Mali’s citizens’ juries on the governance of food and agriculture research

In 2009 a project was launched in Mali to democratise agricultural research. Before 2009, food and agricultural research was largely thought of as the domain of scientific experts, with farmers at the receiving end of the research outputs. The new project aimed to bring both parties together and turn agricultural research into a service for farmers. Following a series of informal discussion between the two groups, two citizens’ juries were appointed. The juries were designed as safe spaces in which experts and experiential knowledge were put under public scrutiny. Two topics were discussed by the juries: the kind of knowledge and agricultural research that small scale producers and food processors want and how it could be democratised. Over 100 recommendations to transform food and agriculture research were made and subsequently adopted. A full report of the outcomes of the discussions was made available and the project received great visibility after the UN special rapporteur Oliver De Schutter published a report on it.