The SRI Learning Alliance workshop creates a unique platform where farmers, civil society, government officials and research organizations come together to share their experiences. The first such learning alliance dialogue was held in June 2007. A rather ambitious set of objectives were set. These included:
- Building SRI innovation capacity in Orissa and thereby creating a new culture of innovation
- Creating a learning platform for agriculture officials on SRI
- Working on policy and institutional uptake – enabling policy framework, learning alliances
- Establishing procedures for zonal workshops and SRI monitoring
- Policy advocacy both within the state and at the central level.
At the time of the workshop our understanding of the theoretical literature on learning alliances was limited. But, like in SRI, we felt that we should let the practice inform the theory. Our (XIMB’s) association with the Institutional Learning And Change or ILAC initiative of the international agricultural centres headed by Bioversity International (www.cgiar-ilac.org) has been very helpful in better appreciating the theoretical ideas behind learning alliances. We have since used the phrase to refer to “a platform where a range of stakeholders come together with a common interest in innovation and the creation of new knowledge” (Lundy, 2005).
We feel that the concept is particularly useful for SRI in the Orissa context as SRI is a complex innovation that requires that actors learn together to unravel the principles and insights. SRI principles and practices have been spoken about in many cases leading to worked out package of practices. However, SRI as a system (the S in SRI) has not been sufficiently understood. And we envisage that more of such workshops across the country will bring about the much needed understanding.
This year we bring to you another set of dialgues, another set of questions, and we are thankful to our partners who have enabled us to conduct this workshop. Our partners include -The Directorate of Agriculture and Food Production (Government of Orissa) World Wildlife Fund for Nature, XIMB, Centre for World Solidarity and ILAC (Institutional Learning & Change)