Disentangling challenges in mainstreaming smallholder farmers perspectives into knowledge co-creation processes: evidence from Benin



Knowledge integration, knowledge co-creation, knowledge management, agribusiness, smallholders, farmers, private sector, evidence-informed policymaking, sustainable development goals, agricultural development


Achieving impact at scale in the agricultural sector demands the contribution of all stakeholders for transformational changes. However, although smallholders form most agri-food value chains, actors, in developing countries, their voices and idiosyncrasies are little consulted and accounted for in policymaking. Yet, co-creation knowledge processes efforts to improve such situations are ongoing but face operational challenges, usually context-specific, that the literature fails to point out. Our thought piece addresses the knowledge gap and discusses how to effectively engage smallholders in critical discussions regarding the sustainable transformation of agriculture. We showed that when discussing with smallholders about their livelihoods and economic activities, they often demonstrate poverty and misery to entice policy interventions; falsifying responses, if necessary, is part of the strategy. We thought that the reason justifying such a situation might be because many knowledge processes consider smallholders as passive information providers; therefore, we made a call to researchers to ensure smallholders understand the research purpose and contribution to policymaking. However, there is still a risk of information falsification in the other way around, bringing to the attention that there is no easy solution. We, therefore, suggest that researchers be cognizant of the risk and deal with it in two possible ways: using indirect objective questions in place of direct subjective questions and triangulating information.

Author Biographies

Mawuna Donald Houessou, ACED

Mawuna Donald Houessou is the Director of Operations at ACED, a non-profit organization in the Republic of Benin that works to build connections between research, action, and policy in the food and nutrition security sector to improve the livelihoods of vulnerable populations. He has extensive experience in program management, research and evaluation in food and nutrition security, community resilience, common goods, fisheries, urban agriculture, and urban food systems. He is a Ph.D. researcher, working on an operational framework for urban agriculture development in Benin, at Athena Institute of the VU University of Amsterdam, Netherlands.

Frejus Thoto, ACED

Fréjus S. Thoto is the Executive Director of ACED, a nonprofit organization that connects evidence, policy, and action to improve food and nutrition security. From 2015 to 2019, ACED implemented two projects, in Benin, funded by the Dutch Food & Business Research programme ? one on inland fisheries and the other on urban agriculture. Frejus has recently worked, as Knowledge Management Expert, for the African Capacity Building Foundation (ACBF), the African Union's specialized agency for capacity building. He studied agricultural economics and his research interests include knowledge management and agricultural entrepreneurship on which he is pursuing a PhD.


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Sonneveld, B., Thoto, F., Houessou, D. and Wesenbeeck, L. van. (2019). Tragedy of the inland lakes. International Journal of the Commons, 13(1), pp.609?636. DOI: http://doi.org/10.18352/ijc.911