A critical review of the follow-the-innovation approach: Stakeholder collaboration and agricultural innovation development

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working paper
Amankwah, K.
Shtaltovna, A.
Kelboro, G.
Hornidge, A-K.

Technological innovations have driven economic development and improvement in living conditions throughout history. However, the majority of smallholder farmers in sub‐Saharan Africa have seldom adopted or used science‐based technological innovations. Consequently, several scholars have been persistently questioning the effectiveness of intervention models in smallholder agriculture. Following the agricultural innovation systems framework (AIS), this paper reviews a participatory framework known as the ‘Follow the Innovation’ (FTI) approach, which was developed in the research project ‘Economic and Ecological Restructuring of Land and Water Use in Khorezm’ (2001 ‐  2012) and employed in an ongoing BiomassWeb project ‘Improving food security in Africa through increased system productivity of biomass‐based value webs’ (2013 ‐ 2018). The FTI approach claims that multi‐stakeholder interactions and the adaptation of ‘innovation packages’ or ‘plausible promises’ are crucial for innovation development. While appreciating the crucial role such packages play in agricultural development, the review at hand calls for a shift from defining agricultural innovation as a package or new technology to the consensus that it is an outcome of the collaborative or collegiate participation of multi‐stakeholders in planning and implementation processes, by generating and combining scientific and local perspectives on technical and non‐ technical changes over time and in space, and the reconfiguration or adaptation of embedded informal and formal institutions.

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