RAAKS: multi-stakeholder learning in agricultural innovation systems

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KIT Dossier RAAKS: multi-stakeholder learning in agricultural innovation systems

Last update: Monday 01 January 0001

This KIT dossier provides free online access to the full content of the RAAKS Resource Box. RAAKS stands for Rapid Appraisal of Agricultural Knowledge Systems and provides guidance for conducting participatory action-research in a multi-stakeholder context. In the world of development co-operation, many agricultural projects are more than simply technical interventions. It is crucial to recognize when different stakeholders have different views on what actually constitutes the problem. In such a case the problem can only be defined by simultaneously looking for the solution. This requires procedures to structure a process of learning and inquiry, which Checkland (1981) eventually named soft systems methodology. The classical premise that 'if you carefully analyse the problem, you are likely to find the solution' has been reversed to: 'If you don’t collaboratively learn to find the solution, you will never define the problem.' For large, multi-faceted development projects such a 'social learning' approach is increasingly recommended to achieve effectiveness and sustainability.

RAAKS builds on this with a model of learning and inquiry that is specifically aimed at problems in agricultural knowledge and information systems (AKIS). RAAKS is special in that IT is theoretically founded in the soft systems methodology and practically validated in four continents, including Africa and Latin America (Engel, 1997; Engel & Salomon, 1997). Dr. Paul Engel (see portrait to the right) also provided a brief description of RAAKS in layman’s terms (1995b). Click here for a shortcut to the contents of the RAAKS resource box. In 'KIT’s involvement', an overview is provided of work with RAAKS in AKIS by staff of the Sustainable Economic Development (SED) section of the Royal Tropical Institute (KIT). In the Resources section you will find case studies of the application of RAAKS, learning resources for RAAKS, and KIT resources in relation to RAAKS. For the above RAAKS references refer to the end of the In-Depth section.

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Rural Innovation Systems


For questions or suggestions about this dossier, please contact the editor, Sjon van 't Hof, at s.v.t.hof@kit.nl.