Prolinnova–Ethiopia is a national platform to create space and provide a conducive environment for recognising and enriching local innovation processes in agriculture and natural resource management (NRM).
It aims to scale up and integrate Participatory Innovation Development (PID) approaches in governmental and non-governmental organisations concerned with agricultural and NRM research, extension, education and training. Its overall objective is to contribute to enhancing food security, safeguarding the environment and improving rural and urban livelihoods based on sustainable use of natural resources.
It is an initiative of several organisations within Ethiopia that had been working in participatory research and development in relative isolation and decided to join forces in 2003 under the name PROFIEET (Promoting Farmer Innovation and Experimentation in Ethiopia). After making an initial inventory of organisations and experiences in participatory research and development in Ethiopia and holding a national workshop in August 2004 in Debre Zeit, Prolinnova–Ethiopia drew up an action plan which is jointly revised periodically by member organisations. Core activities include:
- Awareness raising and policy dialogue about local innovation and PID
- Documentation of local innovations and innovation processes
- Joint experimentation by farmers, scientists and development workers
- Capacity building to identify local innovations and engage in PID
- Participatory monitoring and evaluation
- Mentoring Local Innovation Support Funds (LISFs)
- Facilitating Farmer-Led Documentation (FLD)
- Studying local innovation in adaptation to climate change
- Integrating PID approaches into institutions of research, extension and education.
Implementation was planned in four agro-ecological and social settings in the country:
- Typical Ethiopian highlands (two areas in Amhara and Tigray Regions),
- Coffee-growing areas (including most of Oromia Region),
- Enset-growing areas (most of the Southern Region); and
- Pastoralist areas (the drylands inhabited by Afar, Somali and Borana livestock-keepers).
Introductory workshops were held to start off multi-stakeholder partnership at regional level. Research and development workers in these areas were encouraged to identify local innovators and to support farmers in planning joint experiments that build on local innovations and on innovators’ questions or hypotheses.
Currently, Prolinnova–Ethiopia is active in the “Typical Ethiopian Highlands” in Amhara Region (Enebse Sar Midir) and in Tigray Region (Axum area). In these two areas, there is a sub-platform composed of multiple stakeholders in agriculture and NRM, which is hosted by one of the members.
Prolinnova–Ethiopia has tested modalities of Local Innovation Support Funds in the Southern Region (Amaro area), Tigray Region (Axum area) and Oromia Region (Ambo area) and implemented a project funded by ActionAid to integrate the PID approach into the work of Farmer Training Centres (FTCs). With the initiative to Combine Local Innovative Capacity with Scientific Research (CLIC–SR) to enhance community resilience to change, funded by the Rockefeller Foundation, the community-based institution Alem Birhan in Enebse Sar Mider in Amhara Region also became involved. It is currently implementing the Proli-FaNS (Promoting local innovation in Food and Nutrition Security) project with German funding through Misereor.