PRGPA Program

Welcome to the CGIAR Systemwide Program on Participatory Research and Gender Analysis for Technology Development and Institutional Innovation (PRGA Program).
The PRGA Program develops and promotes methods and organizational approaches for gender-sensitive participatory research on plant breeding and on the management of crops and natural resources.

The PRGA Program activities funded by ACIAR, Australia; IDRC, Canada; Danida, Denmark; The Ford Foundation; BMZ, Germany; The Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Italy; The Government of Japan; DGIS, the Netherlands; The Ministry of Foreign Affairs, New Zealand; The government of Norway; SDC, Switzerland; DFID, United Kingdom.

About the PRGA Program

The CGIAR Systemwide Programs

In recent years the CGIAR system has embarked on a series of so-called “systemwide” initiatives or programs, each of which channels the energies of international centers and national agencies (including research institutes, nongovernment organizations, universities, and the private sector) into a global research endeavor on a particular theme that is central to sustainable agriculture. The systemwide programs established so far are as follows:

Why Participatory Research and Gender Analysis?

The CGIAR has established a program that treats participatory research and Gender analysis as strategic research issues for a simple and compelling reason: If agricultural research is to achieve impact that benefits poor people, then it is vital that farmers participate directly in technology development. The participation of women is especially important, because their access to appropriate technology has a critical effect on household food security and on the well-being of children.

Over the last decade or more, the international centers have done substantial work to introduce a user perspective into adaptive research. This Program builds on that work but offers something more. It originates from recent evidence that user participation can be critical in the preadaptive stages of certain types of research. In contrast to earlier approaches to on-farm research, preadaptive participatory research brings users into the early stages of technology development. Users help set priorities, define criteria for success, and determine when an innovation is “ready” for release.

This new division of labor between farmers and scientists may dramatically reduce the cost of applied research. In addition, there is evidence that it can significantly improve the impact of research on poor farmers, especially women. But the evidence for this is patchy, and we do not yet have ways to replicate successful methods on a large scale.

This Program works to solve that problem by pooling the resources of numerous organizations in a common effort to accelerate the development of participatory tools and to incorporate these into research programs at a reasonable cost.

Our Goal

To improve the ability of the CGIAR centers and collaborating institutions to develop technology that alleviates poverty, improves food security, and protects the environment with greater equity.

Our Objective

To assess and develop methodologies and organizational innovations for Gender-sensitive participatory research and to promote their use in plant breeding and in crop and natural resource management.

Program Strategy

The PRGA Program’s goal will be accomplished through capacity building and collaborative research to disseminate sound use of methodologies and organizational innovations for Gender-sensitive participatory research in the CGIAR Centers. The Program operationalizes the use of participatory approaches, methodologies and organizational innovations in plant breeding and crop, livestock and natural resource management through three main areas: organizational innovation and partnership; collaborative empirical studies; capacity building and information dissemination.

The following is a brief description of the most important facets of the strategy.

Mainstreaming Program outputs. Mainstreaming the Program’s outputs is critical to its success. Client-oriented research and development require skillful interactions between researchers and end-users of technology to ensure that innovations are appropriate and rapid adoption occurs.

Partnerships based on collaborative advantage. Given the complexity of the research problems, the program has been designed to be implemented through interinstitutional collaboration. The principles guiding these partnerships were developed by a special task force at the Systemwide Planning Meeting. There will be decentralized partnerships among IARCs, NARIs, NGOs and GROs. The methods will be introduced into ongoing PB and/or NRM projects, consistent with their priorities. Emphasis is on horizontal arrangements where collaborative advantages are sought. The creation of synergy between/among collaborators who produce something new together, is achieved by working to accomplish what no organization can do on its own.

Gender analysis. Use of Gender analysis as a research tool is basic to technology development aimed at poverty alleviation of severely disadvantaged social groups-especially in the case of poor rural women. The Program’s strategy is to promote the use of Gender analysis, not only to understand the implications of women’s existing roles and responsibilities in agriculture and NRM for technology development and institutional innovation, but also to identify new opportunities for innovation that involve a concomitant change in their status.

Capacity building. Building capacity to use Gender analysis and participatory research approaches is basic to technology development and institutional innovations that benefit disadvantaged rural groups, especially women. This can be done effectively through a learning-process approach designed to critique and assess the use of these approaches rigorously and to generate knowledge on when, where and how it is appropriate to use them. Capacity building aims to provide skills and concepts needed to carry out this critical assessment.

Information dissemination and public awareness. An important part of mainstreaming is the dissemination of results through international workshops, publications and electronic conferencing to a broad audience that includes all those partners who need to have a critical appreciation of the dimensions of appropriate use and the results that can be realistically expected. This audience-the stakeholders in IARC research results-includes donors, research managers, scientists, development practitioners and farmers. To reach these stakeholders; effectively, the Program promotes awareness and use of participatory research and Gender analysis as valuable scientific tools.

Research Outputs

The main outputs of our research are tools for participatory research and Gender analysis that can be used within and beyond the CGIAR. The tools listed below are products of rigorous empirical research, integrated with strategic and applied work on technology development.

  1. Methods for farmer participation in plant breeding
  2. Methods for participatory research on natural resource management
  3. Strategies for incorporating Gender-sensitive participatory methods into research
  4. Organizational innovations for institutionalizing participatory approaches
  5. Innovative approaches to strengthening capacity for participatory research and Gender analysis
  6. New partnerships among international agricultural research centers, national research systems, nongovernment organizations (NGOs), and farmer associations that accelerate learning about participatory research and Gender analysis

Program Organization

The Program is cosponsored by CIAT and three other international centers:

The research program outlined above is being carried out through a decentralized partnership among practitioners of participatory research. These include international centers, national institutes, NGOs, and other grassroots organizations. Together with donors, they are the principal stakeholders of the Program.

Practitioners introduce participatory methods into ongoing plant breeding or natural resource management projects, following a common strategy and work plan for comparing experiences.

Toward this end practitioners from the biophysical and social sciences take part in two working groups:

The Program also has a planning group composed of eight elected members:

The Program’s work plan is carried out through projects submitted by working group participants and screened by the planning group for consistency with program guidelines.

Scientific Staff

Dr. Jacqueline Ashby
Director of Research, Natural Resource Management CIAT

Coordinator, PRGA Program
Dr. Marķa Fernandez

Senior Scientist, Facilitator of the Natural Resources Management Working Group, PRGA Program
Dr. Barun Gurung

Post-doctoral Fellow, NRM & PPB Asia, PRGA Program
Dr. Nina Lilja

Senior Scientist, Monitoring and Evaluation Specialist, PRGA Program
Dr. Louise Sperling

Senior Scientist, Facilitator of the Participatory Plant Breeding Working Group, PRGA Program
Kirsten Probst

Research Fellow, PRGA Program, University of Hohenheim, Germany
Nadine Saad

Visiting Researcher working in PPB in Latin America and the Caribbean, PRGA Program
Pascal Sanginga
Research Fellow, PRGA Program, CIAT - Africa


Kathryn B. Laing
Assistant Coordinator, PRGA Program

Maruja Rubiano
Secretary, PRGA Program

Participatory Plant Breeding

Smith, M., E. Weltzein, L. Meitzner & L. Sperling. Technical and Institutional Issues in Participatory Plant Breeding from the Perspective of Formal Plant Breeding. A Global Analysis of Issues, Results, and Current Experience (en savoir plus >>)


Partnership Strategy

Partnerships based on collaborative advantage.

Given the complexity of the research problems, the program has been designed to be implemented through inter-institutional collaboration. The basic points guiding these partnerships were developed by a special task force at the Systemwide Planning Meeting.

The principles for successful partnerships adopted by the Program are:


Mainstreaming Program Outputs.

Mainstreaming the Program’s outputs is critical to its success. Client-oriented research and development require skillful interactions between researchers and end-users of technology to ensure that innovations are appropriate and rapid adoption occurs. Mainstreaming the use of participatory research and Gender analysis will have been achieved if these research approaches and principles are:

Critical factors for successful mainstreaming:

  1. Convincing evidence of impact
  2. Appropriate tools and methods
  3. Timely information
  4. Building a learning process for scaling up
    1. Learning cases
    2. Informal network
    3. Small groups of innovators
    4. Training over time
    5. Monitoring and evaluation
  5. Full integration of Gender
  6. Time and donor support
    Sources of critical factor for successful mainstreaming: CIDA (1997); Philippines (1997); Zimbabwe (1995); UNDP, World Bank, ILO (1995); Sri Lanka, Kenya (1995); DfID (1998); GTZ (1998); World Bank (1998).

Box 2. Partnerships for Innovation






Himalayan Network
LI-BIRD, Nepal

Latin America



PRGA Projects

Projects funded under the PRGA Program’s as an integral part of its annual research agenda.

Assessing the Benefits of Rural Women’s Participation in NRM Research and Capacity Building
Donor: The German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ)
Duration: 3 years (1998 - 2000)
Total budget: US $1.4 million
CG Center: CIAT
BMZ Project proposal (.pdf)

Improving Technology Development through Gender Analysis
Donor: International Development Research Centre (IDRC), Canada
Duration: 3 years (1997-1999)
Total funding: US $596,000
CG Center: CIAT

Farmers and Scientists: Building a Partnership for Improving Rainfed Rice
Donor: International Development Research Centre (IDRC), Canada
Duration: 3 years (1997-1999)
Total funding: US $
CG Center: IRRI
Annual Report 1997
Annual Report 1998

Institutionalizing the Use of Participatory Approaches and Gender Analysis in Research on Natural Resource Management to Improve Rural Livelihoods
Donor: Ford Foundation
Duration: 3 years (1999-2001)
Total funding: US $1.2 million
CG Center: CIAT

Participatory Plant Breeding and Property Rights

Donor: IDRC
Duration: 18 months (1999 - 2000)
Total funding: US $45,000
CG Center: CIAT

Small Grants Funds

The PRGA Program offers research grants to the Plant Breeding Working Group (PBG) and Natural Resource Management Working Group (NRMG) members. These funds are intended to co-finance either ongoing projects or projects developed to execute the Program’s workplan. See the small grant summary tables (PBG and NRMG) and review each project’s proposal submission for more in depth information on these grants. Research grants are given to competitively selected projects submitted according to a call for proposals and submission guidelines developed by the PRGA Program.

Affiliated Projects

Summary of PRGA Program’s Partnerships

Collaborating Institution, Program or Project
Description of collaboration


TSBF Patrick Sikana Participatory NRM
SWNM Richard Thomas Participatory NRM
DfID project – Ethiopia, Tanzania, Malawi (CIAT Africa project) Louise Sperling,
Roger Kirkby PPB project – PRGA as co-implementers
AHI (ICRAF), Uganda Ann Stroud Research fellow and NRM small grant
IES, Zimbabwe Edward Chuma Research fellow and NRM small grant
ILRI, Ethiopia M.A. Mohamed Saleem NRM small grant
CIMMYT, Kenya Andreas Oswald NRM small grant
IPGRI, West Africa Mikkel Grum PBG small grant
ICARDA, Yemen Salvatore Ceccarelli PBG small grant
WARDA, Ivory Coast Nina Lilja, Monty Jones Capacity-building commitments
ICARDA, Syria Salvatore Ceccarelli,
Stefania Grando Capacity-building commitments

Latin America

CIAT Pucallpa work Peter Kerridge, Doug White, Dean Holland Participatory research ?
CIAT Central America Jose Ignacio Sanz,
Kirsten Probst Research fellow – Participatory M&E
DfID project – North Coast Colombia (CIAT Cassava project – CORPOICA) Louise Sperling, Hernan Ceballos, Luis Alfredo Hernandez, Antonio Lopez PPB project – PRGA as co-implementers
DIP Group, Mexico (DfID) Simon Anderson DfID-funded affiliated project (NRM)
EAP-Zamorano, Honduras Juan Carlos Rosas PBG small grant
EMBRAPA/CNPMF, Brazil Wania Fukuda PBG small grant
CORPOICA, Colombia Antonio Jose Lopez Ph.D. dissertation research in PPB
U. of Arizona, Mexico site Daniela Soleri PBG small grant
FIDAR, Colombia Jose Restrepo PBG small grant
PROINPA, Bolivia Julio Gabriel PBG small grant
INIAP, Ecuador Hector Andrade PBG small grant
CIP, Perú Oscar Ortiz NRM small grant


Himalayan Network Barun Gurung IDRC-funded network
UPWARD, Philippines Dindo Campilan NRM
IPGRI on farm conservation Bhuwon Sthapit PPB
LI-BIRD, Nepal Anil Subedi PBG small grant
CIFOR, Indonesia Cynthia McDougall NRM small grant
CIMMYT, Nepal Larry Harrington, Joel Ransom, Scott Justice Capacity-building commitments