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From labs to farmer’s lots: mapping impact pathways for CIMMYT

How do CIMMYT research products reach farmers, and how can we make that happen better, more quickly, and more often? Those are a few of the issues that CIMMYT staff, with logistical and technical support from the Impacts Targeting and Assessment Unit (ITAU), gathered to consider at a workshop in El Batán during 11-14 December 2006.

“We got together to specify pathways for the 8 CIMMYT projects, considering the problems they’re addressing and the networks within which they operate,” says Sofia Álvarez, impact assessment specialist from CIAT who facilitated the workshop.

Outputs included network maps and diagrams known as “problem and objective trees.” According to Álvarez, the trick was to strike the middle ground between too generic and too specific. “We hope that people will be able to use the tools and methodologies they acquired here to go deeper into specific products for specific regions.”

Álvarez was particularly impressed with the fact that CIMMYT staff were so concerned about achieving impacts in farmers’ fields. “I thought it would be less likely for, say, scientists in the Genetic Resources and Enhancement Unit to be thinking about impacts. That probably has to do partly with the pro-active work of the ITAU, which has gotten them thinking about things that I don’t know if even other centers are thinking about.”