Participatory Innovation Development

Historically farmers innovate and change in their local context. It is a knowledge that people in an area have developed over time and continue to use and change. This is known as indigenous knowledge. As the environment change people adapt their local innovations. Innovation implies  “newness”.

We need to differentiate to an extent between a cultural practices and a local innovation. There are both technical and social (ways people organise themselves make changes to cultural behaviour or gender roles) innovations. Reasons for getting involved in Innovation Development include:

  • Exploring new possibilities out of curiosity and need
  • Responding to changes such as –
    • Condition of natural resources
    • Availability of assets
    • Markets and other socio economic and institutional contexts
  • New challenges and opportunities

Innovators are those people who develop new production methods or management processes to improve their own livelihoods those around them or the natural environment around them. Research and extension programmes can benefit from innovative people and farmers can be encouraged to share experiences and exchange ideas.


There is a trend in development to design projects and write proposals and only then contact farmers. Need to design more flexible projects that include farmers being involved in all aspects. Innovation is also about people organising themselves and it is possible to support and strengthen that.

Starts with farmers; recognition that they have issues and agree they want to try and deal with them. The outsiders participate in the efforts of farmers. Farmers need to identify and agree on their issues before outsiders can be involved. They have a key role in decision making in every step of the way.



Is an approach to find new things that work, are feasible and acceptable and improve livelihoods.

  • Process is farmer-led; they have key role in all stages
  • Links to what farmer innovators and working n; famer innovations
  • Brings local land external knowledge together on an equal level

Key factors

It emphasises the joint learning process in which change follows from systematic experimentation. Attention to technical and social organisation including gender. The ultimate aim is to strengthen local capacity to face future challenges, innovate and adapt to change. So that the process or way of thinking becomes sustainable.

PID is a cyclical process

  1. UNDERSTANDING LOCAL CONTEXT ; solutions that farmers are working on – joint analysis
  2. ACTION RESEARCH; finding things to try and develop a joint learning activity -joint experimentation
  3. SUSTAINABILITY OF THE PROCESS; sharing and dissemination , institutionalisation of PID- joint learning