Climate-smart agriculture (CSA) has been proposed as a solution to the challenge of transforming agricultural systems to support food security in increasingly unpredictable climate conditions. CSA has the potential to achieve the levels of innovation needed to increase smallholder farmer productivity and reduce environmental impacts in African food systems. Yet, the broader literature presents the levels of CSA adoption by smallholder farmers in Ghana and much of Africa as being low.
In seeking to make sense of this low uptake of CSA, it is important to understand the complexity of the innovation process. Often, innovation adoption is viewed as a simple, linear process, with binary outcomes of adopters and non-adopters, and without clarifying what needs to be counted as instances of innovation or recognising the dynamic process of experimentation and learning characteristic of the innovation process.
This study uses an innovation systems perspective, in terms of which innovation is viewed as a complex, non-linear process, with multiple actors and underlying intrinsic and extrinsic factors shaping the innovation process as it unfolds. Using a qualitative, exploratory approach involving individual in-depth interviews and participatory videos, the study sheds light on the different pathways along which smallholder farmers are experimenting, adapting and using Conservation Agriculture practices in maize farming systems in Ghana.
The study contributes to building knowledge on innovation, particularly in terms of how innovation adoption, rather than being a simple, one-off process, presents as ongoing and dynamic. From a methodological point of view, the study also contributes to the use of participatory videos to better understand farmers’ experiences in the innovation process.