Participatory Innovation Development

Promoting local innovations in ecologically oriented agriculture and natural resource management

PID Training Workshop participants during their field visit to Damazin Industrial Area, listening to an Artisan who is explaining how a water hand pump was innovated and developedPromoting Local Innovation (PROLINNOVA) is an NGO-led initiative to build a global learning network on promoting local innovations in ecologically oriented agriculture and natural resource management. The focus is on recognizing the dynamics of indigenous knowledge and learning how to strengthen the capacities of family farmers to adjust to changing conditions: to develop and adapt their own site - appropriate systems and institutions of resource management in order to gain food security, sustain their livelihoods and safeguard the environment.

The program is currently operational in 16 countries in Africa (11), Asia (2) and Latin America (3). The unique location of the Sudan and its wonderful diversity make it one of the best locations for the PROLINNOVA Program. Practical Action is the coordinating agency. Started in 2005, the Program in Sudan aims at building/strengthening partnerships between the different stakeholders involved in agriculture, Natural Resource Management (NRM), agricultural research and development in the country. Participatory Innovation Development (PID) is a key activity of the Sudan program.

The local-innovation approach is an entry point to PTD that starts with looking at what farmers are already trying, in their own efforts to solve problems or grasp opportunities they have already identified. The joint situation analysis by community members and outsiders is based on these concrete examples.

Local innovation in agriculture and natural resource management goes beyond technologies to socio-organizational arrangements such as new ways of regulating the use of resources, new ways of community organization, or new ways of stakeholder interaction. The term Participatory Innovation Development (PID) embraces this broader understanding of joint R&D, and is now being used alongside, or in place of PTD. (1).

The local knowledge of villagers is understood to be just as important as any scientifically generated knowledge. Villagers constantly try out new combination and see how they work out. The trick in PID is to arrange for an environment, which supports this natural process. The interaction between villagers and scientists often need facilitation, which is best done by experienced extensionists as they have the required communicative skills.

Therefore a triangle composed of: Villagers, researchers and advisors all cooperating in order to develop new things that really work in farmers conditions, whereby the role of the extensionist is mainly the facilitation of the process of PID.

Current PID work in Sudan

To facilitate the implementation of PID in Sudan, building the capacity of local Sudanese cadre formed a majour part of the PID Program where five Practical Action and partners' staff attended training on PID facilitation.

During the period 2006-2008 Four PID training workshops were convened in El Obied, Wad Madani, Kassala and Damazien in collaboration with the concerned partners representing; Western Sudan Resources Management Program, technology Transfer and Extension Administration, Agricultural Research Corporation. Moreover, Prolinnova conducted its 5th PID training workshop in Khartoum (5th - 9th of April, 2009) in collaboration with The National Center for Research, Institute for Technology Research. The workshop set out as the 1st event after signing a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with The National Center for Research (NCR) - Institute for Technology Research. The participants were 25 represent different departments from NCR, beside 6 participants represent networks and partners with Practical Action.

The Purpose of these Training workshops is to Mainstream the Participatory Innovation Development (PID) into the activities of the researchers, academics and development workers. The main objectives of these training workshops were to Share experience, build on and scale up farmers based research and development (R&D) approach, Raise awareness on the challenges faced by development professionals and scientist in moving local innovations further towards joint experimentation and integrating relevant information and ideas coming from others and to Stimulate interest among researchers and development workers on participatory development for the local ideas and innovations.

PID research efforts

1 Terraces

Farmers-led researches were conducted into three regions Kassala, Blue Nile and North Kordofan. At Kassala state two research subjects were applied, the first one was to test the difference between rectangular and crescent-shaped terraces. The second research subject was to compare yield of three sorghum cultivars namely Arfa'a Gadamak, Ras Algirid and a local variety, Hiraihre.

2 Sorghum

In Blue Nile a Participatory Rapid Appraisal technique was applied in a number of villages with the objectives of: Selection of more productive lines of the variety grown, which is achieved by selection of the larger combs; selection of the quick maturing lines; selection of the lines that are more resistant to insects and weeds infestation; selections of the lines that are drought tolerant.

3 Hibiscus

In north Kordofan A sample of 25 farmers from 15 villages are participating in the PFR activity. The farmers were selected on the bases of their willingness to participate in the PFR activity. All farmers participating in this activity grew either "Abu-Shankal" or "Al-Betaira" varieties which are adapted to the sandy and clay soils respectively. Three characters have been identified to be monitored by the farmers during the progress of the season. These are:- Early flowering within the field: the farmers labeled the first flower that appears within his or her field,using a colored tape to make it easily identified in subsequent visits by the farmer. The farmers were also trained that they should carefully watch these flowers until they set seeds and once the seeds become mature and ripe they have been harvested and saved separately and not mixed with other seeds. The farmers were informed that these few seeds selected by this method will be used next season and will be sown in a separate area and will again be watched to select the early appearing flower(s), and the whole process will be repeated again for 2 - 3 consecutive years.

PID research was conducted to validate the early maturing varieties of sorghum and millet which were produced by the local farmer compared to what researchers produced; however there is a need to introduce more farmers to be involved in this experiment during the coming rainy season.

Gender PID research. PID gender driven case study was presented by the Focal Point in the write shop held in Mukono, Uganda, 3rd - 7th November 2008. The International meeting comes up with GENDER Strategic plan to be adopted by the different country program.

During 2009 the program will continue focusing on building the capacity of the local partners for wider interest groups to identify and document innovation/s and innovators. The intension is to mainstream this activity as a regular function of their agencies. The program will also continue supporting PID training of key partners.


  1. Prolinnova: Some key concepts (2004). Paper prepared for Prolinnova International Workshop, 8-12 March 2004, Yirgalem, Ethiopia. By Prolinnova International Support Team
  2. Current Status and Future Prospects. Paper by Mohamed Yousif Mabrouk, Ex Prolinnova-Sudan Coordinator.

Sharing 15 Sharing newsletter
This article first appeared in the April 2009 issue of Sharing, Practical Action Sudan's newsletter.
Read more Sharing articles

Read more about this project: Promote Local Innovation in Agriculture and Natural Resource Management (NRM) Programme (Prolinnova)

no comments