CAPACITY FOR SUSTAINING AGRICULTURAL INNOVATION PLATFORMS IN RWANDA: A CASE STUDY OF RESEARCH INTO USE PROJECT
Leonidas Dusengemungu (Makerere University, Agriculture extension/Education M.Sc. Tel. +250788617194, e mail:firstname.lastname@example.org)
The research was conducted in Rwanda with four agricultural Innovation Platforms (IPs). These IPs focus on cassava, round potato, maize production and farmers’ associations. RIU funding will end in 2011. Capacity building is vital to sustain these platforms beyond the project duration. Therefore, this study was set to assess whether it works or not and why. Out of literature review, the methodology includes focus group discussions, individual interviews, observation and capacity needs scoring. Results show tremendous achievements in capacity building and concern IPs establishment process, institutional arrangements, incentives and capacities needed by various actors. They will be used by DFID, RIU managers, Ministries of Agriculture and NGOs.
Research Into Use (RIU) is a five year DFID/UK project (2006-2011), which aims at strengthening capacities for uptake of innovations for agriculture development by end-users (e.g. farmers). Since 2008, this project has initiated four local agricultural Innovations Platforms (IPs) to promote technology diffusion in Rwanda. These IPs are formed around cassava and maize in the East, round potato in the North and farmers associations in the West. RIU funding will end in 2011. Capacity building is vital to sustain these platforms beyond the RIU project duration and no research had yet been conducted in this area. Thus, this research was designed to (1) determine the extent to which the innovation platforms have fulfilled their objectives; (2) identify contextual factors, incentives and institutional arrangements required to influence the effectiveness and sustainability of innovations platforms in Rwanda; and (3) establish the capacities that different actors need to sustain their innovation platforms.
Several innovations platforms exist in the world around ICT, construction, vehicles production and commercialization and agricultural commodities (Lundvall, 1992). Hall et al. (2001) have done a lot to explain agricultural innovation systems. They argue that agricultural innovation system framework stresses the importance of including all stakeholders and making organizations and policies sensitive to stakeholder agendas and demands. According to RIU, agricultural Innovation Platform is a platform specific to agriculture. It has a wider spectrum of actors and refers to any network of various actors developed in the agricultural sector and related activities (RIU, 2007). It may include providers of agriculture knowledge (research and extension), private sector, farmer’s organizations, individuals’ producers, local leaders, media, etc. working together for agriculture development. Agricultural platforms are set-up for reflection, analysis and learning about promoting innovations in agriculture (Sanginga et al., 2009). The main output of the RIU-Rwanda project (2008) is the implementation of agricultural innovation platforms for spreading innovations in rural areas. This research aims at assessing whether it works or not. Implicit in the literature is the knowledge gap on the essential capacities for sustaining the innovation platforms and particularly in the case of Rwanda, emerging from a horrible conflict (1994, genocide). This is the pertinent issue to which this research seeks to make a contribution.
The research was conducted in four agricultural Innovation Platforms operating in four districts of Rwanda and totalizing 175 actors. Out of the literature review, the methodology includes 4 focus group discussions with a total of 42 key informants, individual interviews with 102 actors,...