Agriculture is one of the foundational occupations of Man. The challenge to keep up with the increasing population and the ever-growing need to farm animals and provide enough food has led to a growing need for an innovative approach. From medieval times to modern times, different farm techniques and innovations have been adopted.
Across the globe, smallholder farmers are the backbone of the agricultural industry, producing more than 50% of the world’s food, They are however often sidelined as innovations are most times made based on assumptions of the problems they face. Most of these innovations end up not being beneficial to farmers, and some are even harmful to farmers and the environment.
Imagine a world where farmers have access to the latest and greatest agricultural innovations, and where these innovations are tailored to their specific needs. This is a world where farmers can produce more food with fewer resources, and where they can thrive even in the face of challenges such as climate change and pests and diseases.
This is the world that we can create by taking a farmer-centric approach to agricultural innovation. Farmer-centric innovation means putting farmers at the center of the research and development process and developing innovations that meet their specific needs and priorities.
The benefits of a farmer-centric approach to agricultural innovation include:
- Increased adoption: Farmers are more likely to adopt innovations that they have helped to develop and that meet their specific needs.
- Improved impact: Innovations that are developed with farmers in mind are more likely to have a positive impact on farmers’ livelihoods and the environment.
- More sustainable food system: A farmer-centric approach to agricultural innovation can help to create a more sustainable food system that is more resilient to shocks and stresses.
Some of the key problems that smallholder farmers face include:
- Limited access to credit and financing: Farmers often have difficulty accessing credit and financing to invest in new technologies and inputs. This can make it difficult for them to adopt innovative agricultural products, which can be expensive upfront.
- Limited access to land
- Limited access to information: This can make it difficult for them to make informed decisions about whether or not to adopt new products.
- Lack of training and support: They often lack the training and support needed to adopt and implement new agricultural technologies and practices. This can make it difficult for them to get the most out of these technologies.
Innovators can address these challenges by developing innovative solutions that are tailored to the needs of smallholder farmers. For example, innovators can develop new financing mechanisms to help smallholder farmers access the credit they need to invest in new technologies.
Innovators can also develop new technologies that are affordable and accessible to smallholder farmers. Additionally, innovators can provide training and support to smallholder farmers to help them adopt and implement new agricultural technologies and practices.
By getting farmers involved in the research and development process through farmer field trials, participatory design workshops, and other forms of farmer engagement and taking into consideration the need for affordable and accessible to smallholder farmers we encourage farmers to be open to adopting new technology.