Learning from the National Farmer Innovation Fair in Nepal, 2009

The first national Farmer Innovation Fair (FIF) was held in Kathmandu, Nepal, on 2-4 May 2009. LI-BIRD (Local Initiatives for Biodiversity Research and Development), the local NGO that coordinates the Prolinnova network in Nepal, organised this event together with several partner organisations, with support from the Prolinnova International Secretariat at ETC Foundation in the Netherlands. The FIF was timed to coincide with the Innovation Asia-Pacific Symposium (IAPS), which brought together almost 100 innovation practitioners and policymakers from the Asia-Pacific region to discuss issues related to farmer innovation and innovation systems (http://www.prolinnova.net/iaps/about.html).

Nearly 60 farmer innovators – both women and men – from all parts of Nepal came to Kathmandu to share their innovations and experiences. The fair was opened by the Minister of Agriculture and Cooperatives, who delivered a short but powerful speech on the importance of farmer innovators in ensuring food security in the country. The Minister, accompanied by a group of senior government officials and guided by Prolinnova-Nepal partners, took time to visit and talk with each and every farmer innovator who had a stall at the fair. Participants of the IAPS also visited the fair and discussed one-on-one with the innovators. Then the fair was opened to the public, attracting more than 15,000 visitors from far and near. Nepali students of agriculture served as translators to non-Nepali visitors; this proved to be an excellent way of exposing the students to the achievements of local innovators. With the combined coverage by TV and national newspapers, the news about the FIF and local innovation reached a far greater audience than only those who visited the fair.

The success of the FIF demonstrated the effectiveness of this mechanism in creating a space for advocacy and lobbying for farmer-led research and development. Prolinnova-Nepal partners reported that the event contributed to an increased interest in farmer innovation. The Ministry of Agriculture began to consider farmer innovators as catalysts who could help with the national challenge of food insecurity. Prolinnova-Nepal was invited by the Ministry to support them in compiling a national catalogue of farmer innovations in Nepal. Attention to the role of farmer-led research and development is growing, slowly but surely.

For more information, see: http://www.prolinnova.net/News/Nepalese%20Farmer%20Innovation%20Fair%20d...