Platform for African – European Partnership in Agricultural Research for Development

Monday, January 17, 2011

Multi-actor systems as entry points to agricultural capacity development

Multi-actor systems as entry points to capacity development

It is often assumed that capacity development starts from within individuals and organisations and then permeates into society. But capacity also comes about through interaction between actors. This suggests that a change in intervention logic and repertoire can boost effectiveness.  
The capacity of a system is increased by enhancing the quality and relevance of relationships between actors at different levels. The essence of working with a multi-actor system is to establish or reinforce connections between actors who did not previously relate to one another, or who did so ineffectively or antagonistically – despite having interests in common. The Ugandan case study demonstrates that facilitating multi-stakeholder engagement was pivotal in creating favourable conditions for other innovations and forms of capacity development support. The multi-stakeholder platforms produced concrete results, and they did so through the enhanced collective ability of the multi-actor system to understand, discuss, act, change and develop itself.
Case studies: Multi-actor systems as entry points to capacity development
The following case studies from Ethiopia, Uganda and Kenya provide some real-life experiences of how multi-actor capacity development takes place.

CASE STUDY 1: Boosting the honey trade – Ethiopia   
beehive-ethiopiaIn 2005, Ethiopian beekeepers were producing just small quantities of high-quality table honey. Most of what they produced was of a standard quality and destined for sale locally to be used in   tej, the traditional Ethiopian honey wine. Five years later, 27,000 producers managed to increase the production of high-quality honey resulting in an increase in average household income of US$150. Now, ten honey processors are providing 400 tonnes of honey annually for the export market.  
How did this change happen? Although a simple story in itself, the reality is a complex one of facilitating immediate opportunities, stimulating innovations for major constraints and building on or unlocking existing initiatives.  

CASE STUDY 2: The oilseed value chain – Uganda
An analysis of Uganda’s oilseed sub-sector in 2006 revealed that there was great potential for growth in terms of productivity, income and employment. However, it was apparent that growth was stifled by poor coordination and lack of collaboration and information sharing between actors. As a result, the supply of inputs was inadequate, bulk purchasing was a rarity, post-harvest handling facilities and technologies were inadequate, actors lacked access to finance, and sub-sector policies and regulations were weak.  

CASE STUDY 3: Transforming livestock marketing – Kenya

livestock marketsFor decades, livestock producers in the Wamba district of Samburu County had struggled to access markets and meet their income needs. They often had to trek for several days to markets, encountering considerable insecurity along the way. Margins were very low; an animal often changed hands five times before being sold. Producers had no direct link with livestock markets. This was left to the middlemen who came to the rural areas looking for animals to buy. Even though there was demand, the high transaction costs incurred by traders buying from geographically spread producers resulted in low prices. 
Cutting out the middleman  However, an innovative approach to livestock marketing began to emerge from the collaboration of the various actors. This involved establishing an interior market managed by the community. The community also collected livestock taxes on behalf of the regional local government, with whom they shared the tax on a fifty-fifty basis.
The new market’s proximity to the community encouraged direct links between traders from terminal markets and the producers. This cut out a number of middlemen and improved prices by more than 30%. As a result of sharing the taxes, the community’s commitment to the arrangement increased and this contributed to reductions in livestock theft, insecurity and tax evasion by producers and traders.  

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