Experience suggests that smallholder farmers are unlikely to adopt new innovations without improved models of technology transfer – and the question of how to design innovative and cost-effective technology transfer strategies has not yet been sufficiently addressed.
There is a risk that if we do not critically analyze and carefully manage the implementation of current approaches we will simply repeat past mistakes and fail to strengthen the resilience of farmers, enhance climate change adaptation/mitigation, or raise yields.
ICARDA’s approach to analyzing and enhancing the scaling-up of proven technologies involves strategic partnerships with a range of partners: advanced research institutions, private sector actors, NGOs, development agencies and financial institutions. Each has a critical role to play to ensure that new innovations get into the hands of farmers.
We also prioritize South-South cooperation among partners and regularly engage decision makers through dialogue, advocacy and regional fora so they are encouraged to create a conducive enabling environment.
We develop new and innovative business models to ensure the delivery of superior genetic resources to farmers’ fields; and we work with private sector seed companies that specifically target smallholder farmers and small-scale entrepreneurs, particularly women and youth, who we support to take forward the production and delivery of seed.
Finally, through the knowledge that ICARDA has generated on ‘innovation platforms’ - a conduit for getting research outputs into farmer fields - we continue to grow and refine this approach to support large-scale impact.
‘Mind the Gap’
ICARDA’s ‘Mind the Gap’ initiative in Tunisia seeks to understand which extension approaches have the greatest success rate – helping to inform decision making processes and improve the dissemination of new innovations. The project compares different extension methods and evaluates impacts on technology adoption rates and household livelihoods. In addition to agricultural training, extension approaches include business training for farmers and improved access to market information.