Applying innovation system concept in agricultural research for development: A learning module

9am, July 23rd, 2015

This learning module on Applying innovation system concept in agricultural research for development has been prepared to serve as a tool in achieving the objective of strengthening the capacity of project staff and other researchers and actors who are believed to have a key role to play in ushering in market-led agricultural transformation. This includes national, regional, international and private sector agricultural researchers, university lecturers, and others engaged in biophysical as well as social science research. It becomes necessary to create the capacity to apply the innovation system perspective in agricultural research for development.

Sustained agricultural growth requires, among others, increased availability of technologies, farm inputs and services on the one hand, and sustained demand for the agricultural outputs on the other. This demands that contemporary thinking of agricultural development look beyond production into the chain of activities and interventions required up to consumption. This calls for the involvement of all relevant actors, individuals and organizations, in the process. In turn this requires a different framework and institutional arrangement to conduct research for development. To be effective, the emerging concepts such as Innovation Systems Perspective (ISP), value chain analysis, Integrated Agricultural Research for Development (AR4D) and impact orientation need to be integrated into the agricultural research process. The R&D system should think in terms of contributing to innovation. The Improving Productivity & Market Success of Ethiopian Farmers (IPMS) project is fully cognizant of this reality and is exploring options for transformation of the subsistence Ethiopian agriculture. In line with this, the project is attempting to employ the innovation system framework as a possible option to realize this espoused goal.

This module is expected to have multiple uses. One, a source material for trainings that could be organized at different levels, and two, as reference document to upgrade the knowledge of staff of partner organizations about innovation systems approach and applications. The design of the learning module includes guidance notes for potential trainers including learning purpose and objectives for each session; description of the session structure (including methods, techniques, time allocation to each activity); power point presentations, presentation text, exercise handouts, worksheets, and additional reading material. There are also evaluation forms and recommended bibliography for use by future facilitators.

The module has been prepared in the style of a source book and it assumes that the reader is familiar with the concepts, procedures and tools used in participatory research approaches. Users can pick and choose the sessions/idea/tools/concepts that are most relevant and appropriate in specific contexts and for specific purposes. This is work in progress. The module is being continually refined and updated, based on application of the concept and tools in the project and elsewhere and, lessons learned in the process. Case studies will be prepared to supplement this module. Therefore, IPMS would like to encourage users of this learning module to actively provide feedback, including suggestions on how it can be improved.

View the module here: Applying innovation system concept in agricultural research for development.

Institutions Involved

  • Improving Productivity and Market Success (IPMS) and International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI)


Ponniah Anandajayasekeram, Ranjitha Puskur and Elias Zerfu
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