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Platform, Participation, and Power: How Dominant and Minority Stakeholders Shape Agricultural Innovation

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  • Colleen M. Eidt

    (Department of Natural Resource Sciences, Faculty of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, McGill University, 21,111 Lakeshore Road, Ste. Anne de Bellevue, QC H9X 3V9, Canada)

  • Laxmi P. Pant

    (School of Environmental Design and Rural Development, University of Guelph, Guelph, ON N1G 2W1, Canada
    Natural Resources Institute, University of Greenwich, Kent ME4 4TB, UK)

  • Gordon M. Hickey

    (Department of Natural Resource Sciences, Faculty of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, McGill University, 21,111 Lakeshore Road, Ste. Anne de Bellevue, QC H9X 3V9, Canada)

Abstract

Within agricultural innovation systems (AIS), various stakeholder groups inevitably interpret ‘innovation’ from their own vantage point of privilege and power. In rural developing areas where small-scale and subsistence farming systems support livelihoods, dominant policy actors often focus heavily on participatory modernization and commercialization initiatives to enhance productivity, access, and quality. However, existing social hierarchies may undermine the potential of such initiatives to promote inclusive and sustainable farmer-driven innovation. Focusing on the chronically food insecure smallholder agricultural systems operating in Yatta Sub-county, Eastern Kenya, this paper explores how power dynamics between stakeholders can influence, and can be influenced by, participatory agricultural innovation initiatives. Findings suggest that there are often significant disparities in access to, and control over, platform resources between smallholder farmers and other stakeholder groups, resulting in large asymmetries. We discuss how these power dynamics may increase the risk of agricultural intervention, further marginalizing already disempowered groups and reinforcing power hierarchies to the detriment of smallholders. This study highlights the need for a deeper understanding of the institutional contexts that facilitate and maintain relationships of power within agricultural innovation systems, as well as the complexities associated with promoting transformational agricultural innovation.

Suggested Citation

  • Colleen M. Eidt & Laxmi P. Pant & Gordon M. Hickey, 2020. "Platform, Participation, and Power: How Dominant and Minority Stakeholders Shape Agricultural Innovation," Sustainability, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 12(2), pages 1-21, January.
  • Handle: RePEc:gam:jsusta:v:12:y:2020:i:2:p:461-:d:306188
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    3. Michał Dudek & Wioletta Wrzaszcz, 2020. "On the Way to Eco-Innovations in Agriculture: Concepts, Implementation and Effects at National and Local Level. The Case of Poland," Sustainability, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 12(12), pages 1-22, June.

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