Insights on scaling of innovations from Agricultural Research for Development: views from practitioners


  • Lennart Woltering CIMMYT
  • Maria del Refugio Boa-Alvarado CIMMYT


R4D, CGIAR, interviews, scaling, practice, roles,


Despite a growing body of literature on how to scale innovations to contribute to the Sustainable Development Goals, there has been little attention for how scientists and programme managers engage with the scaling process in practice. Through 36 interviews we found that the dominant understanding of scaling was output and beneficiary-focused, rather than outcome and society focused as the latest literature suggests.  This has implications on how scaling is approached in projects on the ground, and on the role of an agricultural Research for Development (R4D) organization such as the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT) in bridging science and development. . We recommend more reflection on the scaling process and make more use of scaling capacities and tools to better link scientific knowledge to results on the ground.

Author Biographies

Lennart Woltering, CIMMYT

Lennart Woltering is the Scaling Catalyst at the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT), seconded through the GIZ/CGIAR Task Force on Scaling. Chair of the Agriculture working group of the Global Community of Practice in Scaling Up Development Outcomes. Developer of the Scaling Scan tool that helps users quickly identify bottlenecks and opportunities for scaling. Interested in the practical implications of shifting mindset around scaling from “reaching many” to include sustainability, responsibility and systems change.

Lennart Woltering, Carr. México-Veracruz Km. 45 56237, Texcoco, Mexico. E-mail:

Maria del Refugio Boa-Alvarado, CIMMYT

María Boa-Alvarado is the Scaling Coordinator of the Sustainable Intensification Program at CIMMYT. Passionate about understanding and building resilient and sustainable agri-food systems. Facilitator and moderator specialized in the Scaling Scan tool with different experiences in Latin America, Africa, and South Asia. Co-chair of the Agriculture working group of the Global Community of Practice in Scaling Up Development Outcomes.

María Boa Alvarado, Carretera México-Veracruz Km. 45, 56237, Texcoco, Mexico. E-mail:


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