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Agricultural Innovation Systems (AIS): A Study of Stakeholders and their Relations in System of Rice Intensification (SRI)

Partners' Institution
Södertörn University
Suchiradipta, B., Raj, S., 2015. Agricultural Innovation Systems (AIS): A Study of Stakeholders and their Relations in System of Rice Intensification (SRI). The Journal of Agricultural Education and Extension 21, 343–368.
Thematic Area
Development studies
Purpose: This paper identifies the stakeholders of System of Rice Intensification (SRI), their roles and actions and the supporting and enabling environment of innovation in the state as the elements of the Agricultural Innovation Systems (AIS) in SRI in Tripura state of India and studies the relationship matrix among the stakeholders. Methodology: A descriptive research design was followed to study the agricultural innovation system in SRI. Criterion and expert sampling were employed to select the stakeholders and data was collected by a personal interview method with the help of a semi-structured schedule. Actor Linkage Matrix was employed to study the linkage among the stakeholders in the innovation systems.Findings: The major stakeholders of the innovation systems were the public extension system and the farmers. A unique role of popularization and dissemination of the agricultural technology among the farmers was played by the Panchayati Raj Institutions, the democratic decentralized administrative units at the grass-root level for the dissemination. The relationship between the farmers and the Department of Agriculture, Government of Tripura was found to be strong. The farmers, even though they were primary stakeholders, were not much integrated in the system in decision-making. Media, an important stakeholder for creating awareness, was found to be working independently in the state to create awareness on SRI. The enabling environment for innovation was supported to a great extent by the policies and political and administrative support structures in the state by assisting the farmers in growing rice through SRI.Practical Implications: This paper concentrates on how the integration of stakeholders in the SRI innovation systems has promoted knowledge generation, management, sharing, and learning in SRI, which can be effectively applied in other crops and sectors in India and the developing world.Originality: The paper is one of the very few studies conducted to understand the stakeholders of SRI in the context of Agricultural Innovation Systems in North East India.
Relevance for Complex Systems Knowledge
The article describes the relations between two types of systems, Agricultural Innovation systems and the system of rice intensification. Innovation systems are described as “a social system with interactive learning in the centre and actors and elements which interact … making a dynamic system”. The article list various interpretations of which actors, elements and interactions to include in the system analysis, landing to focus on key stakeholders and their roles. Then emphasizing links between the stakeholders, beyond the description as weak or strong with an ambition to analyse the quality of the linkages and which actors connect to whom. The objective is to create foundations for a transformation of agricultural extension services as a technology transfer mechanism (formal or informal short term farmer education) to extension as a functional partner in the innovation system.

The approach taken in the context of a geographically located System of Rice Intensification is to use a Actor Linkage Matrix (ALM) depicting all the actors and the links between them. From the ALM, key stakeholders were selected, based on interviews with informants. The ALM also helped to identify significant links. The links were studied to define their type and also the type of learning occurring in them. Important functions complied by the stakeholders were defined as: Advocating, Brokering, Coaching, Convening, Dissemination, Facilitating, Funding, Mediating, R&D.

The ALM was used to describe several aspects with a number put into the cells of the Matrix. Relationships were defined as 0 = no relation; 0.1–1 = poor; 1.1–2 = fair; 2.1–3 = good; 3.1–4 = very good; blank cells = don´t know.

Type of linkage were defined as 1 = Advocacy linkage, 2 = Partnership, 3 = Network, 4 = Alliance, 5 = Paternalistic, 6 = Information exchange, 7 = Formal contract.

Type of learning as A = Interactive; B = Learning by doing; C = Learning by training.

Using the ALM, together with qualitative descriptions of the linkages made it possible to come up with a range of recommendations to how the Innovation system for rice intensification could be strengthened.
Point of Strength
The Actor Linkage Matrix proves to be a a pretty simple device to visualize  the linkages in the system. The article also clearly shows that the ALM needs to be complemented with qualitative descriptions to qualify what the typologies actually means. What is not so clear from the article is how the different ALMs showing specific features are combined to make up the description of the system. Here is room for further development of the ALM to cover multiple dimensions. Yet, the article was inspiring for a more formalized study of innovation systems.