Challenges and Prospects of Farmer innovation in Ethiopia

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Challenges and Prospects of Farmer innovation in Ethiopia Powered By Docstoc
					   Challenges and
 Prospects of Farmer
innovation in Ethiopia

      Amanuel Assefa
    Agri Service Ethiopia
          Nov 2005
 Food Security Problems [North, North
 eastern, South eastern and dry areas of the
 Since the last few decades the situation is
 getting worst
 Soil degradation and rapid population growth
 International aid and supports of the GO
Most of the supports externally designed and
driven [Preconceived interventions]
Ignores the local resources, innovations and
Failed to ensure sustainable development
Ethiopia: Multi ethnic combination, Multi
millennium history and Diverse culture
Home of amazing indigenous knowledge and
Among the attributes of IK: Domestication of
Coffee, Teff and Enset as well as the bench
terrace of the Konso people
Researchers and development practitioners
are more pre occupied with western
civilization/technologies, Ignoring the IK
Whose knowledge Counts?
 Farmers are seen as recipients of
 development aids
 Do not respond adequately to local realities
 Few cases can be mentioned [NGOs] where
 the local knowledge is systematically and
 intentionally considered for dev
 Some researchers begun to appreciate the
 participation of farmers in Technology
Millions are Running CDR agriculture
On the other hand there are many innovative
farmers, trying out something new and
something fascinating
A book known as farmer innovation in Africa,
a product of two Dutch funded projects in
Africa reported about the successful
expansion of IK practices in contrast to the
modern soil and water conservation
Investing [Money, time etc] on Farmer
innovation is worth doing
The Formal System is getting attention
[resources and policy Support]
Farmer innovation system is driving the
livelihood system of millions of Ethiopian
farmers and yet receiving little attention.
Researchers and development practitioners
know only very little about F/PI, not because
it is the upper limit. [Methodology and Mind
Searching for the missing
 Identification of innovative farmers is
 not however an end for it self.
 In the formal system there is good
 progress of taking participatory
 approaches in to account
But there is no conscious and systematic
linkage between the agricultural scientists
and farmer innovators
The two systems, although complementary,
are not feeding to each other consciously and
The farmer innovation system is not
adequately considered as a source of
inspiring technologies
farmers involve in testing technologies that
are released by researchers, and not the
other way.
This is one of the important missing links
between the formal and farmer innovation
So the concern/message of this paper is how
can we make our assistance to small holders
be more realistic, appropriate and sustainable
as a result of making conscious supports
to farmer innovation systems.
What is all about Farmer
 “innovative farmers” refer to those wise
 farmers who have tried or trying out new
 [value added] practices through acting on IK
 or SK.
 The outcome of the farmer innovation
 process can be improving Iks and practices,
 appropriation of modern practices to fit own
 reality or finding out something new [even to
 the world]
They are not like the “model farmers”
who are intentionally trained by
extension workers on specific and pre-
determined technologies.
 Farmers, especially resource poor
farmers, continuously experiment,
adopt and innovate
Nevertheless sorting out and understanding
the innovative elements in the works of those
farmers depends largely on the perceptions
and attitudes of the observers/visitors.
Farmer innovation dose not mean exactly like
Ik is of course a collective name, which
broadly encompasses the traditional
knowledge and/or a knowledge that belongs
to the present generation [including farmer
innovation], which is developed by the local
Innovative farmers do understand IK not as a
static knowledge body; something that has to
be learnt from ancestors and use it in a
“business as usual manner”
“Business unusual” rather explains the
relationship better
FI embraces, not only technological findings,
but also new ways of managing livelihood in
The approach is not primarily used to develop
innovations and spread them out to other
farmers .
The Opportunities
 Formation of a National learning
 and advocacy platform known as
 PROFIEET [Promotion of Farmer
 Innovation and Experimentation In
 Ethiopia] It is A network of NGOs and
 GO [Research, Extension and
 Education] institutions in the country
Formation of a global network for the
promotion of local innovations in
ecologically oriented agriculture and
natural resource management.
[PROLINNOVA]. Ethiopia, Uganda
Ghana, Sudan, South Africa, Niger,
Tanzania, Cambodia and Nepal. IFAD
supported the inception phase of the
first three countries
Expansion of participatory
approaches for research and
development.NGOs are on the for
front and some universities have begun
to provide courses on this subject and
the term has become very popular in
the public research and extension
 No adequate space for farmers to decide
 on their priorities for research and
 development [farmers role in Technology
 development is very passive]
 Resources that are directed to research and
 extension programs are entirely controlled
 by the formal institutions. There is no any
 single example in the research and extension
 system where by, funds are created to
 support local innovation
Conceptual frame work and
methodological approaches to support
farmer innovations is not well develop.
There are many questions coming up from
practitioners and policy makers: Like how can
we identify IF, What type of partnership
should their be between the scientists and FI,
Could Farmers Innovation really help to
meaningfully impact poverty etc
Smallholder farmers in Ethiopia
have financial limitation to
courageously work on their
innovation initiatives or buy-in
expert’s skills to support their works.
This is again mainly because of the
paternalistic view of outsiders, which
consequently have failed to recognize
farmers as researchers/innovators
No purposeful and systematic attempt
was made by the formal system to
develop farmer-generated
technologies in which case, the
innovative farmers are on the
drivers seat to lead the innovation
development process [except few
cases of NGOs working with
Prospects/Way forward
 Making Farmer Innovation Support
 fund available and accessible to
 farmers, [This is very helpful to
 cultivate and release the potentials of
 farmers for innovation]
[Farmer Innovation Support Fund can
be a blocked sum of money, which has
to be entirely managed by “organized
groups of farmers” and be used only for
the purpose of identification,
development and sharing of farmer
innovations on the basis of their own
priorities and decision making process.]
We should be able to look how the
farmer and the formal innovation
systems are effectively linked, in
which case the initiative for the linkage
and collaboration should come from
farmers’ side. [Supporting farmers to
access to innovation funds will help this
to happen]
We need to work for the recognition
and implementation of relevant
policies. [There are a number of well
though policies to support rural development
process in the country in general. In the
policy- practice continuum, there is however
inconsistence, misinterpretation,
misunderstanding and denying attention to
some of the critical ones].
We need to support extensive
academic works to explain some of
the gray areas in the farmer and
formal innovation systems
interface also to improve the
methodologies and working tools that
help to identify IF and to make farmer
led Participatory Innovation
Development [PID] to happen
 This paper tries to explore an alternative
 approach that should be tried out to respond
 more realistically to the needs of small holder
 farmers. It pays more attention to farmer
 innovation system, which is not so visible and
 thus not adequately recognized by policy
 makers, technocrats, researchers and
 international and national development
 partners, although it is surely driving the
 livelihood systems of the small farmers in
PROLINNOVA, which is the global learning
and advocacy network for the promotion of
farmer innovation is taking care of this
agenda. Therefore there are possibilities for
institutions like IFAD, the World Bank, UNDP
INGOs and others to work and share
experiences with PROLINNOVA on farmer
innovation support fund and thus contribute
to the fulfillment of the millennium
development goals in Ethiopia and other
developing courtiers.

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