Ais workshop

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International Workshop on Agricultural Innovation Systems in Africa (AISA) 29-31 May 2013

AISA Banner.pngLast updated on 20 March 2014

Final version of the AISA e-proceedings: File:AISA workshop proceedings final March 2014.pdf

Please quote the proceedings as follows:

  • Triomphe B, Waters-Bayer A, Klerkx L, Schut M, Cullen B, Kamau G & LeBorgne E (eds.). 2014: Innovation in smallholder farming in Africa: recent advances and recommendations. Proceedings of the International Workshop on Agricultural Innovation Systems in Africa (AISA), 29-31 May 2013, Nairobi, Kenya. Montpellier: CIRAD. 229 p.

These proceedings include all the papers presented during the AISA workshop either as oral (keynote) papers (5) or as posters (26). It also includes the edited text resulting from the Living Keynote process, an innovation in itself.


You came, many at your own cost; you engaged actively in exchanges and debate; you contributed to the Living Keynote; you were ever so patient with us even when logistics was a bit loose perhaps. Thank you so much!

We hope to continue interacting with you about the emerging initiatives related to agricultural innovation in smallholder agriculture in Africa. The draft proceedings have now been posted. They include all the oral and poster papers that were submitted to us by the deadline. If you find any mistake in your paper, please let Ann Waters-Bayer ( know.

In addition to the proceedings, the report below pulls together a great deal of what is on this wiki into a fairly compact description of the workshop process and discussions. The policy brief highlights the main lessons and recommendations that came out of the JOLISAA project and the discussions during the AISA workshop.

Report on AISA workshop process and discussions File:Report on AISA workshop May 2013.pdf

Policy brief on enhancing innovation by African smallholders, based on outcomes of JOLISAA project & AISA discussions File:JOLISAA policybrief English DINA4.pdf File:JOLISAA policybrief French DINA4.pdf

Discover all seven Living Keynote Hot Issues

See photos of the workshop

Read the compilation of abstracts for AISA oral papers & posters and the guidelines for posters and four-page papers for the AISA workshop.


The main objectives of the workshop were:

  • to learn jointly about agricultural innovation processes and systems in Africa
  • to identify policy implications and develop policy messages
  • to explore perspectives for collaborative action research on smallholder agricultural innovation.

Read the concept paper for the AISA workshop

Find out who were the workshop participants


(See the AISA program and useful information in PDF format)

Day 1: Wednesday 29 May (KARI)
14.00 Welcome and introduction
14.45 Learning visits (in working groups) to farmer innovator booths
16.15 Sharing feedback from visiting farmer innovator booths and mapping key insights from farmer innovators' experiences
18.00 Cocktail (organiser: CLIC–SR project)

Day 2: Thursday 30 May (KCB)
09.00 Introductory keynote about agricultural innovation systems in Africa
11.00 Parallel sessions based on experiences from JOLISAA, Prolinnova, CoS-SIS
* Brief presentations, followed by group discussion
JOLISAA presentation
Prolinnova presentation (PDF version, large PPT file)
CoS-SIS presentation
13.30 Parallel sessions based on experiences from FARA, AusAID, ILRI writeshop on innovation platforms
* Brief presentations, followed by group discussion
FARA presentation on Sub-Saharan Challenge Programme
AusAid presentation
(the innovation platform writeshop was presented without a slideshow)
15.30 Plenary sharing feedback from group discussions, consolidation of insights for the living keynote
18.00 Cocktail (organiser: AISA)

Day 3: Friday 31 May (KCB)
09.00 Open exhibition of relevant experiences in smallholder agricultural innovation (Posters - see compilation of abstracts)
10.00 Open space: exploring ideas, documenting conversations, suggesting actions and recommendations to apply and scale up innovation approaches
13.30 Policy synthesis dialogue preparation (group work): Preparing key policy messages and recommendations for different groups of stakeholders to stimulate agricultural innovation processes and systems in Africa
* Donors / Academia / Teachers & learners (capacity development actors) / Farmer representatives / Advisors / Private sector entrepreneurs / Regulators & rule makers / Local administrators
14.00 Plenary policy synthesis dialogue:
* Interactive panel session on important issues, insights and ways forward
* Response to the messages by representatives of present interest groups
15.30 Sharing the living keynote and finding ways forward
16.00 Concrete next steps, brief workshop evaluation, official closing

Background information

Various initiatives are underway in trying to apply the concept of Agricultural Innovation Systems (AIS). The AISA workshop is designed to bring together recent experiences in promoting agricultural innovation processes in Africa, to analyse the approaches and methods and their strengths and weaknesses, and to draw lessons for the way forward in terms of policy, research and practice related to agricultural innovation.

Invited participants: (ca 100 persons): Researchers and academics, development practitioners, private sector, policymakers (including from FARA, ASARECA, RUFORUM) and a limited number of project / programme partners (JOLISAA, Prolinnova, CCAFS, AusAID/FSIFS, CoS-SIS) from Africa and beyond.

Invited presentations: 6 short (10-15 minute) oral presentations and about 27 volunteered posters.

Facilitation: Ewen LeBorgne & Peter Ballantyne (ILRI), volunteers

Structure of workshop: The AISA workshop focuses on sharing experiences with understanding and strengthening multi-stakeholder innovation processes and the role of smallholders in innovation, and on identifying and discussing priorities and recommendations for research, practice and policy. Oral presentations were kept to a minimum. Presentation of lesson-focused posters allowed for extensive and wide-ranging facilitated discussions and intensive social learning among participants. The workshop was structured around five thematic sessions:

  1. Opening and participation in the Eastern Africa Farmer Innovation Fair (facilitated dialogue with farmer innovators)
  2. Setting the scene for assessing and supporting innovation in Africa and sharing main results and lessons about innovation processes & cases (introductory collective keynote paper, 5 brief oral papers about key experiences and lessons on AIS in Africa, followed by buzz-groups and facilitated discussions in groups and plenary)
  3. Poster and “marketplace” (anybody is welcome to suggest topics for discussions in small groups)
  4. Policy implications and policy-dialogue strategy and messages (facilitated dialogue among representatives of major stakeholder groups: policymakers, donors, researchers, farmer innovators, private sector and innovation practitioners)
  5. Identifying the way forward (World Café)

Expected outputs: The AISA workshop will develop and deliver three main types of products:

  1. Content to be shared instantaneously via electronic social media prior to and during the workshop
  2. A collectively authored synthesis of lessons, experiences and recommendations for policy, research and practice about AIS in Africa
  3. Electronic proceedings made available online on relevant websites within three months of the workshop and including an introduction, the collection of edited poster papers (4 pp each), syntheses of the five thematic sessions, a general conclusion and way forward, and a policy statement.

Notes from the meeting



  • Learn and share
  • Get a reality check
  • Networking
  • Strengthening a community of practice on these issues
  • Understanding how to cross the disciplines in research
  • How to benefit from the workshop to identify new research questions

NGOs and implementers

  • Network and joint learning
  • Better understand outcomes of innovation
  • Understand what AISA does and how to collaborate
  • Discover farmers’ innovation
  • Help with the dissemination of some of these innovations
  • Understand how to interpret innovation at poverty level
  • (in Burkina Faso) Find new ways to adopt or do new things

Decision-makers, consultants etc.

  • Learn and share knowledge (x2)
  • Networking
  • Understand innovation systems in agriculture and what makes an operational innovation platform
  • Stimulate information and networking
  • Scaling up and commercialization
  • Understand how donors can support innovation
  • See what are available innovations to partner with, support etc.
  • Screen demand for innovation by producers, retailers, consumers
  • Understand how to validate innovation and identify which could be scaled up
  • Understand policy issues around innovation
  • Identify skills and characteristics of organisations to support innovation
  • Capacity development for farmers

Reflections from AISA participants about the farmer innovators

About farmer innovators themselves

  • Recognise and nurture farmer capacity to do research
  • Experimenters in their own right
  • They are willing to share
  • Very creative and inventive, courageous
  • They promote their innovation well
  • Long experience outside community

Definition of innovation

  • Definition / how people interpret innovation and know it is better
  • There is no agreement on what is an innovation. Is that important?

Knowledge sharing

  • Need for strong collaboration
  • Collaboration with research / universities
  • There is a need for formal researchers to work closely on follow up on local innovations
  • Gap between local knowledge + research (science) and science seen (lack of communication)
  • Knowledge transfer of innovations à how could these be identified and how would this transfer occur
  • Publishing books to enable knowledge sharing
  • How to innovate in this Fair? Connecting with business fairs, cultural events etc.

Innovation triggers

  • Innovation addressed challenge of community + opportunity market
  • Social innovation conflict resolution
  • Needs provoke invention + A mechanism to upscale will help
  • The innovations respond directly to the local needs and utilize locally available resources
  • Farmer fairs provide quick and easy access to farmer innovation

Enabling environment (policy, funding etc.)

  • Is market upscale important?
  • Does innovation have to bring financial return?
  • Technical + financial + market support is helpful
  • Recognition of process orientation to develop innovation
  • How to support local innovators for sustainability and still recognize them as the source of knowledge
  • There is a need to support the innovators to protect their intellectual property rights
  • Policy barriers for commercialization of innovation in some countries
  • Regulatory barriers to using good ideas

Specific innovations

  • Fodder preservation and storage
  • Post harvest losses can be avoided and turned into charcoal (new product)
  • Land reclamation healing gullys helping the community

Notes from the farmer innovators

Ethiopia: - 15 Ethiopians coming over. He has some improvement on beehives and ox farm – he tried to replace the wood for deforestation. - He’s thanking us all to connect with African friends and colleagues and the Kenyan organization. - What we’ve observed here is that there were some displays in English. Had it been connected to a field trip, it would have been very complete. This might be a good lesson to bring farmers to rural environments to understand what people are doing and how people live. - It’s true we are getting support but it’s usually very short. Since we lack that support on a continuous basis, innovation is lagging behind. Why don’t you come for longer periods so that innovation continues. E.g. he’s been working on traditional bee-keeping. It’s always wise to have a long term plan. - Networking: In my locality, I’m trying to work but not beyond. It would have been good to work with an institution that creates linkages. - Agri services – he inherited traditional beekeeping from his father and he has a lot of stories of bees. Even among Ethiopian farmers this has been very useful. This network is facilitating all connections among ourselves. - He was mentioning the patience of experts – they simply listen for a short time, they take a small part of our work and run out, why don’t they take more time to listen to us. If you take time to listen to the behavior of bees you will see how bees are nesting out but people are pressurizing them to produce more and they harvest nothing. Why are not people more patient. - Why do you bring pesticides? Why don’t you help us with those problems. Uganda: - We are very happy to come here to receive your recommendations and observations. We have been here in some conversations that you have had. We appreciate this very much. We know we are going to benefit from this. But we also have some lessons to go forward: - We’re all innovators and our major objective is to live in the world as a habitable place. We have to leave earth for our brothers, sisters, sons and daughters. - We want to bridge the gap between researchers and farmers. Some farmers fear researchers because they want to protect their price. When they come here, they share their knowledge but they fear that their innovation could be taken away from them because they may not have funds (and education) to speed up innovation. They need to be protected and to address the gap. - Capacity building should be done in terms of inputs and finance. Sometimes finance is difficult to access – people push back when it comes to money. - In Uganda we have a bill of standards and farmers need money to present their innovations there but sometimes they can’t afford. They need to find ways to make sure people benefit from their innovations. - Most African countries depend on donations. You people can support farmers. Tanzania: - I hope to see you one day in Tanzania and wish Africa was one country. - From Tanzania we have different innovations – I really appreciate it and like it. - We have got an old woman from Tanzania and I wish I’ll be getting older than her. - I hope you guys got sthg. We came from different countries and saw people that we wished to meet. Kenya: - Greeting all of you for this great arrangement and she is wonderfully happy to be here. - The previous speakers have spoken a lot. - The difficult issue is funding. […] - She is requesting the committee to go about documenting these innovations in the web to reach a wider people

Introduction to the ' Living Keynote' hot issues

  1. Innovation drop zones

How to facilitate teams and power relations This happens often between researchers and local people: a lot of dialogue is required

  1. Life under the hedge
  2. Follow the bright lights

What is it about? What type of innovation are we talking about?

  1. Surf the wave

Not clear!

  1. Brain gain

How to stimulate innovation approaches in research institutes? Intellectual property rights

  1. Suspended motion

Include system scales, time horizon How to use existing documentation for learning and change? Different impacts (here it's project-oriented by not just that) How to disseminate findings?

  1. The ripple effect

Questions on hot issues raised by the audience:

  • How to develop innovations? How do we use an innovation systems lens to understand the world and what is the relation between these areas and the main title of the event?
  • How to influence policy from local level and up?
  • How can policy become enabling and how to convince them
  • What are incentives for innovation?
  • Scales: what are best ways to fit this work? How to achieve impact at scale (the hard and soft parts)
  • How are our organisations facilitating innovation to challenge ourselves and our own innovation?
  • What about the educational background of those involved in innovation?
  • Make innovation more visible for society
  • Gender: a cross-cutting issue to integrate in all discussions
  • Institutionalisation of innovation
  • How to coordinate effort?
  • Free public goods and intellectual property?

World cafe reflections, based on oral paper presentations


How can we move from understanding to supporting?

  • Understanding by whom? --> shared understanding across actors! --> Innovation on political agenda, but POWER? Creative means of bringing people together
  • Can we separate understanding and supporting?

Understanding itself can lead to change but... Facilitation as catalyst to stakeholder dialogue on working through systemic blockage Policy cannot address what is not understood Understanding provides outline of processes, actors --> investment/intervention opportunities

  • Link concepts (IS) to tangible issues
  • Policy is motivated by success, credit.
  • ID triggers as leverage points
  • Strategic partners specifically linking understanding and support
  • Support by whom>

Policy: research Development practice

  • Integration of research/understanding to supporting: action research (instit. in research, unis, ext., educ. curr.)
  • Link to markets
  • Flexible resources responding to evolving circumstances
  • Increase innovation capacity - introduction of principles rather than products
  • Continuous, iterative reflection and learning among farmers, stakeholders, policy buy in
  • What types of understanding serve to support innovation

Micro-macro scale learning embedded in process

  • Clear criteria for kinds of innovation to support
  • What platforms spur recognition
  • LISFs: Democratization of research funds

Group 2 on the same question:

  • Champions in platforms should be put in capacity to identify relevant stakeholders taking in charge new popping up challenges in the process. Some can address policy makers, others approach traders
  • In parallel, SH come together
  • Stakeholder platforms are necessary at different levels, they have to be connected. Few existing platforms are at levels of practitioner ('lower level'). Also link with communical governmental bodies
  • Empower local level platforms for them to have a voice?
  • How do you build capacity at all these levels?
  • Bridging the gap: how to bring formal researchers to help innovators (local)
  • Platform: Legitimacy of the different stakeholders' representatives. What to do when stakeholders are not organised? How to involve private sector when there is no trust - lengthy process. Trust --> partnership
  • Entering with a project framework is contradictory with the development of a partnership
  • If there is too strong/dominant a SH (state, big man), platforms cannot work
  • Rural stakeholders have no high leevel body to engage with donors, international funds (such as C - finance). The issue in institutional arrangement is the adequacy of benefits, access to benefits, distribution of benefits
  • Projects, interventions are not open enough into looking upon what is happening beyond what was intended
  • We should present the evidence-based results for decision makers to take action
  • We should enlarge the evidence base to more cases in order to be convincing
  • Processes are all different but is there a common way to look at it?
  • Earlier analysis of stakeholders in planning for better anticipation
  • Markets as driver: support innovation by giving more added value to parts of the products (quality improvement, labels, trade).
  • Researchers should provide the evidence that innovators need that kind of support (for trademark, label and registering for protection of rights)

JOLISAA World Cafe TABLE: how does the JOLISAA work relate to the 6 hot areas

Round 1 The question was tossed up ‘are these JOLISAA policy recommendations really new’. Much of the recommendations, not only JOLISAA, are repetitions. Is there power in the repetitions? Because we concluded that the repetitions are not really picked up. Why would that be? Because they are really difficult to operationalise (sustainably; see round 2). The interaction with the complex context of smallholder farmers is one explanation of the difficult operationalisation. Particularly when it comes to M&E. And here the hot area of suspended action comes in. And, added to this is the context of the intervening agent, which is quite different and in many occasions these two contexts do not easily come together and lead to clashes. Also, complexity of processes makes it difficult to support these. However, there are windows: opportunitiies at certain moments in which such support can be given. In response to this, it was suggested that such rather eclectic support to on-going innovation is not enough for Africa. Other, more planned and targetted support with larger vision to development of countries, economies etc is need, These two types of support are not exclusive, they are both needed!

Another spin off from the first questions is: if these recommendations are not picked up, can we not come up with other, better recommendations?

Round 2 Following this situation of ‘recommendations not being picked up’ and ‘approaches difficult to operationalise’ actually needs attention: what is going wrong here?! Is the approach wrong? or is the targeted audience not getting it?

It was brought up that we should not stick with the impression that nothing happens: there are initiatives that pick up on the recommendations and operationalise it. Are these initiative not succesful then? Why do they fail or not catch the attention mertited?

Another explanation for the absent/not so succesful operationalisation is because there is not enough learning. Or, maybe there is learning but not by the right people. A lesson on learning is missing in the JOLISAA recommendations! Here is a clear link with hot area 6: M& E tends to be too much output oriented.

Two more reactions The context is not always complex and does not always concern bundles: depends on the nature of the innovation Projects are planned, but the success is not always in the area planned (falling outside the view of the project.

These discussions touch upon all 6 hot area topics.

Prolinnova case

  • Under the hedge issue: identifying innovators who are not visible
  • Opposite of parachuting: bottom-up approach (selection process?)
  • Engage stakeholders to ensure 'support', sustainability, up and out- scaling
  • Process documentation: measuring impact, sharing the experiences
  • How to facilitate farmer-to-farmer interactions
  • There is a mismatch between (private sector) scientists' incentives and the needs of the farmer... how do we address this?
  • Brain gain: the potential to attract youth back to agriculture (digital generation)
  • Process akin to business incubation (move it forward or linkage to other organisations)
  • Strengthen LSCs to perform M&E (use students?)
  • Bright lights not necessarily bad per se - rebrand and improve them

Local innovation support funds (LISFs) / Integrating into formal ARD

  • Group innovation around different challenges - fund to support this process and bring in researchers sharing this issue
  • Validation by whom: farmers & scientists + publish the findings - joint effort + suggest improvements
  • Documentation by both farmers + researchers. LK+SK integrated in 'language' of researchers and of farmers --> spreading
  • Get funders and media into the LSCs for implementation processes (TV, newspapers etc.) --> pull interest of researchers, also to access research funds
  • IPRs: Have discussion + agreement to share the innovations + results of experimentation; most ag. innovations not patentable - NB to acknowledge source of innovation.
  • Research as source of expertise into this process
  • Part of ARD funds should be controlled by farmers (research institutes taking over role of Prolinnova)
  • Monitor whom is it important to formalise the farmer-led innovation process?

Wider benefits - easier to scale out More acceptability + ownership by more farmers Recognised --> more innovation emerges Formal research impact minimal - research needs effective way of scaling out Helps to spread also formal ARD results

  • All stakeholders engaged in innovation processes e.g. through innovation platforms. Innovation by farmers can benefit others
  • LISFs as part of any local entity's project
  • Generate better evidence-based arguments to show that this approach leads to something better than what is currently done in ARD

CoS-SIS case

  • How do we define scale up?
  • Mainstreaming CoS-SIS concept in institutions
  • How do we share lessons learnt in other platforms
  • How to deal with challenges
  • Visions of the program scaling up
  • Innovation processes related to institutional constraints
  • Identified champions could be the conveyors of the platform
  • Convince policy makers to push it into government agenda
  • Agricultural research in agricultural business ?
  • Building synergy with other innovations
  • Approach to mobilise resources

FARA case

Platforms for platforms? Platforms is usefully vague, but depends on who shows up 1. Is IARD democratic? Can be a tool for control? 3. Will donors fund diversity? There is no panacea 4. Surf the wave: CRP formation process. Proof of concept? approach? 5. Brain gain. Evaluation frame drives program. Evidence doesn't change practice but relations, network, championing. How do IPs facilitate capacity building? Soft skills training for all participants 6. Suspended motion: Continental M&E, nat? Output M&E but not outcome? Institutional form, but content? 7. Scaling: start with institutional infrastructure, not technical, modeling...

AusAid case

Innovation Platforms writeshop

B3 - IP writeshop group 2.JPG

Why innovation platforms?

  • Not always a good justification. But why? Are there other tools? Can we build on something that already exists?
  • What type of IP: what is the challenge: policy? technical? what is the problem or challenge we're facing?
  • Different types of stakeholders to make the system work? Complex problems, different type of role fo players e.g. production market
  • Not working / system worked relatively well? IP not an answer
  • What is the right topic? What are relevant actors? Start with something that contributes to development. Stakeholder analysis (iterative process based on interest), strong action research
  • Role of private sector: involve it when appropriate
  • Other models: existing structures e.g. national associations
  • Actors looking for solutions of problems (not innovation) often strongly producer-focused
  • Many approaches but not all are IP
  • Main issue is actors talking to each other / linkages, but institutional problems and what are critical issues?
  • Organisations to link? Does not happen by itself --> intervention; process not properly facilitated can lead to real problem
  • Needs purpose / who to involve / needs proper situation analysis
  • Why? Full value chain
  • If addressed, not external intervention is needed
  • Typology?
  • Common interest, diagnosis, problem-solving, inclusive, open and with potential benefits
  • Never reach perfection / can always improve. Should not stop innovating. Members change and evolve
  • Innovation process can continue
  • Risk of constitution / rules / exclusion
  • Who triggers? can be anyone! Requires champion
  • Innovation process / products --> non uses(??)
  • Other models - depends on objective. With IP, make things go faster, upscaling. Decision-making slow?
  • Innovation model: FSYN / Part. research --> facilitated. (??) Ownership across the board
  • Feeling of dependency? May not always be same! Common need aware.

Open space reflections

  1. Why are recommendations not being picked up (or are they, but???)?
  2. From analysis to operation: putting AIS approach into practice
  3. The role of fun in innovation systems (games, videos etc.)
  4. How to better link public/private advisory services with innovation systems? What does it change?
  5. How to choose more cases to build evidence base convincing decision-makers?
  6. Youth in AR4D and innovation systems in Africa
  7. What does it change to take an IS perspective for advisory services?
  8. Gender and AIS
  9. Innovation Platforms chat show

Our recommendations are not being picked up: what goes wrong?

In the discussions earlier, this was raised. If our recommendations are not being picked up, we should understand why this is the case. Is there something wrong with the approach we are promoting? Is it the message or the ones we talk to?

At the same time, the poster session showed that currently platforms are being implemented in many places/projects, although their functioning is not always so great. There is still something like recommendations emerging from these platforms directed by researchers which do not fit the farmers. A final note on platforms: we have to make use of existing structures (not always necessary to establish new ones), like farmer associations.

There is also an issue related to whom we address. We ‘talk’ to them, but ‘they’ remain abstract for us: who are they? Also, what we say remains abstract to the policymakers. We should bring them to the places, physically: invite keyplayers to the events/places. We should also provide evidence on sufficient scale that shows usefulnes of platforms/approaches (action research can provide such evidence). And, it is important we make sure the government/actors can create ownership over what is going on. Lobbying is very important and we should pay more attention, invest more in it at national level!!! Be clever in whom to target (key players!) and make sure the right person tells the story! Make sure you feed the right people (those who are in taskforces preparing strategy papers). And, also important: we need to make sure that information on the approaches/successes is timely available and rightly packaged.

Stakeholder dialogue: 3 messages for...

(For each stakeholder group, we developed 3 key messages and some ideas to make sure the target groups may act upon them).


  1. Value innovation processes and engagement (reward systems) - ensure interaction and learning with farmers
  2. Engaging all stakeholders (farmers, private sector, NGOs, government) in the research and development processes - i.e. integrated approach - and at the core learn from farmers
  3. Collaboration among academia and researchers along the value chain


  • Practical training in the universities to deal with real issues and problems:
  • Partnerships with other players (NGOs, microfinance, local innovators, private sector)
  • Industry players, NGOs, CGIAR should be involved in teaching and training

Advisors (extension, NGOs etc.)

  1. Strengthening technical + advisory skills of extension: by strengthening curricula, lifelong learning in professional organisations
  2. Ensure that complementary roles are known and acted up on by hubs, adviser networks, face to face, facilitating a reflection on complementary roles and acting upon that
  3. Support brokerage roles: horizontally, vertically, in a complementary manner

(Background information to these messages)

  • Developing broker/facilitator role - NGO broader picture
  • Autonomization
  • Know when to phase out
  • Be open to recognition of working in alliances
  • Strengthening service providers' system advisers to carry different hats
  • Strengthen horizontal, vertical complementary (e.g. value chain) coordination
  • Strengthen learning + social learning and create space for reflection
  • Seek complementarity

Capacity development actors

Goal: building capacity of innovations systems

  1. Who is responsible for building capacity of the innovation systems? Brokerage institutions and training/education institutions
  2. Capacity building does not mean training, it means developing institutional systems and incentive structures in countries
  3. "Training" + capacity development means building 'soft skills' --> partnership building, collaborativeness


Innovation platforms are dynamic but donors require details upfront! Key messages:

  1. We invite the donor world to the 'process' so we all understand each other, build trust based on evidence and ultimately confidence!
  2. Need a budget and reporting structure that embrace the process (rather than outcome) - includes evaluation process
  3. IP allows us to focus on real issues and with potential benefits (addresses issues related to risk(

(Random background info)

  • Trust the process! Provide the evidence based on existing work/impact
  • Honesty --> risk
  • Process-orientation --> blank cheque for first few years
  • Process based not only on technology or number-based
  • Coordination amongst donors, visions
  • Share / communicate information (to donors)
  • Financial-based reporting restricts multi-donor projects
  • Longer term support in phases (evaluator)
  • Invite donors to the process, educate and build their confidence
  • Cost of the IP process

Farmer representatives

  1. Farmer representatives should engage researchers directly to articulate farmers' needs and set the agricultural research agenda as it enhances ownership
  2. The farmer representatives should be lobbying the government and other key agricultura actors to address challenges that affect them
  3. The farmer reps should catalyze and spearhead farmer groups to establish innovation platforms


  • Establish and strengthen structures at various levels from grassroots to national level
  • Establish effective communication mechanisms that allows for feedback
  • Use of social and mass media

Private sector

  1. Be curious about what's happening around you
  2. Be part of innovation platforms to help solve your problems - some IP members may have some answers that you're looking for
  3. Business opportunities within the agricultural sector


  • Joining the Chamber of Commerce
  • Corporate Social Responsibility projects

Living keynote presentation and reactions



Reactions: What is missing?

  • Gender not explicitly mentioned in the final statements
  • Facilitation role in process experiences, and between students working with research associates
  • Institutional culture that influences performances has not come out well
  • The issue of innovation coming in bundles was missing
  • Sustainable platforms - do we need sustainable platforms or are they no longer required after they've fulfilled their mandate
  • Socio-cultural determinants are missing. We tend to treat them as monolithic
  • The farmer is missing, hidden somewhere
  • The future: what type of systems do people want?
  • The government is missing
  • Smooth adjustments to the existing system and reform is not the only way: radical reform might help!
  • How to influence the policy environment?
  • At the tables and discussions we had very original ideas and associations and when we look at the synthesis we have lost a lot of the richness. The originality of our work has gone missing - in practice we need those details in our context
  • The concept of champions has cropped up - nurturing people from within the system - but is missing
  • Interactions with non-agricultural innovation systems people! We have to go out of our innovation silo - we are the champions of participatory research
  • We talk among the converted - the people we're trying to convince are difficult to bring here

How do we take this forward?

  • 7 documenters to act as anchors to work on these notes:

Willing: Laurens, Marc, Bridget.

  • We'll work on a short deadline for this.
  • We also have the proceedings for the poster. There is a deadline of 12 July for light editing. It's not peer-reviewed but authors will receive feedback.
  • We will put the posters on the wiki. Bernard will contact poster owners to collect these and add them to the proceedings.


This was the week of agricultural innovation systems in Africa. You seem to have appreciated the setting, we seemed to have got quite some ideas and stimulating discussions, which was the whole point of this. The living keynote was creative and innovative, the farmer fair also. It was not a classical workshop. Some people from the World Bank, from the private sector etc. couldn't come. We will convey to them that we missed them. I hope we will continue post-AISA. Maybe some of you will continue to interact with each other.

Thank you notes: Ewen, Peter, the WAIA secretariat: Mary, Ann, Jane, Theresiah, Philippe, Olivia, Catherine, Geoffrey, CCAFS (Wiebke, Patti, Maren), CSIRO, CIRAD, Ann Waters-Bayer, all of us and Bernard.

Key notes from the closing 'evaluation' with participants:

What was liked:

  • Energy
  • Interaction and tone and collegiality, learning, open
  • Good choice of participants
  • Facilitation
  • Living keynote
  • Group discussions
  • Messages for audiences
  • Lunch
  • Lots of walking

What could be better next time:

  • Too many facilitation procedures – confusing?
  • Choosing between the oral presentations - could have been presented sequentially in plenary
  • Group forming not well-enough managed?
  • Poster time too short (should have been displayed since Day 1, in a place where participants can go & look at them at their leisure)
  • Better capture the audience's messages on ppt
  • More use of ppt for group reporting
  • Lots of walking* (good & bad!)

Organizers' agenda