Prolinnova–Nepal meeting to strengthen network

At a meeting of Prolinnova–Nepal on 12 December 2022 in Lalitpur, 17 participants came together, including not only existing members of the Country Platform (CP) but also people from new organisations, as representatives of government institutions, NGOs, universities and consulting firms or as individuals.

Suman Manandhar, co-chair of the Prolinnova Oversight Group (POG), gave an overview of Prolinnova as a global initiative – its structure, mission and vision – and a summary of the participatory innovation development (PID) approach. He then presented the history of the CP in Nepal since its inception in 2004, and experiences and lessons learnt with regard to documenting local innovations, facilitating PID and implementing regional projects.

Sharad Rai, Prolinnova Asia Regional Coordinator, described the structure and function of CPs and regional platforms: how they are formed from within, how they are structured and what they are trying to achieve. This included guidelines created by the various CPs in the global network about minimum commitments to the network. He invited interested network members, NGOs in particular, to volunteer to take over the hosting of the CP in Nepal.

The participants made the following key comments:

  • The presentations clearly highlighted Prolinnova’s strengths and its importance at the country level.
  • Prolinnova as a network is a platform where members can benefit significantly in different aspects by learning to apply participatory farmer-led research and development approaches in their projects.
  • Local innovation can refer to coming up with a solution to a problem encountered or to make things easier, but it can also be open innovation that deals with any new product or process and is not necessarily problem-based.

Reflecting on the past experiences of the network in Nepal, members thought that:

  • This initiative should be promoted as a community of practice that is not necessarily project funded;
  • Prolinnova should not be considered as a single project, but its principles and approach can be integrated in individual projects;
  • The Prolinnova network gives its members an opportunity to strengthen their capacities;
  • Network members can engage with municipalities and local government bodies to mobilise available resources to promote local innovation.

Generally, all participants expressed their interest to engage in the Prolinnova–Nepal network. Noting that this is open also to the private (consultancy) sector, the Agro Tech Centre showed interest in integrating Prolinnova approaches (e.g. PID) into its work. The Director of Research and Publications in the Institute of Agricultural Sciences (IAS) at Tribhuvan University would like to collaborate within the network in developing joint programmes with other partners.

The participants agreed that more effort is needed to integrate the PID approach into government institutions. They thought that disseminating knowledge through academic institutions and demonstration centres could be an effective way to promote local innovation, and suggested collaboration with universities across the country to establish innovation labs that support farmer-led innovation.

The main outcome of the meeting was an agreement to develop jointly a clear strategy to make the CP in Nepal more active and vibrant. To this end, the following steps were planned:

  • the Prolinnova Asia Coordinator will invite and follow up with organisations interested in hosting the Nepal CP;
  • he will then organise a National Steering Committee to agree on the new host and coordinator of the CP;
  • the new coordinator will follow up with other organisations that show interest in collaborating within Prolinnova; and
  • s/he will hold network meetings at regular intervals for sharing, learning and joint planning of activities.
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