Annex 6 Capacity development
Africa Country Programme
The Africa Country Programme
was established with an explicit agenda of experimenting with ways of building capacity that enables research to be put into use. The main tool deployed as part of this agenda was the establishment of innovation platforms: A family of approaches focused on linking organisations relevant to various topics where the private sector is or should be prominent. Over the past twelve months, the scope of the country programmes has been slimmed down to ensure a more manageable set of experiments.
Some RIU country programmes are private companies; others are integrated in agricultural sector policy bodies or Ministry departments. Notwithstanding these differences in institutional provenance, following the renewed focus of the programmes, the role of the RIU country teams has progressively evolved from active implementation to the facilitation of the necessary linkages or the elimination of obstructions and similar tasks. The impact of these activities, now commonly described as innovation brokering, on the ability of the systems in which the country programmes operate to cope, respond, and prosper under changing conditions, indicates that these brokering functions fill an important institutional hiatus.
In Tanzania, growing demand for poultry meat has not been filled by the increased import of frozen poultry and the rearing of commercial broilers, as consumers continue to have a distinct preference for the taste and food preparation qualities of the local birds. Whilst that market had been exploited by the occasional small producer and trader, there had thus far not been the enabling environment to allow the systemic sector changes required. RIU-Tanzania, through its linking of actors, negotiation, knowledge sharing and facilitation of sector dialogues is building a local poultry sector network that is turning urban demand growth for poultry into an opportunity for small producers and rural entrepreneurship by adapting and utilizing new and existing research outputs and technology, and the stimulation of private investment in the broad range of input and output services required. In contrast, in Malawi, a cotton innovation platform
tried to increase farmers’ seed cotton yield per unit area through application of recommended technologies in a stagnant sector with frustrating results. Whilst not denying the importance of such problems, such contrasting experiences highlight that investment in new and dynamic rural sector opportunities may often have better pay-offs in terms of contribution to economic growth and poverty reduction.
Activities by the RIU country programmes have actively engaged the private sector in areas such as smallholder pig marketing
production in Malawi, the local poultry sector in Tanzania, and micro-tuber production in Rwanda
among other examples. Entrepreneurship is, however, not uniformly developed across all sectors and all nations. Nevertheless, increasing linkages among local and global markets mean that most market-oriented rural development initiatives need strong private sector involvement to succeed - particularly in light of the continuing retreat of the State in most developing economies. The evidence from the RIU country programmes suggests, that in light of such rural development scenarios, not only are private sector actors taking on roles that are commonly thought to be the remit of the public sector or civil society, but conversely, the absence of private financial initiative has led to the emergence of a new member of the institutional architecture: Often rooted in the civil society or the public sector, these budding organizations use public or donor money to perform private sector brokering and other private sector roles. The results obtained in the RIU country programmes in funding the activities of these nascent groups, such as in the case of speciality rice processing and marketing in Zambia and cowpea storage in Nigeria, are indicative of new avenues where development donors may want to direct their investments to stimulate rural innovation and development.
The policy implications of these preliminary findings of the ongoing experimentation in the building of innovation capacity clearly indicate that, agricultural innovation, rather than simple investment in research and technology initiatives, may also require the establishment of independent rural development brokering agencies. In addition, whilst the private sector may be ideally placed in some sectors, local circumstances may currently limit their role in many areas. In light of that, coalitions of private, public, and civil society sector actors are important in developing, accessing, and using knowledge and technology for equitable agricultural and rural system innovation.
These findings raise important questions on how public research efforts should reorient themselves.
All the initiatives in the Asia programme are trying to enhance the capacity for innovation by networking with wide range of actors. The research is contributing to this task but its role is actually changing. To do these, research needs to be embedded in networks of technology users, intermediaries and the policy actors. All the interventions are trying to deal with policy changes in various ways as these are critical for wider application of new knowledge. Projects aimed at achieving impact at a wider scale often need a longer duration of funding than the conventional three year project cycles. This is also important for drawing wider lessons for policy.
Some specific examples of capacity building activities within the RIU programme
- In Malawi, RIU has facilitated training of pig farmer associations in pig husbandry techniques to meet expectations of private pig processors, group dynamics, business management and marketing; the Association of Smallholder Farmers Seed Multiplication Action Group has been trained in seed production techniques for beans, soya beans and groundnuts.
- In Nigeria, farmers have been trained in improved fish farm management practices, integrated aquaculture-horticulture, hatchery operations, post-harvest processing, and export opportunities and requirements.
- In Rwanda, under the guidance of the Maize Platform, 200 knowledgeable 'lead farmers' are demonstrating to other farmers the importance of correct spacing of maize plants and proper use of fertiliser. This approach has also been adopted by the Potato Platform.
- In Tanzania, agricultural college students were utilized to provide intensive training and support for first-time poultry farmers. The students lived with the farmers for the one month when they received their first batches of day-old-chicks. Farmers were also trained on how to produce alternative feeds using locally available sources such as cereals, legumes and plants; taught to breed earthworms, maggots and termites as cheap sources of protein; and coached in business and entrepreneurship skills.
- In Zambia, interactive radio programmes were used to increase knowledge of conservation agriculture practises.
- The armyworm Best Bet team trained 16 Kenyan extension staff as trainers of communities in community-based armyworm forecasting; in turn they have now trained 160 people, including 80 farmers, 40 front line extension staff and 40 assistant chiefs. The trained forecasters have been provided with rain gauges, traps and the forecasting pack and forecasting will start in April 2010.
- Best Bet-supported FIPS-Africa has begun on-the-job training for its newly recruited networks of village based advisors who will be extending FIPS-Africa's coverage in Kenya and Tanzania.
- The young team of artists and story writers who produce the comic book ShujaazFM, supported by Best Bets, have benefited from on the job training from Hunt Emerson, who works on the iconic UK comic The Beano.