Week of Agricultural Innovation in Africa

Between 27 and 31 May 2013, Marc Schut and Laurens Klerkx participated in various activities during the Week of Agricultural Innovation in Africa (WAIA). The various activities were held in and around Nairobi, Kenya.

Innovation Platform Writeshop

During the first part of the week, we participated in a writeshop (e.g. http://www.mamud.com/writeshop.htm) on Innovation Platforms organised by the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) under the CGIAR Research Programme Humidtropics. LogoDuring the writeshop, 12 aspects of Innovation Platforms were discussed, including: impact, M&E, power and representation, and the role of research. The practice briefs were written by researchers with experience with innovation platforms. Each of the practice briefs provides background the topic and case boxes illustrating the challenges and opportunities of innovation platforms in practice. Together, the 12 practice briefs provide valuable background information for researchers, practitioners, policymakers and others who seek to explore the potential of working with innovation platform. The briefs will be finalised over the coming few weeks and be made available online after final editing.

Farmer Innovation Fair

The second part of the week started with a Farmer Innovation Fair organised at the Kenya Agricultural Research Institute (KARI). Innovative farmers from, amongst others, Kenya, Tanzania and Ethiopia presented their innovations. The type of innovations varied from new wheelbarrows, pumps, egg incubators, greenhouses made of waste, and food processing. Researchers, policymakers and development practitioners interacted with the farmers and discussed some of the challenges faced by farmers.

Agricultural Innovation Systems Africa workshop

On Thursday, the Agricultural Innovation Systems Africa (AISA) workshop started in which around 100 researchers, policymakers and representatives of civil society organisations and private sector participated. The workshop was organised and funded by, amongst others, CIRAD, ETC and the the CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS). Some of the climate change components in the Parasite project are funded through CCAFS. During the two conference days, different interactive forms of working together (world cafe, open space, chatting, poster presentations) contributed to a ‘living’ keynote addressing several hot topics of agricultural innovation. Examples of these hot topics are: innovation on and off the radar; upscaling and learning; capacity development. Marc presented a poster during the event and contributed to facilitating a world cafe session on ‘research and innovation platforms’. Together with Laurens and several other participants, he contributed to capturing some key lessons learned during the closing session of the workshop. More information can be found on the AISA wikispace (http://aisa2013.wikispaces.com/).

It was a fruitful and intense week. We shared our experiences from the Parasite project and had several formal and informal side meetings to explore collaboration. For more information please contact Marc Schut.