Development of the approach
Enabling Rural Innovation (ERI) is a participatory approach that puts family farmers in the centre of agricultural development. It strengthens their technical, organisational, social and entrepreneurial capacities to shift from subsistence to market–oriented agriculture. It aims at developing profitable agro-enterprises without jeopardising food and nutrition security. Farmer groups are supported in (re-)discovering social, technical, natural and economical resources around them, setting group objectives and monitoring their progress towards them, making market studies, experimenting with different technologies and setting up agro-enterprises while safeguarding their natural resource base.
The methods used in the five ERI key modules are not completely new, but integrating them into the ERI approach is. The International Centre for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT) spearheaded ERI from 2001 onwards. Following ERI projects in Eastern and Southern Africa, they joined with the Centre for Development Research (CDR) at the University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences in Vienna (BOKU) to further develop the approach for organic agriculture and niche markets in Uganda, in partnership with Africa 2000 Network and Uganda Environmental Education Foundation (UEEF).
Later, several non-government organisations (NGOs) in East Africa took up the ERI approach as a methodological framework for rural development. After gaining initial experience, the NGOs HORIZONT3000 and Trias Uganda consolidated their experiences in a practical manual to make ERI training more effective and efficient. Local NGOs and Farmer District Associations in Uganda, Tanzania and Kenya are now implementing ERI under programmes of NGOs based in Austria (HORIZONT3000), Belgium (Trias) and the Netherlands (ZOA).
Compiled by: Thomas Pircher, Amos Owamani, Michael Hauser and Ann Waters-Bayer