The Research Into Use (RIU) programme aims to accumulate and evaluate evidence to shape and share lessons on how best to enable innovation in the agricultural sector so as to achieve social and economic gains in diverse developing country settings.

By innovation we mean the application of new knowledge, or of existing knowledge used in new ways and contexts, to do something better. For RIU:

  • Knowledge includes information, technologies, practices and policies
  • Agriculture includes crops, livestock, fisheries and aquaculture, and forestry – from primary production, through processing, storage and input and output markets, to consumption

RIU is primarily a research programme. In undertaking our research, however, we also aim to put existing research products into use at scale.

This is not simply a question of how better use can be made of the large stockpile of agricultural research products that remain on the shelf – although that was one of the original rationales for establishing RIU. The research focus of RIU is the relationship between agricultural research and innovation – working towards identifying better processes to get research into use, rather than how to put specific research products into use.

This approach responds to extensive evidence that suggests that agricultural innovation is very often not the result of simply transferring research products to farmers, entrepreneurs and policy makers. More usually research promotes innovation only when it is embedded in the wide set of relationships and processes which help shape ideas and put them into use. 

The key research objective for RIU is to tease out how a range of different approaches impact on making the best use of agricultural research as a policy instrument for development. This will involve looking at timing, settings, contexts, people, policies and institutions. In seeking answers to this complex question, RIU aims to provide guidance (but not a blueprint) to those seeking to make better use of agricultural research as a tool to bring about social and economic development, thereby helping to shape future practice and policy.

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