Knowledge for Development

Innovation Systems: Towards Effective Strategies that benefit Smallholder Farmers: The CoS–SIS Experience - CTA FNS Forum 2014

Author: Niels Röling, Independent Research Professional, Wageningen, The Netherlands

Date: 24/10/2014


Key message: Smallholder farmers are not the problem.


Presentation highlights:

  • Farms are small firms, which all produce the same commodities. Each is too small to affect the price.
  • For smallholder farmers to stay in business they have to surf the waves of innovation and keep growing
  • The Business Model of Agronomy (BMA)dominates mainstream thinking about agricultural development but it cannot support a sustainable global food system
  • Eventually BMA runs out of steam, as actual yields catch up with potential ones (yield gaps close)
  • The market fails when it comes to food security, sovereignty and safety, poverty, and sustainability
  • Sustainable intensification is an oxymoron (no win-win but trade-offs)
  • Convergence of Science-Strengthening Innovation Systems (CoS-SIS) programme undertook scoping and diagnostic studies to identify entry point that reflect priority constraints / opportunities of smallholders (very often institutional issue)

About Niels Röling:

Born in Amsterdam, 1937. MSc rural sociology (minor ag. economics), Wageningen University. PhD in Communication, Michigan State University (1970). Nigeria (1963-’67), the US (1967-’70), and Kenya (1971-’73). Joined Communication and Innovation Studies at Wageningen, retired professor in 2002. 2002-2014 Management Committee of Convergence of Sciences (CoS) action research programme in Benin, Ghana and Mali.

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