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Philosophy and principles

The AIS framework recognises innovation as an interactive process. Central to the process are the interactions of different actors and their ideas; the institutions (the attitudes, habits, rules, laws, norms, practices, and ways of working) that shape how individuals and organisations interact; and learning as a means of evolving new arrangements specific to local contexts. While interaction among the actors within the innovation system is critical for innovation, several institutional and policy barriers generally constrain effective collaboration and knowledge flows among these different actors. Advocating for changes in institutions and policies is therefore critical for innovation. In other words, innovation requires enabling a combination of technological, organisational, institutional, and policy change.

Though research, education, and extension are key components of AIS, these are usually not sufficient to bring knowledge, technologies, and services to farmers and entrepreneurs. (5)

World Bank. 2012. Agricultural innovation systems: An investment sourcebook. Washington DC: The World Bank.
The idea of the AIS highlights the importance of a large number of other actors possessing different types of knowledge (e.g. farmer and industry associations, market intermediaries, consumer groups, policy-makers, certifying agencies, credit and input suppliers, etc.) and their effective interactions for innovation. The process of interaction usually needs to be facilitated, as actors often need an initial push or opportunity to break barriers that prevent joint discussion, action, sharing, and learning. Innovation arises in a particular socio-economic context and is shaped by the presence or absence of favourable conditions in which it can thrive; therefore, understanding this context is important to facilitate innovation.