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Agriculture Needs

  • Date Submitted: 03/07/2012 09:48 PM
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Agriculture needs better innovation, not technology

Andy Hall and Susanna Thorp

16 September 2009 | EN | FR

The Fodder Innovation Project takes an innovation systems approach to fodder scarcity


Pilot projects in India and Nigeria point to possible benefits of a new approach to agricultural innovation, say Andy Hall and Susanna Thorp.

We live in an era of unprecedented technological advancement. So why does technical change in agriculture continue to be slow and patchy?

One possible explanation is that the importance of 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.

Similarly, insufficient attention may have been given to the fact that the capacity for innovation in agriculture is influenced not only by farmers' skills and resources, but also by the wider network of links and relationships in which farmers are embedded, which help ideas to diffuse and find new uses.

These hypotheses are currently being tested by a research project in India and Nigeria on the long-standing problem of fodder scarcity, using what is widely referred to as an 'innovation systems' perspective.

Rather than focus directly on new fodder technologies — such as new varieties, fodder banks or alternative cropping patterns — the five pilot projects that make up the Fodder Innovation Project (FIP) concentrate on strengthening networks and changing working practices.

Emerging lessons

The project is still in its early stages. But some interesting lessons are already beginning to emerge. One is that although mapping links between livestock-related players can quickly identify missing or weak connections, establishing or strengthening them requires more than just setting up a committee to talk about collective action. Practical collaboration on concrete activities is essential.

In India, for...


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