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PublicationsSystematic reviewsInnovation grants in agriculture SR
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Effectiveness of innovation grants to smallholder agricultural producers: an explorative systematic review

What do we want to know?

Are innovation grants to smallholders effective in facilitating agricultural innovation?

Who wants to know and why?

Grants for agricultural innovation are common but grant funds specifically targeted to smallholder farmers remain relatively rare. Nevertheless, they are receiving increasing recognition as a promising venue for agricultural innovation. They stimulate smallholders to experiment with improved practices, to become pro-active and to engage with research and extension providers. The systematic review covered three modalities of disbursing these grants to smallholder farmers and their organisations: vouchers, competitive grants and farmer-led innovation support funds. The results of this systematic review will benefit governments and NGOs wishing to develop and deliver effective interventions.

What did we find?

The review team used a systematic search in electronic data-bases to capture studies from different disciplines and geographical areas, published until January 2012. The synthesis was based on 20 impact studies and makes reference to another 42 largely qualitative studies. These additional studies provide information about the functioning and effectiveness of the innovation grant system but do not contain a structured assessment of impact.

What are the implications? 

  • Innovation grant systems have a small evidence-base on impacts but a plausible rationale.
  • Human and social capital drive sustained innovation but was not consistently monitored.
  • Donors should commission impact evaluations beyond the grant fund implementation period.

How did we get these results?

The review team used a systematic search in electronic data-bases to capture studies from different disciplines and geographical areas. The relevant electronic search results (186 out of 4,322 hits) were complemented by hand-searching additional references through snowballing and reviewing project web-sites. This resulted in a total of 227 studies.

  • Most of these studies were excluded in a later stage because they did not contain any information on the way in which the grant was disbursed and/or the role of the farmers in governing the innovation grant system.
  • Finally, the synthesis was based on 20 impact studies and makes reference to another 42 largely qualitative studies. These additional studies provide information about the functioning and effectiveness of the innovation grant system butdo not contain a structured assessment of impact.

Ton G, de Grip K, Klerkx L, Rau M-L, Douma M, Friis-Hansen E, Triomphe B, Waters-Bayer A, Wongtschowski M (2013) Effectiveness of innovation grants to smallholder agricultural producers: an explorative systematic review. EPPI-Centre, Social Science Research Unit, Institute of Education, University of London. ISBN: 978-1-907345-54-8

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