RECOGNISING AND SUPPORTING LOCAL INNOVATION: AN ALTERNATIVE APPROACH TO HORTICULTURE FOR DEVELOPMENT
Important changes in approaches to research and development have taken place to ensure that the outcomes are more relevant to small-scale farmers' circum-stances. Various organisations that recognise farmers ability to innovate and to experiment informally in order to overcome challenges or to test ideas have started to support this process actively. Using cases of local innovation as a starting point ensures that research and development efforts are based on farmers motivations. Involvement of small-scale farmers in identifying research needs, planning and conducting the experiments, and evaluating the outcomes helps to ensure that the findings are relevant to them. Since 2004, a network that promotes local innovative-ness and participatory approaches to research and development has been active in South Africa. Partners are engaged in several cases of joint innovation by small-scale farmers and local development organisations. After a general introduction to the concepts and process of promoting local and joint innovation, three such cases from KwaZulu-Natal Province are presented briefly. The first is an investigation into a farmer-developed practice for backyard potato-growing that involves mulching with crop residues. The second concerns smallholders testing of cherry pepper and involves partnership with a commercial farmer who helps the smallholders address marketing needs. The third is a case of a locally developed fencing practice to keep livestock out of the vegetable garden. Such an innovation allows resource-poor farm-ers to adopt gardening practices recommended by HIV/AIDS programmes. The cases illustrate the roles that local innovation can play in horticulture for development and the types of support that can be provided by development workers and researchers.
Letty, B., Shezi, Z., Shezi, N., Malinga, M., Mudhara, M. and Waters-Bayer, A. (2011). RECOGNISING AND SUPPORTING LOCAL INNOVATION: AN ALTERNATIVE APPROACH TO HORTICULTURE FOR DEVELOPMENT. Acta Hortic. 921, 197-203
local knowledge, participatory research and development, potato, pimento, vegetable gardens, South Africa