Farmer Innovation as Entry Point
to Participatory Research and
Farmers innovate due to necessity, changing conditions and curiosity, doing informal experiments on new ideas either from their own ingenuity or learned from other farmers, researchers, extensionists and other information sources like the mass media. However, research and extension pay little attention to the importance of local innovation for agricultural development.
Two regional development projects in Africa have found that technologies generated by farmers from locally-available resources are likely to be more relevant to the majority of smallholder farmers than introduced technologies that depend heavily on external inputs. From 1997 to 2001, the Indigenous Soil and Water Conservation (ISWC) project in Tunisia, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Ethiopia, Tanzania, Uganda and Zimbabwe, and the Promoting Farmer Innovation (PFI) project in Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania, identified indigenous innovations of about 1,000 farmers in land and water management as entry points to joint experimentation to further develop “home-grown” ideas.