Despite the size of the informal economy in low and middle income countries, and its significance for poorer households and communities, we understand little about innovation in such settings, and how it might best support marginalized households and communities. In this paper we compare two very different kinds of innovation in the same informal setting; that of small scale cotton production in north east Argentina. One involved the informal production and sale of copied genetically modified seeds, an innovation that fitted readily within an incumbent set of socio-technical practices concerned with intensive commodity crop production. The other involved new agro-ecological techniques; a radical departure from incumbent practices. We find both to be problematic, but for different reasons. The production and diffusion of copied genetically modified seeds resolved one problem for small farmers, but created others, and it could not address many additional problems that arise precisely because most aspects ofthe incumbent set of socio-technical practices are themselvesproblematic forsmall farmers. New agro-ecological production practices, on the other hand, addressed many more of the problems that arose from incumbent practices, but its success requiredwider institutional innovation, such as bridging finance, viable markets, and different inputs, that were far more difficult to create and sustain. 

Autores: Patrick van Zwanenberg y Valeria Arza

Versión enviada para su publicación en Innovation and development

Cita: Arza, V. y van Zwanenberg, P., (2014). Innovation in Informal Settings but in Which Direction? The Case of Small Cotton Farming Systems in Argentina. Innovation and development. Vol 4 Issue 1

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