A generic rural innovation model [GRIM]

Or, how to take the wicked problems of the world´s rural poor more seriously

Aim blog    Over the past few days I have been doing some soul-searching about the meaning of this blog and where it is supposed to lead? Or, if that is impossible to determine: in which direction it should evolve?  A few ideas stood out with immediate clarity: (1) it should be about smallholder farming, especially in Africa. That’s because my own experience is mostly with African smallholders. Besides, there are quite a few of them, almost all of them poor; (2) it should be about value chains – local, regional, national, or international – because they are needed to drive change, hopefully for the better; and (3) it should involve systems thinking, because it is hard to see how else the two can be brought together for the benefit of both.

Value proposition   Your typical agricultural development project involves some kind of value proposition to the beneficiaries, i.c. the smallholders and their families. Given the desperate situation they are in, the farm families are often quite willing to give the proposition a try, even if there are doubts about its “value”. Besides, trial-and-error is a very common method in any society, even in centrally planned ones. But what is often ignored or overlooked in these development projects is the central importance of the value proposition. Read on ….

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About Sjon van ’t Hof

Development professional who worked in rural development, tropical agriculture, and irrigation development in Chad, Zambia, Mali, Ghana, Mauritania, Israel, Burkina Faso, Niger, and the Netherlands in capacities ranging from project design and management to information management. Conducted missions to India, China, Kenya, and Bangladesh. Experience in the development and delivery of trainings in irrigation equipment selection, information literacy, Internet searching and database searching. Explores systems thinking in relation to international development, education, and management, with an ever stronger focus on the systems approach of C. West Churchman. Knowledgeable in tropical agriculture, project design and development economics, agricultural mechanization, irrigation, plant pathology, environmental degradation and protection, rural development. Co-authored "Wicked Solutions: a systems approach to complex problems", a book written by Bob Williams and Sjon van 't Hof. It was published in June 2014 and provides a practical way of dealing with wicked problems. Wicked problems are complex, ill-structured, human problem situations. This book will help you design an inquiry and intervention in such messy, wicked situations. It does so by guiding you through the steps and stages of a systemic process that addresses your own wicked problem. For more information, see http://csl4d.wordpress.com/ or http://www.bobwilliams.co.nz/Systems_Resources.html
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