New paper: Systems approaches to innovation in pest management

This paper provides a retrospective look at a systems-oriented research program, on the increasing occurrence of parasitic weeds in rainfed rice in sub-Saharan Africa, to qualitatively assess merits and identify challenges of such approach. We gained a broad contextual overview of the problem and different stakeholders’ roles, which enabled identification of entry points for innovations in parasitic weed management. At the crop level parasitic weed infestation is associated with poor soil fertility and water management. Farmers’ infrequent use of inputs to control them was caused by various factors, ranging from fears of undesired side effects (agronomic) to a lack of quality control of products (institutional). Furthermore, there may be enough extension agents, but they lack the required training on (parasitic) weed management to provide farmers with advice, while their organizations do not provide them with the necessary means for farm visits. At even higher organizational levels we observed a lack of coherent policies on parasitic weed control and implementation of them. Merits and challenges of an integrated multi-stakeholder and multi-level research project are discussed. Keywords: multi-disciplinary; trans-disciplinary; agricultural innovation systems (AIS); farmer participation; multi-stake-holder; crop protection

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