In most cases, participatory approaches in agricultural research and development (R&D) are mainly understood as tools and methods used to better develop and introduce technology options to farmers. This perspective rarely takes into account the dimension of a whole system change towards ownership of local development processes by people. The authors of this paper argue that this conventional perspective of participation falls short of one of its main objectives people's empowerment. The paper begins by outlining the authors' view of what participation is and leading on from that, what doing participation in R&D means to them. It discusses the difficulties faced when teaching participation and soft skills, such as, communication skills and the ability to be creative and critical thinkers, at universities.|The paper contains two case studies. The first comes from a PhD training and research programme on participatory approaches and up-scaling (PAU) for students from the South at Wageningen Agricultural University and Research Centre in the Netherlands, which concluded in a workshop. The aims and impacts of the workshop are outlined, it also includes reflections on the impact of it by participants seven months later. The second case study details a workshop held for Makerere University lecturers in Uganda. It discusses the workshop process and the challenges the lecturers face. The paper concludes with key lessons from these case studies.
International Institute for Environment and Development