Knowledge for Development

Relevant publications

Successes in African agriculture – lessons for the future

By International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) by Johns Hopkins University Press, 2010. Sub-Saharan Africa is one of the poorest regions of the world. Because most Africans work in agriculture, escaping such dire poverty depends on increased agricultural productivity to raise rural incomes, lower food prices, and stimulate growth in other economic sectors. Per capita agricultural production in sub-Saharan Africa has fallen, however, for much of the past half-century. Successes in African Agriculture investigates how to reverse this decline. Instead of cataloging failures, as many past studies have done, this book identifies episodes of successful agricultural growth in Africa and identifies processes, practices and policies for accelerated growth in the future. The individual studies follow developments in, among other areas, the farming of maize in East and Southern Africa, cassava across the middle belt of Africa, cotton in West Africa, horticulture in Kenya, and dairying in East Africa.


Gender and governance in rural services. Insights from India, Ghana, and Ethiopia

By the World Bank and IFPRI, May 2010. The book provides empirical evidence on how different accountability mechanisms for agricultural advisory services and drinking water provision work in practice. Based on surveys among male and female service providers, local policymakers, community-based organizations and household members, the book analyzes the suitability of different governance reform strategies to make service provision more gender responsive. Its recommendations will help researchers, public administration staff, policymakers, and NGO and international development agency staff better design and manage reform efforts, projects, and programs dealing with rural service provision.


Pulling agricultural innovation and the market together - Working paper 215

By Center for Global Development, 21 June 2010. The aim of this paper is to stimulate a dialogue on what new approaches might be needed to meet these needs and how innovative funding mechanisms could play a role. In particular, could “pull mechanisms,” where donors stimulate demand for new technologies, be a useful complement to traditional “push mechanisms,” where donors provide funding to increase the supply of research and development (R&D). With a pull mechanism, donors seek to engage the private sector, which is almost entirely absent today in developing country R&D for agriculture, and they pay only when specified outcomes are delivered and adopted.


Innovation, sustainability, development: A new manifesto

STEPS Centre 2010. This new manifesto by the STEPS (Social, Technological and Environmental Pathways to Sustainability) Centre lays out new politics of innovation, which recognizes the need for many alternative directions of scientific, technological and associated institutional change. A radical shift is needed in how innovation (new ways of doing things) are perceived, not only for science and technology but for developing new ideas, institutions, practices and social relations that shape scientific and technological patterns, purposes, applications and outcomes. The manifesto provides many links to more detailed examples and analysis on the associated new manifesto ( Lessons have been drawn from hundreds of participants in 20 roundtables in countries from China to Venezuela, India to Zimbabwe, Nigeria to Sri Lanka. The manifesto does not assert a single view but together with many parallel initiatives helps to achieve more diverse and equitably distributed forms and outcomes of innovation. Most importantly, it helps to catalyze and provoke more vibrant and explicitly political debate over global patterns and directions of innovation.


Technology and Innovation Report 2010: Enhancing food security in Africa through science, technology and innovation

By United Nations Conference on Trade and Development, 19 May 2010. This report focuses on the challenges of improving agricultural performance in Africa and the role of technology and innovation in raising agricultural production and incomes of all farmers, including smallholder farms. Much of the analysis is to some degree applicable to farmers in developing countries outside Africa. The report argues that the main challenge that lies ahead is one of strengthening the innovation capabilities of African agricultural systems in order to be able to successfully address poverty, improve food security and achieve broader economic growth and development.


‘Farm Innovators – 2010’

The Indian Council for Agricultural Research's (ICAR) new publication "Farm Innovators – 2010" documents innovations of practical importance developed throughout India with wider applicability for the benefit of various stakeholders. About 139 selected farm innovations grouped under eight thematic areas—Crop improvement, Crop production, Crop diversification, Crop protection, Farm machinery, Water Management, Livestock and fisheries management, and Post harvest technology and value-addition, are presented giving details of innovators, innovations and their applications.(Source: Indian Council for Agricultural Research, October 2010.)


Innovation, Sustainability, Development: A New Manifesto

Innovation, Sustainability, Development: A New Manifesto recommends new ways of linking science and innovation to development for a more sustainable, equitable and resilient future.It was produced by the 'Social, Technological and Environmental Pathways to Sustainability' Centre (STEPS), an interdisciplinary global research and policy engagement hub that unites development studies with science and technology studies. While acknowledging that future generations face huge social, environmental and economic challenges, and noting that global governance, economics and people work against the interest of poorer countries and people, the STEPS Centre proposes that science, technology and innovation must play essential roles in meeting the moral and political imperative of addressing the interlinked global challenges. The new manifesto recognizes the need for a new politics of innovation which responds to “which science?”, “what technologies? ‘and “what kinds of change?”. They call for greater respect cultural variety, regional diversity and democratic accountability and opening up of the political space and debate for more deliberation on styles and directions for research and innovation. They propose that radical changes be made to the way in which innovation is shaped through: agenda setting, funding, capacity building, organizational arrangements and monitoring, evaluation and accountability.


Prolinnova policy brief: Strengthening local resilience to climate change

The latest (June 2011) policy brief from Prolinnova reports on the organisation’s investigative work on how poor rural communities develop innovations that enables a stronger resilience to changes in climates patterns. This brief focuses on community-based adaptation to climate change, and the means needed to recognize and document local innovation. A number of example from the field help illustrate Prolinnova’s research (20082011) into the innovation and creativity processes appearing in local communities that face uncertainty and hardship due to climate-related environmental change. At a moment in time where food security and climate change are at the top of the agenda, Prolinnova has made three detailed recommendations to help policy makers integrate local innovation in the climate sensitive agricultural programmes they are currently developing: Give local innovation due recognition in policy and planning, Promote farmer led adaptation to climate change, and Link Climate Change Adaptation (CCA) to local governance and innovation.


Sustainable Land Management in Practice - Guidelines and Best Practices for Sub-Saharan Africa

This book on Sustainable Land Management (SLM) is a TerrAfrica publication which has been prepared by WOCAT (World Overview of Conservation Approaches and Technology) and coordinated by the FAO. The book highlights the main principles of SLM, describes criteria for adoption and upscaling of SLM, provides a basis for informed decision-making, offers a framework for investment in SLM on the ground, identifies, analyses and disseminates best practices for improved productivity, livelihoods and ecosystem services, addresses SLM planners and implementers, and offers a framework for investment in SLM on the ground. It is illustrated with 47 case studies from 18 countries. (Available in French)


Food for All: Investing in Food Security in Asia and the Pacific – Issues, Innovations, and Practices

Asian Development Bank. 2011.The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), and the Asian Development Bank (ADB) co-organized a regional investment forum for food security at the ADB headquarters in Manila on 7–9 July 2010. This book distils the wealth of information and depth of discussions derived from the proceedings of the landmark forum. With this book, ADB seeks to provide a better understanding of food security and the opportunities for realizing it through multi-sector and partnership approaches. It is meant to facilitate the sharing of knowledge, innovations, good practices, and lessons on investing in this field. The main thematic areas are: Enhancing productivity investment Up-scaling innovations and good practices in natural resource management Increasing investments for resilience Innovative financing for food security Enhancing connectivity investments for food security


Impacts of an improved seed policy environment in Eastern and Central Africa

This discussion paper assesses the impacts of an improved seed policy environment in the Eastern and Central Africa (ECA) region using a case study of formal trade in seed maize in Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania that employs a spatial equilibrium model (SEM). The paper commences by reviewing the progress made in the harmonization of seed policies in ECA region with regard to five thematic areas agreed for harmonization namely: (i) facilitation, building and empowering of public-private partnerships; (ii) observation of the importance and differences amongst technical, political and legislative stages in the process of reform; (iii) dialogue at two levels: national and regional; (iv) nurturing transparency, institutional cooperation and multi-disciplinarity; (v) differentiation between administrative/procedural and legislative issues in discussions and consensus building. The results of the welfare analysis give compelling evidence in support of an improved seed policy environment. While improved policy environment requires in contributions from many players and actors, it is assumed that harmonization of policies, laws and regulations is a critical addition to this process.


Contested agronomy: Agricultural research in a changing world

Contested agronomy: Agricultural research in a changing world addresses the interconnected policy and development issues within the field of agronomy and agricultural research by exploring key developments since the mid-1970s. The book focuses in particular on the emergence of the neoliberal project and the rise of the participation and environmental agendas, taking into consideration how these have had profound impacts on the practice of agronomic research in the developing world.Contested Agronomy explores, through a series of case studies, the basis for a much needed 'political agronomy' analysis that highlights the impacts of problem framing and narratives, historical disjunctures, epistemic communities and the increasing pressure to demonstrate 'success' on both agricultural research and the farmers, processors and consumers it is meant to serve. This book is not available online but is highly recommended for professionals, researchers and students engaged in agriculture, science and technology studies and other aspects of ARD.


Integrated natural resource management in the highlands of eastern Africa: From concept to practice

German, L. et al. International Development Research Center (IDRC), Earthscan, 2012.This book documents a decade of research, methodological innovation, and lessons learned in an eco-regional research-for-development program operating in the eastern African highlands, the African Highlands Initiative (AHI). It summarizes the experiences of farmers, research and development workers, policy and decision-makers who have interacted within an innovation system with the common goal of implementing an integrated approach to natural resource management (NRM) in the humid highlands. This book demonstrates the crucial importance of 'approach' in shaping the outcomes of research and development, and distils lessons learned on what works, where and why. It is enriched with examples and case studies from five benchmark sites in Ethiopia, Uganda, Kenya, and Tanzania, whose variability provides the reader with an in-depth knowledge of the complexities of integrated NRM in agro-ecosystems that play an important role in the rural economy of the region.


New paper: Transforming innovation for sustainability

A new paper authored by members of the STEPS Centre, Stockholm Resilience Centre and the Tellus Institute calls for a radical new approach to innovation, connecting global and grassroots. The paper was published in Ecology and Society and discussed at a major panel debate in Rio on 16 June 2012.Find the publication on the ESRC STEPS Centre website: (Via ESRC STEPS Centre email newsletter)


Transforming innovation for sustainable development and poverty reduction

New research by the STEPS Centre, the Stockholm Resilience Centre and the Tellus Institute argues that sustainable development goals (SDGs) that keep human societies within a 'safe operating space' requires an approach to innovation that gives far greater recognition and power to grassroots actors and processes, involving them within an inclusive, multi-scale innovation politics. In this jointly-authored paper, current development goals focussing on one-track scientific solutions to global challenges are seen as failing to respond effectively to the uncertainty and shifting dynamics of today's world, and to the diverse needs of the poor. Research and experiences across the world, in areas like agriculture, water, energy and health, illustrate what the paper suggests are a set of underlying principles that need to guide innovation for sustainability and poverty reduction. Three interlinked dimensions need to be assessed together: Direction, Diversity, and Distribution. (IDS, 13/6/2012)


Learning and Innovation in Agri-Export Industries

In many developing countries, the contribution of small scale farmers to the high value cut flower export business has been minimal and on the decline. In this book, Dr Maurice Bolo examines the role of partnerships between farmers and exporters in building farmers’ innovation capabilities. The book applies the lenses of innovation systems and value chain analysis to examine how institutions, power dynamics and governance patterns influence the opportunities for interactions, learning and innovation within these partnerships.


Good Practices in Building Innovative Rural Institutions to Increase Food Security

This FAO publication identifies the underlying drivers that allow small-producer organisations to thrive, the good practices enabling development practitioners and other stakeholders to learn from successful local/regional initiatives, to support them and replicate them. The findings are useful for orienting operational programmes to support and empower small-scale producers in a process of sustainable and inclusive development. Indirectly, policy-makers may also draw inspiration from these cases as they demonstrate that, under the right conditions, critical bottlenecks to food security and sustainable rural development can be overcome. This publication on good practices in institutional building suggests that strengthened knowledge and capacities of individuals are central to fortifying rural institutions. The good practices described herein embody a capacity development approach by addressing all three dimensions in fortifying rural organisations’ members with skills and information (individual dimension), in improving processes and procedures within organisations and linkages between organisations (organisational dimension) and by addressing issues of the enabling environment such as the need to strengthen the voice of rural organisations at the policy level. (FAO, 5/2012)


Innovation in input supply systems in smallholder agroforestry: seed sources, supply chains and support systems

J. B. L. Lillesø, L. Graudal, S. Moestrup, E. D. Kjær, R. Kindt, A. Mbora, I. Dawson, J. Muriuki, A. Ræbild and R. Jamnadass; Agroforestry Systems, Springer Netherlands, 2011,; DOI: 10.1007/s10457-011-9412-5. This paper discusses requirements and possibilities for institutional innovation in developing more efficient delivery systems for tree germplasm as one aspect of improved input supply. It describes a simple model for delivery to farmers that identifies the major types of germplasm sources and discusses how this model can be used to identify relevant interventions to address bottlenecks in current systems. The analysis leads to eight input supply configurations for smallholder agroforestry, typified by three major models. Lessons from the evolution of smallholder crop seed delivery systems can be applied to tree germplasm supply and indicate that a commercial, decentralised model holds most promise for sustainability. However, current emphasis in agroforestry on government and NGO models of delivery hinder the development of this approach. An important implication of this analysis is that current actors in agroforestry input supply systems must redefine their roles in order for effective delivery to take place.


Africa: Local innovations using traditional vegetables to improve soil quality

In 2002, fieldwork was carried out in 8 parishes in Uganda to study the use of indigenous knowledge in producing and consuming traditional vegetables such as "nakati" (Solanum aethiopicum), "ebugga" (Amaranthus dubius), "entula" (Solanum aethiopicum gilo), and "ejobyo" (Cleome gynandra). The proportion of land allocated for traditional vegetables has steadily increased since the 1970s, although exotic vegetables with their premium prices continue to have a greater land allotment. As mineral fertilizers were expensive and manure was still scarce, farmers tried to develop alternative methods to maintain the soil fertility, including fallowing and the incorporation of crop residues. They had found that the residues of traditional vegetables were particularly beneficial and had started rotating traditional vegetables with exotic ones such as common bean and tomato. While farmers did not have any formal networks for sharing knowledge, exchanges between friends, neighbours, and family seem to be effective. (It is extracted from an unpublished report by Hart, T, Abaijuka, I, Kawongolo, J, Rubaihayo, E, Kakonge, E & Mugisha, J (2002) 'The Identification and Recording of Indigenous Knowledge using Rapid Rural Appraisal Techniques: The cultivation and utilisation of Indigenous vegetables in the Mpigi District, Uganda.' The author acknowledges the contributions of the Ugandan researchers from the National Agricultural Research Organisation and Makerere University, Kampala.) Africa: Local innovations using traditional vegetables to improve soil quality Also available at KIT Library: KIT(K3019)


Pacific: Promotion of local knowledge and innovations in Asia and the Pacific Region

The overall objectives of the study were to: (1) analyse the current practices and experiences of the Asia and the Pacific Division with regard to scouting, utilising and promoting local knowledge and innovations. The study also documented selected good practices and assessed how the rural people have used local knowledge and innovations to improve their livelihoods and whether this has led to their empowerment; and (2) provide building blocks to ensure greater mainstreaming of local knowledge and innovations into the regional strategy so that all activities in the region will incorporate them. In particular, a series of insights and recommendations was developed that would contribute to improving the design and implementation of IFAD-supported projects and programmes through enhanced use of local innovations, knowledge systems and partnerships. Important attention was devoted to the empowerment of local communities to become more active partners in project design and implementation, and the blending of ‘modern’ technology and local knowledge to capitalise on the best in local and external expertise. Pacific: Promotion of local knowledge and innovations in Asia and the Pacific Region - Thematic Evaluation: Agreement at Completion Point