In 2016, PARI, with the help of ZEF, FARA and the respective national partners organized farmer innovation contests in Cameroon, Ethiopia, Kenya, Malawi and Zambia. The contests are a means to identify locally-adapted farmer innovations that lend themselves to rapid and cost-effective adaptation and dissemination. Farmer innovations include technologies or practices that can be applied along the value chain, are different from common or traditional practices, and are developed by a farmer or a group of farmers without external assistance. Farmers are incentivized to share their innovations by the contest prize and the social recognition and reputational advantages of winning the contest.
The contests were implemented in three districts per participating country. They were publicized through radio and print media in local languages in order to reach as many farmers as possible. Local extension agents were trained to document the eligible innovations and help farmers fill out the contest application form.
All applications were evaluated by an independent committee of experts. These included extension officers, researchers, local civil society representatives, and public sector officials. Innovations were categorized by innovator, with a separate category for men, women, and youth aged 18-35. Their innovations were scored based on a list of weighted criteria, as decided by the evaluation team of each respective country. These included innovativeness or originality, economic and dissemination potential, social acceptability, ease of application, gender responsiveness, use of local resources and environmental sustainability. Farmers with the most promising innovations (5 per category per district) received a field visit to screen the innovation and for a further round of scoring.
Three winners per category per district were then announced. Winning farmers could choose a prize equivalent to the amount of the reward. The prize had to be related to agriculture, e.g. agricultural inputs, machinery or specialized training.
Disclaimer: The innovations described on the country-specific pages have not yet been scientifically verified.