Prolinnova's Mission


Prolinnova’s vision is to contribute to a world where women and men farmers play decisive roles in agricultural research and development for sustainable livelihoods. It stimulates a culture of mutual learning and synergy among diverse stakeholders to support and promote farmer-led innovation processes in agriculture and natural resource management to contribute to equitable and inclusive development of resilient and sustainable small-scale family farming communities.

About Prolinnova

Prolinnova is an international multistakeholder community of practice initiated in the early 2000s by Northern and Southern NGOs. It focuses on recognising the dynamics of indigenous knowledge and strengthening the capacity of farmers (including pastoralists, fishers and forest-dependent communities) to adapt to change, by developing their own site-specific systems and institutions of resource management to enhance food security, sustain their livelihoods and preserve the environment.

The network builds on and scales up farmer-led participatory development approaches that start with investigating how farmers create new and better ways of doing things. Understanding the rationale behind local innovation transforms the way research and development agents perceive and cooperate with local people. This stimulates interest from both sides to engage in joint action. Local ideas are then developed in a process that integrates indigenous and scientific knowledge and promotes social learning through joint action and analysis.

The network seeks to: demonstrate the effectiveness of farmer-led participatory innovation for sustainable development; build partnerships in agricultural innovation; enhance capacities of farmers, researchers and extension agents in participatory approaches; facilitate decentralised funding mechanisms to promote local innovation; engage in national and regional policy dialogue to stimulate and enhance local innovation processes; set up platforms for reflection, analysis and learning about promoting local innovation processes; and integrate participatory approaches to farmer-led innovation into institutions of research, extension and learning.

For nearly two decades now, the Prolinnova network has worked to promote and acknowledge farmers' innovation, at national, regional and global level, as an important part of agricultural research, innovation and development. Conventional research has often considered local farming communities as people who should depend on outside actors to provide them with all the possible solutions to their problems and the resources needed for their development. This top-down approach sees technologies being transferred from external experts (usually researchers) through various intermediaries to farmers, who are expected to adopt the technologies. The approach has shown its limitations in terms of achieving sustainable and environmentally friendly household food and nutrition security, largely because most of the technologies are not appropriate for the contexts in which small-scale farmers operate and are therefore not taken up.

The Prolinnova network was set up to put farmers back at the heart of agricultural research and development (ARD), recognising them as being creative in finding solutions to their challenges and problems, seizing new opportunities and improving their living conditions. This approach aims to encourage the various actors in ARD (policymakers, researchers, educators/lecturers, agricultural advisors, farmers etc) to recognise local innovation processes and outcomes, with a view to further building capacity to innovate at the grassroots level.

Farmer-led joint innovation processes are very important in Prolinnova’s approach, which favours research actions led by farmers in collaboration with formal researchers, thus cultivating mutual respect and learning between these actors, regardless of their respective academic or scientific backgrounds. Field evidence has shown that farmer-led innovation processes serve to improve household livelihoods and local community development. This evidence has supported policy dialogue with a view to scaling up or “institutionalising” the approach. In many countries across the world, local innovation and farmer-led joint research are receiving increasing recognition and support as a means to make small-scale farming communities better able to face the challenges of accelerated environmental, social and economic change.


Prolinnova operates through Country Platforms (CPs) made up of various stakeholders in ARD who share its vision and mission. These CPs are supported by an International Support Team (IST), while the Prolinnova Oversight Group (POG) provides overall governance of the network.

Browse through the most recent 4-page information bulletin at https://www.prolinnova.net/sites/default/files/documents/About_Us/prolinnova_update_may_2019.pdf

Watch a short video on Prolinnova produced in 2010 at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DQN3lRP6TYM&feature=player_embedded


Read some of the short policy briefs produced over the years on key aspects of Prolinnova’s approach at: https://www.prolinnova.net/policy-briefs