The task of training is huge, while resources - particularly trained staff- are limited. Based on an extrapolation of data reported in an ISNAR external programme review, there were approximately 115 000 agricultural scientists in developing economies in 1990. All of these would benefit from an introduction to agricultural research project management, while about 10% would need the basics of research institution management. If one assumes 20 managers per course, it would mean 5 750 project management and 575 institute management courses. It is reasonable to assume that 5% of the scientists are new each year. Thus, just to meet the needs of new entrants, 288 project management and 29 institution management programmes would need to be held annually, even if there were no growth in the number of agricultural research scientists. The ten-or-less agricultural research management courses provided annually throughout the world, aimed at developing-economy agricultural researchers, is insignificant in comparison.
Besides the basic programmes, courses on specialized areas of agricultural research management, such as planning, organization, management information systems (MIS), evaluation, client-institute relations, personnel management, etc., are also needed. Programme evaluation activities have been shown to enhance the benefits of training.
Clearly, FAO and all of the other agencies active currently in strengthening agricultural research management skills cannot train all of the world's agricultural research managers. Even training the new entrants to the field is a job far beyond the combined capabilities of the few agencies involved.
The only feasible option under the circumstances is to train the trainers, in the expectation that it will have a multiplier effect. That would also help adaption of training to regional and country-specific needs. FAO has therefore initiated such training activity through preparation of this reference training manual, designed to be used as a basic resource by national trainers when structuring and conducting their own courses.