Prolinnova 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/Facilities (LISFs), as described in IK Notes 85 and a policy brief, are managed and used by farmers and community-based organisations (CBOs). The LISFs give farmers a chance to do their own research to solve local problems, based on local values, knowledge and creativity. The farmers can also use the LISF to hire external support. LISFs are important to guarantee the long-term sustainability of farmer-led Participatory Innovation Development (PID).
The first phase (FAIR 1: Farmer Access to Innovation Resources) was one of 12 winners in the DURAS (Promoting Sustainable Development in Agricultural Research Systems) Competitive Grant Scheme. Action research on setting up and managing LISFs was carried out in Cambodia, Ethiopia, South Africa & Uganda. FAIR 1 was coordinated by the Farmer Support Group (FSG) in South Africa. In early 2008, a synthesis paper drew on the initial results, challenges encountered and ways of organising the LISF activities (Prolinnova Working Paper #24: FAIR: Synthesis of Lessons Learnt.
FAIR 2 (proposal) started in April 2008 with support from Rockefeller Foundation. It was implemented in eight countries – the above four plus Ghana (North), Kenya, Nepal & Tanzania – and was coordinated by the Prolinnova International Secretariat at ETC Foundation, Netherlands. It focused on better understanding the functioning of the LISF and its effectiveness and impact as a mechanism to accelerate local innovation. This phase involved the following activities:
- Implementation and M&E of LISFs in the eight countries: a comprehensive M&E framework was used to capture key findings and to document the process and results; during regular virtual and face-to-face meetings, participants reviewed progress and adapted their work;
- Capacity building of stakeholders at all levels including staff of the institutions involved and individuals/groups handling the LISFs at local level: this included in-country training in designing and managing LISFs and their M&E;
- Sharing results: analysis of findings in forms appropriate for dialoguing with other R&D institutions and policymakers; the FAIR partners thus sought to create awareness and gain acceptance of the LISF approach among relevant institutions so as to mobilise financial support to ensure longer-term sustainability of the LISFs.
The synthesis report on FAIR 2 can be found here. In 2012, again with support from Rockefeller Foundation, the Prolinnova partners designed their strategies for scaling up LISFs within their countries and documented their recommendations for facilitating LISFs, based on the experiences made during the piloting.
In each country, in addition to the coordinating NGO, associated partners from different stakeholder groups contributed to the design, implementation and monitoring of the pilot LISFs. After 2012, the LISF approach was incorporated into other initiatives under the Prolinnova umbrella and developed further. For more information, contact Ann Waters-Bayer (firstname.lastname@example.org) or the contact organisations for the involved CPs.