14 September 2009

Rethinking investment in agricultural innovation systems

The September 2009 issue of the LINK News Bulletin suggest 10 priority topics where rethinking is needed to put agricultural innovation systems into practice.

The authors argue that "the innovation systems idea is nothing more than a way of highlighting the point that the location of innovative activity is diffused throughout the whole economy, rather than being the preserve of research organisations. ... It says is that organisations appropriate to a particular innovation activity need to be centrally involved." It is highly dependent on effective communication, knowledge sharing and learning aong all involved.

Some of the key 'rethinking messages' proposed include:

"The innovation systems perspective highlights the critical importance of intermediation and facilitation, i.e., a role of acting as a go-between to help connect different players needed for the process of innovation. ... The key RETHINKING message is that this intermediary role needs to expand from mediation between researchers and farmers to a much wider set of intermediary roles at all levels: sector coordinators, linking farmers to markets, industry associations, policy advocacy organisations, etc. "

"The innovation systems perspective recognises research-derived ideas and technology as a critical component of the innovation process. ... There is now a very large body of experience where public and private research, extension and advisory services have been rethought or remodelled in ways that have allowed them to become more effective, embedded elements of innovation capacity. ... The key RETHINKING message here is the need to shift from a focus on high-yielding technologies to an emphasis on high-yielding processes of using research for innovation."

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