Innovation platforms as vehicle to strengthen stakeholders’ capacity to innovate for improved livelihoods in drylands in Asia and Sub Saharan Africa
Agriculture is the engine for poverty reduction and economic development in the developing nations. The sector employs over 50% of the population in South Asia (SA) and Sub Saharan Africa (SSA) and contributes significantly to their Gross Domestic Product (GDP) (McCullough, Pingali, and Stamoulis 2008). Majority of agricultural lands in these regions are drylands and vulnerable to droughts of various intensities. These threats are far more pronounced in the semiarid and arid regions. Globally drylands occupy some 6.09 billion ha, with a population of 2.1 billion people, nearly half of which are the poorest and most vulnerable and marginalized in the world (UN 2013). Despite the importance of dryland agriculture for the livelihood security of millions of rural people, the level of innovations and technological change in the sector continues to be slow and patchy. Access to and adoption of technologies and innovations remain very low resulting in low productivity, resource degradation and persistent poverty. Many developing countries are now working towards improving rural livelihoods of smallholder farmers. However, achieving this goal will require transforming the traditional top- down, technology-driven extension model to a more decentralized, farmer-led, and market-driven extension system. Innovation has become a focus of dryland agriculture development and innovation systems are the centre piece of many development projects. These Innovation systems (IS) approaches emphasize the collective dimension of innovation pointing to the need to effect necessary linkages and interaction among multiple actors. IS thinking also pays attention to the co-evolution of innovation processes, arguing that successful innovation results from alignment of technical, social, institutional and organizational dimensions (Hall, 2005; Hall, 2007). These insights are increasingly informing interventions that focus on supporting multi-stakeholder arrangements such as innovation platforms (IPs) as mechanisms for enhancing agriculture innovations.