Systems analysis in Agricultural Innovation Systems (AIS): potentials and pitfalls
This working paper (PDF) by the Royal Tropical Institute (KIT) provides examples of ‘systems analysis’. Agricultural innovation systems (AIS) are complex, multi-layered, and can be difficult to define and analyse. The five cases describe analyses of: i) agricultural systems in North-West Vietnam; ii) household food security in Central Vietnam; iii) agricultural innovation systems in Central Africa; iv) wheat commodity systems in Sub-Saharan Africa, and v) the national agricultural research system in Papua New Guinea. For each case the context is described, what was done, and how the outcomes informed broader research and development activities. These cases show that there is no single best method to conduct systems analysis within a broader AIS approach. The choice of systems analysis depends on the specific needs of the AIS being addressed, the perceived knowledge and practice gaps that need to be filled, and the interests and mandates of the partners facilitating the AIS process, among other factors. However, ‘good’ systems analysis demonstrates several common characteristics, like a clearly defined ‘system of interest’; inclusive and participatory; an analysis of the linkages between different domains; and making use of and integrating different ‘types’ of knowledge. Suggestions for system analysis in practice include: clarifying objectives and expectations; balancing breadth and depth; paying attention to power dynamics; avoiding an assumption of predictability; careful mixing of quantitative and qualitative methods; and a keeping a focus on informing action.
This working paper is part of a series, which are a result of the seminar “Agricultural Innovation Systems: reality check”. Another paper in this series (PDF) focuses on the contribution of AIS approaches to achieving impact at scale.