Recognising farmer innovation: the Phiri Award in Zimbabwe

In October 2014, the first Phiri Awards for Farm and Food Innovators were made to farmers in Zimbabwe. The award is named for Zephaniah Phiri, a renowned water-harvester and ecological farmer in Zvishavane District. In the words of Ian Scoones, who worked with him for several years, his innovations in wetland farming over 50 years earned him first arrest and then national and international recognition. The Phiri Award opens up a new chapter in advancing endogenous innovation in Zimbabwe.

WorldFish: Farmer-led innovation key to lasting change

WorldFish, the host organisation of the CGIAR Research Programme Aquatic Agricultural Systems (AAS), has made a podcast of an interview with Boru Douthwaite, the scientist who leads the research theme on knowledge sharing, learning and innovation. Here, he talks about farmer-led innovation as key to lasting change: https://soundcloud.com/worldfish/farmer-led-innovation-key-to-lasting-change

For those of you who are interested in reading more about the study on farmer-led research to which he refers, there is a PPT with key lessons and a 4-page paper posted on the Prolinnova website under www.prolinnova.net/content/farmer-led-research-featured-tropentag-prague ; the full study can be found under http://www.prolinnova.net/content/prolinnova-cgiar-study-farmer-led-rese...

Click here for the transcript of the podcast with Boru Douthwaite.

Prolinnova in CGIAR Development Dialogues

A member of the Prolinnova International Secretariat at ETC Foundation, Ann Waters-Bayer, took part in the CGIAR Development Dialogues on 25 September 2014 in New York City. This event focused attention on the vital role of research in crop farming, livestock, forestry, fisheries, landscapes and food systems in achieving the emerging United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. The Dialogues featured lively panel debates among research scientists, high-level policymakers, private-sector players and people from philanthropic organisations, academic institutions and civil-society organisations.

Farmer-led research featured at Tropentag in Prague

A study of farmer-led research, carried out by Prolinnova in partnership with two CGIAR research programmes (CRPs), was presented at the Tropentag Conference on International Research on Food Security, Natural Resource Management & Rural Development, held in September 2014 in Prague, Czech Republic. The study examined the documented impacts of CSO-facilitated “informal” agricultural research and development (ARD) in terms of food security, ecological sustainability, economic empowerment, gender relations, local capacity to innovate, and influence on ARD institutions.

International Partners Workshop 2014 in Cambodia

On 12–15 May, the annual International Partners Workshop (IPW) was held in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. This celebrated the 10th anniversary of Prolinnova as a global partnership. Even though some last-minute travel problems prevented participation of people from two of the Country Platforms, the workshop recovered from this disappointment and developed into one of the more intensive and productive IPWs in the past decade.

SOLLINKKA: SOcial Learning LINKing Knowledge with Action

A 3-year collaboration (2013-15) is underway between Prolinnova and the CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS) under the title "Social Learning LINKing Knowledge with Action" (SOLLINKKA). This fits into CCAFS’ theme “Integration for decision-making”, which aims at making knowledge useful for policymakers and ensuring effective engagement of rural communities in research. In SOLLINKKA, Prolinnova partners are engaging in social learning on the ground to demonstrate the value of the Participatory Innovation Development (PID) approach in strengthening resilience of farming communities in the face of climatic and other change, e.g. through:

CLIC–SR 2014 coordination & co-learning meeting

The Prolinnova Country Platforms (CPs) in Ethiopia, Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda held a one-day regional project meeting for coordination of and co-learning from CLIC–SR (Combining Local innovation Capacities with Scientific Research) funded by Rockefeller Foundation, USA. The main topics covered this year were:

1) Strengthening capacities in Participatory Innovation Development (PID)
2) Linking farmer innovation with science through joint experimentation and Local Innovation Support Funds (LISFs)
3) Issues related to monitoring and evaluation, partnership and policy dialogue
4) The way forward for the final year of the project, planned to run until August 2015.

During the Prolinnova International Partners Workshop (IPW) immediately after their respective regional meetings, held simultaneously, the CPs involved in CLIC–SR in eastern Africa and LINEX–CCA (Local Innovation and Experimentation for Climate Change Adaptation) in southeast Asia facilitated a joint session on enhancing community resilience to externally driven change, climatic and otherwise.  

Telling the Prolinnova story at Agrinatura Science Days

Susan Kaaria, FAO Senior Gender Officer and Co-Chair of the Prolinnova Oversight Group, represented Prolinnova at the Agrinatura Science Days “Growing together: family farming and agricultural sciences transforming world food systems” on 5–7 May 2014 in Vienna, Austria. The event was hosted by the University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences (BOKU) in cooperation with Caritas Austria, the Austrian Development Agency, the Commission for Development Research and the Vienna Institute for International Dialogue and Cooperation. In support to the International Year of Family Farming, it brought together researchers and practitioners concerned with smallholder farming and food security in exchange, learning, networking and exploring new research and higher education partnerships. Susan was a speaker in the panel discussion on small-scale family farming and, in a later session, told the story of transformative change brought about by promoting local innovation in the field, using an example of women farmers in Uganda.

Prolinnova option for bridging gap between research & farmers

On 7–8 May 2014, Ann Waters-Bayer of the Prolinnova International Support Team took part in the final workshop on the assessment study of demand for and supply of agricultural innovations for smallholder farming, hosted by the German International Cooperation (GIZ) and ICIPE (African Insect Science for Food and Health) in Nairobi, Kenya. Participants included farmer organisations, NGOs, private and public sector, international agricultural research centres, FAO, EU, regional agencies and GIZ representatives. The assessment in southern Africa was made by Brigid Letty, coordinator of Prolinnova–South Africa.

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