Agricultural research, extension, and education are critical components of innovation. Innovation, in turn, is vital to enhancing agricultural production, reducing rural poverty, and fostering sectoral and economy-wide growth and development. In many developing countries, however, conventional approaches to research, extension, and education--and traditional frameworks for collaboration--are increasingly challenged by a rapidly changing scientific, social, and economic environment, and the rapid entry of new actors, technologies, and institutions.
Collaborations among public organizations, private firms, and civil society are important in reducing poverty and food insecurity. These results-oriented interactions potentially improve the efficiency and effectiveness of research, extension and education services; enhancing access to new products and services that target the rural poor; and fostering greater pro-poor innovative activity in the food and agricultural sector.
Public sector organizations in several countries—Brazil, India, Kenya, Mexico, and South Africa, for example—are becoming increasingly reliant on collaboration with the private sector and civil society to strengthen innovative capacity and respond to the needs of the rural poor. New collaborative modalities include public-private partnerships, knowledge exchange networks, research consortia, technology joint ventures, public-private-non-governmental extension services, hybrid organizations, and other partnership-based approaches. Results have been encouraging and suggest that such collaborations are an important step in helping achieve the Millennium Development Goals, particularly the goals of eradicating extreme poverty and hunger and developing a global partnership for development.
Examples of pro-poor collaborative innovation processes include the introduction of no-till cultivation among smallholders by a consortium of public and private entities in Brazil; private delivery of publicly-developed sorghum and millet hybrids for dryland farmers in India; and public-private partnerships to develop and market insect-resistant maize seed coatings for farmers in less-favored lands in Kenya.
But there are still questions of how to make the best of these collaborative processes. How do partnerships facilitate and stimulate innovative behavior? How do they reduce the costs of innovation? How do they help public, private and civil society organizations reach out to marginalized sectors of rural society that are otherwise excluded from innovation processes?
More analysis is needed on the determinants of these successes and the organizational, institutional, and policy options for scaling them up to the national level and enhancing their impact on small-scale, resource-poor farmers and other marginalized social groups. IFPRI is working to answer these questions in a way that will make pro-poor collaborative innovation processes efficient and effective. IFPRI research is ongoing in Asia, Sub-Saharan Africa, and Latin America.
Related CGIAR Program: Scientific and Know-How Exchange Program (SKEP)