Agriculture / Asia / Crop-Livestock / Event / Farming Systems / Humid Tropics / HUMIDTROPICS / PIL / Research / Vietnam

Condensing lots of information into a situational analysis report: think about key messages

Group photo of the participants of the writeshop to write up the situational analysis report of the Humidtropics Northwest Vietnam action site situational analysis, 25 January 2014, Hoa Binh Province, Vietnam (photo credit: ILRI/Aziz Karimov).

As promised six months ago, the Humidtropics situational analysis being conducted in the Northwest Vietnam action site is now ready to share its first lessons.

This preliminary research activity of the Humidtropics CGIAR research program has been coordinated by Steve Staal, Regional Representative for Southeast Asia of the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI). It has involved several international partners: The World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF) and Bioversity International. The bulk of the field work and writing up has been undertaken by Vietnamese partners from the Soils and Fertilizers Research Institute (SFRI), the Centre for Agrarian Systems Research and Development (CASRAD), the Fruit and Vegetable Research Institute (FAVRI) and the NGO Sustainable Rural Development (SRD). The draft output of the writeshop now has to be compiled and edited before approval and publication. We are hoping this will only take two more months.

At this stage, the main lesson I would like to share from the writeshop is that we faced a major difficulty in condensing all the information our local partners had gathered over the past five months into a report that is supposed to be only 50 pages long. After some trial and error, Steve Staal suggested that we focus first on identifying the key messages that come out from the situational analysis covering the development overview, agricultural production systems, markets and institutions, and natural resources management. So each lead author of these four report sections worked on distilling these key messages out of his or her data and presented those to the rest of the group. And once those had been approved, it was much easier for them to select out of their much larger draft report the key information and data they had collected which allowed them to back their different key messages while keeping to the 10 pages reserved for each section of the final report.

ILRI is also involved in coordinating other Humidtropics situational analyses. The CGIAR research program on Livestock and Fish is also finding it challenging to write up condensed situational analyses reports of its target value chains. So coaching authors to focus on identifying the key messages from their research would then allow all these situational analyses reports to be synthesized more efficiently. Short, well argued reports will be more convincing in determining, and finding funding for further research and development interventions that are relevant to local contexts of agricultural and livestock systems.

Jo Cadilhon, Senior Agro-Economist

Policy, Trade and Value Chains Program, ILRI

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