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Africa RISING Learning event 2
11-12 November 2014
Ngurdoto Mountain Lodge, Arusha, Tanzania
[edit | edit source]

Ngurdoto Mountain Lodge, Arusha, Tanzania This year's focus: Dealing with diversity / farm typologies

Ngurdoto Mountain Lodge, Arusha, Tanzania Objectives

  • Review important achievements across the program in the past year and review agreements made and decisions taken at the previous learning event
  • Review and discuss how to update the program framework in the light of recent experiences
  • Focus on how Africa RISING teams have been elaborating their typologies and dealing with diversity so far, to draw lessons across the program
  • Discuss and clarify innovation systems theory and practice across Africa RISING projects (with emphasis on innovation & R4D platforms)
  • (light) Plan program-level events and discuss how we can improve (social) learning across Africa RISING.

Participants[edit | edit source]

Presentations[edit | edit source]

Agenda[edit | edit source]

Day 1:
09:00 Welcome, introductions, agenda and objectives
09:30 Overall review of the progress in the three mega-sites: ESA, ET, WA + Q&A
10:30 Break
11:00 Overall review of progress on M&E, comms and other cross-cutting work (platforms? gender? nutrition? etc.?)
12:00 Gallery tour of the plans and commitments made at the previous learning event + identifying areas for attention (what has been delivered, what has been partly delivered, what not or what else should be done?)
12:30 Lunch break 13:45 Dealing with diversity in farm typologies and beyond: Pop corn interview to kick-start the questions
14:15 Gallery run (bus stop) of the farm typology and ways to deal with diversity across the regions + distributing good points and critical questions
15:00 (World cafe)

  • How do we deal with that diversity and variability in trials and what does it mean for the generalisation of the results?
  • How can results be shared between regions and countries?
  • What do our results mean for farms of different types?

15:45 Break included in world cafe
16:15 Introduction of the program framework as it is (and identified areas for improvement) + generate most immediate needs for improvement and bringing it back in discussion
17:00 Brief recap of the day, announcing tomorrow's program and close

Day 2:
08:45 Brief recap of previous day's work
09:00 'Working with and optimizing innovation systems' Talk show with representatives from the three regions, involved in platforms, to find out what they understand by platforms and how they are developing their platform work in practice
09:30 Visiting regional work on IPs and innovation systems
09:45 Coffee break
10:00 (Starting during coffee break) World café on 'working with and optimizing innovation systems'

  • What do you understand by innovation systems?
  • What are you currently doing in terms of innovation systems work?
  • Where are there gaps and opportunities to work as one program on innovation systems?
  • (30' summary and discussion about R4D platforms vs. IPs

11:15 Open Space
13:00 Lunch break 14:00 Splitting in regional sub-groups to revisit a) program framework, b) diversity/typology work, c) innovation systems/platforms, d) anything else from the Open Space or otherwise 15:00 Presentation of group work results with dedicated commentary (and connection with learning event results)
15:30 Break (possibly building upon previous session)
16:00 Reviewing learning event and program learning
16:45 Closing session (Evaluation, Sharing our learning from other regions... Thank you and closing statements)
17:15 Close

Meeting minutes[edit | edit source]

Reviewing the learning in the regions[edit | edit source]

Ethiopian Highlands[edit | edit source]

We tried to learn as much as we could about the systems, the constraints etc. There are many opportunities to expand, to address the demand. We came out of last year's learning event with a quite detailed diagnostic phase... Originally we saw that diagnostic studies would inform on-farm action research. One thing I learnt is that this was probably rather naive. Many people did a quick start. This year we had most of the diagnosis complete. We had a broad rolling work plan addressing most issues. We have some ideas about addressing problems collaboratively. We've involved a lot of CG partners and tried to work with equity. On the whole, that's worked quite well but not without its issues. We're all used to working in certain ways and some difficulties. System level processes are not facilitated terribly well. Contracting with all partners is quite complex and senior management are lobbying to make this easier and we've managed that. Partnerships: We have these blog posts, profiles etc. and I find myself talking about that partnership issue. We need to build these partnerships to do these complex multidisciplinary programs. We can do better with partnerships and make the contributions of some partners can be improved in terms of design but we're moving in that direction. We've had very nice experiences with regional level partners from Ministries, education centres, research etc. The groups that have become operational in the regions have shown a lot of visibility for on the ground research. Kindu Mekonnen has been actively involved in that process. Engagement in farm level activities last year was rather light as we didn't want to do too much with diagnostic studies pending but this year we've hit the ground running and have lots of protocols encouraging integration of technologies with existing farming systems. We learned much about engaging farmers. We've used an elective approach - we presented several technologies and protocols etc. to farmers and they have decided what they thought was useful. It has been a very positive approach.

East & Southern Africa[edit | edit source]

This is from my perspective, not form the partners' perspective. We need strong and functional partnerships. In most cases farmers are collaborative researchers, they want to learn and increase their skills. Most scientists have realized the benefits of working with students. They are dedicated, they do real science, produce a lot of data. We should involve more students because we also create the next generation of scientists. Scientists are ambitious but we are limited by time, money, capacity etc. And they are reluctant in releasing technologies for scaling - they like to test things out endlessly... Partnerships... they are more with personal/individual partnerships which poses a problem when the scientist leaves. Scientists are bound to institutional regulations, little room for thinking and operating beyond institutional borders. There's been much cooperation and scientists have worked nicely together last year but there's still very few joint publications )institutional borders? interest in increased number of publications?). With our available resources it is getting increasingly difficult to fulfil partner, donor and stakeholder expectations. Performing well and making innovative technologies known attracts interest and eventually funds. We are being watched - there is interest.

West Africa[edit | edit source]

In West Africa, we started using 'community-based technology parks' ie. large areas used as our mother trial sites. Great ground for learning with farmers, researchers, extensionists. It was a very good move. We also established excellent relations with the Ministry of Agriculture and their extension services, they helped us with baby trials, identifying farmers, monitoring the progress of those trials etc. These extension services don't have the right transport and equipment to do their work well so we provided them with it and encourage them to go out etc. so we have to provide them with transport like motor bikes and fuel allowance and in addition to motivate them by providing allowances? This has caused a very positive impact within our project in Ghana specifically We did few short training courses for young scientists, to decide how to experiment and analyse data... These short courses (on experimental design etc.) have proven very useful. This year we have started having regular monthly or 6-weekly regional research teams which allowed them to learn more from each other and from a management point of view we've been able to monitor progress of the work. We have established a good partnership with local seed producers. They provide certified seeds. We work a lot with (PhD and MSc) students - it is of mutual benefit. What became obvious also is that we need to work as an integrated and multidisciplinary team to bring focus and a clear direction in our research. We work with NGOs but we need to integrate fully also - they need to be fully part of the project. NGOs are usually not research-focused so we had sometimes to train them on e.g. data collection. When our CG partners are not around, it's useful to have a local research assistant on the ground who can implement/monitor the research... Regular staff changes have been a real challenge. We also recognize we need to prioritize certain key issues. Finally we need to address the needs of the USAID missions and work with other FtF initiatives. Our work is increasing as are expectations, so we have to adjust our (human) resources.

GROUP BREAK-OUTS Questions and Answers at the West Africa Break-out group Q: Do you have intervention platforms and in what level are they operating? A (Larbi): Yes we have them working at District levels, but they also go below into community based farmers’ level. In each community we have technology parks which are managed by the farmers and research communities – an important role for the R4D platforms at this lower level. The parks are basically mother trials for showcasing technologies to farmers….All partners working in the area therefore showcase their technologies within the parks. Q: How do you coordinate the integration of the cg partners/IP issues and the protocols (technology platforms)? A (Larbi): This is still an area that we are learning on as well. The ownership of the platforms is at district levels Q: How are the parks obtained? A (Larbi): Usually in the farmers fields within the intervention communities. They are within the farmers fields. The size depends on the land you get from the communities. We started by doing a community analysis which ranked the challenges, constraints and opportunity. Q: WA is diverse, how many parks do you need? A (Larbi): The sites were predetermined by USAID. Additional site identification was also done by IFPRI. During the first year they (IFPRI) did a survey and came up with recommended domains, in each of the four recommended regions we decided to work in two domains.

Cross-cutting issues[edit | edit source]

Communication[edit | edit source]

(Peter Ballantyne, ILRI, Ethiopia) See presentation by Peter Ballantyne: Communications in Africa RISING: Initial reflections

Everyone is a communicator. Multiple demands and purposes. No single approach and tool. Constantly changing and evolving. Pick your own communication tools and become a smart communicator.

Q&A and feedback:

  • Is comms too much web-based? How to make the platforms available for farmers and partners?
  • Are we using too many platforms? No, we offer different entry points, and reduce the distance also
  • The wiki is good for events and calendar
  • No French available
  • Training on social media: we need more time and get more people trained
  • Data sharing and management: is comms involved?
  • Where to publish?

Through Agora? Through CG Space?

  • Capture more success stories (comms team to participate to events)
  • How to do brochures? What colours, fonts to use etc.?
  • Introduce an executive summary in French (and local languages?)

Monitoring & Evaluation (M&E)[edit | edit source]

(Carlo Azzarri, IFPRI, USA)


  • Limited resources (overworked), interruptions in staff. A lot of training (PMMT); poor internet connectivity (offline data entry);
  • Custom / sustainability indicators (custom: which indicators are you monitoring?), SI discussions ongoing, PMMT ready to accommodate such indicators.


  • Baseline evaluation surveys with tradeoffs between survey content, timing, local capacity, data quality, survey cost etc. Lots of capacity building.

Gender[edit | edit source]

Annet Mulema, ILRI, Ethiopia). [http:www.slideshare.net/africa-rising/ar-le-mulemanov2014%20| See the presentation about lessons learnt and insights from the Ethiopian Highlands by Annet Mulema]//

A lot of ignorance on what gender involves exists Team has already held a training workshop on gender for scientists, followed this up with a gender audit Bringing men to participate has been very useful. We organized a capacity development workshop on gender. Having two people hired was not enough. We wanted to explore additional issues. We are working on more comprehensive technologies and context-specific tools. We have developed an action plan which is accessible on the website. How to increase community participation in research? When testing approaches etc. We're capturing some stories about men and women participation. We are working on perceptions of men and women around technologies. Missed opportunities? Gendered access to extension services, farmer groups and credit... We can't just integrate gender in the products, we have to think about how gender affects every single level.

Nutrition[edit | edit source]

(Regis Chikowo, Michigan State University, Malawi) and team... Africa RISING works on livestock, nutritious legumes that bring a lot of proteins, vitamins etc.

Dramatized session by Malawi team See support presentation: Nutrition outcomes in Africa RISING Malawi case: From production to consumption

The team in Malawi has prioritized nutrition outcomes They are also involving men in nutrition open days Peer learning has been a core part of the success of Africa RISING Malawi to improve nutrition Access to nutritious foods is not the only barrier to better nutrition, knowledge is also another significant barrier.

Quantitative approaches to gender and nutrition – (Cleo Roberts, IFPRI) Team collected info on food consumption and subjective welfare – where foods come from, what was consumed, self reported dietary quantity and quality etc Looked at nutrition related outcomes for women and children – children/women’s anthropometry Gender was integrated in almost all sections of the questionnaires – decision making within households, labor, women’s health, time use etc., gendered access to extension services, farmer groups Some of the lessons learnt were that even in the project teams gender gaps existed – e.g. women enumerators also being cooks in the field for the male enumerators – this could possibly affect the quality of the data Main lesson learnt: we can’t just integrate gender into the project, a holistic assessment of how gender affects all levels of the project/program is necessary

Gallery tour of the plans and commitments made at the previous learning event (prioritization) Need to continue establishment of effective IP management Still important to define the differences between R4D platforms and intervention platforms How do we motivate partners outside Africa RISING projects/program – sharing benefits and costs? There is still limited human resource capacity for gender mainstreaming in project activities….how can we develop capacities further? Scaling the platforms to the national level and not only doing it at community and district levels? Clear definition of sustainable intensification needs to be completed There needs to be a clearer look at the interface between labor, scalability and gender

Embracing and accommodating diversity[edit | edit source]

See presentation by Jeroen Groot (Wageningen UR): Dealing with diversity in Africa RISING research

See presentation by Per Hillbur (IITA): Why typologies? Approaching communities through learning about livelihood strategies and socio-economic stratification

Roundtable[edit | edit source]

(Peter Thorne, ILRI - Per Hillbur, IITA - Jeroen Groot, WUR - Carlo Azzarri, IFPRI)

P. Thorne: Diversity is about identifying households that are sufficiently different or similar. In Ethiopia we have a mish mash of households with different characteristics and we try to use a participatory methodology to identify livelihood capital asset indicators and we apply those to 70-100 households. We look at e.g. access to grazing etc. and then we use our data. people participating in households.

J. Groot: ?? The approach we use

P. Hillbur: Have you used the same approach across all AR activities? Q: Is the characterization finished? A: It's a process, it's ongoing. Q: What is your sense of the difference between that approach and that of Peter? A: Ours is more of a rapid appraisal. We were wondering which were the poor households Q: IFPRI is known for its rapid appraisal - what is the IFPRI approach and can we expect a rapid appraisal. A: We have already done that work in Mali and Ethiopia and have put together the data right now. We worked on this in Babati in September. This work is along the lines of what we discussed on sustainable intensification indicators. The main issue is to tailor and match information on the ground. Based on ??? we can come up with different typologies. We need to recognise constraints in building these typologies. The main constraint is the tradeoff between the amount of dimensions and the homogeneity in each cluster. We've done this work in each country in all the sites. Maybe we can compare the typologies used in Ethiopia with those from IFPRI. Q: Full characterization and stratifying of interventions is supposed to help with the diversification of interventions - are we onto this? A: Once you characterize communities you can characterize areas. Based on the baseline survey you can find tangible differences. What characteristics can we use for constraints and opportunities? Because it's complicated we would have to design a project before having our characterization work completed. We have to identify the gaps in that work and modify our work accordingly... Q: How do we ensure we really move from learning with communities to targeting specific baskets? A: ??? Q: Who's going to work on characterization? A: I'm not sure. Q: Gender etc. we have to make a difference with Africa RISING - so how do we move towards real impact? A: People are working with our typologies in the AR sites but also working with other data sets from each country - and we compare the data we have. Once we have the typology in the two data sets, we have some clearer pathways to scaling. The main idea is that once we have typologies sorted out from cluster analysis we need to validate technologies... Q: Per, what would you do 3 years in the program, differently? A: ... I don't see how useful typologies are in this program at this stage. How we categorized our communities etc. has to be communicated also. How can we go into anything like scaling if we don't communicate our very own typologies? Comment: Africa RISING is nearly doing diagnostic, but we need to address the 1500 farmers that are actively engaged in action research etc. We have farmer groups that are already active and we need to engage many more in the scaling.

Diversity / typology world café[edit | edit source]

Group 1 (Fred Kizito)

  • Understanding the systems at all levels (farm, household etc.)
  • Different dynamics understood
  • Design targeted interventions (typologies)
  • Testing at multi-similar sites / typologies (within the system)
  • Identify uniformities, dominance, opportunities for scaling up

Question 2

  • Comparable data collection tools / needs to be used
  • Technologies may vary but approaches and methods can be results
  • Exchange visits, reports, workshops, video etc.
  • Approaches, methods and technologies
  • Learn from the match between the context, farm type and technology/information

Question 3

Group 2 (Per Hillbur)

  • Investment (human resources) into this?
  • Sharing experiences? Set up a typology team to compare experiences etc.
  • Matching client-based approaches. In West Africa, evaluations of trials have provided best bet technologies to farms...

Group 3 (Bekele Kotu)

  • Segmentation?
  • What do our results mean for farmers of different types? Difficult question for the group... In general we need to offer farmers baskets of options...
  • How are results shared?

Group 4 (Birhanu Zemadim)

  • Cross-learning of best practices is a must and conduct joint research and do study tours across regions?
  • Identify 2-3 points to target interventions etc. and address agro-ecological differences.
  • What happens when the project ends?

Group 5 (Jeroen Groot):

  • Shareability and difference between projects etc.
  • Exchange of information in events etc.
  • Which innovation for which farm?
  • Package results to make them understandable, useful etc. for different target groups

Group 6 (Zelalem Lema):

  • Identifying uniformity, dominancy and opportunities for scaling up is very important to generalise results
  • Results are not only technologies but also approaches e.g. cross-cutting/cross-country results etc. Can we share results through videos etc.?
  • What do we learn? Approaches, methods, technologies and the match between contextual factors, farm type and innovations...

Group 7 (Jane Wamatu):

  • How do you scale out when you haven't even done income studies, cost-benefit analysis etc.?
  • How long do we need / take before we scale out? Once we go in, let it hold to see the (positive) effect (before we can take it forward)
  • Don't just scale out but review the characteristics of what you will be doing, to the size of the intervention effects etc. There is a need for a rapid assessment/systematic review protocol to see what data you're planning to introduce etc. It takes coaching.

Question 1: How do we address and accommodate diversity and variability in trials and what does it mean for the generalisation of the results?

  • Contradiction between diversity and scaling
  • Targeting of interventions
  • Options for levels of characterization (questioning resources for characterization)
  • We never talk about adoption
  • Trials vs. broad adopting/scaling
  • How do results from different typologies match?
  • Clinical variability is emphasized adequately
  • Issues of 'one size fits all'
  • Context explanation = trials
  • Replication for variability
  • Different biophysical characters' diversity (agro-ecological gradients)
  • Replicating trials in different agro-ecologies (D&V)
  • Different scales of operation (plot, farm etc.)
  • Different treatment options (Diversity)
  • Diversity within the trials and other treatments
  • Agro-ecology-based type of recommendation. Typology / socio-economic status. Gender.
  • Biophysical, socio-economic, cultural factors
  • Include diverse institutions
  • Segment / cluster groups of people / communities according to typologies
  • Research design: interventions designed to capture diversity (the context)
  • Characteristics of system
  • Sampling:

Representativeness Sample size Geography Stratification

  • How do you use typologies to allow for upscaling?
  • Consider quantitative and qualitative aspects

What does it mean for the generalization of the results?

  • Niche matching --> match technologies. Recommendations with niches. e.g. different varieties for markets, household typologies...
  • Characterization typologies: same technology can be scaled out to similar niches

Question 2: How can these results be shared between regions and countries and what can we learn from that?

  • Do we have documented baseline information which can be shared to identify similarities between countries / regions?
  • Joint design and planning of project activities
  • Similar analysis done. Consider variability
  • Establish 'thematic area' working groups
  • Dissemination of results at stakeholders meetings, internet etc.
  • Incentives/disincentives for sharing results
  • Sharing results --> Reduce duplication and save on resources
  • Basket of technologies (match client-based approach
  • Evaluation of trials will give best bet / best fit
  • Range of options vs. targeting/mainstreaming

Trials repr. typologies Characterization of communities Analysis --> performance Recommendations

  • Typology team
  • Online forums
  • Reports
  • Meetings / workshops
  • Visits etc. (learning event)
  • Country level to regional
  • How do we package the messages for target audience
  • Should include:

Researchers Farmers Extension agents Donors Policy makers Conferencing (tools) Production of:

  • Publications
  • Fact sheets
  • YouTube
  • Photo filming
  • Scientific symposium
  • Exchange visits
  • Comms tools

We learn:

  • Best practices and adapt
  • Cost effective
  • Feed feedback (learning)
  • Publish unsuccessful results
  • Joint research and publications (cross-country)
  • Feedback to:

Help us improve (may need modification) For further research issues Scaling up of best practices

Question 3: What do our results mean for farms of different types?

  • Income + CBRs of different interventions / technologies
  • Not yet time to scale up!
  • Emphasis on clinical variability
  • Review of existing results

How outcomes are defined and measured Needs for rapid assessment protocols Scope of review will determine the extent to which studies are diverse Relate clinical characteristics to size of intervention effect rather than obtaining a summary effect estimate

  • Identify entry points:

Options / choices

  • Interventions coming out of results must be designed, based on endowment of resources (endowment, agro-ecology) --> Addressing specific issues
  • Respond to farmers' needs

Dynamic research Best bet practices

  • Design what happens if the project ends
  • Farming systems are dynamic
  • Need to offer options for the different farms and farmer objectives
  • How do we package our results for different types of farmers
  • Different farmers implement/take up different technologies - helpful in scaling up and targeting
  • Team composition?
  • What kind of forums / platforms would support dissemination and scaling up
  • How do we accept variance in farm types?

Final questions to the panel?

  • Q: We focus very much on structural researcher-defined typologies, but how to develop community-focused typologies?
  • Comment: The appropriate scale depends on the heterogeneity of the region where you're working etc. In some homogenous areas you can end up with very large typologies and in other more complex areas you need district level typologies... There's a whole range and we'll be discussing the possibility of coming up with a more coordinated approach to typologies... Something for discussion.

Proposed (immediate) needs for improvement in the program framework document:

  • Hypothesis relating to resilience and risk management…probably need to consider having one?
  • “Integration” needs to be unpacked. – What does it mean? Is it implementing three innovations together…two and how will it be monitored and evaluated
  • Combination of technologies – still looks like most of what is still going on is testing of component technologies.
  • Operation scale - How do you talk about scaling yet there isn’t a clear interaction between these technologies at farm level scale or landscape scale?
  • Having clear impact pathways – for example do we have a clear impact pathway on how we intend to achieve nutrition in different circumstances?
  • Definition of sustainable intensification is still not clear
  • Some hypothesis like the sequencing hypothesis may not be practical to test
  • Framework is highly skewed towards scalable technologies – there needs to be a balance between scalable technologies and back up research (not directly related to program framework but worth looking at on the program as a whole)
  • Some hypothesis are rather obvious and need to be reformulated or drop them altogether e.g. the scalability hypothesis
  • It might be useful to formulate hypothesis formulated around four themes which the program mainly focuses on – nutrition, food and incomes
  • The framework is too theoretical, wording is very vague and needs to be more tangible
  • Issue of access to markets needs to be re-emphasized in the program framework document

Intensification, how much is required? - Dave Harries Three propositions:

  • There is no impact without adoption
  • Adoption has increased costs and risks and requires investment: net return on ivestment is usually a determinant of household decision making.
  • An effective technology may not be an attractive technology. Hence affecting adoption!

You therefore have to look at:

  • What can be done?
  • What farmers can do?
  • What farmers will do?

So when can we say intensification has happened? We have to think of parameters like profitability/net return on investment to evaluate intensification. There exists a huge intensification gap in the intervention countries. AR therefore has to find technologies that are capable of filling the intensification gap

Talk show on innovation platforms – various region reps (Per Hil, Jens & Zelalem)

Q: How did you decide that it was necessary to create new infrastructure for the R4D platform in Babati R4D platform? (to P. Hilbur) A: You need to first start up with a background study that will show you – different actors, what networks, flows of information. Next we contacted the different stakeholders for the platforms to discuss with them the role of the platforms - know what could be their contributions,gains etc.All these are necessary before inviting them for the fisrt meeting.

Q: How did you do it (set up innovation platforms) in Zambia (to Jens) A: In Zambia, the SIMLEZA project had already set up its own innovation platforms and worked with participatory research on farm. Later on we linked up with the District platforms instead of having project based platform which didn’t make sense in this context. This helped us get stakeholders that were already formally organized in a meeting and these meeting were then changed into action platforms where you identify problems and then go into sub-groups of different farmers with specific interest groups. It was therefore an evolution of sorts.

Q: What about in Ethiopia (to Zelalem) A: In Ethiopia we set up innovation platforms at District levels and we are currently exploring ways of linking up with existing structures at a higher levels (National levels).The linkages at National levels is being done in collaboration with another project (Humidtropics) that already has that linkage.

Q: Is it easy, practical to set up innovation platforms? A (Per): Nothing is really easy. It is really important to find the right people for facilitation. It is equally very difficult to have sustainability and explain to people what is in it for them.

A (Jens): Sustaining people’s interests in the platforms is not the easiest thing to do – probably you can have them interested for the first two meetings but after that you have to figure out ways of ensuring they are active/engaged. As a strategy in Zambia we invited the stakeholder and engaged them in discussing the issues that were of interest to them as opposed to the researchers. This allowed the traders for participating in the platforms to for example provide farmers with the right information of what they need, therefore facilitating business.

Q: What do you hope to achieve with these innovation platforms? Why do they matter? A (Zelalem): We would like to ensure that different stakeholders at the district level can learn from each other – a learning process that appears more effective than the NGOs; to ensure that stakeholders can design their own activities on their own to encourage ownership; and also to ensure that stakeholders are involved in selection of technologies that work best for farmers.

Q: Is it all about meetings? How do you engage and how do you facilitate these meetings? A (Zelalem): We set up a steering committee from each of our district platforms. They are responsible for the day to day running of the platform. Of course we also organized training for members of this steering committee on facilitation, communication, coordination and M&E tools so we are trying to ensure that they are capable of running on their own.

Q: Is it enough to train people on various aspects of managing the R4D platforms effectively? A (Jens): No. It’s not enough, but it’s a start. Probably all you need are 2-3 meetings of the platforms in a year and then what you do is that you form sub-groups based on various stakeholder interests. This is what we have done in Zambia because it now allows for more interaction and learning as well as exchanges between the stakeholders. So what you do is to set meeting dates for reporting on what they have been up to.

Q: Have you documented how you manage this work on the innovation platforms? A (Jens): Yes. In Zambia we have managed to do this in collaboration with the world tropical institute in Netherlands to document this as well as other ongoing projects as well.

A (Zelalem): In Ethiopia we document mainly through meeting reports. We are also equally trying to document the farmers field days more. Other tools that we have used to document are the Wiki.

Q: What about the sustainability of the platforms/ How do you ensure they will survive beyond the project? A (Jens): In Zambia we chose to link up with an existing meeting in order to ensure that once SIMLEZA ends in Zambia they continue.

Innovation systems[edit | edit source]

See overall presentation by Jens Andersson: Agricultural Innovation Systems: ‘Introduction 100,001’

World café results[edit | edit source]

What is the essence of innovation systems?[edit | edit source]
  • Technology and ? are the main thing
  • Farming community, partnership and participation are essential
  • Innovations can be conceived
  • It brings stakeholders around same issues, new practices
  • Rules, norms that govern interactions
  • Brings people together towards common / bigger issues together.
  • Minimizes duplication of efforts
  • What do you understand by innovation work
  • Innovation platform: test ->feedback->scale->conceive->inform the policy
  • Who is and who is not involved defined role and responsibilities
  • Sharing across regions (Learning event, IT systems, Exchange visit)
  • Innovation is part of using the existing systems
  • Clarify the role of IS in AR
  • Try to see and link with existing system
  • A system that brings interested stakeholders
  • Around same issue learn, scale out, planning and implementation (framework)
  • System that define new practices
  • The rules ,norms and regulations that govern interaction
  • Bringing people, institutions, stakeholders to work together solve problems
  • Coordination of activities enhances technology up-taking research impact takes onto account farmers prorates
  • Avoid duplication of efforts, efficient use and resources
  • Recognizing complexity
  • To avoid based in (8-5-25) perspective
  • Identify loopholes , accelerating action
  • The role of research on AIS is not clearly identified
  • Innovation is not a given in a AIS
  • Need to map AIS at project start next to baseline
  • AIS work is about identifying gaps making linkage, collective identification of challenges and opportunities
  • Platforms for interaction researchers lean from mistakes
  • System encompasses platforms
  • An approach holistic to address multi issues (policy, environment ) and its complex because of multiple forms (VC)
  • Take into consideration of all stakeholders , actors in the community, trying to address food security
  • Informal and flexible (barriers are low to enter to system)
  • Synergies , complementarity of , local scientific
  • It helps,proxies unveil new knowledge for farmers and build capacity
  • They help implement application of IR through interaction with other stakeholders , new IR, identify problems and solutions
  • Proxies / outcomes: incremental or help radically different technologies emerges
  • Stakeholders won the process -> strive to make it work -> find resources , solutions are beneficial

What we like or don't like? We like:

  • We need to be able to package technologies into consumable
  • Focus on people, technologies and linking information and on solutions through effective partnerships
  • Broadens opportunities for farmers through unique skills, the enabling environment etc. It provides opportunities to take innovation to scale
  • Research results can be generalized
  • Learning in these innovation systems
  • Brings people together --> creates common understanding and better/shorter acceptance of technologies
  • Brings institutional and social (typology) context not just the technology like transfer of technologies (ToT)

Removes/reduces stumbling blocks Influences/Brings the enabling environment at a higher level

  • Market-oriented research addressed now, and it drives innovation
  • It's more participatory than ToT
  • Avoids/reduces duplication of initiatives
  • You map actors (and find out who are the productive and unproductive ones)
  • Enhances commodity-based clustering (e.g. Value Chain improvement)
  • Focus on technology and people and links information
  • Focus on solutions and effective partnership
  • It broaden opportunities for farmers
  • Unique skills (multi-diciplinary)
  • Working together, allow collaboration
  • Opportunity for taking innovaton
  • Joint diagnosis, design implement and communicate results
  • A lot of row ideas from different people mostly bring innovation platforms
  • Research results can easily be practiced
  • The learning aspects of Innovation platforms
  • Test innovation to scale
  • Makes people talk to the other
  • Sharing perspectives
  • Learning environment
  • IPS involves farmers
  • Identifying problems
  • AIS lacks direction (touchy/feedy)
  • Perspective enables you to evaluate whether tech will work or not
  • Enables coordinated extension message
  • Cost of coordination not always practical

We don't like:

  • It doesn't have a direction of its own, unlike a clear technology development project
  • People don't know what it is
  • Many don't want to work on it
  • It's time-consuming (x2)
  • It's often supported by short-term projects
  • Influential people dominate the meetings/process
  • Conflicts of interest...
  • It's expensive and relies on good brokers/facilitators
  • Continuity/sustainability of the platform is an issue
  • Some people are not engaged enough
  • The name (call them 'MSPs')
  • It takes a long time to bring different stakeholders together (they don't share a common interest / alignment)
  • Attendance/turnover
  • Needs money (people's time / meetings)
  • Complex to map people and institutions
  • Difficult to work with unproductive partners
  • Organisation and team-building skills (training etc.) which can be difficult to find among agricultural scientists
  • It's not new, it's been done for many years
  • They can't solve every problem (it's a trap to think they can)
  • It all depends on how you organize your platform processes
  • Everybody is talking about it but don’t know what it is
  • Time consuming and expensive
  • Complex and confusing
  • Challenging to bring different stakeholders together
  • Depending on willingness of members /stakeholder
  • Long term for results (not in short time)
  • Short-term projects supporting/intensifying
  • It is location specific’
  • Taking innovation to scale can’t be replicated
  • All people are not equally informed about the agenda, Conflict of interest
  • The innovation aspect of interaction is not clearly put mostly time is resource consuming
  • Expensive, time and money consuming
  • Depends on good brokers
  • Not flexible
  • Continuities and partners not engaged
  • IP creates wider platforms for on – farm evaluation
  • Emphasis on the new disregard value of existing


How to improve our approach, program-wide?

  • Have a common framework across the sites
  • Bring different farmer representatives around the table
  • Let's give a chance for our stakeholders to share their idea and get to hybrid
  • Emphasize the process documentation to give us direction on what is working or not
  • Share across the regions through different events (learning event, exchange visits etc.) Focus on innovation systems
  • Clarify the role of IS/IPs in Africa RISING and link with existing systems...
  • Constant information exchange on innovation etc.
  • Competition for best innovation / innovation platforms etc.
  • Understanding of the system needs to be improved/clarified
  • IPs to mobilize their resources
  • Document the process
  • 1-2-5 approach in Ethiopia: Building on institutional structures that are already there...
  • Rely on strong networks
  • Reduce the process (cut some steps as there are too many)
  • Learn from others
  • Hire the right people (though it's expensive and they may have different objectives)
  • Take advantages of new waves (e.g. CAADP, FAO's new initiatives that we can connect to get more partners and impact)
  • Lots of capacity development for action research (are the platforms guiding the studies?)
  • Establish innovation advisory board (keep information exchange between sites, provide advice and guidance)
  • Look back at why we are setting up platforms (e.g. it's too late to use platforms if it's about identifying challenges)
  • Learn from other initiatives e.g. CSISA
  • Establish/next platforms through government and existing structures (think of an exit strategy)
  • Align with akin projects
  • Phase 2: capitalize on this, get more resources
  • The agenda of platforms is likely to change over time
  • Sharing across regions (Learning event, IT systems, Exchange visit)
  • Innovation is part of using the existing systems
  • Clarify the role of IS in AR
  • Try to see and link with existing system
  • Strengthening cross learning events, better mechanisms to implementation
  • Design common priorities / areas across projects
  • Constant information exchange on any institution or technological innovation developed in areas
  • Competition for the best innovation or innovation platforms
  • Systems mapping or understanding of the systems
  • To identifying structure that can do the work
  • IP mobilize their own resource
  • Integrate with existing structure
  • Mapping the documentation and share
  • 1 to 5 approach, strengthening farmers
  • Need for a common framework , to facilitate learning across-sites
  • Farmer participation platforms (more representative)
  • Need to test effectiveness and efficiency of IPs as out-scaling and technology adoption mechanisms. (M&E tools for this?)
  • Develop a sustainable plan
  • Exchange visits, LE

> Challenges:

  • Takes too much time on our own process
  • Building capacity takes ages
  • Experienced people (to take up the function of platform coordinator) mahve a different perspective
  • Silos: no sharing of information
  • The pace of development is slow --> what's the impact at scale?

Open Space: "What do we still have to learn or do more of"[edit | edit source]

The following topics were selected:

  1. Organizing team meetings
  2. Coordination between institutions
  3. Sustainable intensification indicators
  4. Scaling up
  5. Value chain linkages
  6. Typologies

1. Organizing team meetings[edit | edit source]

How do we organize team meetings successfully? Challenges:

  • Team members always have several different schedules
  • How to prioritize?
  • Members are scattered (it's very costly)
  • Activities come at the same time
  • Active leadership / coordination
  • Effective communication - how to do it?


  • Investing in E-communication
  • Sending out communication in good time to allow proper planning by participants
  • Attractive agenda
  • Effective leadership / communication

2. Coordination between institutions[edit | edit source]


  • Diversity of farmer needs
  • Diversity of interventions linked to institutions' expertise
  • For successful innovation platforms we need different institutions to work together, which needs efficient coordination


  • Drop institutions which are not collaborating weekly
  • Establish a coordination meeting
  • Identify individual key persons within institutions

3. Sustainable intensification indicators[edit | edit source]


  • SI is producing higher output per unit of area, per unit of time without producing negative effects on environment.
  • Different levels: household level, landscape/community


  • Soil fertility, bio diversity over time
  • Nutrition
  • Share of marketed product (market linkages)
  • Resilience to shocks (yield stability)
  • Land cover changeds
  • Soil and water conservation practices
  • Diversity of crops / livestock produced
  • Diversity and strength of institutions that support market

4. Scaling up[edit | edit source]


  • Best scaling up approaches (impact pathways)
  • Barriers/factors for scaling up of technologies


  • Research and scaling up issues are not well connected (design, resources ie. financial and human)
  • Diversities in the community (biophysical environment, policies, landscapes, level of understanding/learnability) limit scaling up of technologies

Recommendations for improvement:

  • Building capacity of research teams (bringing experts and allocating more resources ie. financial resources)
  • Targeting relevant technologies/innovations to farmers
  • Agro ecological domains / suitability domains
  • Learning events (field days, demonstration plots)

5. Value chain linkages[edit | edit source]


  • VC needs to be integral to platforms
  • Value proposition must be clear from beginning - USP (Unique Selling Proposition)


  • IPs need to influence VC actors
  • Special sessions for VC actors
  • Ensure adequate representation of private sector in IPs

6. Typologies[edit | edit source]


  • There are people out there!
  • Typologies should inform plot and direct on how to target various technologies.
  • Carter for diversity
  • World Bank typologies don't have much similarity within groups compared to across groups


  • Scientists need to understand the diversity before doing anything
  • When doing characterisation of typologies both structural issues (wealth / resources) and functional issues (farmers' aspirations) should be considered.

7. Integrated research for intensification[edit | edit source]

  • Entry points: differ with systems, cultures, endowments, gender
  • Incentives: income, policies, collective action, food & nutrition security
  • How and what to integrate and where?
  • Cost of intensification: saving schemes, credit, fertilizer subsidy; fund mobilization crop-livestock insurance, contract farming
  • Differing research approaches: action-oriented, market-oriented, commodity-based
  • Differing intensification pathways: small-scale, subsistence, resource-rich
  • Intensification for conservation and sustainability...

One final topic was proposed 'Practical observations on classroom theories' and the suggestion was to complement the learning even with a field visit.

Regional group work - what we will do to improve our work?[edit | edit source]

West Africa group[edit | edit source]

Typologies: What is next. Sharing of information, typology etc. We have to share that information. Innovation systems: We have to find a way to document the process. We have to facilitate, agree on key actors in these platforms etc.

East Africa group[edit | edit source]

In terms of typologies, we understand that IFPRI is doing some analysis and we'd like to look at that. At program level we need to work on different types of typologies and look at Innovation systems: We need a program framework. At program level... Importance of innovation platforms? Program framework: improve research on scaling up...

Ethiopian Highlands[edit | edit source]

  • We want to compare SLATE & FRG participant farmers to refine farmer typologies and talk with farmers about the categories, compare with the IFPRI baseline typologies.
  • Which typologies go for with research protocols' needs to be identified. Link research protocols.
  • Budget should be allocated for IPs to do activities
  • Empower the IPs to identify entry points
  • CG platform present on IPs
  • Relevant nutrition experts to be included in IPs
  • Looking into the IS norms, governing interactions and intervene where improvements are needed
  • Program framework should be discussed for better / common understanding on it
  • Incorporating nutrition outcomes to the different intervention
  • Collecting gender disaggregated information in the different protocols
  • Focus on job-creating interventions for the youth, women
  • Cross-project learning, visits
  • Next learning events should focus on research outputs, results.
  • Robust technical support for NARS.

Include experts like nutrition, IP experts etc. to make them active in IPs. Program framework: We didn't propose any idea on this. More discussion, a common understanding etc. are needed. For nutrition, one of the stated program objectives, we need to include nutrition-related indicators. Research interventions.

Global group[edit | edit source]

On typologies,
we need to make an overview of the different approaches that have come up with this typology work. We could do it based on recommendations from the review about how they are being used. Let's make an overview of these typologies and make recommendations. One group coordinated by Peter Thorne could discuss this - with the following members: Jeroen, Jens, Per and Carlo. Innovation systems: the teams should continue doing their good work. Some teams have established IPs, some have not, some of the multi-stakeholder platforms are components of a systems approach or not. Let's continue and move forward. Program framework: Suggest setting up a task force (Irmgard, Mateete, Asamoah, Carlo, Peter T, Peter B, Jeroen) to revisit the program framework, based on what has been done and revisit the research questions. Perhaps we tweak them a bit and we review scaling up in particular Other issues? There's a need to organise a science seminar or symposium, focusing on researchers, and have AR research teams to synthesize and publicize the work to a wider audience.

Summary by Peter B:[edit | edit source]

Very nice consistency:

  • A task force to work on typologies, comparing them etc.
  • Exchange visits, learning visits etc. focused around youths or different types of things...
  • Program framework: Pull it together
  • Scientific symposium of some kind to share results and outcomes...

Learning from other regions[edit | edit source]

East Africa[edit | edit source]

Difficult to associate the learning with the regions. But we have learned, from the Ethiopian Highlands that they have integrated gender.

West Africa[edit | edit source]

What we've learned from Ethiopian Highlands is around the innovation platform processes. From East & Southern Africa we've learned that we need communication materials. They have done things differently.

Ethiopian Highlands[edit | edit source]

Wonderful two days and much learning. West Africa has done some interesting typology work (clearly characterized) that we need to work on. And community-based transfer of technologies through community technology parks. A field visit to West Africa would be good. Nutrition aspects have strongly come out in Malawi. More involvement of NGOs, seed producers etc. (as in Malawi) is very important. Research on impact interventions in Malawi - good to do it in other areas.

Global group[edit | edit source]

We identified recommendations for each of the recommendations:

  • Ethiopia: Insights about innovation platforms and how they integrated different levels, to find out where/whether IPs are relevant. How to strengthen IPs. Our recommendation is to explore establishing some technology parks for the mother-baby trials.
  • West Africa: Technology parks and interesting experiences. We recommend Mali should explore these technology parks.
  • East & Southern Africa: Our learning was around Babati with interesting research positions and development outcomes etc.

Closing words[edit | edit source]

Eric Witte Very useful experience with Innovation systems/platforms. The Program Framework also clearly needs to be updated as it spells out what we wanted to achieve with this project. We all recognise that sustainable intensification is hard and complex - but that's why we're doing it. We have to integrate that at farm level. Early on we talked about scaling up etc. and we decided to leave this out etc. but that's what we are setting out to do. We don't do research for research's sake, so let's keep focused on that.

Peter Ballantyne It's been a real pleasure having you here Eric and Jerry. Next year we may have the same event focused around science etc. as that was one of the outputs. In the PCT meeting we also talked to travel to other projects and programs. Many of the cards I had to rate were about networking. What I saw: a lot of interactions across regions etc. that's very positive. A lot of excitement, not always in the plenary, not always in the meeting. The things that happen outside meetings are always helpful. I am sorry that so few Tanzanian colleagues showed up. I think we have made good progress on the three big topics (typologies, innovation systems, program framework) and there are groups to be formed etc. The next PCT meeting is in February 2015 and I hope that this will be Tomorrow the M&E meeting starts in this room at 9am.

Thank you Irene for all the work. Thank you Tsehay and Ewen for this work. Thank you Jeffrey and Jonathan for capturing outputs etc. Travel safely!

Organizers' Agenda