Speaking at the December 2009 SLP meeting in Addis Ababa, Andre Van Rooyen (ICRISAT) explains the 'innovation platform' approach they use to engage with smallholder farmers in Southern Africa. "Our hypothesis is that farmers will only invest in improved technologies when they are part of an effective marketing system." "Innovation platforms allow us to bring in value chain players" that provide credible information and opportunities that are attractive for farmers to adopt. He argues that there are many brilliant technologies available, but the challenge is to get these into the context of farmers so they can see and experience the real benefits. Innovation systems provide the opportunity or platform to do this. "Using this process, we can identify the real challenges, not our challenges as scientists, but what the farmers are struggling with."