Platform for African – European Partnership in Agricultural Research for Development

Friday, October 17, 2014

Innovation in family farming

16 October 2014. The State of Food and Agriculture 2014: Innovation in family farming 

Innovation in family farming analyses family farms and
the role of innovation in ensuring global food security, poverty reduction and environmental sustainability.

It argues that family farms must be supported to innovate in ways that promote sustainable intensification of production and improvements in rural livelihoods.

Innovation is a process through which farmers improve their production and farm management practices.

Key messages

  • Family farms are part of the solution for achieving food security and sustainable rural development; the world’s food security and environmental sustainability depend on the more than 500 million family farms that form the backbone of agriculture in most countries.
  • Family farms are an extremely diverse group, and innovation systems must take this diversity into account.
  • The challenges facing agriculture and the institutional environment for agricultural innovation are far more complex than ever before; the world must create an innovation system that embraces this complexity.
  • Public investment in agricultural R&D and extension and advisory services should be increased and refocused to emphasize sustainable intensification and closing yield and labour productivity gaps.
  • All family farmers need an enabling environment for innovation, including good governance, stable macroeconomic conditions, transparent legal and regulatory regimes, secure property rights, risk management tools and market infrastructure.
  • Capacity to innovate in family farming must be promoted at multiple levels. Individual innovation capacity must be developed through investment in education and training.
  • Effective and inclusive producers’ organizations can support innovation by their members.

A member of the Prolinnova International Secretariat at ETC Foundation, Ann Waters-Bayer, took part in the CGIAR Development Dialogues on 25 September 2014 in New York City.
  • Ann spoke in the session on “Resilient systems and communities towards sustainable development: Fostering the capacity to innovate“. 
  • This session explored strategies and actions needed to foster the capacity to innovate in smallholder farming systems and key challenges to building inclusive innovation in these systems. 
  • Fostering capacity to innovate at all levels is critical to strengthening the resilience of these systems in the face of change, so that progress can be continued in improving agricultural livelihoods, promoting sustainable agriculture, restoring terrestrial ecosystems and engaging in effective partnerships to this end. 
  • Place-based agro-ecosystem research involving researchers, development workers, farmer groups, civil society, the private sector and policymakers can increase the impact of development policies and investments on the livelihoods of smallholder farmers, and the resilience of natural resource systems on which they depend.
The session was organised and opened by Kwesi Atta-Krah, Director of the CGIAR Research Program on Integrated Systems for the Humid Tropics, and moderated by Stephanie Strom, journalist with the New York Times. Other panel speakers on fostering the capacity to innovate were: H.E. Ruth Nankabirwa, Minister of State for Agriculture, Uganda; Sara Scherr, President, EcoAgriculture Partners; Stephen Muchiri, CEO, Eastern Africa Farmers Federation; and Blake Ratner, Research Director, WorldFish.

Stephen Muchiri answers the question:
@ 17:15 "How often do researchers contact the EAFF federation and ask for information? "
@ 20:00  "Researchers come when they have a project"
@ 31:00 Malawi farmers: "Nothing about us without us"
@34:00 "We want to be viewed as partners not as beneficiaries"

@41:47 "A lot of information on public and private financing is not available: who is providing it, etc. There is also a problem of capacity to access these finances. Partnership building has been a huge challenge (referring to PAEPARD)
@1:05:10 There is an issue of predictability when the money flows in from donors
@ 37:30 Sara Scherr, President, EcoAgriculture Partners
"How do you increase the capacity of these [multi] stakeholder forums"
@40:15 "We start to see a shift in financing those platforms. We need a more thorough assessment on what works and what works not

@45:40 H.E. Ruth Nankabirwa, Minister of State for Agriculture, In charge of Fisheries, Entebbe, Uganda
"Government says agriculture is a priority but when it comes to budgeting it's a different story".
@ 50:50 Ann Waters-Bayer, Senior Advisor, Prolinnova International Secretariat, ETC Foundation, Netherlands
"It is very important for researchers to do research in the process of platforms which are innovating"
Question time:
@ 1:07:00 
Question: Peter Manton AFRICA RICE board: The center of  gravity among most researchers in most CGIAR research centers is still a top down modern type of science domination of the dialogue. Farmers are collaborators. How do we bring a real change in mindset among CGIAR researchers?
Stephen Muchiri: CGIAR should like IFAD [2 yearly farmer forum] engage on a regular basis with other stakeholders
Ann Bayers-Water: like we look at farmer innovators CGIAR should look at its positive deviants researcher who are interested in social learning in research for development , who try to enhance the capacity to innovate. Don't kill it

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