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:
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.