Changing institutional culture: participatory monitoring and evaluation in transdisciplinary research for agricultural development in Vietnam
Keywords:transdisciplinary research, development research, participatory monitoring and evaluation, Vietnam
AbstractAgricultural research in Vietnam is typically disciplinary in nature and determined by research agendas set by national priorities. This approach was not able to address complex issues of farming on steep slopes practiced in the mountainous northwest Vietnam, a region characterised by an ethnically diverse population with a large proportion living below the poverty line. To address this serious natural resource management issue within the complex socioeconomic context, The Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR) adopted a transdisciplinary and development oriented approach in a project conducted from 2009-2013. A transdisciplinary team involving a range of Vietnamese and Australian organisations conducted participatory research aimed at understanding all aspects of the existing farming systems and subsequently attesting sustainable soil management practices and finding suitable crops to diversify production. This paper describes the use of a participatory monitoring and evaluation system as the key method providing researchers with the opportunity to experience how farmers make decisions and manage the system as a whole rather than in fragments. This system also served as a mechanism to operationalise the transdisciplinary nature of the project allowing researchers and farmers to better value their own and each other’s expertise in their quest to develop sustainable farming systems.
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