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Institutionalizing Dialogue in Rwanda Through Innovation Platforms

(m.schut) #1

Originally published at:
A platform of farmers, retailers and service providers, civil society organisations, NGOs, government officials, and researchers improves livelihoods in Rwanda. Through interaction and collaboration, these groups experiment with various technological and institutional innovations, thereby tackling local agricultural challenges. This experience illustrates the importance of institutionalizing a space where knowledge can be co-created.

Farmers from Kadahenda shortly after an Innovation Platform planning meeting in February 2016.

The high altitude hills and cooler temperatures of the Great Lakes Region of Central Africa provide the ideal conditions for agriculture. However, population pressure and years of civil conflict have caused soil exhaustion and limited the availability of spare land, as well as paralysed agricultural advisory and extension services, resulting in poor access to markets. Not surprisingly, farm households in parts of this region rank among the most food insecure and malnourished in the world. Although there is great uncertainty about the type of solutions that will effectively solve these problems, it is clear that developing, testing, and implementing these solutions require collaboration between several groups of stakeholders.

Collective action to facilitate this collaboration, through multi-stakeholder Innovation Platforms (IPs) started in 2013 in Rwanda as part of Humidtropics. An IP is a space for learning and change. It is a group of individuals with different backgrounds and interests. The objective of these IPs is to facilitate knowledge co-creation through joint problem analysis, priority setting, testing of innovations, and learning. This short article reflects on almost three years of IP process in Rwanda, and presents some lessons regarding the performance and impact of IPs for knowledge co-creation. More information in the March 2016 issue of Farming Matters.

Blog and photo by Marc Schut, Social Scientist, IITA/Humidtropics and WUR.