Knowledge for Development

A framework for analysing ASTI systems in ACP countries

Author: Willem Heemskerk

Date: 05/06/2006


In 2004, CTA commissioned UNU/INTECH to develop a methodological framework for analysing the Agricultural, Science, Technology and Innovation (ASTI) system in ACP countries. A revised analytical framework was approved by the Advisory Committee on S&T for ACP Agricultural and Rural Development in November 2005 and paved the way for the launch of four new case studies; two in Africa and one each in the Caribbean and Pacific regions, which will be completed in the second quarter of 2006.


The methodological framework, including the analytical tool (structured questionnaire), was reviewed by CTA and representatives of ACP organizations at a training workshop in Maastricht in 2004. It was subsequently applied in the field by ACP professionals after completing the training to improve understanding of the innovation systems framework. The ASTI system analysis aimed at developing recommendations for policy-makers to improve the innovation system and stimulate learning and continuous innovation by stakeholders, all based on a shared development vision.

It included policy analysis and the mapping of critical actors in the innovation system, as well as assessments of the competencies and habits of the actors as well as a qualitative assessment of the linkages among the actors in the system. In addition to the general questionnaire that was used as the principal survey and analytical tool, the methodology included desk research and stakeholder meetings before and after the study to introduce the concepts and present the results.

The 2004 ASTI system analysis in the ACP region focussed on cocoa and cassava in Cameroon, ginger and mangoes in Jamaica, floriculture in Kenya, rice in Papua New Guinea and irrigated rice in Senegal. The technical case studies focussed either on export commodities or those that were of importance for export diversification or food security. The resulting recommendations included strategies for strengthening stakeholder linkages as well as institutional and financial policy implementation. In particular, it was noted that the information and knowledge flows in the system between the academia and the enterprise sector needed to be improved to support learning and innovation in the specific sub-sector.

In 2005, CTA determined that there was a need to review the analytical process based on lessons learned in using the initial methodology. It was concluded that although the methodological framework led to a strong analysis, subsequent recommendations for improving the innovation systems based on data gleaned from the first studies needed to be strengthened. Additionally, ASTI coordinators had experienced difficulties in the field, especially with respect to the application of the questionnaire and analysis of the data.

CTA then commissioned KIT to assist with the review of the methodology. Recommendations, developed by KIT and CTA in consultation with ACP professionals, emphasized the need to develop a flexible toolkit rather than a general blueprint, given the diverse, location and time specificity of innovation systems analysed. The 2004 case study results as well as the revised analytical framework formed the basis for four ACP regional and sub-regional workshops in Fiji, Malawi, Nigeria and Jamaica (held between July and September 2005). Participants (mainly from universities, regional, sub-regional and national research organizations and ministries of science, agriculture and trade) discussed the outcomes of the 2004 case studies and tested and reviewed the revised 2005 methodological framework, leading to a further refinement of the framework. Specific improvements in actor and linkage analysis were suggested, as was the inclusion of ASTI performance indicators to allow monitoring and evaluation of the follow-up process.

The resulting revised methodological framework (CTA/UNU/KIT, 2005) includes an additional functional analysis that facilitates assessing the performance of the ASTI system. It also focuses more strongly on the quality of interactive learning between actors in the ASTI system through an enhanced linkage analysis. The analysis of the critical actors of the system was boosted with tools on the learning organization and organizational and institutional analysis. Suggestions for data analysis, the report outline and directions for follow-up on the recommendations are now an integral part of the methodological framework.

It was recommended that CTA consider the development of an ASTI Systems Analysis Toolkit, to be accompanied by a Training of trainers manual. Workshop participants showed a strong interest in and commitment to the implementation of a new series of four sub-regional case studies. The 2005 ASTI training workshops also put forward recommendations for bridging the gap between service providers, policy makers, private enterprise and farmers by including farmer and small-scale enterprise innovation systems and policy and systems innovation into the overall ASTI systems approach. This recommendation complemented a series of training workshops that CTA had launched in 2005 alongside the framework review and training workshops to bridge the gaps in the ASTI system. These activities focussed on strategies for strengthening the linkages between key actors i.e. farmers and other agricultural enterprises, academia, research organizations and policy makers. They placed emphasis on developing a capacity to identify and analyse farmer experimentation and innovation, conduct demand-led research, influence policy makers and increase youth participation in the science, technology and innovation dialogue.

May 2006

Willem Heemskerk is a staff member of the Royal Institute of the Tropics (KIT), Amsterdam.