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Enhancing systemic research & development in agriculture

At the 2014 IFSA (International Farming Systems Association) Symposium in Berlin, Prolinnova joined a contact group for continuing and deepening collaboration between IFSA and the CGIAR Research Programs (CRPs) on agricultural systems. During a Global Issues session in Berlin, participants re-examined Farming Systems Research (FSR) in the context of reform in the CGIAR system. The CRPs bring together the 15 International Agricultural Research Centres and other research and development partners in partnerships focused on major issues. Three of the CRPs explicitly take a systems perspective.

Enhancing & measuring capacity to innovate

In March 2014, two staff members from the Prolinnova International Secretariat attended a workshop on "Innovation in the System CRPs", organised by the CGIAR Research Program (CRP) Aquatic Agricultural Systems (AAS). The workshop was hosted by the Royal Tropical Institute (KIT) in Amsterdam and brought together mainly people from the CRPs but also a few people from universities and NGOs who are keen to understand, enhance and measure capacity to innovate as part of “Research in Development” (RinD). An important outcome of this workshop was agreement on what the CRP Intermediate Development Goal (IDO) “Capacity to innovate” entails and how it could be measured.

Strengthening Farmer-led Research Networks in the Sahel

The Sahel is an environmentally sensitive region and climate change is likely to worsen the situation. Farmers therefore need to adapt their agricultural methods and practices to the changing climatic conditions and their effects. Agro-ecological intensification leads to higher productivity and improved food and nutrition security without having negative environmental impacts. Formal ARD gives little attention to farmers’ own innovation and focuses on experimentation led by scientists. A new initiative under the umbrella of the Prolinnova community of practice seeks to strengthen and support farmer-led research networks in which smallholders take the lead in joint experimentation by farmers and formal researchers for agro-ecological intensification, building on local knowledge and innovation.

McKnight Foundation (USA) has provided funds for this project to strengthen farmer-led research networks for agroecological intensification in Burkina Faso and Mali – called FaReNe for short. Its objectives are: 

Linking farmer innovation with formal research: GIZ/CGIAR workshop

At the workshop on “The Innovation System of Demand-Driven Agricultural Research – Bridging the Implementation Gap” in Feldafing, Germany, in November 2013, Ann Waters-Bayer from the Prolinnova International Secretariat gave a presentation about  “Linking farmer innovation with formal research”, based on the experiences of Prolinnova partners worldwide.

The workshop was organised by the GIZ (German Agency for International Cooperation) programme Innovation Transfer into Agriculture / Adaptation to Climate Change (ITAACC), the Advisory Service on Agricultural Research for Development (BEAF) of the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), and the CGIAR Consortium Office (Montpellier, France). About 50 people from Africa, Asia, Latin America, Europe and the USA took part. Besides Ann from Prolinnova, her ETC colleague Marianne Meijboom joined on behalf of the EU-funded project INSARD (Including Smallholders in Agricultural Research for Development).

Brussels Briefing 34: Farmer-driven research

Experiences and policy messages from Prolinnova and various other initiatives – including JOLISAA (Joint Learning in Innovation Systems in African Agriculture) and CoS-SIS (Convergence of Sciences: Strengthening Innovation Systems) – were presented at the CTA Brussels Briefing on "Farmer-driven research to improve food and nutrition security" on 14 November 2013. This was co-organised by the ACP-EU Technical Centre for Agriculture and Rural Cooperation (CTA) Brussels office and INSARD (Including Smallholders in Agricultural Research and Development), an EU-funded project coordinated by ETC Foundation in the Netherlands.

Prolinnova participation in PAEPARD reflection workshop

In late October 2013, two members of the Prolinnova International Secretariat joined the reflection workshop of PAEPARD (Platform for African-European Partnership in Agricultural Research for Development), when the partners drew lessons from the current project phase (up to end of 2013).

PAEPARD is funded by the European Commission and is coordinated by the Forum for Agricultural Research in Africa (FARA) in collaboration with Agrinatura, a consortium of research and education organisations in Europe, on behalf of the European Forum on Agricultural Research for Development (EFARD). The project tries to facilitate partnerships between farmer organisations, NGOs, research and educational institutes, and private companies through capacity strengthening, providing information on funding opportunities, helping prepare research proposals that address farmers’ needs, and advocating for increased support for demand-led, multi-actor agricultural research for development (ARD).

Smallholders adapting to climate change: German seminar

In October 2013, at the Agrecol seminar on “Strengthening the efforts of smallholder farmers to adapt to climate change”, Prolinnova presented its experience in using locally managed innovation funds in Eastern Africa to stimulate farmer-led experimentation. The workshop – held in Germerode, Germany – focused on initiatives to strengthen rural people’s resilience to change by encouraging local innovation and adaptation in ecologically oriented farming. The participants looked at the potential of ecologically oriented agriculture to meet the challenges of climate change in smallholder farming, examining this within the wider legal, economic, infrastructural and organisational conditions that influence local adaptive capacity and initiative, such as formal research and extension, land-use security and seed policy. The Prolinnova paper on “Strengthening local adaptive capacity through farmer-managed innovation funds” can be found here.

CALL FOR CASES: EVIDENCE OF IMPACT IN FARMER-LED AGRICULTURAL RESEARCH IN DEVELOPMENT

We are looking for cases of participatory agricultural research processes that are driven and co-managed by smallholders, and supported by organisations outside the formal research sector

Joint learning in innovation in Eastern Africa

The Sept 2013 issue of the Baobab Magazine includes an article on joint learning in agricultural innovation in Kenya and another on social learning at the Eastern African Farmer Innovation Fair in May 2013.

Joint learning in agricultural innovation cases: Researchers are making advances in seed and fertiliser technologies, but creative solutions are also needed to improve market access, as well as to mitigate the impact of climate change among smallholder farmers. Africa’s ability to improve sustainable agriculture will depend largely on processes of interactive learning and innovation in practice … (Baobob 68: 16–18).

Social learning at the Eastern African Farmer Innovation Fair: Learning can take many forms and happen in many different places, not only – and indeed, not primarily – in institutions of formal education. A particularly effective way for people to learn is through exposure to something new and unexpected, which stimulates them to rethink … (Baobab 68: 24–27).

Indian National Workshop on outscaling farm innovations

Prolinnova-India attended a 3-day National Workshop on Outscaling Farm Innovation organised by the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR), the Asia Pacific Association of Agricultural Research Institutions (APAARI), and the Trust for Advancement of Agricultural Sciences (TAAS) at the National Agriculture Science Centre Complex in New Delhi on 3-5 Sept 2013. The workshop was co-sponsored by the National Rainfed Area Authority (NRAA), the Protection of Plant Varieties and Farmers Right Authority (PPV&FRA), Haryana Kisan Ayog, Bharat Krishak Samaj and the GFAR (Global Forum on Agricultural Research).

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