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Constraint-based innovations in agriculture and sustainable development: A scoping review

Molina-Maturano, Janet, Speelman, Stijn, De Steur, Hans
Journal of cleaner production 2020 v.246 pp. 119001
agricultural machinery and equipment, alternative farming, biomass, innovation adoption, irrigation systems, irrigation water, mobile telephones, models, sustainable development, terminology
Constraint-based innovations, including frugal approaches, have attracted increasing interest across disciplines due to their potential to promote sustainable development while meeting Bottom of the Pyramid (BOP) needs. However, the academic literature to date has resulted in overlapping terminology, lacks a robust theoretical basis and includes few sector-specific studies. This particularly applies to constraint-based innovation in agriculture, a crucial yet under-researched sector. A review of relevant literature from the last 12 years (2007–March 2019) was conducted to identify concepts and current theoretical underpinning. In total, 30 cases were identified and categorized under agricultural machinery, water for irrigation equipment, alternative farming systems, ICTs and mobile phone applications and biomass systems. Our analysis finds that ‘inclusive’ and ‘smallholder’ innovation concepts are used in an agricultural context; and that the innovation networks, direction of the innovation and scale are key attributes. Also that Appropriate Technology (AT) has proved its worth as a suitable outline for discussing lessons learned from unsuccessful innovations. The results also indicate that there is a need for further research on the integration of frameworks, such as the Technology Adoption Model (TAM) and the Sustainable Rural Livelihoods (SRL), to link constraint-based innovations with sustainable development at a local level. Finally, a framework is proposed for practitioners, as a starting point, to identify and research agricultural constraint-based innovations and their potential impact on sustainable development.