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.

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."


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.”