Piloting Local Innovation Support Funds under Thematic Projects

About LISF

Prolinnova has piloted a new mechanism to make funds for agricultural research and development accessible to farmer experimenters and local agencies supporting them. The Local Innovation Support Funds (LISFs), as described in IK Notes 85     (PDF: 33 KB)       and the 2012 policy brief (PDF: 193 KB), are managed and used by farmers and community-based organisations (CBOs), with initial support by local NGOs. The LISFs give farmers flexibility and independence in doing their own research that is relevant to solve local problems and that takes into consideration their values and knowledge, as well as in hiring external support to this decentralised research. The LISFs will be important to guarantee the long-term sustainability of farmer-led Participatory Innovation Development (PID) through the institutionalisation of supportive funding.

The first phase (FAIR 1 - Farmer Access to Innovation Resources) (MS Word: 59 KB) was one of 12 winners in the DURAS (Promoting Sustainable Development in Agricultural Research Systems) Competitive Grant Scheme. Under FAIR 1, action research on setting up and managing LISFs was carried out in Cambodia, Ethiopia, South Africa and Uganda. FAIR 1 was coordinated and managed by the Farmer Support Group (FSG), which was the NGO coordinating Prolinnova–South Africa. At the end of the pilot in early 2008, a synthesis paper was written drawing on the initial results, challenges encountered and ways of organising the activities in the countries involved (Prolinnova Working Paper #24: FAIR: Synthesis of Lessons Learnt (PDF: 1.21 MB)

FAIR 2 (proposal) (PDF: 195 KB) started on 1 April 2008 and was implemented in eight countries; in addition to Cambodia, Ethiopia, South Africa and Uganda, also Nepal, Kenya, Ghana (North) and Tanzania joined the initiative. This phase was coordinated by the Prolinnova International Secretariat at ETC Foundation in the Netherlands. FAIR 2 focused on improving the understanding of the functioning of the pilots and the effectiveness and impact of these LISFs as a mechanism to accelerate local innovation, with a view to mainstreaming the results and findings. It involved the following activities:

  1. Implementation and monitoring and evaluation (M&E) of LISFs in the eight countries: A comprehensive M&E framework was used to capture key findings across the countries and to document the process and results. During regular virtual as well as face-to-face meetings, all involved parties reviewed progress and adapted and realigned strategies.

Policy brief: LISF enhances local innovation in Ethiopia

This 4-page brief is based on the experience of Prolinnova-Ethiopia in piloting Local Innovation Support Funds (LISFs) at three sites in the south, centre and north of Ethiopia. It shows how farmer-managed funds for local innovation and adaptation initiatives can be handled effectively at local level, add value to production and enhance local capacities. It draws attention to major implications for policy in Ethiopia and offers suggestions to policymakers.

Scaling up Local Innovation Support Funds (LISFs)

This is a summary of scenarios for integrating complementary mechanisms for funding innovation by smallholders into mainstream agriculture development and research in Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya and Uganda - an output of the "transition" phase of FAIR (Farmer Access to Innovation Resources).

Prolinnova-Ethiopia FAIR3 Workshop Proceedings

Stakeholders in agricultural research and development gathered at the end of Dec 2012 in Addis Ababa to review experiences in piloting Local Innovation Support Funds and to discuss how this approach could be mainstreamed.


Synthesis report on piloting LISFs in 8 countries in Africa and Asia

The synthesis report on Farmer Access to Innovation Resources: Findings and lessons learnt on facilitating Local Innovation Support Funds has now been published by Prolinnova. It describes the process and results of the action research in eight countries in Africa and Asia to answer the following central questions:

  1. Can the LISF be an effective farmer-led funding mechanism?
  2. Is the LISF a cost-efficient funding mechanism?
  3. What could be sustainable institutional arrangements with farmer co-management?

It also brings the main results of the participatory impact assessment and draws lessons for scaling up this approach to changing the power balance in decision-making about decentralised agricultural research and development. Further information about piloting LISFs can be found here

Prolinnova-Uganda Local Innovation Support Fund (LISF) implementer’s guide

Prolinnova-Uganda would like to share her experience of piloting Local Innovation Support Funds (LISFs). The guide has been drawn from experience of four years (2007-11) of piloting and has been compiled to inform and guide institutions and organisations that would want to support innovation processes with such a funding mechanism.

PDF file: 754 KB

Reports on transition phase toward scaling up LISFs

The four Prolinnova Country Platforms involved in the transition phase to develop LISF upscaling models and strategies offer their reports on their various activities in 2012:

Ethiopia - Prolinnova Ethiopia annual report 2012

Ghana - Report on transition phase towards scaling up LISFs in Ghana 2012

Kenya - Prolinnova Kenya Fair LISF Transition Phase Report

Uganda - Prolinnova Uganda FAIR 3 Annual Report

Strategy for upscaling Local Innovation Support Funds (LISFs) in Ghana and Ethiopia

Under the transition phase of FAIR (Farmer Access to Innovation Resources), multistakeholder Country Platforms that have been piloting LISFs have analysed their experiences and have developed LISF models that they consider suitable for the specific context of their respective countries. They have also developed strategies for scaling up the LISF The first reports have been finalised - watch this space for more:

LISF model and upscaling scenarios for Ghana by Franklin Avornyo (Council for Scientific and Industrial Research – Animal Research Institute), Zimi Alhassan (Ministry of Food and Agriculture) and Joseph Nchor (Association of Church-based Development Projects) 

PDF file; size: 368 KB

Farmer Access to Innovation Resources (FAIR 2): main findings and lessons learnt in piloting LISFs in Nepal

LI-BIRD, the lead NGO of the Prolinnova Nepal network was the first to pilot innovation funds within Prolinnova. This idea was elaborated and nurtured through the Farmer Access to Innovation Resources project that was rolled out in several countries in the network including Nepal. The experiences, findings, challenges and lessons are documented in the report, Farmer Access to Innovation Resources (FAIR 2): main findings and lessons learnt in piloting LISFs in Nepal. The report also provides some pointers to how LISFS could be institutionalised through a national innovation fund under the leadership on the Ministry of Agriculture and Development.

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