Farmers' organizations and agricultural innovation: case studies from Benin, Rwanda and Tanzania

Edited by Bertus Wennink and Willem Heemskerk
KIT Bulletin 374. KIT Publishers: Amsterdam. 2006. 112 pp.

In its Agricultural Innovation Systems Series, the Royal Tropical Institute (KIT) has just brought out a new publication on the role of farmer organisations (FOs) in agricultural innovation. It is based on case studies made in Benin, Rwanda and Tanzania, made in an action-research mode together with FOs and agricultural research and development organizations in these countries. The study reveals the growing importance of FOs in bringing the voices of farmers into various fora on policymaking related to agricultural research and development, including market access and service provision. It also reveals the multiple sources from which farmers gain information through their organisations, but the institutional constraints that prevent farmers from fully playing their role as actors in formal agricultural innovation systems. It shows very clearly that agricultural innovation is a multi-stakeholder, interactive process in which farmers and their organisations should and can be key actors, if the other actors will accept them as allies in the innovation process. Best practices in this respect are documented.

Particularly the Tanzanian case studies will be of interest to Prolinnova partners. One of them concerns MVIWATA, the national farmer-led network that is part of the Prolinnova-Tanzania platform. The other is about MVIWAMO, a member network at district level under the MVIWATA umbrella. Both of these networks focus on organising collective action and learning as a prerequisite for technological innovation.

The study looks at how the role of FOs could be strengthened, including consideration of funding mechanisms that enhance effective participation in the innovation system ? with the emphasis on FOs? participation in decision-making processes about providing agricultural services, identifying issues for research and development, and orienting the agricultural innovation process.

The study can be found at this link: http://www.kit.nl/sed/wp-content/uploads/publications/908_Background.pdf