Brussels Briefing 34: Farmer-driven research

Experiences and policy messages from Prolinnova and various other initiatives – including JOLISAA (Joint Learning in Innovation Systems in African Agriculture) and CoS-SIS (Convergence of Sciences: Strengthening Innovation Systems) – were presented at the CTA Brussels Briefing on “Farmer-driven research to improve food and nutrition security” on 14 November 2013. This was co-organised by the ACP-EU Technical Centre for Agriculture and Rural Cooperation (CTA) Brussels office and INSARD (Including Smallholders in Agricultural Research and Development), an EU-funded project coordinated by ETC Foundation in the Netherlands.

The briefing raised awareness on the key challenges and opportunities in involving farmers in agricultural research and development (ARD) – and involving formal scientists in farmers’ own research and development. It brought several examples of promising approaches in stimulating and supporting farmer-driven research, including Local Innovation Support Funds (LISFs), Farmer Field Schools (FFSs), Participatory Technology/ Innovation Development (PTD/PID), multi-stakeholder platforms for joint learning, and community-driven agro-ecological research and development based on local social, economic and cultural values. Special attention was given to the role of farmer organisations in ARD.

These were the presentations:

– Promoting participatory innovation systems for smallholder development, Prof. Neils Röling, Emeritus Professor, Innovation & Communication, University of Wageningen, Netherlands 

– Knowledge transfer is a two-way street, Dyborn Chibonga, Chief Executive Officer, NASFAM, Malawi 

– Farmer-to-farmer services to strengthen institutional development processes, Cees van Rij, Agriterra on behalf of AgriCord, Netherlands 

– Local innovation support funds: experiences and lessons, Ann Waters-Bayer, Prolinnova, ETC Foundation, Netherlands  (a video of the complete presentation can be found under

– Successful participatory research by farmers through innovative Farmer Field Schools in Rwanda, Jean-Pierre Busogoro, Belgian Development Agency (BTC), Rwanda 

– Lessons from joint learning about innovation systems in African agriculture, Anne Floquet, Joint Learning about Innovation Systems in African Agriculture (JOLISAA), Benin 

– Promoting local innovation and participatory ARD: the role of women, Chris Macoloo, World Neighbors Regional Associate President for Africa, Kenya 

– Participatory technology development in support of artisanal palm oil production in Ghana, Charity Osei-Amponsah, Researcher, CoS-SIS Programme, Ghana 

– Women and young farmers as innovators in community-driven agro-ecological ARD, Bern Guri, Executive Director, CIKOD, Ghana 

You can view all the presentations and discussions during the briefing on the CTA webstream:

A reader of the topic of the briefing can be found under:

It includes readings on the following aspects:

·     Agricultural research: from provision of information to innovation systems

·     Agricultural innovation

·     Drivers of success for innovation

·     Local innovation processes: successes

·     Lessons learned and the way forward

For more information, see

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