Insights from Colombia Field Trip: Trust Leading the Way in Collaborations with Funders and National Stakeholders

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As part of the CGIAR Science Groups (SG) Evaluations, Dr. Craig Meisner, Expert Agronomist, Ibtissem Jouini, Senior Evaluation Manager, and Marta Maria Molinari, Research Analyst, returned from a field trip to Colombia where they interviewed numerous stakeholders as part of their evaluation. In this edited transcript, they discuss their reflections with science journalist Alan Dove.

Alan Dove (AD): Let’s start by putting this trip into the broader context of the other field trips IAES Evaluation Function was conducting. How was this one planned, and what were you seeking to evaluate?

Ibtissem Jouini (IJ): There are three major evaluations ongoing right now, covering the three action areas of Genetic Innovation, Systems Transformation, and Resilient Agrifood Systems (RAFS). The evaluation methodology uses a wide range of data collection methods, and field trips were meant to deep dive into CGIAR work at a country level, bringing insights from those who work on the field as well as CGIAR national partners. We were fortunate because we were able to meet a wide range of stakeholders such as National Agricultural Research and Extension Systems (NARES), private sector companies, Non-profit organizations as well as CGIAR staff working in Cali. Then we complemented our data collection work in Colombia through remote interviews, especially with a few farmers located in other areas where we were not able to go. Finally, it was an exciting moment when Natalia Ortiz Escobar, walked us through the facilities of the Alliance center in Cali, especially the newly built genebank.

Marta Maria Molinari (MMM): We spent three days in Cali and three days in Bogotá, where we had the opportunity to hear different opinions and perspectives on a set of pre-defined topics to understand the extent to which SG work through its initiatives and work packages have been effective in reaching the planned objectives. For example, with external partners, the focus of the discussion was more about the quality of collaboration, added value, comparative advantage, communication, what types of results they reached by collaborating with CGIAR, and to what extent their expectations from the collaboration have been met.

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