Who Talks to Whom in Malawi's Agricultural Research Information Network?
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Purpose: The sector-wide approach currently dominates as the strategy for developing the agricultural sector of many African countries. Although recognised that collaborative agricultural research is vital in ensuring success of sector-wide agricultural development strategies; there have been few efforts to understand the dynamics of national agricultural research/development networks in Africa. This study fills this gap by analysing the dynamics of networking and interactions between institutions in the National Agricultural Research System in Malawi. Design/Methodology/Approach: The study sampled actors in the National Agricultural Research System in Malawi, which included the main public agricultural research department, academic institutions, semi-autonomous research institutions, private companies and international agricultural research institutions. Data was analysed using Social Network Analysis. Findings: Results demonstrate that public agricultural research departments play a central coordinating role in facilitating information sharing; with other actors remaining on the periphery. However, it also shows the important role other actors play to relay information to a wider network of stakeholders. These secondary information pathways can play a very crucial role in ensuring successful implementation of the national agricultural research agenda. Practical implication: Policy-makers are called upon to integrate other research actors into the mainstream national agricultural research information network. This is vital as other research actors are, at the global level, increasingly taking up a greater role in financing and disseminating research and research results. Originality/Value: The study contributes greatly towards knowledge needed for continuing the transformation of African agricultural research; and aligning the African agricultural research vision and practice with the emerging global agricultural research paradigm.
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