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On the road to change: writing the history of technologies in Bolivia (PLA 58)

Guest editors: Tom Wakeford and Jasber Singh. To read the full table of contents please click on ‘More information’ above.

This article describes a project in Bolivia implemented by a consortium of research organisations called Innova. Its goal was to test methods for linking supply and demand for farming technology. Innova took several technologies that researchers felt were nearly ready to release. It tested whether they corresponded to what farmers really wanted, and then fine tuned those technologies ready for extension to farmers. The project adapted many participatory methods while trying out promising technologies with farmers. This article focuses on an innovative type of workshop, in which grassroots agronomists were given the opportunity to map the history of the technologies introduced (Road to Change). We heard how the technologies changed and were able to understand local reactions to the innovations.

We found this type of workshop to be a useful evaluation tool in showing how technologies were adapted and adopted, or not adopted, and the role of the Innova project in this process. Admitting mistakes is an important part of successful adaptations. Roads to Change examined how technology changed rather than what the project did or achieved. It provided a novel and more objective window into how the projects’ activities influenced the twists and turns on the road to innovation.

Participatory Learning and Action (PLA, formerly PLA Notes) is the world's leading series on participatory learning and action approaches and methods. PLA publishes articles on participation aimed at practitioners, researchers, academics and activists. All articles are peer-reviewed by an international editorial board. See: www.planotes.org

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