Collective Action on a higher notch!

With our common goal of fighting poverty and making concrete efforts to synergise and work more closely together, this year’s 5th Agriculture Science Week and Forum for Agricultural Research in Africa (FARA) General Assembly saw the CGIAR Centers collectively come together and showcase their work under one large CGIAR booth. Approximately 40 exhibitors participated in the marketplace from July 19-24, 2010, and the CGIAR stood out not only as a successful one-but as a successful collective!

How was this possible? An initial call from the CGIAR Fund Office was made to all Centers informing them of the idea of having one grand stand as opposed to different Centers having separate stands at the event and collectively displaying our work. CGIAR Centers responded enthusiastically to this call and organized their materials to be sent to Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso where the event was held.

Danielle Lucca (CGIAR Fund Office) and Muthoni Njiru (ILRI/Nairobi) worked together to develop a series of large bilingual posters containing impact stories of CGIAR work in Africa. Text was prepared by Nathan Russell (CGIAR Fund Office/CIMMYT). Once the text was final it was translated into French and photos were chosen to illustrate the 12 stories. All text and photos were sent to ILRI for desktopping. ILRI staff then developed attractive large-scale artwork and printed the panels in-house for shipping to Ouagadougou.

After flying in to Ouagadougou from various parts of the world, our “booth babes” Danielle, Nadia Manning-Thomas (ICT-KM) and myself -Evelyn Katingi- set up the booth with the panels and Centers’ publications. An extra large monitor played videos from Centers and also displayed web-based programs such as Ongoing Research in Africa.  On July 19th the show was ready to roll thanks to our super crew.

Many visitors stopped by the booth to pick up information from the Centers’ publications collections and to play the “Name that Grain” game, a popular crowed-gatherer.  The games requires that players correctly identify 12 grains and cereals on a display board. If all responses are correct, the prize is a CGIAR cap.  Some of those who visited the stand included Dennis Garrity and Carlos Sere the DG’s of World Agroforestry and ILRI respectively, scientists from ICRISAT, IITA, AfricaRice, ILRI, CGIAR Fund Council Executive Director and representatives from other African organizations and local Burkina Faso agencies.  Being a common booth under the CGIAR name, Centres made use of it for promoting their work, an example being CIP’s Lieven Claessen who made use of the booth and its equipment to show visitors CIP’s video “The Orange Revolution” on the orange fleshed sweet potato in Mozambique on the large monitor screen.  The screen was also used to demonstrate CGMap Ongoing Research in Africa.

The common booth was also useful in showing what the CGIAR is all about. It was able to reflect the overarching system, but also the diversity of research efforts being carried out by the individual Centres. We noted that there was a large demand for more CGIAR publications to be available in French.

As the printers quieten and everyone returns to their work stations, we reflect on some of the achievements that can be gained by working together, including more effective utilisation of resources, formation of partnerships, enhancement of team work and more cohesion.

An applaudable effort by the CGIAR Centers!

By Danielle Lucaa, Nadia Manning-Thomas and Evelyn Katingi


  1. #1 by Peter Ballantyne on August 4, 2010 - 6:53 am

    Evelyn … Fantastic to see that the Centers could come together on this. I recall we discussed the idea together with Kate Longley so it is great that you (and the ILRI colleagues, among others) could pull this off.

    I hope you could further elaborate briefly on some of the benefits – for the CGIAR, for individual centers, for FARA conference-goers – to be gained from such an example of collective action.

  2. #2 by Evelyn Katingi on August 10, 2010 - 9:58 am

    Peter, it was indeed a great thing that most centers could come together. In brief, for the CGIAR, it was great opportunity to show our partners that we can actually come together and respond to common objectives, in view of the upcoming reforms where the CG is expected to speak in one voice this was a great initiative for us to ‘live the dream’. For individual centers, firstly those who could not be at the event could still participate by sending their materials, secondly the transaction cost were significantly reduced by sharing the booth facilities e.g. the monitor was used to show videos sent by all the different centers as opposed to hiring 15 monitors! For FARA goers, there was a one stop shop that stocked almost everything and for those who didn’t know much about the CG’s left with the whole package of information from the stand.

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