Friends of Prolinnova

After discussions in an Open-Space session at the Prolinnova International Partners Workshop (IPW) in June 2015, partners agreed to invite “Friends of Prolinnova” to support the network in improving multistakeholder partnerships, strategy development, fundraising and public relations.

This group complements and reinforces the guidance given by the Prolinnova Oversight Group (POG) to the network, without having the responsibilities of supervision and arbitration held by the POG. The Friends of Prolinnova comprise people who have, in recent years, made outstanding contributions to the network in terms of collaboration and/or advisory support and who would like to continue to add value through their particular skills and linkages. The POG has the responsibility to invite individuals to join the Friends of Prolinnova.

Here, we introduce the current Friends of Prolinnova, who then explain why they are Friends and how they feel they can best contribute to the network:

The guidelines agreed by the POG for selecting Friends of Prolinnova can be found here.

Bernard Triomphe, a French national, has a PhD in Agronomy and International Agriculture and works as a system agronomist in the Innovation team of the Agricultural Research Centre for International Development (French acronym: CIRAD). He has worked as a Farming Systems specialist since the mid-1980s, with a keen interest in the interplay between technical innovation and larger-scale innovation processes and systems. He has worked extensively in Mexico on and as part of multistakeholder approaches involving farmer organisations, NGOs, universities and research centres, local and state government, advisory services and the private sector. Action-research, farmer experimentation, local innovation, setting up and managing innovation platforms, ex-post and ex-ante assessment of innovation trajectories and building innovation capacities are among his keen past and current interests. Between 2003 and 2016, he was involved in several international projects on such topics across Africa. He led a consortium of European and African partners (including Prolinnova) in the JOLISAA (Joint Learning in Innovation Systems in African Agriculture) project funded by the European Commission. Since mid-2016, he is posted in Mexico as part of collaboration between the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation in Agriculture (IICA) and CIRAD on agricultural innovation and impact in Latin America, with an emphasis on empowering local stakeholders to take part in inclusive innovation processes. Bernard has already contributed greatly to Prolinnova by facilitating participatory development of M&E and process documentation of Local Innovation Support Funds (LISFs).

Contributions I would like to make as Friend of Prolinnova:
“I would like to help Prolinnova link up with farmer organisations and other civil society organisations across Latin America that may be willing to jointly develop initiatives around local innovation. I would also like to contribute to documenting such experiences.”

David Edmunds is a US American who teaches Global Development Studies at the University of Virginia. He has a PhD in human geography from Clark University and received a Rockefeller Foundation award for postdoctoral research at the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR). He is interested in environmental issues as they intersect with culture, social relations, politics and community development. He has worked in various countries in Africa and Asia, as well as with Native American tribal nations in the United States. Already for several years, he has brought undergraduate students to the Prolinnova International Partners Workshop (IPW), where they have not only learnt from Prolinnova partners but have also helped in documenting the IPW, and he has arranged student internships (out-of-university learning experiences) with various local, national and international partners, including Prolinnova Country Platforms (CPs) in Africa and Asia. 

Contributions I would like to make as Friend of Prolinnova:
"Prolinnova provides a good opportunity for students to interact with development practitioners and farmer innovators and their communities. I would like to improve our internship programme so that more students are exposed to this approach. I am working with colleagues at the University of Virginia to establish a Lab under the Center for Global Inquiry and Innovation, in which students can do case studies, collect good practices, make annotated bibliographies etc. This can be done with Prolinnova at CP, regional or international level. I also want to make it possible for people from Prolinnova to interact with faculty and students in Virginia, perhaps bringing partners to the university for workshops when there is good reason and funding is available. I am also hoping to arrange for other faculty members to mentor students in the field and thus also contribute to documentation and M&E with Prolinnova partners. I want to profile the internships and the students on both the university and Prolinnova websites in order to attract interest of foundations to support this form of learning. I am already in direct contact with some CPs which my students have visited and have skyped CP people into university classes in the USA. Chesha is the main contact in the Prolinnova Secretariat who helps make the links and prepare the students before they start their internship."


Elske van de Fliert ( is Associate Professor at the University of Queensland (UQ), Australia, and Director of its Centre for Communication and Social Change. She has a PhD in Communication from Wageningen University. She has been involved in research, development and teaching for over three decades, with substantial engagement agricultural (research for) development initiatives in Indonesia, Vietnam, China, Sri Lanka, Philippines, Mongolia, Kenya and Uganda. She teaches primarily in the Master of Communication for Social Change at UQ and supervises a substantial group of PhD students from all over the world. Her research focuses on the theory and practice of participatory communication in development and social change, and on transdisciplinary research for development. She was a member the Governing Council and Executive Board of icipe (International Centre for Insect Physiology and Ecology) from 2014-19, and has been serving on the Executive Boards of the IAMCR (International Association for Media and Communication Research) since 2016. She is on the editorial advisory boards of the International Journal of Agricultural Sustainability and reviews for a range of journals that focus on agricultural and rural development and communication for social change.

Contributions I would like to make as Friend of Prolinnova:
"I will continue to follow with interest the work of Prolinnova and share any opportunities for funding or collaborative initiatives. I will be happy to undertake reviews of documents or proposals, if and when needed. I can facilitate opportunities for (Communication for Social Change) students to undertake work placements/internship within the network, if useful and viable."


Marise Espineli, formerly Director of the Regional Centre for Asia in the International Institute of Rural Reconstruction (IIRR) in the Philippines, is now working with the Swedish Committee for Afghanistan in Kabul, where she leads the Civil Society and Capacity Development Programme. She has more than 30 years' experience in capacity development and providing technical assistance to development organisations on participatory management of projects, programmes and organisations. She has a particular interest in gender mainstreaming and in participatory monitoring and evaluation (M&E). She holds a Masters degree in International and Intercultural Management from the School for International Training in Vermont, USA, and is currently working on a PhD in Applied Cosmic Anthropology from the Asian Social Institute, Manila. For many years, Marise was a member of the Prolinnova International Support Team (IST) and also served as elected IST member in the Prolinnova Oversight Group (POG). As IST member, she provided support above all to developing Prolinnova’s M&E system and training and mentoring partners in M&E. She also co-facilitated international training of trainers in participatory innovation development.

Contributions I would like to make as Friend of Prolinnova:
"I will be happy to contribute to the Prolinnova M&E practice by making my experience and expertise available to the network in ways possible. I will follow with interest the work of Prolinnova and provide links to available opportunities for funding in Asia and specifically in Afghanistan.


Naaminong Karbo is a Ghanaian research scientist who gained his doctorate in animal nutrition in Moscow. He was Director of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) Animal Research Institute (ARI) from 2007 until his retirement in 2014. He now has a post-retirement contract with CSIR and chairs the Ghana Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security Science–Policy Dialogue Platform hosted at CSIR–ARI. He is a member of the Ghana Science Association, the Ghana Animal Science Association and the Ghana Society of Animal Production. He has designed and managed numerous research and development projects in the areas of mineral nutrition of livestock, crop-livestock systems, and climate change and food security. He has been a member of multidisciplinary research teams in Ghana and beyond, and has a well-established network with international agricultural research (CGIAR) centres, the West & Central African Council for Agricultural Research & Development (WECARD/CORAF) and the NGO community in Ghana, particularly through the Northern Ghana LEISA (Low-External-Input and Sustainable Agriculture) Working Group coordinated by ACDEP (Association of Church-based Development Projects). This multistakeholder research and development group started in the 1980s and later became involved in Prolinnova–Ghana, through which Karbo was engaged in farmer-led joint experimentation on mineral supplements of livestock before he took on the directorship of CSIR–ARI.

Contributions I would like to make as Friend of Prolinnova:
“I would like to contribute to the Prolinnova network by mentoring the new Proli-FaNS (Promoting local innovation in Food and Nutrition Security) project coordinated by ACDEP, assisting in strategy development and strategic linkages for the Western & Central Africa Subregional Platform and regional activities in Africa, and advising on how to strengthen farmer-led research involving research scientists.” 


Nalaka Gunawardene studied journalism in Sri Lanka and has worked since 1988 as a science journalist, broadcaster and development communicator in Asia. Besides working for mainstream media, he has been associated with several international agencies (e.g. UNEP, UNDP, IUCN) in formulating communications strategies and designing public education campaigns. From 2002 to 2010, he headed TVE Asia Pacific, which communicated sustainable development issues through audiovisual media and the Web. In 2011, he directed the TVEAP video series on the Prolinnova network ( From 2006 to 2015, he was a trustee of the Science and Development Network (www.SciDev.Net), which provides news, views and analysis about science and technology for development; he continues to write a column for SciDevNet. He currently works as a freelance science writer and communications consultant. He is a regular speaker or moderator at international conferences on topics related to, among other things, the public understanding of science and technology, social and political dimensions of social media, and communicating research to policymakers and the public. He blogs at and is active on Twitter as @NalakaG

Why I am a Friend of Prolinnova and how I can best contribute to the network:
“As a journalist and development communicator, I have often written about how a good deal of innovation happens at the grassroots level, which often goes unacknowledged. I have also been interested in approaches to sustainable farming with low (or no) external inputs. These two interest areas converge in Prolinnova’s, as I realised when scripting and directing (in 2010–11) a short video series on the network’s farmer-led research experiences in Asia and Africa. I also found that the Prolinnova network treats both credentialed researchers and farmer experimenters as equals – this is refreshingly different to the co-creation of knowledge and joint problem-solving in many other research efforts. 

Here are a few ways in which I can help Prolinnova:


Oliver Oliveros is Senior Officer in-charge of partnerships and international cooperation at Agropolis Fondation based in Montpellier, France. Prior to this, he was the Global Coordinator of the DURAS Project, an international initiative that promoted involvement of multiple stakeholders in agricultural research for development. He was formerly a Programme Officer at the Secretariat of the Global Forum on Agricultural Research (GFAR) in FAO in Rome, where he worked on partnership issues and in promoting local innovation and civil society involvement in the research process. Before coming to Europe in 1999, Oliver worked for five years with the Philippine Ministry of Socio-Economic Planning, where he was involved in policy and project evaluation in agriculture and rural development as well as is the formulation of the country’s Agenda 21 and Medium-Term Development Plan. He studied human ecology (University of the Philippines–Los Banos) and management for non-profit (FAO–John Cabot University Programme). He also attended the Geography programme at Université Paul Valery. He was former Vice Chair and among the founders of YPARD, a young professional platform on agricultural research and development. He has been a staunch supporter of Prolinnova since his involvement in developing the concept for this initiative in Rambouillet, France, in 1999. He was an elected independent member of the Prolinnova Oversight Group (POG) from 2007 to 2012.

Contributions I would like to make as Friend of Prolinnova:
“I am prepared to comment and advise on strategic documents of the network, to making Prolinnova more widely known among international organisations, and to help link the network to potential partners and donors.”


Peter Gubbels is a Canadian who lives in northern Ghana. He is the Director for Action Learning and Advocacy for West Africa with Groundswell International, a global partnership that strengthens rural communities to build healthy farming and food systems. He has many years of experience in rural development, including over 26 years living and working in West Africa. Peter provides support to action research and advocacy activities of Groundswell’s partners by strengthening the leadership and organisation of rural communities to build equitable and ecologically sound local economies and to engage in wider coalitions for change. He co-authored the book From the roots up: strengthening organizational capacity through guided self-assessment. Other of his key publications include: Changing business as usual: assessing development policy and practice in the Sahel from a resilience lens; Escaping the hunger cycle: pathways to resilience in the Sahel and Ending the everyday emergency: resilience and children in the Sahel. Before co-founding Groundswell, Peter was Vice President of International Programs with World Neighbors. He was raised on a farm in Ontario, Canada, and holds a college diploma in Agricultural Production and Management, a BA Honors degree in History from the University of Western Ontario and a Masters in Rural Development from the University of East Anglia, UK. As coordinator of the Rockefeller Foundation-funded Global Resilience Challenge project “Agroecology Plus Six” (AE+6) of Groundswell, he is collaborating with Prolinnova partners in West Africa.

Contributions I would like to make as Friend of Prolinnova:
“Groundswell and Prolinnova have a shared agenda and could explore possibilities to seek funding jointly. I am prepared to comment on proposals and publications according to the principles behind a transition toward more resilient and sustainable farming systems through innovation and adaptation, in ways that enhance farmers’ creativity. I will help foster cross-network communication for mutual learning about issues of agroecology, nutrition, equity and scaling, and would like to stimulate thinking on these topics, e.g. about how to promote equity with innovation systems. I could be a resource person to help with Prolinnova’s regionalisation process. I am committed to being a Friend of Prolinnova and will volunteer time to help in whatever way my experience allows.” 


Sabina Di Prima is a graduate in Environment and Resource Management from the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam (VU). As a specialist in sustainable land management at the Centre for International Cooperation (CIS–VU), she has been involved in various activities in the areas of natural resource management, rural development, climate-smart agriculture, climate-change adaptation, indigenous knowledge and small-scale farmer innovation, primarily in sub-Saharan Africa. As a teacher and supervisor of university students, she is particularly interested curriculum design and development of learning materials. While VU was part of the Prolinnova International Support Team (IST), Sabina backstopped work in Africa and also served as an elected IST member in the Prolinnova Oversight Group (POG). She co-coordinated the SCI-SLM (Stimulating Community Initiatives in Sustainable Land Management) project of VU in collaboration with Prolinnova partners in South Africa. She is currently working on her PhD at the VU Athena Institute. She conducts transdisciplinary research on nutrition-sensitive agriculture (NSA) addressing issues of food insecurity and malnutrition in Lao PDR and Vietnam.

Contributions I would like to make as Friend of Prolinnova:
“I strongly believe in the use of participatory, multi-actor and gender-sensitive approaches to promote equitable cooperation and knowledge co-creation. These approaches are deeply rooted in Prolinnova – therefore my interest in maintaining a close link with the network over the years. As a Friend of Prolinnova, I would like to contribute to the integration of farmer-led-research approaches into university teaching and learning by sharing knowledge and seeking relevant funding opportunities in Africa and southeast Asia.”


Susan Kaaria, Kenyan, is Senior Gender Officer in the Social Policies and Rural Institutions Division of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) in Rome, Italy. In her current work, she focuses on generating knowledge and methodologies for reducing rural gender inequalities in the agricultural sector and promoting rural women’s social and economic empowerment. Prior to joining FAO, she was Program Officer for Expanding Livelihood Opportunities for Poor Households in the Eastern African office of Ford Foundation. Before that, she worked for ten years as Senior Scientist at the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT) in Latin America and in Eastern and Southern Africa and played a key role in developing the “Enabling Rural Innovation” (ERI) approach. Together with Prolinnova, Susan co-organised the Innovation Africa Symposium in November 2006 in Uganda and co-edited the book that came out of that symposium: Innovation Africa: Enriching Farmers’ Livelihoods. She was elected independent member of the Prolinnova Oversight Group from 2009 to 2014 and was POG Co-Chair for most of that period. She holds a BSc in Agriculture from the University of Eastern Africa, a Masters in Agricultural Economics from Iowa State University and a PhD in Natural Resource Economics from University of Minnesota, USA. She has over 15 years’ experience conducting action research on community-based natural resource management, participatory M&E and participatory approaches for catalysing rural innovation processes and increasing access to and benefits from markets by marginalised communities, particularly poor rural women.

Contributions I would like to make as Friend of Prolinnova:
The Prolinnova family advocates for values that I strongly believe in: that men and women possess substantial knowledge and should be supported to play a central role in defining their development pathways. I am particularly keen on integrating gender considerations in policies and programmes, and in enhancing capacities for participatory innovation development. I would like to support Prolinnova in developing gender-sensitive training material that shows that involving women and men farmers in agricultural research is key.”