Positioning smallholder farmers in the dairy innovation system in Malawi: A perspective of actors and their roles.
This paper in the Outlook on Agriculture Journal applies a historical analysis of the progressive development and complexity of Malawi’s dairy innovation system through phased emphasis on technological, organizational and institutional development to illustrate the centrality of smallholder dairy farmers in the innovation system. A social network analysis is applied to assess the influence of smallholder farmers on other actors. The existence and growth of the diary innovation system in Malawi is founded on the resilience of smallholder dairy farmers to produce milk. Whereas the smallholder farmers are the most connected in terms of interaction, they have the least influence on other actors in the innovation system. To take advantage of their central position to maximize benefits, smallholder farmers can only rely on their collective power to influence other actors. Organizing farmers in groups and associations is a step in the right direction, but deliberate interventions by innovation brokers as intermediaries needs to focus on empowering these groups.