Thesis subject

How NGO's and farmers organise themselves around innovation

HORIZONT3000 is an Austrian NGO working in different sectors of development cooperation. The project Enabling Rural Innovation East Africa (ERI‐EA) engages six partner organisations in Uganda and Tanzania which support farmers in their efforts increase farm production and access better markets.

The Enabling Rural Innovation approach, which was initially developed by CIAT Uganda is a methodological framework for project activities. From the work with farmer groups and the partner organisations, several issues emerge that merit better understanding and that could be the topic of an MSc thesis.

1. Integration of participatory approaches on an organizational level (Uganda)
The ERI‐EA project works with six partner organizations across different regions in Uganda and Tanzania. Working with participatory approaches, such as ERI, is new to some of them but mostly appreciated as a different and more sustainable way to work with farmers. The thesis will study how those organizations implement the concept of participation on an organizational level and in their work with farmer groups. The level of internalization of participation as well as practical implications will be analyzed and presented in the thesis report.
Keywords of a possible theoretical‐methodological framework: institutionalization of participatory approaches, institutional change, discourse vs practice, espoused theory.

2. How farmer groups make innovation (Uganda)
HORIZONT3000 partners of the ERI‐EA project train a large number of farmers groups in innovating their production systems, access (group) marketing opportunities and develop farm enterprises. In the trainings, farmers set objectives and plan to improve their livelihoods and creating income from marketing farm produce. It is, however, not fully understood which conditions are necessary
for successful development of such innovations.
The master thesis may consider group composition and characterize group functioning (e.g. gender balance, socio‐economic characterization of members, food security, leadership and thrust, etc) as well as how, when and for what reasons the groups were established. In the next step the study will look at the influence of those factors and other factors on the participation of group members in trainings and the groups’ success in developing innovations.
Key words of possible theoretical‐methodological: comparative case study analysis, technography to understand how farmers ‘make innovation’, factors affecting group culture and cohesion, identification and roles of boundary spanners/brokers, the influence of ‘regime factors’.