ISNAR's research program


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ISNAR's research program role, contents, and strategy
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International Service for National Agricultural Research
International Service for National Agricultural Research
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National agricultural research systems -- Developing countries   ( lcsh )
Agriculture -- Research -- International cooperation   ( lcsh )
non-fiction   ( marcgt )


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ISNAR's Research Program: Rolel, Contents, and Strategy

I. Introduction

This document represents an attempt to set up a working framework for
ISNAR's Research Program. Its main objective is to identify the main
areas of emphasis and within these some specific research alternatives
and to relate them to ISNAR's overall program and strategy. Additionally,
the instruments to be used in implementing the research effort and the
priorities for the consideration of the different issues are discussed.

The document includes three sections in addition to this introduction.
In the second, we attempt to answer the question of why ISNAR should have
a research program. The third discusses the analytical framework for the
program and the main research areas and topics. Finally, section four
includes the types of projects and activities through which the research
effort is to be implemented and how they relate to the rest of ISNAR's

II. The Role of Research within the ISNAR Strategy

ISNAR's prime objective is to help strengthen national agricultural
research capabilities in developing countries. The ultimate goal is to
enable them to plan, organize and execute research more effectively
within the framework of their own natural, human and financial resources.

Supporting objectives are to promote improved cooperation between
national agricultural research systems and the IARCs and other research
institutions, to assist national systems to identify which of their needs
could be met through external aid, and to promote more effective linkages
between them and the technical assistance and donor agencies.

In pursuing these objectives, the bulk of the ISNAR effort lies in
working together with NARS in the development of an adequate
institutional and organizational infrastructure, and improved research
planning and management capabilities. The formulation of research
strategies and policies, program development, resources development and
management, the monitoring and evaluation of research activities, the
transmission of research results-to the farmers, and the identification
and implementation of effective linkages between national and
international research, are some of the specific areas usually involved
in this type of work.

Working in a direct relationship with the national agricultural research
organizations is undoubtedly the core of ISNAR's activities, but in many
cases, an effective work at strengthening national research capabilities
requires efforts beyond that level. However important and crucial an
adequate organizational infrastructure and management capabilities may
be, if research activities are to have an impact on the production
situation of the country, they have to have adequate resource support,

and the research effort itself has to be a coherent part of an overall
agricultural strategy. For this to be so, policy makers have to be aware
of both the potential of research as a policy instrument for agricultural
development and-of its particular characteristics and needs. The
creation of this better understanding and awareness is a second area of
work which requires a different set of instruments. This area must not
be overlooked; its potential contribution to the creation of stronger and
self-sustaining national agricultural research systems is enormous.
Given its institutional characteristics and mandate, ISNAR is in a
particularly advantageous position to make an important contribution to
what can be visualized as the creation of better environmental conditions
for agricultural research at the national level.

ISNAR's mandate to contribute to stronger and more efficient
relationships between national and international research implies another
important area of work. This is the identification of opportunities and
the possible ways in which more effective linkages can be established so
that national systems may take advantage and benefit from the scientific
resources and the types of assistance available at the international

To effectively perform in these areas, ISNAR needs to have clear
understanding of the functioning of national research systems and a pool
of analytical information concerning the alternatives available for the
organization and performance of the system's key functions and
processes. At the same time, information about the nature of the
international efforts in different areas and in reference to specific
international and bilateral experiences is essential for the promotion of
a better use of the potentials in this area. Neither of these elements
is readily available. Past research in this area has been mainly
oriented either to evaluation of the impact of research investments or to
the methodological problems associated with the allocation of resources
among research alternatives. Until recently, very little work has beer
done in developing a better understanding of the elements affecting the
development, operation, and effectiveness of agricultural research
organizations. Consequently, ISNAR's needs in this field can at best
only be imperfectly resolved by the already existing concepts and

Within this general framework, the main role of the research program is
to increase and strengthen ISNAR's own capacity to work with national
agricultural research systems by:
serving as the main mechanism through which the increased
experience and new evidence being permanently generated by ISNAR's
missions and other country level activities are fed back into the
pool of knowledge and ISNAR's own work methodologies;
working on increasing the available knowledge and understanding of
the nature and functioning of NARS;
identifying and evaluating alternative ways of organizing and
implementing mechanisms for the performance of the system's key
functions and processes;
developing and maintaining an appropriate data base on national and
international agricultural research activities;
identifying topics and developing materials relevant to the task of
increasing the policy-makers' understanding of the research
processes potentials, and requirements;
helping to mobilize the interest of the academic community of both
the developed and the developing world to work on topics relevant

to agricultural research organizations and management problems.

III.The Research Areas and Topics

1. The Analytical Framework for Identifying Research Areas and Topics

The analytical framework to be used in identifying the priority research
areas and topics evolves from two basic conceptual elements. The first
is the perception that NARCs, like any other social institution, cannot
be understood.adequately unless they are placed in both historical and
contemporary contexts. The second is the thesis that the performance of
an organization depends on the joint influences of its environment,
structure, strategy, and processes.

Generally speaking, the structure and functioning of a NARS, as with all
established institutions, will display a pattern that is consistent with
the country's resource endowments and basic institutional arrangements as
well as with the attained level of socio-economic and political

The role of ISNAR, in conjunction with other technical and financial
assistance organizations, is to provide the needed stimulus to speed up
the evolutionary development of the system in the direction of
strengthening both its capacity to conduct research and to play a central
leading role in the country's development efforts. Success in that role
of external catalytic force for the strengthening and reorientation of
NARCs depends on ISNAR's ability to develop theories, methods, concepts,
and agents for modifying and improving the agricultural research system
while maintaining its coherence with the socio-economic,
politico-administrative and agro-ecological structures of the country.

In order to be an effective catalytic agent, ISNAR needs a clear
understanding of the way in which the basic environmental variables
--that is resource endowments, the socio-economic system and the
politico-administrative structures-- affect the nature of the
agricultural research organization. Which of these elements are
structural determinants and how the basic relationships evolve through
time are important areas of investigation.
The development of knowledge of the historical paths taken by various
agricultural research organizations, and the ascertainment of the
determining factors at various crucial junctions, would be valuable not
only as significant contributions to the theoretical and historical
literature on research organizations, but also as a practical
contribution to those engaged in designing or modifying existing
agricultural research organizations in developing countries.
Historical-structural analyses provide a unique and fruitful
complementary perspective to a static comparative analysis of
contemporary institutions.

The organizational structure of an agricultural research organization may
facilitate or limit its effective operation. Though only one element
affecting the performance of the organization, it is of central
importance. It follows, therefore, that an appropriate organizational
format may be seen as a necessary condition for a successful system.
Such an organizational system must enable and facilitate the smooth and
effective performance of a number of key functions and processes related
to research program development and implementation. These functions and
processes involve the operational elements of the system and include (in

general terms) the formulation of research strategies and policies,
program development, the procurement and management of the needed human,
financial, and physical resources, the establishment of effective
communication linkages both on the input side (linkages with the
scientific community) and on the output side (linkages with the main
client groups: farmers and the political system), and the monitoring and
evaluation of the system's activities. At this level, what is required
are mechanisms for the performance of these functions and processes that
are both effective and coherent'with the system's organizational
structure and level of development. A successful research system will
then be the result of both an appropriate structure and of the existence
of a set of effective operational mechanisms for the performance of its
key functions.

This brief and schematic conceptual framework points to two main areas
for research. The first, (Analysis of the Evolution and Performance of
National Agricultural Research Systems), relates to the structural
aspects and is concerned with the analysis of the evolution and
performance of existing national research systems as basis for the
identification of key elements for successful national agricultural

The second research area, (Operational Alternatives for Implementing
National Agricultural Research Programs), deals with particular functions
and the mechanisms and instruments required for their effective
performance. The emphasis is at the process level in the identification
of the existing options and the evaluation of their appropiateness in
different institutional settings'.

The questions, methodologies, and time frame for these two research areas
are quite different. The first are the broad questions of institutional
analysis. The objectives are the identification of the main components
of NARS, their linkages and interrelations and the analysis of how
different institutional arrangements affect the performance of researc,
processes. Although particular components and linkages may be analyzed
in-depth, the emphasis is not on their internal aspects but on their
relationship with the system as a whole. These objectives require a
historical perspective and the basic source of information is the
in-depth analysis of the evolution and performance of existing systems.
The time frame is medium term to long run. The main products of the
efforts in this area are contributions to the pool of knowledge and
understanding about the nature and functioning of NARS. It is
essentially an academic endeavor and as such, extends well beyond ISNAR's
research capacity. However, given its institutional nature and mandate,
ISNAR can play a key role by translating into proper research questions

Given the interactive nature of the structural and process variables,
there are some important topics that would not fall clearly within either
research area. These are aspects such as the governance and priority
setting and the funding process that having both structural and
instrumental implications will demand an approach using elements from both
research areas. The separation of areas, however, is highly convenient
from the point of view of the management of the program and of the
integration of research results into the rest of ISNAR activities.

the areas of uncertainty.arising out of its technical cooperation
activities, and by generating information about them through specific
studies and the systematization of the corporate experience being
generated by the country missions.

In the second research area, the scope -is much more narrowly defined as
we approach issues of an instrumental nature. The main objective is the
generation of analytical information about particular instruments in a
management context. The emphasis is on the analytical description of how v
particular functions-are performed in different systems and in
generating general guidelines that could be used by ISNAR in their
country review activities, as well as directly by NARS managers.

2. Research Area 1: Analysis of the Evolution and Performance of
National Agricultural Research Systems

The core of the activities in this area is a continuing effort to develop
a conceptual framework for NARS which can be used as a point of reference
for ISNAR's country review and follow-up activities. This is not an
effort to develop an ideal model of what a NARS should be, but to
identify what are the essential component elements and relationships that
shape an effective national research system. The emphasis is on the
development of a basic set of concepts and hypotheses which can be tested
and perfected through time as different national experiences are analyzed
and evaluated.

Four main areas of discussion on the initial structure of the framework
are: (a) the nature and products of the research process and its role in
agricultural development; (b) the identification of the main functional
areas and components and of the elements that determine how they are
organized and performed in particular situations; (c) the structure of
systems' linkages with their clientele groups and society as a whole; and
(d) a set of hypotheses concerning how organizational and linkage
structures and different functional mechanisms affect the performance of
the system.

From the methodological point of view, this research area will make
extensive use of the already available information on NARS organization,
behavior, and performance (and that which may become available in the
future through the work of others), attempting to reorganize it following
the guidelines set by the initial set of concepts and hypotheses. This
will be complemented by a number of original research efforts
concentrating on whole systems or particular components. In this
approach, the objective is to complement the in-depth evolutionary
analysis of national systems including all its functional components and
linkages, with the comparative analysis of specific aspects across a
wider number of countries.

It is generally agreed that no one organizational format or functional
mechanism is optimal for the highly diverse conditions of historical
evolution, resource endowments, and socio-economic and political
conditions that characterize developing nations. Moreover, there is
already enough information to tentatively sustain the hypothesis that the
performance of a given research system is highly dependent on those
characteristics. The comparative analysis of different country
situations is an essential step to improve our understanding of the
nature of those relationships.

In-depth evolutionary studies of complete systems are also of crucial
importance. First, by generating information on the existing
interrelations and linkages, they will allow us to pace particular
studies in the proper context and provide the tracers for the analysis of
the impact of particular components on the system's performance.
Secondly, there is the historical perspective. NARS are the result of
processes in which historical and environmental influences play a major
role. Some of the results already available from ISNAR's country review
missions indicate that very little can be achieved in terms of
strengthening national agricultural research if certain preconditions
such as the recognition of the role of research and a minimum level of
political commitment are not met. Furthermore, these very aspects are
usually taken as a basis for ISNAR's decision to get involved in a
particular country. Perhaps we can even put forward the postulate that
it may be erroneous to recommend and promote changes that are beyond the
country's state of development. Some of the failures of the past efforts
to develop new research institutions in some countries clearly support
the validity of this view. On the other end of the spectrum, the recent
developments in private sector interest and participation in agricultural
research and technology transfer activities that have been taking place
in some regions, point out the restricted nature of the traditional
approach based on considering agricultural research as basically a public
endeavor. The analysis of these aspects in the context of the historical
evolution of given NARS will provide information essential not only to
these issues but also to the process of identifying alternatives for the
improvement of NARS in which every mission is involved.

Following these ideas, a number of objectives and leading questions have
been stated as guidelines for early work in this area:
the identification and discussion of an initial set of concepts and
hypotheses concerning the structure and performance of NARS (along
the lines of the four main discussion areas proposed above);
the analysis of the factors which determine that some functions are
performed with greater success in some systems than in others;
the construction of a typology of the ingredients of success in
given situations;
the examination of what promotes change in research systems.

3. Research Area 2: Operational Alternatives for Implementing National
Research Programs

As indicated earlier in the present document, one of the objectives of
the research section in conjunction with the other sections at IS1AR is
to provide ISNAR teams with the supplementary methodological wherewithal
to develop adequate data-bases and to formulate recommendations on a more
systematic basis. These methodological tools will be presented in the
form of questions to be asked, of guidelines, or of "if X is chosen or
applies, then A/Y/Z apply or need to be considered" propositions, etc.
These propositions would at first be oriented towards facilitating and
improving ISNAR's service. There is no reason, however, why properLy
adapted, these tools could not be made available to other groups, such as
directors of national agricultural research institutes. Ideally, g;ven
their practical nature, these methodological tools need to be first and
foremost for those "functions" or "sub-systems" identified as having the
greatest impact on the system's performance. At the present time,
however, we are still lacking the conceptual framework needed to identify
these key "functions" or "sub-systems". In spite of this, it is possible
to identify an initial set of tentative priority areas on the basis of

ISNAR's accumulated experiences and of the results of the country reviews
now available to us. The following is a brief discussion of six areas
including some indications of to where initial efforts should be
directed, based on a perception of the needs and the emphasis the
different topics have received in the past.

Planning and Program Development

Planning and program development constitutes one of the crucial areas in
the research process. In general terms, it can be postulated that there
is a close relationship between system productivity and an effective and '
rational orientation of the activities and allocation of money and
manpower. This relationship is even clearer in view of the scarcity of "
resources characterizing most of the research systems in the developing

Two main processes are involved in this area of work. One is the
identification of priority and the allocation of resources to them. It
involves not only the mechanisms and methodologies through which these
decisions are taken, but also the formal and informal linkages through
:7 which information from the outside world flows into the research system.
ry The other process is more restricted in scope but no less important. It
< refers to the mechanisms through which general *priority areas and
problems are translated into relevant scientific questions and research
/ projects.

s The development of priorities and resource allocation --particul-rly in
its quantitative aspects-- has received a good deal of international
attention both in the form of published work and high level meetings. On
the other hand, efforts in the area of program development have been very
few if any. This lack of emphasis may derive from the view that the
definition of the scientific questions and the research projects is
highly dependent on the scientist's creativity and intuition, and these
attributes can hardly be preserved if the process is put into the strait
jacket of formal mechanisms and methodologies.

/ A brief, casual analysis of the available information and experience
indicates that both aspects constitute important weaknesses of third
world agricultural research systems. This is fully confirmed by most
ISNAR's country reviews which have found them to be areas where urgent
improvement is needed.

The objectives of research efforts in this topic should be oriented to
the identification of mechanisms and methodologies that can perform
effectively in the imperfect information/resource scarce environmrints of
Sthe NARS of the less developed countries. Given the relatively greater
emphasis that the quantitative aspects of priority setting and resource
p J1al location have received in the past, it is proposed that efforts in this
l area concentrate initially on the institutional organization of the
-c' 7/ planning and program development processes.

Human Resources Development and Management

The importance of a critical mass of properly trained research personnel
is an issue that needs no introductory discussion. No matter how well
planned, organized and funded a research effort may be, its success level
will eventually be determined by the scientific capabilities and
creativity of the researchers working on it.

Recent information indicates that manpower availability at the national
level has been steadily improving in the past few years. However, the
situation is far from optimal. The question of the quality of the staff
remains an important one, as does the effectiveness of some NARS in
retaining and motivating research personnel over the medium and long
run. These two aspects indicate two closely related areas where improved
methodologies and management guidelines would be extremely helpful both
for ISNAR activities and for direct use by national research systems
managers themselves.

The first is manpower planning. That is the identification of the
manpower needs (areas, levels, numbers) and the strategies that are going
to be used to meet them. The second is related to the creation of the
necessary conditions to make effective use of the available personnel at
any point in time. This is the area generally referred to as conditions
of service and involves the specific issues of personnel policy such as
salaries and benefits, promotion schemes, etc. as well as some broader
aspects such as the working and social environment in which the
researcher is placed.

From a point of view of priorities, work in any of the two aspects would
represent an important contribution. Both constitute crucial aspects of
the follow-up to mission activities in which ISNAR is already involved.
The issues related to manpower planning, however, have in the past
received relatively more attention than those concerned with conditions
of service. For this reason, initial efforts should concentrate in this

The Funding of Agricultural Research Systems, Programs and Projects

Inadequate funding of research activities, both in terms of levels and
stability of budgetary support, is a weakness common to almost all of the
research systems studied by ISNAR. Concern about this problem has also
been voiced in a number of international meetings. A major issue being
not only how to secure more resources for research, but also whether or
not continuingly increasing and more stable support levels could
reasonably be expected in view of the critical financial situation of
many, if not most, of the developing countries.

In many cases, some improvement can be achieved on the basis of a better
use of the already available levels of resources. But these
possibilities are in general limited and in many cases their potential
impact is only of a marginal nature. In most of the cases, if an
improved research capacity is to be achieved, an increased level of long
term funding is an essential prerequisite. Usually, the recommendations
in this area restrict themselves to statements of a general nature or,
when more specific, make reference to more or less arbitrary rules of
thumb. Very rarely is there a discussion of what the possibilities are
in view of the country's economic structure.

Another common problem is the consideration of budgetary needs in toto,
failing to recognize that different budgetary categories or program
segments have different funding possibilities ie. capital expenditures
can be more easily financed by donor assistance than recurrent costs;
certain types of research will appeal to specific interest groups, etc.

These issues indicate a number of possibilities in terms of generating

background information that will help improve the effectiveness of
recommendations in this area. Among them:
- how much is it reasonable to expect that developing countries spend
in agricultural research?
- What are alternative funding sources for different budgetary
components and/or program segments?
- Do different fiscal structures offer different alternatives in terms
of national (public) funding for agricultural research?
- To what extent can or should NARS rely on external financial
assistance to develop and implement their research programs?

The consideration of diversified funding as a solution to the budgetary
problems requires that we also consider the additional problems that this
alternative may create. Two of them are increased financial management
needs (difficulties with cash flows, reporting to special sources, etc.)
and difficulties in maintaining program unity. Both aspects require
specific attention.

In terms of priorities, the general discussion of how much a country can
spend on research, the alternatives offered by different fiscal
structures and the extent to which programs can be developed and
implemented on the basis of external assistance appear the three
areas where better information can be most valuable.

The Research-Farmer Linkage

The adoption of research results in the form of improved technologies by
the farmer is the ultimate goal of the research system, and the reason
why society is willing to devote resources to agricultural research. The
farmer's decision to adopt a particular piece of new technology or not,
will depend not only on the availability of the new technology but also
on a number of other considerations. However, the availability of a set
of technological alternatives suitable to the farmer's production
situation constitutes a necessary condition.' To meet this requirement,
the research system must have an effective way to incorporate into the
research process information concerning the farmer's characteristics and
needs; to test research results in an environment that appropriately
reflects the conditions in which the new technologies will have to
perform once they are incorporated to the production processes, and .
finally a proper methodology to communicate results to the farmers once
the new technologies are ready for delivery.

This whole area is one of the common weaknesses of most NARS of the
developing world and as such has commanded lots of attention and effort.
In spite of these efforts, there is not a common view as to how to go
about helping the countries improve their capabilities in these aspects.
ISNAR missions' results confirm both the importance of the area and also
the extent to which we lack information as to what alternatives are open
and the implications of each.

In the past few years there has been, with important support from the
IARCs and donor agencies community, a movement to promote on-farm
research strategies as a way of linking together all the aspects of the
process, that is, developing appropriate and adequate information,
testing new technologies in the proper environment and to some extent the
communication aspects. The intuitive appeal of the approach is great.
It mixes the recognized interdisciplinary nature of the agricultural
technology problem with the strategic approach used in many successful

research stories in other sectors; that is, having the research questions
originate in particular production problems, and setting research in the
very production line and immersing researchers in the complex environment
of the real world.

It is also true that this approach raises a number of questions,
particularly with respect to the extent to which it can be used
effectively in the resource scarce contexts of NARS, and the
organizational and management problems it may create. Available studies
and information concentrate mostly on discussing the philosophical
aspects of the approach and the methodologies to be used in doing
research at the farm level; there is very little on costs aspects and
organizational and management problems. Given the importance of the
topics involved, the discussion of these aspects in relation to the
different alternatives and on-farm research methodologies that have and
are being used or proposed, appears to be an area of work offering high

The Information Management Process

Two main information processes are of relevance in agricultural research
systems. One is the two-way flow of information between the research
system and its immediate environment including the farmers, the extension
system and the other agricultural services, the scientific community,
policy makers and other relevant sectors of society. The other is
internal to the system and is concerned with information relevant to the.
program implementation and monitoring processes and the general
management functions of the system. In spite of the tremendous
development of information science in later times, both of these areas
remain as perhaps the weakest and most neglected in many NARS.
Paradoxically, improvements in these areas may not be difficult to
achieve since they do not require large investments (or donor aid is
readily available) and usually there is general agreement on the need to
improve the si uation.

The key limiting factor to improvements in these areas appears to be the
poor understanding of what the information needs of the different groups
(both internal and external) are and what the mechanisms to mret them
should be. The examination of the type of information required,
including quantity and quality, of the ways in which differeni: grouos
receive and use such information, and the alternatives open in terms of
the organization of the generation, processing and dissemination of
information, are areas where important contributions can be made.

The high priority which information management is given both in ISNAR's
work and in the NARS which it serves, requires that further empirical
data be collected from the field and be analyzed in order that the
know-how developed in more sophisticated environments be applied
rationally and effectively.

Monitoring and Evaluation of Research Activities

Monitoring and evaluation of agricultural research constitute two
processes of a different nature, although they are often considered as
one common functional area. Evaluation is essentially a discrete process
that may be conducted at different stages, ex ante as part of the
planning and program development effort, at one or more points during
implementation, and certainly after the research has been completed. It

includes scientific aspects (the evaluation of the scientific components
of the effort) and more general matters when referring to the impact of
the application of the knowledge generated (levels of adoption,
distribution, production, etc.). Evaluation is basic as feed-back
mechanisms for the planning process but also produces information for
other management areas.

Monitoring on the other hand is a continuous process contributing
essentially to the management function. It starts only after
implementation has begun and although it may also be concerned with
scientific aspects, its principal focus is the assessment of progress in
relation to established targets, supervision of budget execution,
reporting, personnel management, etc.

The importance of both functions for successful research management is
clear. However, in most MARS, neither is developed to an appropriate
level. The reason may be that the available methodologies are too
complex or have resource requirements that cannot be met in the
conditions of the research systems of the less developed countries. This
is because in many (or most) cases, they have been developed either for
other institutional contexts (business, services, etc.) or for more
developed systems In this context, the investigation of the state of the
art in the field and the analysis of the available experiences of NARS in
implementing, monitoring and evaluation systems as an initial step for
the development of instruments and methodologies suited to their
conditions, appears to be a high priority area.

Special Topics

In addition to the topics included in the areas listed above, there are a
number of topics that are very difficult to place in any particular area
but which, nevertheless, deserve consideration. However, in these, the
level of the efforts could be considerably reduced since many of them
require no more than the development of a paper discussing some
particular issues. Some of these topics are:
- the legal formats of research organizations;
- the advantages of centralized vs. decentralized research
infrastructures (central laboratories, etc.);
- the factors affecting the location of research facilities: the need
to balance technical and socio-economical considerations;
- the scale of the research effort. Is there a minimum scale
requirement for effective research?;
- the research-education linkage. To what extent is it essential?

4. Development and Maintenance of the Data Base on National and
International Agricultural Research

The need for an appropriate data base on national and international
agricultural research is widely recognized. Improved monitoring of
research investments, better coordination of efforts in specific areas,
identification of gaps in the coverage of national and international
programs, and better determination of training needs are just a.few of
the benefits that may be obtained from an improved quantitative
perspective of research activities in the different parts of the world.

Given its mandate and activities, ISNAR is particularly suited for
undertaking the task of organizing and maintaining a formal daca base on
national and international research. Through its country reviews, it is

permanently generating new information and updating the existing base.
At the same time, reviewing other institutions reports and all other
sources of information is a natural and necessary part of ISNAR's
in-house process and activity in which not only the research program but
all staff are permanently involved. The potential benefits from these
efforts, however, cannot be realized, if the information base is not
systematized in an easy to access/easy to retrieve system.

The research program proposes to develop a formal effort to organize and
maintain this data base not only as a contribution to ISNAR activities,
but also to the rest of the international assistance community as well as
to NARS themselves.

Two formal products are expected from this effort. The first is the
periodic publication of the updated data base. The second is the
development of analytical reports on aspects of particular interest as
enough information on them becomes available.

IV. The Implementation Strategy

The implementation strategy of the research program is based on f:iur

The first is an attempt to make the most out of ISNAR's institutional
characteristics, basically its permanent contacts with various
countries. In this sense, every one of ISNAR's activities is considered
a research effort and as offering a valuable opportunity for increasing
the information and understanding of NARSs. The role of this part of the
research program being to mobilize internal discussion as part of th-
necessary feed-back from experience to program development and
The second element is closely related to the first and concerns the use
of the potential offered by the pool of expertise and experiences
represented in the other ISNAR programs. This potential lies in the
identification of relevant research questions, in the professional
talents of the staff involved in those programs, and in the fact that
many of the country level activities offer very effective ways for
generating the information needed for the analysis of certain topics.
Related to this, the development of collaborative research efforts with
the other programs are to be given the highest priority. In this way,
research results will be naturally fed back to the perspectives and
methodologies of the other programs.

The third aspect of the strategy refers to the extent of the
participation of the national research institutions themselves in the
implementation of the research efforts. This is seen as a basic element /
of the strategy and something that has to be promoted whenever feasible.
Through this approach we expect a better utilization of the analytical
capabilities available in many countries and also, at the same tine, we
expect to increase the likelihood that research results will be promptly
translated into action.

The fourth and final component is the recognition of the vastness of the
information and knowledge needs in the field of organization and
management of agricultural research, and how limited ISNAR resources
are. In view of this, ISNAR has to play a key role in mobilizing
interest and activities in other institutions having capabilities in this

The Type of Pr iects

Actual implementation in all cases will be in the form of formal projects
including precise definitions of objectives, resources and time frame.
The two main types of projects are (a) internal ISNAR projects and (b)
collaborative efforts between ISNAR and other institutions.

a. Internal ISNAR Projects

Several possibilities exist here: (i) those projects to be executed
completely under the responsibility of the research program; (ii) the
collaborative efforts with the other sections where responsibilities are
shared and leadership is provided by a group of staff of the different
programs and; (iii) research activities developed completely by staff of
other programs. Under "Internal ISNAR Projects", we envisage the
possibility of some missions (or other country level activities)
developing research papers on topics that are of special interest in the
particular country or context of the activity. These efforts could then
be incorporated as parts of, or contributions to, larger efforts (as case
studies) or they could remain as independent research pieces. The role
of the research section will be in providing support in identifying the
topics and other methodological aspects.

b. Collaboration with Outside Institutions

Two different types of projects: (i) Collaboration with other
institutions. This includes joint efforts where responsibilities and
contributions are shared; the specific sharing pattern depending on the
particular characteristics of each case; and (ii) Networks. -lis
involves collaboration between ISNAR and a number of NARSs or other
institutions of the developing world. The role of ISNAR is that of a
promoter and catalyst (identifying the topic, securing the resources,
leading the development of the methodological tools) to groups of
countries interested in analyzing their own experiences on sp,~cific