Prolinnova at CTA conference: innovation in agricultural extension

The experience of Prolinnova partners in piloting Local Innovation Support Funds (LISFs) was presented at a session on “Learning networks” at the international conference “Innovations in Extension and Advisory Services” held in Nairobi, Kenya, on 15-18 November 2011. The conference was organised by CTA (Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Cooperation ACP-EU) and GFRAS (Global Forum on Rural Advisory Services) to review current policies, thinking and practice in agricultural advisory services and to build a coalition of farmers, development practitioners and policymakers to meet the needs of smallholder farmers.

About 500 people from around the world, but mainly from Africa, took part. The presentations and discussions revolved around four major themes: Policy, Capacity development, Tools and approaches, and Learning networks. The Prolinnova paper “Farmer-managed innovation funds drive multi-stakeholder learning processes” highlighted how LISFs have been incorporated into the work of extension organisations, encouraging farmer experimentation as an approach to rural development. In the same session, Geoffrey Kamau of KARI (Kenya Agricultural Research Institute) and co-coordinator of Prolinnova-Kenya, presented a paper on how a farmer-developed innovation of growing millet seedlings in nurseries is being spread in an innovative way: “Adult literacy classes as a pathway for outscaling innovations: the case of finger millet in eastern Kenya”. Immediately before the conference, Ann Waters-Bayer from the Prolinnova International Secretariat took part in the showcasing event of the African Forum for Agricultural Advisory Services (AFAAS) and the second annual meeting of GFRAS. It became obvious that, with the rise of interest in agricultural innovation systems and pluralistic advisory services, Prolinnova partners working at the interface between research and extension are able to provide real examples of how innovation processes in smallholder farming can be enhanced.

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