Thirty participants recently gathered at the Malaysian Agricultural Research and Development Institute (MARDI) training facility to complete a five day intensive training program focused on monitoring, evaluation and impact. Participants came from 17 different countries ranging from Pakistan to Samoa, and everywhere in-between.
The capacity development workshop was aimed at practitioners who work on agricultural research projects to build skills and an understanding of tools to improve their approach to monitoring and evaluation (M&E) and impact assessment. The workshop developed practical knowledge of effectively carrying out design and evaluation of a research project that can be used with key audiences and target groups.
The leader of the workshop, Dr Debbie Templeton, kept the energy high throughout the workshop to ensure an ideal learning environment for the participants, as well as passing on a wealth of knowledge, experience and wisdom. She also valued the input of the vibrant, energetic group. Dr Templeton was joined by Dr Andrew Alford and Mr Jack Hetherington, both of ACIAR, to assist in the facilitation and provide a depth of different experiences. Mr Hetherington was also able to take the opportunity to provide insight to the new digital data capture applications and evaluation tool ACIAR is trialling called MAD, which stands for Mobile Acquired Data.
The group used a range of projects that they are working with to create a complete impact assessment approach to assist in orientating, designing and evaluating agricultural research projects that can make a real difference to smallholder farmers' livelihoods. This experience will be transferred back into their individual institutions to improve the design and evaluation of a more comprehensive group of agricultural research projects, ensuring greater effectiveness and impact.
The group thought the workshop was very effective in building practical skills in monitoring, evaluation and impact assessment and will be used in enhancing the capacity within their research institute to improve project design and undertake effective evaluation. Using the impact pathway framework to formulate project design and delivery will be challenging, but the participants showed a strong commitment to use these new skills in the future. Although there was no spare time, the group was hungry for more information and identified a strong interest in continuing to build skills to improve the impact of effectiveness of their role in agricultural research partnerships.
It was also an excellent opportunity to build supportive networks, which assisted in overall knowledge development, throughout the Asia-Pacific that will be used in the future to continue to build the region's capacity to effectively undertake suitable evaluations of agricultural research projects.
The group valued the warm hospitality conveyed by their host, MARDI, and appreciated all of APAARI's efforts in bringing the workshop together.
Further information about MARDI and APAARI are available through their websites: