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.

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).

Discussing promotion of local innovation with CGIAR CRPs

CGIAR Research Program (CRP) leaders, donors and external stakeholders met in late June 2013 in Montpellier, France, to discuss the CGIAR research portfolio. Prolinnova was invited to join the discussion on the “system” CRPs: Aquatic Agricultural Systems (AAS), Dryand Systems and Humidtropics Systems. The CRPs outlined their work and plans for setting targets and gauging impacts in reducing poverty, increasing food security and improving nutrition, health and sustainable management of natural resources. More details about the discussions and CGIAR plans can be found under Ann Waters-Bayer brought Prolinnova experiences into the discussion and was encouraged by the AAS approach to maximising local innovation capacity (

Partnering with CRPs to enhance local innovation capacity

Prolinnova was invited by Aquatic Agricultural Systems (AAS) as a CSO partner to take part in the presentation and discussion of the CGIAR Research Programs (CRPs) in June 2013 at the CGIAR Consortium office in Montpellier, France. CRP leaders, donors and selected partners discussed the Intermediate Development Outcomes (IDOs), theories of change, impact pathways and indicators of progress toward development made by the CRPs.

2013 meeting of LINEX–CCA partners

Members of the Prolinnova Country Platforms (CPs) in Cambodia, India and Nepal involved in the LINEX–CCA (Local INnovation and EXperimentation for Climate Change Adaptation) project supported by Misereor, Germany, met on 25 May 2013, before the Prolinnova International Partners Workshop (IPW). The coordinators Suman Manandhar (LI-BIRD, Nepal), Sonali Bisht (INHERE, India) and Sam Vitou (CEDAC, Cambodia), and Chesha Wettasinha (ETC Foundation, Netherlands) took part. The main issues discussed were: community perceptions on effects of climate change identified through the field studies; local innovation to adapt to these effects and how it can be supported through a process of participatory innovation development (PID); and capacity building of communities and local stakeholders to engage in a process of PID.

Fair and workshop recognises farmer innovation in eastern Africa

The EU-funded project JOint Learning in Innovation Systems in African Agriculture (JOLISAA); Prolinnova; the CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS) and the AusAID-funded project Food System Innovation for Food Security (FSIFS) held an international workshop on Agricultural Innovation Systems in Africa (AISA) in the last week of May 2013 in Nairobi, Kenya. Experiences from various institutions and initiatives were shared to gain a better understanding of multi-stakeholder innovation processes in agriculture, with a focus on recognising the role of smallholders – both men and women – in innovation. The workshop helped develop messages for research, practice and policy about strengthening innovation processes in smallholder agriculture.

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 International Partners Workshop 27-28 May 2013 in Kenya

The Prolinnova International Partners Workshop (IPW) in 2013 was hosted in the final week of May 2013 by Prolinnova-Kenya. Part of the IPW 2013 programme was devoted to sharing experiences on strengthening community resilience to (climate and other) change, e.g. from the new Prolinnova initiatives on this in Asia (LINEX-CCA) and East Africa (CLIC-SR). The Prolinnova Oversight Group (POG) also met in this week. 

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