Potato farmers - Copyright KIT

Agricultural innovation

KIT works with governments, public sector agencies, research organisations, private sector companies, farmer organisations and NGOs, to improve service delivery in agriculture, and build the capacity of different actors to improve market access and strengthen food security.

Innovation systems in practice

Allowing agriculture to contribute to poverty alleviation and food security requires sustainable productivity increases and improved market access. However, smallholder producers and other actors operate in an increasingly complex and uncertain environment. This provides new challenges and opportunities for small farmers, both for optimising their farm practices, and improving their access to markets. This requires continuous adaptation and innovation.

By innovation we mean the process through which exploration of new practices can be put into social or economic use. Innovation comes through stakeholder interaction, and requires individual, organisational and institutional capacities. It is more than new technology – it equally involves new organisational and institutional arrangements.

The quest for innovation – be it through optimising farm practices or improving access to markets – brings with it a need for a variety of agricultural services. Research and advisory services are perhaps the most well-known agricultural services. These services need to cater to a wide range of farmers and other value-chain actors, in an efficient and effective manner.

Combining elements to design our approach

KIT combines elements of system perspectives, multi-stakeholder processes and value chain development, in order to create our particular approach to agricultural innovation and effective services provision.

We have built up considerable thematic experience through our work with a range of public, private, non-governmental and multilateral organisations. Together with our partners in agricultural innovation and service delivery, KIT builds individual and organisational capacities to support agricultural innovation and improve agricultural services.

We coach researchers, farmer organisation managers and extensionists (i.e. those who apply research insights) to be better able to link to and learn from other stakeholders in the agricultural innovation system. Additionally, we co-design projects and policies and support efforts to monitor and evaluate their performance. And we aim for meaningful inclusion of women and vulnerable groups in all of these efforts.

Promoting local innovation

Farmer-led innovation adapted by Mr Bekwa Majozi from PROLINNOVA South Africa: tying pieces of plastic packets to the chicks appears to confuse the hawks by changing the shape and colour of the chicks.

Farmer-led innovation adapted by Mr Bekwa Majozi from PROLINNOVA South Africa: tying pieces of plastic packets to the chicks appears to confuse the hawks by changing the shape and colour of the chicks.

The Prolinnova International Secretariat is since July 2015 hosted by KIT. Prolinnova is a worldwide network that promotes local innovation processes in agriculture and natural resource management (NRM). It focuses on recognising the dynamics of local knowledge and enhancing capacities of farmers (including pastoralists, fishers and forest dwellers) to adjust to change – to develop their own site-appropriate systems and institutions of resource management so as to gain food security, sustain their livelihoods and safeguard the environment. The essence of sustainability lies in the capacity to adapt.

Visit the Prolinnova website