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Open Access Positive selection in seed potato production in Kenya as a case of successful research-led innovation

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By identifying the success factors of a programme on positive seed potato selection, this article analyses the role of research in agricultural innovation. The positive seed selection programme developed an approach to improve the quality of seed potatoes by ware potato growers, complementary to specialized seed production systems now widely promoted in sub-Saharan Africa. With more weight being placed on innovation rather than on research outcome, the role of research has been widened and research has assumed responsibility for developing and piloting effective training through partnership with extension. Researchers effectively contributed to innovation because they were given and took the liberty of pursuing a ‘bright idea’. The case discussed in this article points out that innovation can emerge from old technology within existing institutional environments, and can be surprisingly simple as long as researchers have room to manoeuvre and opportunity to engage in partnerships with practitioners.
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Keywords: Eastern Africa; Kenya; Paul Winkler; innovation; positive selection; research policy; seed potato production

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Royal Tropical Institute 2: Wageningen University and Research Center 3: International Potato Center 4: African Agriculture Technology Foundation 5: Kenya Agricultural Research Institute 6: Wageningen University and Research Centre

Publication date: 2012-04-01

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