Innovation and development in agricultural and food systems

This publication by researchers from CIRAD and INRA combines theoretical contributions on innovation in agricultural and food systems with iconic case studies to illustrate its observations and discussions.

The book “Innovation and development in agricultural and food systems” was published in November 2018 by researchers from France’s Agricultural Research Centre for International Development (CIRAD) and National Institute for Agricultural Research (INRA).

The book is based on reflections and research originating from various scientific disciplines, on fieldwork carried out both in France and in many countries of the Global South, and on the experiences gained by accompanying and supporting innovative actors. The authors focus in particular on supporting innovation by examining methods and organizations, and on evaluating innovation using different yardsticks.

In the agricultural and food sectors, innovation is characterized not only by specificities arising from its relationship to nature, but also from the wide diversity of its stakeholders, ranging from farmers to consumers, and including intermediaries such as the research community and advisory services.

Innovation emerges from interactions between these actors, who mobilize resources and produce knowledge in collaborative mechanisms in order to generate changes. It encompasses domains as varied as production practices, market organization and eating habits. Innovation is closely tied to major development challenges in its various forms: agroecological innovation, social innovation, territorial innovation, etc.

The first part of the book provides an overview of the thinking on innovation in agriculture from a historical perspective, which culminates by taking into account the current and major societal challenges of our time.

The second part examines the different visions of innovation from different disciplinary points of view (agronomy, geography, economics, management, sociology). It also examines them according to different innovation domains (production systems, food systems, organizations, territory).

The third part focuses on supporting innovation by discussing the diversity of research and advisory services that aim to promote innovation, and by proposing methods of intervention to support processes of innovation involving farmers or heterogeneous groups of actors. The research presented in this third part is based on analyses and experience gained from working for several years with advisory and support actors


The eBook is available free of cost from

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