Innovation platforms mind map (graphic by former ILRI scientist Birgit Boogaard, Wageningen UR).
The CGIAR Research Program on Integrated Systems for the Humid Tropics (CRP Humidtropics), led by the International Institute for Tropical Agriculture (IITA), uses structured multi-stakeholder platforms to drive its research for development program, as well as agricultural innovation systems to ensure active participation of key stakeholders in program delivery. Humidtropics’ R4D and innovation platforms ensure stakeholder equity, accountability, transparency and inclusive decision-making. The program also facilitates development of partnerships and networks among the various stakeholders that encourage innovations that are sustainable and can be scaled up broadly.
In Nov 2014, to better assess the efficiency of these innovation platforms and to document their successes and challenges in different developing countries, Humidtropics launched an Innovation Platforms Case Study Competition. In Feb 2015, twelve candidates were selected to participate in a writeshop focused on writing strong, reflective and cohesive case studies.
Earlier this month (Jun 2015), jury members in an editors’ meeting reviewed all the final submissions and chose eight cases to be featured in a Humidtropics Anthology to be published by an academic publisher before the end of 2015; the jury also recommended that two cases be published separately.
When judging the cases, the editors assessed the ‘maturity’ of the platforms in terms of four themes—systems trade-offs, multiple commodities, scaling up agricultural interventions, and learning from failure. Other criteria used in judging the case studies were the following.
Content: The problems/challenges being addressed by the platform are clearly defined and a detailed and descriptive narrative shows how various stakeholders used the innovation platform to create solutions and encourage further thinking and debate.
Writing: The logic of the case is strong, the presentation memorable, the level of exposition high.
Utility: The case study features interventions/programs that meet the assessment criteria and demonstrate long-standing impacts and the solutions featured are replicable, scalable, sustainable, reliable and relevant for the broader agricultural community.
The winning case study was written by lead author Rebecca Kalibwani, of Bishop Stuart University, Mbarara, Uganda, and entitled ‘Can an innovation platform succeed as a cooperative society?: The story of Bubaare Innovation Platform Multipurpose Cooperative Society Ltd.’ The editors found this case to present an interesting legal precedent for transforming an innovation platform in Uganda into a cooperative, something other platforms might consider. The case also does a good job of illustrating how a truly ‘multi-purpose platform’ can scale up a mix of technological, market and policy innovations to benefit all its members. And it tells a compelling story about what makes a platform sustainable as well as impactful.
The following were the two runners-up in this Humidtropics competition.
Thanammal Ravichandran, of the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), lead author of a case entitled ‘MilkIT innovation platform: Changing women’s lives—one cow and one litre of milk at a time—deep in the foothills of India’s Himalayan mountains’. This MilkIT case demonstrates a clear pathway for addressing constraints faced by India’s small-scale dairy farmers, with impacts on policy as well as development and with powerful lessons to offer others.
Perez Muchunguzi, of IITA, lead author of a case entitled ‘Overcoming challenges for crops, people and policies in Central Africa–The story of CIALCA stakeholder engagement’. The CIALCA case provides an interesting example of how the Consortium for Improving Agriculture-based Livelihoods in Central Africa (CIALCA) emerged, and identified many of its successful elements, which can benefit other innovation platforms.
The competition organizers—Iddo Dror (head of capacity development) and Jo Cadilhon (senior agricultural economist), both of the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI); Marc Schut, of the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) and Wageningen UR; Michael Misiko, of the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT); and communications consultant Shreya Maheshwari, from India—congratulate the winner, the two runners-up and the other nine participants in this competition.
Find a slightly modified version of this story posted on the Humidtropics website.