[hepr-vn] IFPRI Policy Brief No. 11: Knowledge and Innovation for Agricultural Development
vern.weitzel at gmail.com
Wed May 27 00:32:04 EST 2009
Kwadwo Asenso-Okyere and Kristin Davis
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Every day, millions of rural people who depend on agriculture confront
technical, economic, social, cultural, and traditional obstacles to improving
their livelihoods. To cope with these obstacles, the rural poor draw on
indigenous knowledge and innovate through local experimentation and adaptation.
Indigenous knowledge alone, however, is not enough to deal with the complex
problems facing the agricultural sector. Emerging issues such as high food
prices, climate change, and demands for biofuels require complementary knowledge
from formal agricultural research and development (R&D) and support from
policies and other institutions. Formal and informal knowledge and innovation
must therefore be linked to accelerate sustainable agricultural development.
Knowledge, defined as organized or processed information or data, is fundamental
in the pursuit of innovation. For innovation to occur, knowledge must be
created, accumulated, shared, and used. Innovations—new ideas, practices, or
products that are successfully introduced into economic or social processes— can
involve technologies, organizations, institutions, or policies. Innovation means
putting ideas, knowledge, and technology to work in a manner that brings about a
significant improvement in performance or product quality.
Advancing agricultural development requires knowledge and innovation in several
Technology. While many good technologies are “on the shelf,” emerging issues
such as climate change require new research to develop drought-resistant,
flood-resistant, and short-duration crop varieties.
Institutions. More socioeconomic research is needed to understand institutional
constraints to innovating to improve livelihoods. Institutions are the system of
rules that constitutes the environment within which innovations occur— laws,
regulations, traditions, customs, beliefs, norms, and nuances of society.
Policies. Appropriate, relevant, and timely public interventions are needed to
promote and facilitate the creation, sharing, and use of knowledge for innovations.
Organizations. Public and private groups and companies must innovate to become
more effective and efficient in the services they provide.
To foster innovations in agriculture, policymakers must scale up investments in
agricultural science and technology, research and extension, agricultural
education and training, and farmer organizations and other local
institutions—and do so in ways that will spread advances in knowledge and
innovation as widely as possible.
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