Building up from the Gains: Lessons from and Improvements for Effective Implementation of the Community-Based Participatory Action Research (CPAR) Program

Quick Facts:

  • December 2018 to May 2020
  • Philippines
  • Department of Agriculture – Bureau of Agricultural Research (DA-BAR)

In 1998, the Bureau of Agricultural Research started one of its banner programs - the Community-based Participatory Action Research Program (CPAR). CPAR is a location-specific research cum extension activity which involves the verification and/or adaptation/ demonstration of improved farming systems technologies and practices to suit the needs and requirements of a specific micro-agro-climatic environment within a given municipality or province. It adopts the participatory approach to research and development process where farmers/fisherfolk are considered as partners/co-implementers and providers of key inputs and not merely as recipients and beneficiaries of the project. They are given greater responsibility and meaningful participation in the process of assessing the local situation/problems, identifying the needs/opportunities, and in the planning and monitoring of activities. The researchers, on the other hand, work with the farmers. They also act as facilitator, adviser, and provider of new ideas/technologies and other assistance/support. This approach provides a more collaborative and casual interaction between the farmers/fisherfolk and researcher, wherein the former, as experimenters, the new technologies/practices and the latter are able to understand better the real issues/problems at the farm and of the farmer/fisherfolk.

As of December 2017, 282 CPAR projects were implemented in 613 sites across the country. However, records show that there has been a decline in the submission of CPAR proposals through the years. The bureau felt the need to know the underlying reasons behind this decline in order to improve and strengthen the program.

Recent evaluation of projects also suggests that there are still some misconceptions about the concepts of the program. Hence, there is also a need to update and make clear the program logframe and expected outputs.

The knowledge and understanding of the project implementers about CPAR is one of the key drivers of success of a project. Therefore, it is necessary to assess the program, especially from the point of view of the proponents/implementers, to identify key lessons and challenges in preparing proposals as well as in the actual implementation of the project in the field. It is only through a thorough evaluation of factors affecting the project development and implementation that DA-BAR can inject interventions to help the proponents in their involvement in the CPAR program.

In general, the project will assess the overall program cycle of implementation of CPAR with DA-BAR RFOs, BFAR, and LGU implementing partners to draw lessons and policy recommendations for the improvement of CPAR. More specifically, the project aims to:

  • Develop the Results-Based Monitoring and Evaluation (RBME) Framework for CPAR using the Theory of Change (TOC) Model.
  • Disseminate knowledge and information generated in the implementation of CPAR through the CPAR Congress.
  • Benchmark the implementation process of CPAR vis-à-vis research programs in similar National Government Agencies, State Universities, and/or agricultural research and development institutions in Asia.
  • Develop a Policy Brief presenting the policy recommendations for the improvement of CPAR and update the CPAR Manual using the lessons learned gathered from the implementing partners.