This was how a RAAIS (Rapid Appraisal of Agricultural Innovation Systems) workshop participant in Nigeria described his experience. It reflects the objective that we had in mind when developing RAAIS. We wanted to develop a simple, participatory, diagnostic tool for integrated systems analysis of agricultural problems. RAAIS facilitates the analysis of:
- Interactions between different dimensions, levels and stakeholder dynamics of complex agricultural problems;
- Innovation capacity in agrifood systems;
- The existence and performance of the agricultural innovation system.
RAAIS can thereby provide specific entry points for innovation to address concrete problems experienced by farmers and other agripreneurs in a specific locality, but it can also provide more generic entry points for innovation to address constraints faced by policymakers and other scaling actors at higher levels. RAAIS is a tool that can facilitate going from a broad entry theme towards more specific entry points for productivity, natural resource management (NRM) and institutional innovation.
Why a RAAIS toolkit?
Making agricultural innovation systems work is easier said than done! In fact, it is far from easy to make stakeholders interact with each other in a productive way, and arrive at a common agenda for further investigation and action. Building on a large experience in innovation support methodologies, this ‘toolkit’ has been developed to help foster conducive interaction. RAAIS provides methods and frameworks for collaborative analysis of complex innovation challenges. It helps stakeholders and researchers to understand interdependencies, to take into account different levels and spheres of action, to balance technological and institutional innovation, and to identify concrete entry points for collaborative action and further research.
Where has RAAIS been used?
RAAIS was developed and tested under the PARASITE program to identify and analyse opportunities for dealing with parasitic weeds in rain-fed rice production in Tanzania and Benin. RAAIS was further developed and modified for usage in Humidtropics. Workshops for identification of entry themes for innovation to support sustainable intensification of agrifood systems were implemented across study sites in Burundi, Rwanda, Democratic Republic of Congo, Nigeria, Cameroun, Ghana and China. Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) and the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) used RAAIS to identify bottlenecks for improved banana systems in Burundi and for fertiliser use in Uganda. Wageningen University (WUR) in collaboration with the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT), Bioversity International and the World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF) have used elements of the RAAIS workshops in their work on responsible scaling of innovation in Nicaragua (scaling up agroecology in mixed crop-livestock systems), Central Africa (adoption of Banana Xanthomonas Wilt (BXW) control methods), China (sustainable rubber production), and the Central Mekong (responsible scaling of improved forage systems among smallholders).
What can you find in this toolkit?
Section 2 provides a light theoretical background on agricultural innovation systems and reflects on the added value of RAAIS as compared to existing innovation systems tools and methods. Section 3 defines three of RAAIS’ conceptual pillars and their interactions: (1) complex agricultural problems, (2) innovation capacity in the agrifood system, and (3) the agricultural innovation system. Section 4 provides the methodological framework for RAAIS, including data collection methods and a short introduction to the proposed methods: interviews, surveys, workshops and secondary data analysis. The analytical framework for RAAIS is provided in Section 5. Section 6 provides the RAAIS workshop materials and facilitation protocol, the guide for note-taking, the RAAIS workshop analysis templates and an example of a RAAIS post-workshop questionnaire. How RAAIS can be used as a baseline for reflective Monitoring and Evaluation (M&E) is described in Section 7. In Section 8, we reflect on the initial testing of RAAIS and how lessons learned were incorporated to further strengthen it. Section 9 provides reference materials, including scientific papers, reports, and blog-posts and media. Where possible, we have used photographs and video clips to give the reader a better idea of how RAAIS is implemented.
Open Access documents
- The RAAIS Toolkit
- The RAAIS Sessions
- The Workshop guide for note-taking
- The Analysis template
- The Post-workshop questionnaire
- The RAAIS Workshop reports: Burundi, DR Congo and Rwanda, Cameroon, Nigeria, China (also in Chinese), and Ghana.
- The RAAIS Prezi presentation
- The research paper RAAIS: Rapid Appraisal of Agricultural Innovation Systems (Part I). A diagnostic tool for integrated analysis of complex problems and innovation capacity provides insight in the theoretical embedding of RAAIS and elaborates on its conceptual and methodological framework. It also reflects on the testing of RAAIS in Tanzania and Benin, and provides recommendations for improvement.
- The results from testing the framework in Tanzania to analyze parasitic weed problems in rice are published in a companion paper entitled RAAIS: Rapid Appraisal of Agricultural Innovation Systems (Part II). Integrated analysis of parasitic weed problems in rice in Tanzania.
- The Participatory appraisal of institutional and political constraints and opportunities for innovation to address parasitic weeds in rice identifies institutional and political constraints and opportunities for innovation to address parasitic weed problems in rice. Constraints and opportunities for innovation were studied across three nested systems: the parasitic weed control system, the crop protection system, and the agricultural system.
Excerpts from the RAAIS Toolkit written by Marc Schut, IITA/WUR, Laurens Klerkx, WUR, and Cees Leeuwis, WUR. Blog assembled by Valérie Poiré, Communication Officer, Humidtropics. Photo by Marc Schut/IITA-WUR.