The Programma para Fortalecer la Innovación Agropecuaria Local started in 2000. PIAL's experiences needed to be scaled out and its practices and methods disseminated to all provinces in Cuba. At the same time, PIAL was to be anchored within Cuban institutions, both at local and at national levels.
Since its inception in 2007, iCRA has supported the Local Agricultural Innovation Programme in Cuba, known as PIAL (the Programa de Innovación Agropecuaria Local). The innovation processes led by local actors in PIAL built on iCRA's ‘interactive learning cycle approach’, engaging those who commonly face innovation challenges and who can benefit from joint learning and action. For an action learning cycle to be successful, it requires ‘champions’ to bring all actors together and keep them oriented towards mutual goals.
In previous years, iCRA trained those champions through such learning cycles. In 2015, iCRA coached 20 of them to become trainers themselves and to train a further 35 new champions through additional learning cycles. There are now 55 trained champions in PIAL, of which 46 are women. They work at two levels: directly improving the entrepreneurial capacity of actors in agrifood chains, and working through education, research and local government organizations to disseminate best agricultural practices through the PIAL innovation network. This network now supports more than 50,000 small-scale farmers in Cuba.