Rural innovation systems: introduction

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KIT Dossier Rural innovation systems: introduction

Last update: Thursday 11 October 2012

How to make research & extension demand-driven?

Rural innovation systems (RIS) is a new, broad approach aimed at the systemic understanding and facilitation of the interaction among all factors and actors for generating, diffusing, and utilizing new knowledge for rural development.

This dossier is about the use of the RIS approach, both as an analytical concept and a development tool. The focus is on the contribution that the RIS approach can make to alleviating poverty in rural areas of developing countries.

Agricultural development remains a key challenge in the fight against poverty in the South. Innovation in the broad sense - a mixture of technological, social and institutional factors - is needed to enhance agricultural development. Interactive learning between actors can contribute to new knowledge and innovation. Knowledge service providers, and intermediary organizations , are crucial in improving the performance of the rural innovation system.

A major challenge is to strengthen the agricultural knowledge and information system (AKIS), in particular the agricultural research, extension and education functions. A key question is how knowledge-based service provision, public or private, can become more demand-driven and how other actors such as the private sector, farms and firms, and farmers themselves can become empowered in the agricultural innovation system.

Inquiries on KIT’s expertise and activities in this field can be directed to Bertus WenninkWillem Heemskerk, or other members in the team Agricultural services for rural development.

For more resources on this topic, please refer to the KIT Portal Rural Innovation Systems or the KIT Portal Value Chains for Development.

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Rural Innovation Systems


For questions or suggestions about this dossier, please contact the editor, Sjon van 't Hof, at

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