Announcing two new books on farmer-first innovation

Farmer First Revisited: Innovation for Agricultural Research and Development

edited by Ian Scoones and John Thompson, with foreword by Robert Chambers
published by Practical Action, London

Agriculture is an urgent global priority and farmers find themselves in the front line of some of the world’s most pressing issues - climate change, globalization and food security. Twenty years ago, the Farmer First workshop held at the Institute of Development Studies, University of Sussex, launched a movement to encourage farmer participation in agricultural research and development (R&D), responding to farmers’ needs in complex, diverse, risk-prone environments, and promoting sustainable livelihoods and agriculture.

Since that time, methodological, institutional and policy experiments have unfolded around the world. Farmer First Revisited returns to the debates about farmer participation in agricultural R&D and looks to the future. With over 60 contributions from across the world, the book presents a range of experiences that highlight the importance of going beyond a focus on the farm to the wider innovation system, including market interactions as well as the wider institutional and policy environment. If, however, farmers are really to be put first, a politics of demand is required in order to shape the direction of these innovation systems. This calls for a major rethinking of agricultural R&D, the boosting of the knowledge and capacities of farmers’ organizations to innovate, the strengthening of networks and alliances to support, document and share lessons on farmer-led innovation, and the transformation of agricultural higher education.

 For more information, contact farmerfirst@ids.ac.uk.


Innovation Africa: Enriching Farmers’ Livelihoods


edited by Pascal C. Sanginga, Ann Waters-Bayer, Susan Kaaria, Jemimah Njuki and Chesha Wettasinha, with foreword by Peter Matlon
published by Earthscan, London

Agricultural research, extension and education can contribute greatly to enhancing agricultural production in a sustainable way and to reducing poverty in the developing world, but achievements have generally fallen short of expectations in Africa. In recent years, growing economic and demographic pressures - coupled with the entry of new market forces and actors - have created a need and an opportunity for more interactive approaches to development. Understanding the existing innovation processes, recognising the potentials for catalysing them and learning how to support joint innovation by different groups will be the key to success.

This book covers new conceptual and methodological developments in agricultural innovation systems, and showcases recent on-the-ground experiences in different contexts in Africa. The contributions show how innovation is the outcome of social learning through interaction of individuals and organisations in both creating and applying knowledge. It brings examples of how space and incentives have been created to promote collaboration between farmers, research, extension and the private sectors to develop better technologies and institutional arrangements that can alleviate poverty. In 25 broad-ranging chapters, the book reflects cutting-edge thinking and practice in catalysing and supporting innovation processes in agriculture and management of natural resources.

For more information and to order: http://www.earthscan.co.uk/?tabid=27831.