In Mali, Senegal, Burkina Faso and Guinea, partnerships between research and producers’ organisations are emerging. These partnerships take various forms, depending on the context in which they evolve; in some cases the extension services are also involved. Researchers from the four countries met in April 1997 to share their experience and draw lessons from approximately two years of activities to promote such partnerships. This paper presents the findings from the workshop, drawing also on the authors’ personal involvement in the four countries. The authors review: (i) the rationale for a partnership; (ii) the approach taken in each of the four countries; and, (iii) the difficulties encountered, either on the side of the producers’ organisations or on the side of the research institutes.
Although it may be too early to make a final assessment of the extent to which producers’ organisations have succeeded in making research institutes more client responsive, valuable lessons for producers’ organisations, research institutes as well as donors and external agencies interested in promoting a productive partnership are already beginning to emerge.
The experience of these four countries is not unique: in a number of developing countries research and extension institutions have tried to establish partnership mechanisms with producers’ organisations. These experiences have been documented and analysed elsewhere and the analysis presented here refers to work conducted by the Overseas Development Institute (ODI), the International Service for National Agricultural Research (ISNAR) and the Centre de Coopération Internationale en Recherche Agronomique pour le Développement-Systèmes Agroalimentaires et Ruraux (CIRAD-SAR).