Enhancing Capacity for Innovation

A recent article at scidev.net argues that “agriculture needs better innovation, not technology”.  The authors suggest that part of the problem is what might be described as technological determinism:

…farmers’ capacity to access and use information for innovation has been overshadowed by the conventional view that change is driven primarily by new technology and farmer-led technical improvements.

A good example of innovation is the Purdue method: sturdy plastic bags and a short training enable cowpea farmers to dramatically reduce post harvest loss, which in some parts of West Africa accounts for 40% of output.  India’s Honey Bee Database – a collection of 10,000+ innovations – is the most comprehensive approach to sharing grassroots wisdom, one farmer to another.

The message here is simple: improved seed and market linkages are critical elements in building food security, but CG centers, NARS and donor-driven projects can enhance their impact by disseminating information on inexpensive and innovative techniques that have a positive effect on farm output and living standards.

Post written by Peter Bloch, consultant to CAS-IP

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