A conscious effort has been made to facilitate an inclusive and plural process of citizen deliberations on the governance and priorities for agricultural research. In each region a multi-actor steering group has been set up to co-ordinate and design the overall process of citizen deliberations.
The regional steering groups meet regularly to reflect on methodological options, tools, constraints, opportunities, results and consequences, and adjusts activities as appropriate. The method of choice is "participatory action research," i.e. a cycle of reflection-action-reflection controlled and decided by the steering group and farmers themselves (who are now becoming increasingly involved in this co-inquiry).
Rather than focusing on a single method (e.g. a citizens' jury), this action research combines a range of methodologies and tools from different traditions and locations, tailored to local needs and goals. These include:
- Participatory learning and action methods, visualisation in participatory programmes (VIPP)
- Participatory video (PV) and community radio as well as teleconferencing technology
- Setting up of multi-actor learning groups at different scales
- Scholarly studies for peer review publications and working papers (e.g. Transforming Knowledge and Ways of Knowing for Food Sovereignty)
- Farmer-led audits and assessments of national research programmes
- Links and exchanges with other regional and international initiatives such as roundtables, seminars and workshops focusing on agricultural research, the right to food and food sovereignty, etc.
- Methods for Deliberative and Inclusive Processes (DIPs): citizens' juries but also citizen panels, scenario workshops, future search, multi-criteria mapping, etc.
- Methodological exchanges between regions involved in the Democratising agri-food research project to enhance mutual learning and development of robust and well triangulated research process
- Policy and media dialogues at national and global levels to bring local voices into decision making processes and wider debates on the public good.
The work done so far in West Africa offers clear examples of how some of the above methodologies can be combined to develop a trustworthy, credible and rigorous process of deliberation and inclusion – see Democratising Agricultural Research for Food Sovereignty in West Africa