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Building agricultural innovation capacity in developing countries: requirements and lessons Andy Hall, United Nations University, MERIT.

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Presentation on theme: "Building agricultural innovation capacity in developing countries: requirements and lessons Andy Hall, United Nations University, MERIT."— Presentation transcript:

1 Building agricultural innovation capacity in developing countries: requirements and lessons Andy Hall, United Nations University, MERIT

2 Main messages Developing agricultural innovation capacity needs to go beyond strengthening research. Priorities are building linkages and new ways of working that promote interaction between research, enterprise and developmental players Interventions need to have a long term perspective and give sufficient emphasis to facilitating institutional learning.

3 Innovation capacity, what does it mean Scientific and other skills and information in research, enterprises, training organisations, developmental organisation. The practices and routines (institutions), patterns of interaction within an economy and policies needed to create and put knowledge into productive use The skills and IIP needed to respond to an evolving set of challenges and opportunities. Learning-by-doing whereby organisations engaging in the innovation process continuously adapt ways of working and routines – institutional learning --, incrementally improving their ability to utilise knowledge and information

4 Agricultural innovation capacity: recent evidence Recent study with the World Bank: Enabling agricultural innovation: how to go beyond strengthening research systems. Applied the innovation systems concept to explore innovation capacity 8 sectors, 4 countries

5 Case studies CountrySectorNiche with strong growth Export orientation Traditional sector in transformation Employment potential Bangla- desh Shrimp XXX Food processing XXX India Medicinal plants XXXX Vanilla XX Ghana Pineapple XX Cassava processing XX Colombia Cassava processing XX Cut flowers XXX

6 What drives innovation? Two distinctive scenarios emerged Usually. Sectors emerge because entrepreneurs identify new market opportunities and innovate to gain market access. Subsequently falter as can’t continuously innovate in dynamic markets Occasionally. Research interventions promote innovation when organised in ways that promote interaction.

7 Innovation capacity development needs Investing in agricultural research alone is not enough Linkages and patterns of interaction needed for innovation are often missing and need to be strengthened Lack of interaction is a reflection of deep rooted habits and practices (i.e. institutions) in both public and private sector organisations and civil society. Institutional change – new ways of working -- are needed that can support stronger patterns of interaction. between research, enterprise and developmental organisations

8 National Agricultural Innovation Project (NAIP), India NAIP is 6 year programme of the Indian Council for Agricultural Research (ICAR) supported by the World Bank. Builds on earlier NATP that provided resources for conducting research and skill up-grading in frontier areas of science. Novel feature of NAIP is its use of competitive funds to establish consortia of research, enterprise and developmental organisations on selected themes. Responds explicitly to an identified need to invest in building partnerships to improve the relevance and uptake of research in India.

9 Early lessons Design reflects Indian research system and innovation capacity context -- earlier reforms and long debate on public private partnerships Allowed diversity of consortium composition and leadership to match themes (not just PPP) Used themes on improving value chains to attract private sector. Used Theme on sustainable rural livelihoods to attract novel consortia on development Importance of complimentary investments in (i) skill development on partnering and (ii) on consortium formation – used a helpdesk and sensitization workshops Explicit efforts to derive institutional lessons and distil principles for wider diffusion and use could add further value

10 Andhra Pradesh Netherlands Biotech Programme Long term donor support to focus agricultural biotech on the needs of poor farmers -- 10 plus years – recognised need to socialise scientists to a new way of working. Explicit focus on building alliances between scientific and NGO communities using research support provided through a competitive fund A novel feature was the integrated bottom up approach (IBU) -- involved undertaking detailed needs assessment exercises with farmers to set overall guiding priorities for the programme Programme coordination outside the agricultural research system to avoid capture by research driven interests.

11 Lessons NGO’s rather than scientists undertook the needs assessment exercise to set priorities. This strengthened the developmental relevance of priorities Early wins with simple biotech demonstrated to reluctant scientists the value of working with NGOs in the field. The programme recognised that institutional change was a long term goal, but could have invested in facilitating institutional learning to speed this process and diffuse to others. Programme was reluctant to partner with the private sector and so an opportunity to build interaction with potentially important players was lost. The coordinating unit started to evolve into a consortium broker when donor money was reduced

12 Policy considerations Institutional change is at the heart of innovation capacity development and requires a long term commitment Competitive research funds can be used to provide incentives to build linkages – Only suitable in some cases and might be starting point for other initiatives, industry associations etc. Incentives for building links and interaction needs to be coupled with substantial investments in skill development to help adjust to new ways of working

13 Policy considerations Coordinating organisations from outside the research system might be useful, but not always possible. Facilitating institutional learning could add significant value to capacity development initiatives. Shift from prescriptions to principles to be interpreted locally. Requires strengthening of innovation policy capacity

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