n African Journal of Science, Technology, Innovation and Development - Grassroots innovation as a mechanism for smallholder development in South Africa : can impact be measured?

Volume 4, Issue 3
  • ISSN : 2042-1338
  • E-ISSN: 2042-1346
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This paper consists of a discussion of two case studies of 'grassroots' innovation led by innovative smallholder farmers in a village in South Africa - one about developing an alternative production practice for growing potatoes, and the other about introducing a new cash crop (cherry peppers) and the establishment of a new marketing relationship. The study explores questions about the development of innovation indicators that might support policy and management concerned with this kind of innovation and examines the position of 'grassroots' innovation within other perspectives on different kinds of innovation systems (or mode of innovation) in agriculture in developing countries. The case studies provide information on innovation activities, and suggest indicators that could be used to measure the impact of grassroots innovation on livelihoods as well as indicators to quantify the extent to which farmer experimentation and local innovation was taking place. However, these indicators are not generalizable to the point where aggregate versions could support policy debate.

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