Farmer First Revisited Innovation for Agricultural Research and Development

{jathumbnail off}By Ian Scoones and John Thompson
March 2009

Agriculture is an urgent priority worldwide and farmers in the developing world find themselves in the front line of some of the world’s most pressing issues – climate change, globalization and food security. The problem with the agricultural research and extension which is meant to support these farmers is that it is often delivered in a linear, top-down fashion which is inappropriate to their social, physical and economic needs.

Twenty years ago, the Farmer First workshop at the Institute of Development Studies, University of Sussex, UK, started from this premise, and launched a movement to encourage farmer participation in agricultural research and extension so as to find better solutions to farmers’ needs.Since that time methodological, institutional and policy experiments have unfolded around the world – all aimed at putting farmers first. Farmer First Revisited presents accounts of such experiments which were brought by delegates to a workshop in December 2007 and which include successes and failures and the lessons that have been learned.

Agricultural innovation now takes place less within national public-sector research organizations and more in diversified public-private systems. This book asks: how do farmers engage in these public and private systems? In the context of increasingly globalized and complex agricultural supply chains, how do farmers take part in the policy processes defining access to markets, and in agricultural research and development? Farmer First Revisited should be read by students, policy makers, agricultural scientists and social scientists aiming to bring the concerns of grassroots farmers to the fore.

‘Farmer First Revisited is a powerful testament to the impact of the Farmer First Approach. From an almost subversive critical movement that challenged the prevailing linear science-driven paradigm, Farmer First has won broad acceptance by rigorously proving its superior efficiency in making science work for the poorest and most marginal farmers.
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