Feed the Future Innovation Lab for Collaborative Research on Sustainable Intensification Research Output Dissemination Study (SIIL RODS)

vegetables

RESEARCH OUTPUT DISSEMINATION STUDY:

Understanding of the pathways to adoption and the impact of innovations from Feed the Future Innovation Labs (ILs) and Collaborative Research Support Programs (CRSPs)

The U.S. Government’s Global Food Security Strategy prioritizes agricultural research as a foundation for sustainable reductions of global hunger, malnutrition and poverty.  U.S. universities have played an important role in bringing research forward for smallholder impact in Feed the Future (FtF) countries through more than 24 Innovation Labs (ILs) hosted at 12 land-grant universities.  UC Davis was funded to study the dissemination, use, and adoption of research outputs of the FtF Innovation Labs (ILs) and Collaborative Research Support Programs (CRSPs). UC Davis brought monitoring and evaluation expertise in agriculture and food security to the Research Output Dissemination Study (RODS) conducting case studies of eight IL technologies in four FtF countries:

Selected Innovation

Feed the Future Innovation Lab

(Host University)

Feed the Future Target Country

Conservation Agriculture:

Conservation Agricultural Practices to Reduce Global Land Degradation (Kenya & Nepal)

Sustainable Agriculture and Natural Resource Management CRSP

(Virginia Tech. University)

Kenya and Nepal

Cowpea:

Breeding Cowpea Varieties for Improved Insect Resistance (Senegal)

Grain Legumes IL

(Michigan State University)

Senegal

Drying Beads:

Drying Beads for Post-Harvest Drying and Storage (Bangladesh)

Horticulture IL

(University of California, Davis)

Bangladesh

Index Insurance:

Index-Based Livestock Insurance (Kenya)

Assets and Market Access IL

(University of California, Davis)

Kenya

Solar Dryer:

High-Efficiency Multi-Purpose Solar Dryer to Decrease Post-Harvest Loss and Increase Crop Quality (Senegal)

Food Processing and Post-Harvest Handling IL

(Purdue University)

Senegal

Storage Bags:

Low-Cost Hermetic Storage Bags for Long-Term Grain Storage (Bangladesh)

Reduction of Post-Harvest Loss IL

(Kansas State University)

Bangladesh

 

 

 

 

Tomato Grafting:

Tomato Grafting for Resistance to Soil Borne Diseases (Bangladesh)

Integrated Pest Management

(Virginia Tech. University)

Bangladesh

Trichoderma:

Trichoderma as Biocontrol for Soil Borne Pathogens (Nepal)

Integrated Pest Management

(Virginia Tech. University)

Nepal

The study concluded (insert link to full report) that despite the notoriously difficult challenge of transitioning academic-based innovations to productive and profitable use that some evidence of adoption existed in all cases, with substantial evidence of adoption in others. Beyond specific innovations, the report highlighted the vital role ILs play in capacity building in national agricultural research systems.

 (1) Innovation Labs in these eight cases have generated innovations that confer both private economic benefits and public environmental benefits, some with good prospects for continued scaling and impact. RODS confirmed that dissemination efforts had been undertaken or were underway in all cases. Scaling at the national level has occurred or is occurring in at least two cases where foundations for market-driven diffusion are in place (Drying Beads and Trichoderma). In a third case (Tomato Grafting), the national agricultural research organization supports continuing diffusion of the practice among small-scale farmers at their request. Scaling at both the national and regional level is occurring in one case (Index Insurance) with a mixture of public and private support. Further scaling of some innovations may be possible with additional donor investment in implementation research or aligned systems development.

(2) Partnerships were largely driven by historical relationships and often very personal connections, rather than strategic choices about partnering for dissemination or scaling purposes. With important exceptions, IL scientists engage primarily with initial research partners regardless of anticipated delivery pathway. These relationships proved robust for onward technology transfer in most cases but were found to be less productive where an innovation was expected to diffuse or scale along a commercial pathway.  ILs and their national research partners generally did not have the business background to facilitate commercialization or assess alternative business models. In two cases, ILs chose to undertake commercial scaling of a fully-developed technology:  with relative success in the case where private sector agents were selected to assist with dissemination (Drying Beads) and less successful where the primary partner was a national research organization (Storage Bags). Increased IL presence in-country strengthens relationships with potential partners for improved dissemination. Local USAID missions can perform, as they did in at least two RODS case (Trichoderma and Drying Beads), an important role in linking ILs to other USAID-funded implementing partners with strong local ties in commercial and/or policy arenas.

(2) ILs make vital contributions to the dissemination of innovation in multiple ways. IL contribution is most evident in the capacity building of national research partners to adapt and develop technology for local conditions and to sustain necessary adaptations over time. ILs build foundations for dissemination during the research process in field-based piloting and local knowledge generation. ILs engage directly in dissemination in a variety of ways, including most commonly in the development of training materials and provision of initial workshops for introduction of innovations. IL researchers, with important exceptions, do not consider dissemination of a technology to be a priority activity adhering to the view that the primary functions of ILs are scientific knowledge generation and Agricultural Innovation Systems (AIS) capacity building. The USG’s GFSS and Feed The Future indicators support this view generally but various USAID publications encourage greater attention to scaling activity in research design, partnership choices and dissemination planning. One case (Index-Based Livestock Insurance) presents a somewhat unique case in which a partner organization is engaged actively in both research and dissemination in a formal effort at “implementation research” or  “research in practice.”

(4) RODS underscored many well-recognized dimensions of agricultural technology transfer and adoption already extensively documented in decades of technology transfer literature. These were identified in the RODS report because of their salience in explaining current adoption and because this important knowledge is not consistently operationalized in research design or dissemination planning. These include the following findings: (a) Smallholders are unable to afford the price of technology in multiple cases --  cost analysis deserves greater attention; (b) Few technologies present as singular adoption choices, but are disseminated as part of technology packages; (c) The foundations for successful introduction of new technology often builds on decades of prior systems investment and/or concerted effort to build informed effective demand for the technology; (d) The time needed to take a particular innovation through the research and development phase to dissemination and adoption phases can take a decade, often longer; (e)The ability to leverage additional funds for dissemination activities is instrumental to effective dissemination; and (f) Champions” are integral to advancing innovations and (g) product quality matters.

A summary of RODS recommendations can be found at (insert link to 2-page brochure).

This study was supported by the Sustainable Intensification Innovation Lab with funding from USAID as part of Feed the Future, the U.S. Government’s global hunger and food security initiative. The study was conducted in 2018-2019.

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