Novel ways of thinking about innovation and scaling pathways in Agricultural Research 4 Development

Marc Schut just finalised a small book with guidelines on how to use innovation platforms effectively: Innovation Platforms in Agricultural Research for Development. A decision-support tool for research, development and funding agencies on how to design, budget and implement successful innovation platforms.

Marc Schut: "Some time ago, I noticed that I was becoming increasingly annoyed with the Innovation Platform (IP) approach being opted as silver bullet solution in AR4D programs; especially for the sole purpose of disseminating (technological) agricultural innovations. I discussed this frustration with a number of colleagues working on IPs. Together, we decided to start working on some practical guidelines for project developers, implementers and donors to:

  • Reflect on whether innovation platforms are the most appropriate mechanism for resolving challenges related to the development of agricultural sectors and the well-being of communities within rural areas;
  • Determine and adequately provide the resources and enabling conditions required for effective innovation platform implementation;
  • Set realistic goals and objectives related to the innovation platform’s outcomes and how impact can be measured."

Seerp Wigboldus finished 2016 with an elegant booklet with Jan Brouwers called Using a Theory of Scaling to guide decision making. Towards a structured approach to support responsible scaling of innovations in the context of agrifood system's. It is part of a series of legacy products of the CGIAR Research Program on Integrated Systems for the Humid Tropics (Humidtropics). It structures key findings from earlier research supported by Humidtropics towards an approach that connects a theory of change perspective specifically to the question of ‘how scaling happens’. By doing so, it offers a way of thinking systemically and systematically about how scaling happens in the context of agrifood systems. This guide is a first step towards using a theory of change approach in the design, implementation, and evaluation of change initiatives that include a significant scaling ambition. Initial experiences were gained in research on scaling agroecological practice in Nicaragua, on scaling ‘green’ rubber in Southwest China, and on scaling the practice of cocoa farmer field schools in Cameroon.

Marc and Seerp will present the main messages of their books, and there will be time to ask questions and exchange views. We expect a mixed group of practitioners and academics.

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