Scaling up innovations through adaptive research: An institutional analysis and lessons from farm science centers in India
This discussion paper (PDF) by IFPRI presents a case study and lessons learned from an attempt to scale up a set of aquaculture innovations through adaptive research trials involving small-scale fish farmers in Odisha, India. Scaling up and mainstreaming proven technologies remains a major challenge for extension and rural advisory systems throughout developing countries. The two-plot trial, comparing 6 new technologies with traditional farmer practices, indicates that the technologies are location specific and feasible. However, some of the required inputs are out of reach for a small-scale fish farmer. Furthermore, the case study reveals that constant institutional support is required to keep farmers using the new practices until an incubation period has been completed. Key part of the study was to document lessons learned about conducting adaptive trials and demonstrations. The first key lessons was that farmers’ preconceived opinion about new technologies was low, and convincing them to participate was a tough task for organizers. Second, the budget was inadequate providing supplies for only a few farmers to participate in each trial. Another striking lessons is that results will be incorporated into mainstream extension messages that promote these technologies, perhaps prompting a large number of farmers to adopt them. Furthermore, state extension workers are aware of these technologies but have not worked to disseminate them or pushed for wider adoption. So conclusion is that technological solutions to farmer’s problems alone will not boost the widespread adoption of innovations. The associated institutional constraints must be identified and removed through strategic approaches. The mainstream extension systems needs to address the constraint in order to promote more widespread adoption of new technologies among fish farmers.