Agriculture / Capacity Strengthening / CapDev / East and Southeast Asia / HUMIDTROPICS / ILRI / Innovation Systems / Knowledge and Information / Philippines / Southeast Asia

Applying participatory approaches to solve agricultural problems: A blended learning course on innovation platforms piloted at Philippine workshop

Innovation platforms workshop in the Philippines

Iddo Dror, ILRI’s head of capacity development, facilitates a session on innovation platforms during the first day of the workshop (photo credit: SEARCA). 

What is an innovation platform (IP)? How is it relevant to agricultural problems? What does it bring to the table that other approaches do not? How does one go about setting up, facilitating, coordinating and evaluating IPs? These topics and more were discussed at an agricultural workshop in Southeast Asia, which was supported by the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI).

Organized by the Southeast Asian Regional Center for Graduate Study and Research in Agriculture (SEARCA), an ILRI partner in the region, ‘Innovation platforms, rural advisory services and knowledge management toward inclusive and sustainable agricultural and rural development (ISARD): A forum–workshop’ was held on 17–19 May 2016 in Los Baños, Philippines.

The sessions on innovation platforms were facilitated by Iddo Dror, ILRI’s head of capacity development, as part of ILRI’s engagement in the CGIAR Research Program on Integrated Systems for the Humid Tropics (Humidtropics). The primary goal of the three-day workshop was to introduce pathways towards inclusive and sustainable agricultural and rural development to 25 participants from 6 Southeast Asian countries working in the areas of research and development, extension services and knowledge management.

Innovation platforms and solving complex agricultural problems

Innovation platforms involve a multi-stakeholder approach to partnerships and consultations, and emphasize inclusiveness and equality. The interaction among a wide range of stakeholders leads to a participatory diagnosis of problems, a joint exploration of opportunities and an investigation of solutions leading to agricultural innovations. Tracing the origin of innovation platforms, Dror said that these are part of the agricultural innovation system (AIS), which focuses on innovation and impact, rather than technology transfer or adoption of knowledge, characterized by linear/traditional approaches from decades ago.

The workshop was based on several modules from an online course offered by ILRI and its partners entitled ‘Understanding, facilitating and monitoring agricultural innovation platforms’ and are available on ILRI’s learning management system. In addition, case studies from a book entitled Innovation platforms for agricultural development: Evaluating the mature innovation platforms landscape were also used to enhance the participatory and user-centred learning aspects, where participants worked in groups and assumed different roles (such as farmer, extension worker, private sector representative, policymaker, etc.) to come up with creative solutions to a particular problem in a particular agricultural setting.

Want to get a better feel for the workshop and the topic? Then check out the videos and resources below. If you have questions on how to use these materials in your own training events, please feel free to contact Iddo Dror (

Module 1: Overview of complex agricultural problems and innovative approaches to their solutions
Module 2: From technology transfer to agricultural innovation systems
Module 3: An overview of innovation platforms
Module 4: Composition and initiation of agricultural innovation platforms
Module 5: Coordination and facilitation of innovation platforms
Module 8: Power and conflict in innovation platforms
Module 9: Communications and innovation platforms
Module 13: Tools for reflexivity and innovation platforms
MilkIT project case study
Workshop day 1 participant feedback
Group work on participants’ projects

Download the workshop presentations on ILRI SlideShare.

See a related article on SEARCA’s website.

Read an ILRI News blog article on projects applying innovation platforms.

Download innovation platform briefs on CGSpace.

Read the article on innovation platforms for organizers and facilitators in the Central Mekong.

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