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Bulletin 368 – Building social capital for agricultural innovation

W. Heemskerk, B. Wennink

Renewed attention exists for agricultural development in SSA as the engine for rural development. This results in part from the drive for reaching the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) by 2015 and in particular MDG 1: a 50% reduction of (predominantly rural) poverty in SSA. It is realized that in order to achieve the MDGs, a more effective approach to innovation for agricultural development is needed. The opportunities presented through the World Trade Agreements have led to changing roles of the three main groups of actors (i.e. public, private and civil society), in agricultural service delivery. At the same time, urgent demands for technological innovation have led to important organizational and institutional innovations in the local Agricultural Knowledge and Information Systems (AKISs). Decentralization of public administration and deconcentration of service delivery have encouraged empowerment of FGs and farmer organizations in agricultural innovation. Slowly the local innovation system is shifting from a linear ‘Transfer of Technology’ (TOT) process (from research to extension to farmers) to a more systemic partnership-based co-innovation process. FGs and farmer organizations are to play a stronger role at different levels in the national and local innovation systems with a formalized farmer representative role at national and meso-levels.