Linking farmer innovation with formal research: GIZ/CGIAR workshop

At the workshop on “The Innovation System of Demand-Driven Agricultural Research – Bridging the Implementation Gap” in Feldafing, Germany, in November 2013, Ann Waters-Bayer from the Prolinnova International Secretariat gave a presentation about  “Linking farmer innovation with formal research”, based on the experiences of Prolinnova partners worldwide.

The workshop was organised by the GIZ (German Agency for International Cooperation) programme Innovation Transfer into Agriculture / Adaptation to Climate Change (ITAACC), the Advisory Service on Agricultural Research for Development (BEAF) of the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), and the CGIAR Consortium Office (Montpellier, France). About 50 people from Africa, Asia, Latin America, Europe and the USA took part. Besides Ann from Prolinnova, her ETC colleague Marianne Meijboom joined on behalf of the EU-funded project INSARD (Including Smallholders in Agricultural Research for Development).

The planned output of the workshop was a CGIAR–GIZ “roadmap” to bridge the gap between research and development. Ann was a member of the editorial team, together with Joerg Lohmann (ITAACC), Michel Bernhardt (BEAF), Piers Bocock (CGIAR Consortium), Sidi Sanyang (CORAF) and Patrick Dugan (WorldFish). In very animated interactions in small groups and plenary, concepts and examples of innovation processes, and how these differed from “technology transfer”, were discussed. The “Feldafing Principles” that emerged from the workshop stressed that investments in agricultural research and development should be guided by the following key organising principles to strengthen innovation:

  1. Recognise that innovation is an interactive process with multiple, complementary dimensions.
  2. Plan for scaling from the outset of an intervention process.
  3. Facilitate multistakeholder engagement, tailored to the specific objectives and research topics, building on existing networks rather than creating new ones.
  4. Focus on a demand-driven approach to research issues that considers the needs of different groups and gives particular attention to resource-poor and illiterate farmers and women.
  5. Create open communication and learning spaces as a facilitated two-way dialogue that gives equal value to contributions of different actors, allowing free access to knowledge and encouraging the sharing of information.
  6. Take a long-term perspective that allows innovation processes to evolve and mature.
  7. Provide incentives including strategic capacity enhancement for different actors involved in the innovation processes.
  8. Recognise the need to invest in research to understand innovation dynamics, including the complementary dimensions of innovation (see Principle 1).

The participants formed six working groups to carry out specific tasks over the next 12 months until the next Innovation Workshop:

  1. Operations research: Draw up a framework for operations research in the midst of ongoing innovation processes;
  2. Synthesis of documented experience: Synthesise existing outputs of capitalisation of experiences, to highlight promising practices and lessons learnt in agricultural innovation systems, including analysis of unexpected dynamics and “failures”;
  3. Capacity enhancement: Collaborate with the CGIAR Capacity Development group in identifying, documenting and sharing findings about capacity enhancement needs, strategies, services offered and existing resources related to agricultural innovation systems;
  4. Communication and knowledge: Continue the flow of communication and knowledge exchange on agricultural innovation processes and systems within the group of Feldafing Workshop participants and beyond;
  5. Donor dialogue: Facilitate donor dialogue around incorporating innovation thinking into project design;
  6. Scaling strategies in AATP: Explore and test scaling strategies within the context of the African Agricultural Technology Platform (AATP).

The pdf file of the “Feldafing Principles for Enhancing Agricultural Innovation Systems” can be found here.

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