Research methods support (RMS) increases program capacity at the leadership, regional, and project levels to produce strategic and credible research results. Successful research results become tools and mechanisms that promote development and encourage agroecological transformation and agroecological principles as a means to making agricultural production sustainable and efficient. This contributes to better nutrition among the communities that work with the CRFS.
At the center of the concept is the idea that quality research results provide tested options to those who need to make food production decisions based on a clear understanding of their context. This is how research supports farmers in managing the risks implicit in farming.
Support from the RMS team is available at multiple points in a CRFS project life cycle. The team may help brainstorm and clarify the general research objectives during the inception meeting, provide advice on data design and analysis, review research outputs, consult on publications, etc.
CRFS grantees and other contributors to the program have direct access to the RMS team in each region and can request support at any time.
In practice, RMS works through a number of mechanisms, including:
- Direct project support includes working with CRFS projects through data clinics, engineering and management support, design meetings, research results review, and capacity building.
- Engagement during organized community of practice (CoP) activities provides direct project support at each CoP’s annual meeting. Side meetings with project teams, particularly on research design, are an opportunity for projects to incorporate emerging themes and ideas into their workplans.
- Regional support partnerships provide on-time assistance close to the project’s location. RMS currently has team members in Tanzania, Uganda, and Niger who act as regional support partners for East & Southern Africa and West Africa.
- Participation in the regional teams of each CoP supports the development and implementation of regional strategies.
- Participation in CRFS leadership team meetings contributes to the program’s overall development.
- The support team coordinates with other CRFS cross-cutting projects and support systems of the CRFS, including the IMEP.
- Due to increasing concerns about carbon footprint and other issues, RMS is testing alternative means of delivering research methods support and capacity building to CRFS projects and their institutions.
- Sharing research methods support ideas and tools for AEI beyond the CRFS stimulates discussion and promotes improved practices among CRFS grantees.
- Developing, documenting, and describing key research methods and approaches strengthens and amplifies the agroecological R&D agenda, including farmer research networks, options-by-context, data to information loops, and systems research thinking.