the requirements here: Grand Challenges Explorations Round 12.

Detail: “Smallholders and implementing agencies should work hand-in-hand in a joint learning process and be mutually accountable for results. Accountability should be multi-directional – implementing organizations should be accountable to smallholder farmers to ensure projects bring tangible benefits, and smallholder farmers and communities should be held accountable to the role they have agreed to play in the project. Systematic feedback loops are critical in building accountability of all parties. In spite of these efforts, real participation of farmers in agricultural development projects remains a challenge. Donors like the Gates Foundation are geographically and culturally distant from rural communities in Africa and South Asia, and there are no easy feedback loops to carry the voice of smallholder farmers. Grantees, whether in the public, private or NGO-sectors, are ultimately responsible to the donors who fund them and not to the constituents they are supposed to serve. In order to dramatically increase local ownership of our programs, innovative approaches to capture feedback and ensure their systematic use are needed.”