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Client-driven biotechnology research for poor farmers: a case study from India
International Journal of Technology Management and Sustainable Development 5 (2) 125-147
This paper explores an attempt to bring biotechnology more directly within the ambit of civil society in general and resource-poor farmers in particular. The Andhra Pradesh Netherlands Biotechnology Programme (APNLBP) was one of four country programmes initiated by Dutch aid in the early 1990s. It is coming to an end as an aid project next year. The broad objective of the programme was to contribute to poverty alleviation through biotechnologies but to do so in a rather unique way. Instead of having R&D laboratories develop a raft of new technologies and then 'disseminating' these to farmers, the emphasis was put on direct interaction with farmers and related stakeholder groups such as non-governmental organizations (NGOs).
The paper describes the programme's inception and evolution, outlines key governance aspects and sets the analytical discussion within the context of modern '˜innovation systems' discourse. Two aspects in particular are emphasized. The first is the degree of connectivity among the different stakeholders that are part of the system. It is now well recognized that it is the flow of information across stakeholder groups that often determines the degree of technological development that occurs, although clearly there are other factors also involved. The second is the importance of institutions and institutional change in enabling successful innovation to take place.