Prolinnova in grassroots convening on technological innovation

Prolinnova participated in an international convening on grassroots technological innovations for agroecology in Italy on 18–21 October 2023, organised by Farm Hack, Schola Campesina and Cooperative for ecological local agriculture (CAPE) with support from the 11th Hour Project. The convention was held in Gallese, 60 km from Rome, and was attended by representatives from non-governmental organisations, farmer organisations and universities from Belgium, Brazil, Canada, France, Germany, Greece, India, Indonesia, Italy, Kenya and USA. Makonge Righa, the Program Officer for Africa at World Neighbors (host organisation of Prolinnova–Kenya), represented the international Prolinnova network in the convening.

The convening was to promote grassroots technologies, those that are developed by farmers including workers in local food and agricultural systems. These are technological innovations used in small-scale farming systems and are adaptable and accessible by other farmers, incorporate local knowledge and are culturally appropriate, enable self-empowerment of farmers and food system workers and support local economies. This creates technological sovereignty where small-scale farmers design and build tools and technologies that are socially, economic and environmentally sound. This, in essence, contributes to agroecological systems that protect and strengthen farmers and their communities.

During the convening, interactive sessions were held that discussed various issues, key being the grassroots innovation process, different forms of documentation of innovations, intellectual property rights and use of open source approach for grassroots innovations, and recognising institutions that support grassroots technologies. There was also an online discussion between the participants and other agricultural research and development actors on issues around grassroots innovation.

The convening agreed on developing a network of organisations that promote grassroots technologies. To facilitate formation of the network, the convening formed working groups on developing the charter of the convening, developing governance structures, identifying institutions that promote grassroots innovation, and planning for the next convention. Prolinnova is actively involved in the Charter Working Group and will be part of the network and use it as a platform for promoting local innovation and the Participatory Innovation Development (PID) approach.

Report by Makonge Righa, World Neighbors, Prolinnova–Kenya

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