Recently, the interpretation of the innovation process has changed significantly. Its linear model has evolved to a dynamic and ongoing participatory approach where cooperation, oriented to generate co-ownership, is the essence to co-produce knowledge among multiple actors. Farmers’ direct participation in the process is widely accepted since they contribute with first-hand information, perceptions, field experiences, and feedback that are essential for the design and implementation of a project. The European Union encourages their participation through the European Rural Development Policy that promotes competitiveness and sustainability in the agriculture and forestry sectors, building bridges among heterogeneous stakeholders that complement each other to find an innovative solution to a given problem. Thus far, despite participation importance, few details have been provided about producer’s contributions within the process. Consequently, this paper attempts to explore the modus operandi of an Italian Operational Group to get insights about the farmers’ participation and identify the factors that could influence and foster the interactive innovation process. The results, based on a participatory observation, key informants’ interviews, and theory reflection, revealed that farmers are active players in the design and implementation phases. Yet, their participation is not constant throughout the entire process. Empower them to find solutions with different players is a complex challenge as it requires motivation, commitment, trust, and an open communication among different actors.
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License
which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited