Innovation systems: Towards Effective Strategies in support of Smallholder Farmers

Innovation systems: Towards Effective Strategies in support of Smallholder Farmers

Innovation systems: Towards effective strategies in support of smallholder farmers
Francis, J.; Mytelka, L.; van Huis, A.; Röling, N.
2016 CTA; CoS; Wageningen University and Research, 256 pages

The result of an expert consultation, this publication examines ‘innovations systems’ – a concept suggested as underpinning industrial development – as a strategy for agricultural development. Innovation systems approaches conceptualise change as a long-term, socially-embedded process, and recognise the important role policy plays in shaping the parameters within which decisions are made. Providing a collection of papers and commentaries from the world’s top scholars and practitioners, this book looks at the strengths – but also the weaknesses and challenges – of the innovations systems approach and how it may be applied to benefit smallholder farmers.

Introduction – Why Focus on Innovation Systems: Implications for Research and Policy Judith Ann Francis and Arnold van Huis


  1. Chapter 1. Innovation Systems and Agriculture: Going Beyond Research for Increasing Yields – Merle Jacob
  2. Chapter 2. Innovation Systems Approaches to Agriculture and Rural Development – John Ouma-Mugabe
  3. Chapter 3. Innovation Systems Approaches in a Time of Transition – Lynn Mytelka
  4. Chapter 4. What is Systemic about Innovation Systems? The Implications for Policies, Governance and Institutionalization – Ray Ison
  5. Chapter 5. The Use of Innovation Systems in a Technology Development Programme: The Case of Research Into Use (RIU) – Norman Clark
  6. Chapter 6. Building Innovation Capacity of Local Actors: The Case of the Chilean and Argentine Wine Industries – Fulvia Farinelli
  7. Chapter 7. Innovation Systems and Capability Building among Smallholder Farmers: Lessons and Insights from Kenya’s Flower Farmers – Maurice Bolo
  8. Chapter 8. Political Power in Innovation Systems: Smallholder Sustainable Intensification and Rural Mechanization – Stephen Biggs and Scott Justice
  9. Chapter 9. The Uses of Research: Action Researching in and Across Nine Agro-Enterprise Domains. The Experience of the Convergence of Sciences-Strengthening Innovation Systems Programme in Benin, Ghana and Mali – Janice Jiggins, G. Essegbey, L. Klerkx, A. van Paassen, R. Pyburn and R. Tossou
  10. Chapter 10. Research and Experimentation in Support of Artisanal Palm Oil Production in Ghana – Charity Osei-Amponsah
  11. Chapter 11. Innovation Platform and Pricing Policies: The Case of Cocoa in Ghana – Richard Adu-Acheampong, E. Tei-Quartey, W. Jonfia-Essien, M. Owusu-Manu, M.S.N.K. Addo, K. Ofori-Frimpong, P. Osei-Fosu, M. Amuzu, C. Afari-Mintah, N. N. Eku-X, E.T.N. Quarshie and F. Otu Acquah
  12. Chapter 12. The Theory of Change Underlying the Efficiency of Agricultural Innovation Platforms (IPs): The Case of the Thyolo Vegetable IP in Malawi – Adewale Adekunle, A.O. Fatunbi and N. Kefasi
  13. Chapter 13. Innovation Platforms for Smallholders in Maize and Cassava Value Chains: DONATA’s Experiences in West and Central Africa – Sidi Sanyang, S.J.B. Taonda, J. Kuiseu and A. Kafando
  14. Chapter 14. Making Sense of Innovation Processes in African Smallholder Agriculture – Bernard Triomphe, A. Floquet, G. Kamau, B. Letty, C. Almekinders and A. Waters-Bayer
  15. Chapter 15. The Journey to R4D: An Institutional History of an Australian Initiative on Food Security in Africa – Andy Hall, P. Carberry, A. Djikeng, H. Roy-Macauley, B. Pengelly, A. Njoya, L. Ndungu, I. Kollo, C. Bruce, L. McMillan, R. Ison and B. Keating
  16. Chapter 16. Innovation Systems, Douglas, Douglass and Beyond: Using Cultural Theory to understand Approaches to Smallholder Development in Sub-Saharan Africa – Niels Röling
  17. Chapter 17. Innovation Systems, Agricultural Development and Economic Empowerment: Lessons from CTA’s Agricultural Science Technology and Innovation System Capacity – Judith Francis
Related article:

18/01/2017. CTA. Is the innovation systems approach the answer to inclusive development?
Divided into 18 chapters, the book is a rich collection of theoretical underpinnings, expert opinions, case studies, reflections and lessons learned on applying the IS concept in real life situations. It builds on a 2013 CTA-WUR/CoS-SIS expert consultation that brought together international experts, many of whom are contributing authors.

“Programmes such as those featured in this volume need to be institutionalised in the farmer population and transferred from generation to generation.This collection of papers engages with a variety of issues arising from organising and improving innovation in agriculture.Whilst supporting the need to embed the approach in development policies and programmes, Professor Osuma-Mugabe, also a proponent of the IS approach and the other reviewer, recommends vigilance to avoid it being “invoked or used to justify projects that exclude and disfranchise poor farmers to the advantage of powerful agencies and individuals”.” Professor Merle Jacob of Lund University, Sweden and UNESCO Chair in Research Management and Innovation Systems
“Scaling up successful smallholder models, whether for the domestic market or for export, can have an unexpected, often negative impact on inclusive development. A ‘different management and ownership model’ and a long-term view of development should guide policy-making. If not carefully managed, as science and technologies advance in response to emerging problems and to market opportunities, the new and improved knowledge and technologies may be priced out of the reach of smallholder farmers.” Professor Lynn Mytelka, UNU Merit. Professor Lynn Mytelka has collaborated with CTA since 2003, when the Centre embarked on its capacity building programme on analyzing and strengthening the agricultural science, technology and innovation (ASTI) system.
“The IS approach will benefit millions of smallholder farmers, thereby increasing their contribution to agricultural innovation and socio-economic development, but only if we believe, listen to farmers, adopt a system-wide approach and continuously monitor progress.”
Judith A. Francis, CTA Senior programme coordinator for science and technology policy


“The IS concept is relevant to ARD and, though still evolving, is a useful framework for designing, implementing and evaluating the complexities of the agricultural IS”.
Professor Arnold Van Huis, Wageningen University Research

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