EL BATAN, Mexico (CIMMYT) – In a blog published by the World Food Prize, Bram Govaerts discusses the need for integration between research and decision-making at all levels including the public policy levels.
“When it comes to influencing public policy for the benefit of farmers, consumers or the environment, most of us react like the average citizen overwhelmed by the burden of bureaucracy: We don’t want to have to do anything with it!”
“Our initial reaction as researchers is ‘I did not spend years studying in the university, (only) to draft budgets, answer urgent information requests or attend long meetings with government officials who allocate the money CIMMYT receives.’ ”
But in the end Govaerts recognizes that meetings to shape public policy in Mexico, Latin America and globally are essential, and is proud to do his part, whether by getting his hands dirty in the field or wearing a suit and tie and sitting through countless hours of official appointments.
“Take it to the farmer” was the admonition of the late Norman Borlaug, 1970 Nobel Prize Laureate and former CIMMYT scientist, regarding technological innovation, the day before he died. Govaerts said this call to action drives CIMMYT’s MasAgro project and the farmer adoption of related innovations, which by conservative estimates raise farmers’ incomes seven-fold for every dollar invested in the program.
Govaerts also knows that sensible, effective data driven discussions are a critical underpinning for this process.
“I do my best (in policy meetings) to offer innovation, better data and information that lead to sound decision making and help develop sustainable agrifood systems for improved nutrition, nature conservation and national as well as international security,” Govaerts explained.