Ending hunger : science must stop neglecting smallholder farmers
Un groupe international de chercheurs (#Ceres2030) a épluché plus de 100.000 articles en 3 ans sur la #faim et les moyens d’y remédier ; leurs constatations sont accablantes : les solutions efficaces, en particulier l’aide aux fermes les plus importantes, celles de petite taille, ne sont retrouvées que dans une “infime” partie de ces publications.
The team was able to identify ten practical interventions that can help donors to tackle hunger, but these were drawn from only a tiny fraction of the literature. The Ceres2030 team members found that the overwhelming majority of the agricultural-research publications they assessed were unable to provide solutions , particularly to the challenges faced by smallholder farmers and their families.
By contrast, the project team found a preponderance of studies on new technologies. Every year, food rots in the field, or later on, because of inadequate storage. But nearly 90% of interventions aiming to reduce these losses looked at how well a particular tool, such as a pesticide or a storage container, worked in isolation. Only around 10% compared the many existing agricultural practices to evaluate what works and what doesn’t.
Pourquoi ? Parce que « plus de la moitié du financement de la recherche sur ce domaine est assuré par le secteur #privé », nommément l’#agribusiness, et parce que le système est fait de telle manière (maximum de publications) que ledit secteur est le meilleur moyen de faire #carrière pour les #chercheurs.
So why aren’t more researchers answering more practical questions about ending hunger that are relevant to smallholder farmers? Many of the key reasons can be traced to the changing priorities of international agricultural-research funding.
During the past four decades, funding provision for this type of research has been shifting towards the private sector, with more than half of funding now coming from #agribusinesses
At the same time, applied research involving working with smallholder farmers and their families doesn’t immediately boost an academic career. Many researchers — most notably those attached to the #CGIAR network of agricultural research centres around the world — do work with smallholder farmers. But in larger, research-intensive universities, small is becoming less desirable. Increasingly, university research-strategy teams want their academics to bid for larger grants — especially if a national research-evaluation system gives more credit to research income.
Les revues de publication ont leur part de responsabilité dans cette #escroquerie...
Publishers also bear some responsibility. Ceres2030’s co-director, Jaron Porciello, a data scientist at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York, told Nature that the subject matter for smallholder-farming research might not be considered sufficiently original, globally relevant or world-leading for journal publication. This lack of a sympathetic landing point in journals is something that all publishers must consider in the light of the Ceres2030 team’s findings.
National research agencies, too, need to listen, because they are the major funding source for researchers in universities. There’s a place for collaborating with big businesses, but achieving the SDG to end hunger will require an order of magnitude more research engagement with smallholders and their families. Their needs — and thus the route to ending hunger — have been neglected for too long.