The National Agricultural Research Institute (INIA) is a public, agricultural research institution located in Uruguay. Regional Advisory Councils (RACs) were created in 1990 as a participatory and collaborative mechanism to involve stakeholders in the planning and prioritization of the agricultural research agenda. This study was conducted to assess council members’ perception about their selection process, representation, linkages with farmer organization, major barriers for appropriate functioning, areas of responsibilities, and relevance of the councils.
Findings indicate that the RAC are relevant mechanisms in guiding research and in providing linkages between research staff and stakeholders. Although almost half (46%) of the members were selected by INIA, there was a genuine representation of the major farmer and agricultural organizations at the councils. Lack of prior knowledge of RAC meeting purposes, lack of timely communication, and extended length of council members’ services were reported as major procedural barriers. Respondents also indicated as important barriers for a better performance the low turnover of council members and involvement of young people.
Keywords: Advisory councils, participation, needs assessment, stakeholders, commodity groups