Generating and applying new knowledge is important for all enterprises, including farming. But, quite often, new knowledge that can enhance productivity, competitiveness, and sustainability in farming is not widely adopted at scale. This lack of innovation in agriculture has led to the search for new frameworks such as ‘innovation systems’ that help in understanding how the process of agricultural innovation takes place and how its relevance and quality can be enhanced.
An innovation system is nothing more than a metaphor to help understand the process of innovation, and to help consider how capacities for innovation can be developed. (1)
Under the AIS framework, innovation is not merely concerned with technical innovation (e.g. adoption of a better variety). It also includes organisational innovation (e.g. organisation of farmers as groups) and institutional innovation (e.g. addressing uncertainties in land leasing through policy changes). Donors and national governments currently recognise the importance of enhancing the capacity of all actors in the AIS instead of just research or extension. This arises from the realisation that neither research knowledge nor extension activities alone drive innovation. There is greater emphasis on investing in strengthening the capacity to innovate or the process through which different types of knowledge are combined to address specific issues. (3)
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