Improving the resilience of agricultural systems through innovation platforms: creating space for farmer participation in research
This article in the Ghana Journal of Science, Technology and Development, highlights the role of innovation platforms for resilience thinking. Responding to global food crisis, such as imposed by climate change, requires resilient food systems that are able to respond to shocks. Resilience thinking, as an approach to agriculture development, focuses on enhancing the capacity of both the human and ecological systems inter alia. In this paper, the concept of resilience is approached from the perspective of socio-ecological systems dynamics. In particular, the study examined the contribution of farmers to research towards enhanced resilience of traditional African vegetable production systems in northern Ghana. An Innovation Platform was set up as a ‘knowledge space’ that provided an enabling environment for the interaction between farmers’ indigenous and researchers’ scientific knowledge in agricultural research. The study revealed that indigenous knowledge can be invaluable to building resilient food systems. However, ensuring that farmers participate effectively and contribute to research effort requires good community mobilization and facilitation skills by scientists as farmers need to be assured that their knowledge and other contributions are valued and their views respected by scientists. Good communication skill is necessary for effective knowledge brokering by researchers. Beyond the farmer, building a good relationship with the community is important in ensuring buy-in by farmers.