We are looking for cases of participatory agricultural research processes that are driven and co-managed by smallholders, and supported by organisations outside the formal research sector

Prolinnova has been promoting farmer innovation and farmer-led participatory research through multi-stakeholder partnerships for more than ten years. Similar experiences of participatory agricultural research and development (ARD) by and with smallholders are largely in the “informal” ARD sector, with civil society organizations (CSOs) as the main facilitators. To gain wide support for such an approach, a major challenge has been in providing the evidence that farmer-driven participatory research and innovation processes lead to outputs and outcomes useful for a large number of smallholders and thus to significant impacts in terms of food security and sustainable livelihoods. Much of this evidence is hidden in the “informal” ARD realm – in programme/project reports, other CSO documents and websites, and more practice-oriented development literature, often not known to the “formal” world of agricultural research.

Such evidence becomes even more important now that the “formal” ARD sector is seeking ways to make its research more relevant for and accessible to smallholders and is seeking examples and good practice to learn from and practitioners from the “informal” ARD sector to partner with. The Prolinnova International Secretariat has joined Aquatic Agricultural Systems (AAS), a CGIAR Research Program (CRP), in making a desk review of such evidence from the CSO sector. We are making an inventory of three categories of farmer-led ARD cases: successful cases with (some) documented evidence; successful cases with no (or minimal) documented evidence; and cases that failed.

We are therefore seeking examples of farmer-led ARD which:

  • is/has been driven and co-managed by smallholders and is participatory by design;
  • is/has been facilitated and supported by CSOs (NGOs, farmer organisations, community-based organisations, informal farmer groupings etc)
  • has some documented evidence of impacts in terms of food security, environmental sustainability, social and economic empowerment, gender equality/equity etc as well as enhanced innovative capacity.

Do you have such experience and are you willing to share it with us? Please send us any documents or links to documents that we could use in this study.

Do you know of anyone else who may be able to provide us with such information? If so, please give us a name and contact e-mail address.

Do you have an experience to share but are doubtful of any existing documented evidence? Send us the information you have and we will include it in the inventory and see what we can find.

We are also looking for instances in which a farmer-led approach to ARD failed to deliver the expected impacts, as such cases often provide valuable lessons in going forward. Please send us some basic information on the case and why it was deemed a failure.

Even after the “official” deadline of this call (30 Nov 2013), we will continue to be happy to receive cases with good documentation of process and impact, to be able to strengthen the arguments to invest in farmer-led participatory research and development. Please send your cases to the Prolinnova International Secretariat c/o Ann Waters-Bayer ( and Gabriela Quiroga ( 

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