Platform for African – European Partnership in Agricultural Research for Development

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Learning and Innovation Platforms for Agricultural Knowledge and Technologies in Africa

1-5 October, 2012. Mwanza, Tanzania, Sixty five professionals and experts on knowledge sharing and technology dissemination gathered in Mwanza.They were focal points for RAILS and DONATA platforms currently funded by the AfDB/PSTAD project through FARA’s leadership with SROs’ (ASARECA, CORAF/WECARD and CCARDESA) coordinating support. IITA, CIP and ICRA are providing technical backstopping and NRI on M&E process. 

Participants shared experiences in managing knowledge exchange and innovation platforms. They learnt about evolution on the use of the value chain approach along the upward (inputs) and downward (commodity) chain. Most of the learning and innovation platforms led by research start with the seed upward chain. Stakeholders then get more engaged through greater interactions and understanding of issues and opportunities. This triggers interventions towards the downward chain such as processing and marketing of products.
Participants engaged in co-learning 

of the value chain approach

A field day allowed interaction with farmers, processors, traders of orange-fleshed-sweet potato in the Mwanza district. The learning and innovation platforms in Mwanza have evolved over the past 4 years of their operation, with greater ownership by the local governments and cooperatives managing processing plants. The platforms were facilitated by LZARDI, ASARECA, CIP and FARA.

The workshop highlighted the importance of shared understanding on the value chain approach and variations in actual practice of establishing learning and innovation platforms based on culture, environment and available resources. There are some platforms with formal and some with informal institutional structures. Their form and operation depend on transactions made among members i.e. financial resources shared or technical advice. The basic and initial objective is food security linked to development perspective.

As the learning and innovation platforms evolve, the commercial or business perspectives increases. Throughout the process, documentation and effective monitoring and evaluation mechanisms becomes critical for enhanced learning and accountability.

1st October - 5 October 2012. Mwanza. Representatives from 24 African countries meet to reflect on achievements and challenges of implementing the dissemination of new agricultural technologies in Africa (Donata) project.

According to Dr Lydia Kimenya, the up-scaling programme manager from the Association for Strengthening Agricultural Research in Eastern and Central Africa (Asareca), the conference aims at looking at achievements and draw lessons from current efforts to spread quality protein maize and orange fleshed sweet potatoes (Ofsps) in Africa.
“The conference, it is hoped, will further boost dissemination and adoption of improved agricultural technologies and innovations through innovation platforms,” she said.
According to her, the project on dissemination of new agricultural technologies in Africa is part of the promoting science and technology for agricultural development initiative funded by the African Development Bank (AfDB) through the Forum for Agricultural Research in Africa (Fara).

Through Asareca, the project manages and coordinates the implementation of Donata in Eastern and Central Africa.

“It works together with the national agricultural research institutes of Tanzania, Uganda, Kenya, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Rwanda, and while, Ethiopia, which joined later started implementing the project in 2008,” she explained.
Dr Kimenye explained that through the knowledge management and the up-scaling programme, Asareca had been working with the five East African counties to promote the transfer and dissemination of technologies in sweet potatoes and transfer and dissemination of technologies in quality protein maize.
“The technologies include improved varieties, crop management practices and post-harvest management and processing to produce value added products for human consumption and for livestock feeds,” she added. According to her, the two crops’ technologies are being promoted through an approach known as Innovation Platforms for Technology Adoption (Iptas).
“This approach engages and brings together researchers, field extension workers, farmers, policy makers, non-governmental organisations, Microfinance Institutions (MFIs), seed companies, input suppliers and processors to share information, knowledge and skills on proven technologies in order to widely disseminate them,” she added.

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