PTD / PID Circular – St Ulrich Group

The St Ulrich Group (see below) initiated the PTD Circular as an information sheet on recent publications, reports, training experiences and materials. Members of the St Ulrich Group with the ETC Foundation and ILEIA took on the task of compiling and distributing the Circular. Twelve issues were produced between 1994 and 2000, but shortage of funds did not allow continuation. In 2004, it became possible to re-launch the Circular under the new Prolinnova programme with funds from the Netherlands Directorate General for International Cooperation (DGIS). In view of the improvements in Internet facilities, compilation of the Circular ceased with No. 16 in December 2007. However, the earlier issues are still accessible and provide information on important publications and weblinks (focus of No. 15) related to farmer-led innovation, research and development, as well as an inventory of journals that publish relevant articles (focus of No. 14).

St Ulrich Group: community of practice in PTD/PID

In September 1993, a small group of people based in Europe who promote and facilitate Participatory Technology Development (PTD) / Participatory Innovation Development (PID) overseas and in Europe created an informal learning platform. This grew out of workshops on PTD that had been organised by ILEIA (Information Centre for Low-External-Input and Sustainable Agriculture) in 1988 in Leusden, The Netherlands; by LBL (Agricultural Extension Centre Lindau, now called Agridea) in 1989 in Mogelsberg, Switzerland; and by ETC Netherlands in 1990 again in Leusden. The 15 people from Belgium, Germany, Netherlands, Switzerland and the UK who met in 1993 in a former monastery in Garmany’s Black Forest, in the small village St Ulrich, decided to call themselves the “St Ulrich Group” (also known as PTD Forum).

Since then, the group usually meets – with somewhat changing composition – each year in St Ulrich or elsewhere (e.g. UK, Netherlands, France, Denmark, Belgium). We share information on our current activities related to PTD/PID, discuss related issues and try to keep each other up-to-date about projects and publications. Each person covers his or her own expenses to take part in the meetings and activities. We take turns in organising the events. The St Ulrich Group is completely informal; it has no office, no executive body, no membership fees and no membership restrictions. One joins (and leaves) with one’s feet.

Already in 1993, the St Ulrich Group developed the idea of “Dare-to-Share Fairs”: vibrant inter-active markets on participatory approaches, with open-space sessions for spontaneous discussions and happenings. These Fairs bring together practitioners from around the world to share their PTD/PID experiences with each other and to draw the attention of policymakers to alternatives to the conventional transfer-of-technology approach in agricultural research and development. The first such Fair was held in 1994 in the headquarters of the German Agency for Technical Cooperation (GTZ; now German Agency for International Cooperation, GIZ) in Eschborn, Germany, with financial support from GTZ. The second was held in 1999 in the headquarters of the Directorate General of International Cooperation (DGIS) in The Hague, The Netherlands, with financial support from DGIS. A third Dare-to-Share Fair was hosted in 2004 by the Swiss Development Cooperation (SDC) and organised by LBL. In the meantime, similar types of ShareFairs have become popular worldwide.

Between meetings and events, we communicate with each other – and with many more people who have not yet managed to join a St Ulrich meeting – via an electronic discussion list that is called the PTD-Forum. The group also collaborated for many years in bringing out a PTD Circular, a bibliographic update compiled and printed twice yearly to exchange and disseminate information on PTD publications, reports and other “grey” documents. This bulletin, which was mailed to over 1000 subscribers worldwide, was compiled from 1994 until mid-2000 by ILEIA and ETC Netherlands on own costs. Tighter funding and, therefore, less available time meant that the bulletin could not appear for four years. It was revived, however, from 2004–07 as the PTD/PID Circular under the umbrella of the Prolinnova (Promoting Local Innovation in ecologically oriented agriculture and natural resource management) initiative funded by DGIS. The soft copies of all issues, including the ones focused on the Top Twenty readings on PTD/PID (No. 13), journals in which relevant experiences can be published (No. 14), websites and web-based databases related to local innovation and PID (No. 15) can be found on the Prolinnova website under

Although the PTD/PID Circular is no longer issued, as it is now so easy to find publications on the Web, the annual face-to-face meetings of the St Ulrich Group / PTD Forum continued to be held – usually on the last weekend of September every year – until the Covid-19 pandemic, when communication switched to being completely online.

To join the St Ulrich Group (PTD Forum), send a message to Ann Waters-Bayer (

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