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[ADDIS ABABA] Agricultural research scientists work in isolation, resulting in their findings not reaching smallholder farmers in the developing world, say experts.

They made the comments at the closing session of the 'Advancing Agriculture in Developing Countries through Knowledge and Innovation' conference in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, last week (9 April).

In contrast to other areas like medicine, agricultural researchers work in segregation from each other and most of their research findings end up being academic rather than practically applied, said Willis Oluoch-Kosura, a professor at the Kenya-based University of Nairobi's Department of Agricultural Economics.

Oluoch-Kosura said that in Kenya there was a large divide between theory and the application of knowledge generated from research and innovation in agriculture.

"Let us come out of our silos and work together," said Kwadwo Asenso-Okyere, division director at the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).

"We need integrated agricultural research for development," he added. "We need to put farmers and other users at the centre of innovative practices."

Experts also called for better representation of women in the food and agricultural industry, particularly in research and its extension to farmers since the bulk of farmers in the developing world are women.

The session also noted that knowledge creation should not just occur through scientific research. Farmers' groups and other agents in the agricultural chain — such as National Agricultural Research Institutes, higher education institutes, international research centers, the private sector and civil society — also play a key role in agricultural growth.

Kerry Albright, senior advisor on policy and partnerships at Research Into Use told SciDev.Net there is a need to change institutional processes and policies to reduce bureaucratic impediments to achieve effective uptake of agricultural knowledge.

Kwadwo Asenso-Okyere concluded, "We need to make research impact positively on poverty reduction and improve livelihoods of rural poor."