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Helping farmers spread their innovations

Photo: K. Trautmann

In order to adapt to changing climatic conditions, climate-smart agriculture requires constant innovation. Yet government bodies and research institutions often overlook farmers’ technological solutions to changes in climate.

“The ambition is to assess how women influence - and are influenced by - local innovations, new technologies and policies in agriculture, given different cultures, contexts and scales. We also want to understand how resourceful women solve problems and provide leadership within communities, despite numerous hurdles, while investigating how to scale up these efforts.” Lini Wollenberg, CCAFS Theme Leader, Low-Emissions Agriculture

During 2013, CCAFS worked with PROmoting Local INNOVAtion (PROLINNOVA), an international farmer innovation network, on two exciting initiatives.

The first of these is a project to assist female farmers in Bangladesh, Cambodia and Honduras to develop and share new agricultural technologies that cut agricultural emissions. CCAFS and PROLINNOVA, in collaboration with local NGOs, set up three pilot projects.

In Honduras, the focus is on locally designed agroforestry plots and ecostoves. In Cambodia, female farmers are testing the use of bioslurry and biochar as soil conditioners. And, in Bangladesh, women have produced videos on worm composting and soil carbon storage.

Project workers put all the female farmers’ groups in touch with local government officials and agricultural extension officers so that their discoveries can be shared more widely. The Bangladeshi farmers are also in touch with university researchers. The project is still at an early stage but, in time, it will be a valuable source of knowledge for other organizations.

At the same time, CCAFS and PROLINNOVA have been working with East African farmer innovators. During an international workshop on Agricultural Innovation Systems in Nairobi, in May PROLINNOVA shared its experience of promoting farmers’ innovations and experimentation. The workshop ran alongside the Eastern African Farmer Innovation Fair (EAFIF), where farmers demonstrated the technologies they had developed, such as a new way of harvesting water.

Several farmers who took part in EAFIF are trying out some of the technologies they saw there, such as plastic greenhouses, on their own farms. EAFIF also triggered the establishment of the Kenya Farmers Innovators Association, which ran a similar fair in the district of Machakos in August 2013.