Challenges and Prospects of Farmer innovation in Ethiopia
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Challenges and Prospects of Farmer innovation in Ethiopia Amanuel Assefa Agri Service Ethiopia Nov 2005. Introduction. Food Security Problems [North, North eastern, South eastern and dry areas of the South] Since the last few decades the situation is getting worst

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Challenges and Prospects of Farmer innovation in EthiopiaAmanuel Assefa Agri Service EthiopiaNov 2005

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  • Food Security Problems [North, North eastern, South eastern and dry areas of the South]

  • Since the last few decades the situation is getting worst

  • Soil degradation and rapid population growth

  • International aid and supports of the GO

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  • Home of amazing indigenous knowledge and systems [Preconceived interventions]

  • Among the attributes of IK: Domestication of Coffee, Teff and Enset as well as the bench terrace of the Konso people

  • Researchers and development practitioners are more pre occupied with western civilization/technologies, Ignoring the IK

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Whose knowledge Counts? [Preconceived interventions]

  • Farmers are seen as recipients of development aids

  • Do not respond adequately to local realities

  • Few cases can be mentioned [NGOs] where the local knowledge is systematically and intentionally considered for dev

  • Some researchers begun to appreciate the participation of farmers in Technology development

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  • Millions are Running CDR agriculture [Preconceived interventions]

  • On the other hand there are many innovative farmers, trying out something new and something fascinating

  • A book known as farmer innovation in Africa, a product of two Dutch funded projects in Africa reported about the successful expansion of IK practices in contrast to the modern soil and water conservation

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  • Investing [Money, time etc] on Farmer innovation is worth doing

  • The Formal System is getting attention [resources and policy Support]

  • Farmer innovation system is driving the livelihood system of millions of Ethiopian farmers and yet receiving little attention.

  • Researchers and development practitioners know only very little about F/PI, not because it is the upper limit. [Methodology and Mind set]

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Searching for the missing Links doing

  • Identification of innovative farmers is not however an end for it self.

  • In the formal system there is good progress of taking participatory approaches in to account

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  • But there is no conscious and systematic linkage between the agricultural scientists and farmer innovators

  • The two systems, although complementary, are not feeding to each other consciously and meaningfully.

  • The farmer innovation system is not adequately considered as a source of inspiring technologies

  • farmers involve in testing technologies that are released by researchers, and not the other way.

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  • This is one of the important missing links between the formal and farmer innovation systems.

  • So the concern/message of this paper is how can we make our assistance to small holders be more realistic, appropriate and sustainable as a result of making conscious supports to farmer innovation systems.

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What is all about Farmer innovation formal and farmer innovation systems.

  • “innovative farmers” refer to those wise farmers who have tried or trying out new [value added] practices through acting on IK or SK.

  • The outcome of the farmer innovation process can be improving Iks and practices, appropriation of modern practices to fit own reality or finding out something new [even to the world]

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  • Nevertheless sorting out and understanding the innovative elements in the works of those farmers depends largely on the perceptions and attitudes of the observers/visitors.

  • Farmer innovation dose not mean exactly like IK

  • Ik is of course a collective name, which broadly encompasses the traditional knowledge and/or a knowledge that belongs to the present generation [including farmer innovation], which is developed by the local people

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  • Innovative farmers do understand IK elements in the works of those farmers depends largely on the perceptions and attitudes of the observers/visitors.not as a static knowledge body; something that has to be learnt from ancestors and use it in a “business as usual manner”

  • “Business unusual” rather explains the relationship better

  • FI embraces, not only technological findings, but also new ways of managing livelihood in general.

  • The approach is not primarily used to develop innovations and spread them out to other farmers .

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The Opportunities elements in the works of those farmers depends largely on the perceptions and attitudes of the observers/visitors.

  • Formation of a National learning and advocacy platform known as PROFIEET[Promotion of Farmer Innovation and Experimentation In Ethiopia] It is A network of NGOs and GO [Research, Extension and Education] institutions in the country

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  • Formation of a global network for the elements in the works of those farmers depends largely on the perceptions and attitudes of the observers/visitors.promotion of local innovations in ecologically oriented agriculture and natural resource management. [PROLINNOVA]. Ethiopia, Uganda Ghana, Sudan, South Africa, Niger, Tanzania, Cambodia and Nepal. IFAD supported the inception phase of the first three countries

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Challenges/limitations development

  • No adequate space for farmers to decide on their priorities for research and development [farmers role in Technology development is very passive]

  • Resources that are directed to research and extension programs are entirely controlled by the formal institutions. There is no any single example in the research and extension system where by, funds are created to support local innovation

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  • Conceptual frame work and methodological approaches to support farmer innovations is not well develop. There are many questions coming up from practitioners and policy makers: Like how can we identify IF, What type of partnership should their be between the scientists and FI, Could Farmers Innovation really help to meaningfully impact poverty etc

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  • Smallholder farmers in Ethiopia have financial limitation to courageously work on their innovation initiatives or buy-in expert’s skills to support their works. This is again mainly because of the paternalistic view of outsiders, which consequently have failed to recognize farmers as researchers/innovators

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Prospects/Way forward system to develop

  • Making Farmer Innovation Support fund available and accessible to farmers, [This is very helpful to cultivate and release the potentials of farmers for innovation]

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  • [ system to develop Farmer Innovation Support Fund can be a blocked sum of money, which has to be entirely managed by “organized groups of farmers” and be used only for the purpose of identification, development and sharing of farmer innovations on the basis of their own priorities and decision making process.]

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  • We should be able to look how the system to develop farmer and the formal innovation systems are effectively linked, in which case the initiative for the linkage and collaboration should come from farmers’ side. [Supporting farmers to access to innovation funds will help this to happen]

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  • We need to work for the recognition and implementation of relevant policies. [There are a number of well though policies to support rural development process in the country in general. In the policy- practice continuum, there is however inconsistence, misinterpretation, misunderstanding and denying attention to some of the critical ones].

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Conclusion of the gray areas in the farmer and formal innovation systems interface

  • This paper tries to explore an alternative approach that should be tried out to respond more realistically to the needs of small holder farmers. It pays more attention to farmer innovation system, which is not so visible and thus not adequately recognized by policy makers, technocrats, researchers and international and national development partners, although it is surely driving the livelihood systems of the small farmers in Ethiopia.

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  • PROLINNOVA, which is the global learning and advocacy network for the promotion of farmer innovation is taking care of this agenda. Therefore there are possibilities for institutions like IFAD, the World Bank, UNDP INGOs and others to work and share experiences with PROLINNOVA on farmer innovation support fund and thus contribute to the fulfillment of the millennium development goals in Ethiopia and other developing courtiers.