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Setting and facilitation of functional innovation
platform: Training of TL III project support teams
in groundnut and common bean seed systems in
Tanzania and Uganda
Training Manual
Tropical Legumes III (TL III)
Setting and facilitation of functional
innovation platform:
Training of TL III project support teams in
groundnut and common bean seed systems
in Tanzania and Uganda
Training Manual
September 2016
Essegbemon Akpo, ICRISAT, Nairobi, Kenya
Emmanuel S. Monyo, ICRISAT, Nairobi, Kenya
Jean-Claude Rubyogo, CIAT, Arusha, Tanzania
Tropical Legumes III (TL III)
Contents
1. About this Manual...............................................................................................................................................5
1.1. How is the manual written?........................................................................................................................5
1.2. What to expect from this manual?.............................................................................................................5
1.3. Intended users............................................................................................................................................5
2. Introduction to the Training Context...................................................................................................................5
2.1. Context........................................................................................................................................................5
2.2. Objectives....................................................................................................................................................6
2.3. Expected outputs........................................................................................................................................6
3. Description of Training Themes...........................................................................................................................6
3.1. Concepts of innovation, innovation systems approach and innovation platform for agricultural
development....................................................................................................................................................6
3.2. Seed value chain.........................................................................................................................................8
3.3. Setting up the functional innovation platform along the seed value chain ..............................................10
3.4. Key points of attention on innovation platform implementation.............................................................11
3.5. Learning cycle within the innovation platform..........................................................................................13
3.6. Facilitation of a functional innovation platform........................................................................................14
4. Concluding Remarks..........................................................................................................................................15
Appendices............................................................................................................................................................16
Appendix 1. Some tools for innovation platform setting and facilitation.........................................................16
Appendix 2. A model to bring legume seed to scale........................................................................................17
Appendix 4. Selected literature.......................................................................................................................18
Appendix 3. An example of maize value chain map in Burkina Faso................................................................18
List of Figures
Figure 1. An example of an array of actors who may be part of an innovation platform..............................8
Figure 2. Linkages between different levels of IP interventions..................................................................12
Figure 3. Evolution of the roles and responsibilities of IP actors over time................................................13
Figure 4. Learning cycle within the innovation platform for more consistent decision making..................14
5
Acronyms
AIS Agricultural Innovation Systems
GRAD Groupe de Recherche et d’Actions pour le Développement, GRAD Consulting Group
IAR4D Integrated Agricultural Research for Development
IITA International Institute of Tropical Agriculture
IO International Organizations
IP Innovation Platform
TL III Tropical Legumes III
ICRISAT International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics
CGIAR Consultative Group for International Agricultural Research
CIAT International Center for Tropical Agriculture
NARS National Agricultural Research Service
6
1. About this Manual
1.1. How is the manual written?
The manual is tailored to the needs of intended users. We gather useful information so that the reader
is able to set up a functional innovation platform. We use direct and simple language to facilitate the
understanding of the reader. We put more practical content into each section so that the reader can easily
use it for formation and facilitation of innovation platform in the agricultural sector in general, but also in
other fields of interest related to smallholders in the developing world. The manual is written based on the
lead author’s experiences and knowledge gained from training innovation support teams in West Africa
when working at the “Groupe de Recherche et d’Actions pour le Développement”, GRAD Consulting Group.
1.2. What to expect from this manual?
This is a training of trainers’ manual organized in different sections, delivered not only in the form of
presentations and interactive discussion but also as practical group work to connect learned concepts and
tools to real facts and ongoing experiences in the field.
The following themes are discussed:
•	 Concepts of innovation, innovation systems approach and innovation platform (IP) for agricultural
development;
•	 Key steps to set up a functional IP;
•	 Learning cycle within IP;
•	 Facilitation of IP;
•	 Team contract to shape IP work.
Selected complementary reading material and references are provided for more information. Overall, the
training material is more practical than just vague theories so that readers can make better use of it to
bring seed use to scale for smallholder farmers.
1.3. Intended users
Though not excluded, this training is not for executives, but rather for operational staff who are more
active in field work and meet with beneficiaries involved in the actual implementation of Tropical
Legumes III (TL III) project activities. The intended participants are those expected to facilitate the
innovation platforms that are to be formed in the near future. For this training of trainers, different
categories of actors are expected. It includes: the focal point of TL III and its support team, other relevant
researchers, extension workers, person in charge of seed per country, representatives of seed companies,
representatives of farmer organizations, relevant NGOs, and agro-dealers. Specifically, we expect focal
point staff, person in charge of seed in the country, other researchers, extension agents, managers of seed
companies, representatives of farmer organizations, representations from partner NGOs and other civil
organizations, representatives of agro-dealers, and regional agriculture authorities.
2. Introduction to the Training Context
2.1. Context
This manual is produced for the use of the Tropical Legumes III (TL III) project team. The TL III project
is a research and development project that targets major valuable dryland grain legume crops that
contribute significantly to the economy and livelihood of smallholder farmers and possess commercial
potential to fight hunger, increase income and improve production systems for resource-poor farmers. TL
III is a major international initiative partnering ICRISAT, CIAT, IITA, seven African countries and one Indian
state, as well as other partners, to develop improved cultivars of common bean, cowpea, chickpea and
7
groundnut, and deliver their seed at scale to smallholders in the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation focus
geographies. The project intends to fundamentally strengthen the NARS and CGIAR breeding programs
and seed platforms to enhance their ability to deliver high and sustained outputs to smallholders. In
Tanzania and Uganda, two of the eight target countries, while the groundnut improvement and seed
systems are implemented by ICRISAT with full participation of national program partners, the common
bean is under the responsibility of CIAT. In both countries and for both crops there is strong involvement of
public and private sectors and non-governmental organizations to assure effective delivery of groundnut
and common bean innovations so as to ensure secure harvests against drought and outburst of major
pests and diseases, guaranteeing high yields and quality, and assuring effective marketing systems. TL III
seeks to strengthen the capacity to deliver seeds of new varieties and build capacity of partners to utilize
integrated legume innovations for research and production purposes.
To deliver seeds of groundnut and common bean at scale, there is a need to catalyze the partnership
of different stakeholders. TL III has suggested the use of innovation platform (IP) as a mechanism to
bring legume seed to scale. Innovation platform is not a common concept for most partners who are
expected to implement it. There is need to provide an opportunity for partners to acquire new skills by
way of strengthening their capacity. It is the reason why this training session has been initiated. It gathers
partners in each country who can share their experiences, and get familiar with the innovation platform
concept and its operational implementation.
2.2. Objectives
This manual intends to:
•	 support national partners to better understand the rationale behind IP and introduce key concepts;
•	 strengthen the capacity of national partners on key steps to set up a functional IP;
•	 provide tools to facilitate the IP;
•	 develop with partners their plan to set up a functional IP.
2.3. Expected outputs
At the end of the trainings all participants:
•	 have a good understanding of the IP concept;
•	 are able to set up a functional IP;
•	 are skilled to develop their own team contract and make the draft document available;
•	 have made available their plan to set up a functional IP.
3. Description of Training Themes
3.1. Concepts of innovation, innovation systems approach and innovation platform
for agricultural development
3.1.1. Definitions
From our training experiences, we have observed that a quick assessment of trainees’ knowledge of
the concepts of innovation, innovation systems and innovation platform shows wide diversity in their
understanding of each concept. Innovation is often perceived as a new product, a discovery, a change, a
creativity, an improvement, an adaptation and a new technology. Agricultural innovation systems (AIS)
are perceived as an innovative way of doing (something), a way of thinking, a synergy of action between
various actors. Innovation platform is considered as a tool, a mode of interaction to take advantage of
opportunities or solve problems by different actors. In this section, we clarify these three concepts and
make an attempt to connect them in order to update the reader’s understanding.
8
Contrary to Latin America and South Asian countries where rural poverty is decreasing, the poverty
situation is not following the same trend in sub-Saharan African countries in spite of the efforts made
by research and extension. In the conventional research and development approach (also called the
linear or pipeline or top-down approach) researchers are the think tank who develop new technologies
that they pass on to extension agents whom they train; extension workers are then in charge of bringing
those technologies to the farmers who are considered as mere users. Successive approaches of RD that
followed and have been used, inspired by more participatory approaches, fell short of reaching meaningful
impacts on end-users. Research and development have put much emphasis on developing technologies
but overlooked the context in which these technologies are supposed to work. The discrepancy between
technologies and the eventual user explains the poor impact on smallholders in sub-Saharan Africa
countries. The inability of the conventional approach of research and development to deliver significant
changes in agriculture and alleviate poverty in rural areas led to the conception of AIS.
The AIS approach is grounded in the thinking that innovation does not happen in isolation, or overlook
former approaches. Innovations emerge from the interactions of different stakeholders and processes
at different levels, be it niche, regime, and landscape1
levels. Innovation can be defined as the use of
knowledge to change the way of doing things in order to make an impact. In AIS, innovation is perceived
not as a product but rather as a process through which knowledge is created and used, and actors involved
derive social benefits and public goods that translate into improved livelihoods. As innovation happens
through collective actions of different stakeholders, there is need to have a frame or space to facilitate it.
Innovation platform (IP) has been suggested as the mechanism that can bring together stakeholders for
joint interactions and coordination to facilitate change. IP is composed of stakeholders and all required
activities/functions that can make innovations happen. It is a frame/space for interactions of different
stakeholders who collaborate, create and share knowledge, define, and take action to innovate practices
of all actors involved in the innovation processes.
AIS is holistic and takes into account all important social, economic, political, organizational, and
other critical factors that play major roles in the development, diffusion, and use of innovations. It is
an integrated way of production and uses knowledge to deliver the goal of agricultural intensification
and improved livelihoods for rural population. This approach is thought to ensure the sustainability of
production systems by giving great consideration to institutional factors, be it people, values, market, and
political issues. Recently, in the 2000s, the Forum for Agricultural Research in Africa (FARA) developed a
clear path to implement AIS, which was known as ‘the Integrated Agricultural Research for Development
(IAR4D)’ approach. So IAR4D is a way of implementing AIS.
To conclude this section, the AIS approach is a way of realizing agricultural innovation which is a process
that requires an actors’ network, social interactions, and their coordination, whereby they create and use
knowledge to improve livelihoods. IP is the tool used to operationalize AIS and includes all relevant actors
involved in the process, leading to innovation.
We think it is useful to define the difference between organizations and institutions. Organizations are
defined as bodies or known structures, such as government structures, universities, research institutes,
enterprises, farmer cooperatives or organizations, and Non-Government Organizations (NGOs).
Institutions, on the other hand are the ‘rules of the game’, the set of common habits, routines, practices,
rules or laws that shape the relationships and interactions between individuals and groups (Edquist 1997).
IP focuses on improving the ‘rules of the game’.
1. The niche level includes localized change where institutional and socio-technical experiments can take place; the regime level signifies relative
stability in institutions across multiple locations; and landscape level includes larger institutional context that cannot be readily changed by
niche experiments or regime-level ‘rules of the game’.
9
3.1.2. Categories of actors that can be part of an innovation platform
The types of actors for a successful IP include (Figure 1):
•	 Technical support staff that we name here as facilitators of change: researchers (national or international),
extension agents, NGOs’ workers, and other experts are part of this group;
•	 People in charge of farmer services delivery that we name here as catalyzers of change: input suppliers
and various services and logistics suppliers;
•	 Direct beneficiaries or the end-users of change produced: farmers, seed producers, seed companies,
processors, traders, and various service suppliers.
3.1.3. Principles of agricultural innovation systems
•	 (1) AIS recognizes the complexities and multiple dimensions (organizational, political, markets) of the
different challenges that affect sustainable production, marketing and utilization of each agricultural
commodity;
•	 (2) AIS integrates research and development along a field of interest for beneficiaries, e.g., commodity
value chain, natural resource management, etc. Here we are interested in the seed value chain;
•	 (3) AIS values contributions and synergies of different actors who act collectively to identify problems,
explore solutions, implement and assess the solutions. Joint learning for improved practices and services is
key to innovation.
3.2. Seed value chain
This session clarifies the difference between value chain and traditional supply chain and provides
analytical tools for improved competitiveness.
Figure 1. An example of an array of actors who may be part of an innovation platform.
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3.2.1. Concept of value chain and seed value chain
A value chain includes all activities and the different actors that intervene in making the product, from
inputs acquisition to the consumer’s table. At each stage of product making, value is created and the
value of the resulting product increases. In other words, value chain focuses on creating value along
the chain mainly through innovation of products, processes, marketing and use of the added value. The
competitiveness of a value chain is measured through how much value is created from one segment
to another from production to the marketing of the product, including transport, cleaning, storage,
processing and packaging of the product. The difference between the traditional supply chain and value
chain is presented in Table 1. While the traditional supply chain is supply-oriented, focuses on commodity,
and individual actor competitiveness with low emphasis on communication, the value chain is market-oriented,
with focus on specific products, and competitiveness of the chain with important information flows.
The seed value chain entails sequences of activities/functions and the different actors required to create,
multiply, process, market and disseminate (improved) seed to farmers that responds to market demands
and user preferences. The seed value chain should not look at the flow of seed to farmers only but
also the grain market demand. The chain of actors who make seed as it moves through the value chain
includes inputs suppliers, researchers, extensionists, seed inspection, policy makers, seed companies, seed
producers, farmers and their organizations, other farm service suppliers, traders, processors, exporters/
wholesalers, retailers and final consumers. Seed value chains are complex and need proper mapping for
better understanding on how to improve their delivery performance.
Some tools for value chain analysis are: participant observation, focus group discussion, semi-structured
interviews, questionnaire, operation site visits, etc.
3.2.2. Seed value chain mapping
The seed value chain can be mapped using the following key steps:
1.	 identify the products marketed;
2.	 gather data on marketed products using archival research and an exploratory study;
3.	 identify various functions in the chain (e.g. collection, conservation, processing, wholesale,
exportation, etc.,);
4.	 clear graphical separation between seed value chain functions;
5.	 mention the types of actors per function, although an actor might fulfill more than one function;
6.	 draw arrows representing the flow of products/income from one actor to another;
7.	 indicate the final market and place accordingly at the end of the map;
8.	 show the various categories of support services: transportation, packaging, inspection, finance,
research, extension (use arrows to indicate the actors that benefit from which service);
9.	 validate the final version of the seed value chain map with the identified actors using participatory
methods during meetings with key informants and/or a workshop.
Table 1. Difference between traditional supply chain and value chain.
Supply Chain Value Chain
Communication (information sharing) Little or none Extensive
Value focus Cost/price Value/quality
Product Commodity Differentiated product
Relationship Supply push Demand pull
Organizational structure Independent Interdependent
Philosophy Self-optimization Chain optimization
Source: Agriculture and Food Council of Alberta. 2004. Agri-Food Value Chains: A practical guide to building customer-focused alliances.
11
3.2.3. Improving seed value chain competitiveness
Improving the competitiveness of the seed value chain consists in identifying the weak points along the
value chain and making subsequent decisions to address them. For example, if one of the weak points is
poor germination rate, training seed producers on good conservation practices can be an option.
A diagnostic along the seed value chain is a good tool to identify weak points/gaps as a first step to
improving the chain’s competitiveness.
3.2.4. Diagnostic along seed value chain
A diagnostic along the seed value chain consists of the following:
1.	 identify not only critical weaknesses and major opportunities per function but also per actor;
2.	 the identified critical problems and opportunities are further prioritized;
3.	 based on the ranking, the issues of great interest to the various categories of actors are derived;
addressing these issues becomes key to improving chain competitiveness;
4.	 these derived issues become the focus or the entry point for setting up the innovation platform.
3.3. Setting up the functional innovation platform along the seed value chain
3.3.1. Preliminaries
For an IP to perform well and deliver significant outcomes to its members, it cannot be set up in a vacuum.
It needs to be grounded in a setting that produces substantial economic return, that means it should have
a business dimension. That is the reason why we recommend setting up the innovation platform along the
agricultural value chain. Other domains, such as natural resource management, are good fields to set up
an IP.
3.3.2. Steps to set up the functional innovation platform
This section presents the path to setting up an IP that delivers meaningful outputs for its beneficiaries.
Some tools to facilitate the establishment of the functional IP are also presented. Before getting into
details, we remind the reader that the IP should be grounded on existing structures and contexts and not
on completely new issues outside the current interest/knowledge of the beneficiaries (examine carefully
what is already in place).
In the project we already have an idea of the area of interest or the core issue we wish to focus on to
make meaningful change in smallholder lives (project documents). Overall the platform establishment
involves a number of steps.
- Step 1: Select/identify the major challenge (constraint/opportunity) to work on based on the diagnostic
along the seed value chain.
- Step 2: Identify the relevant actors who need to be involved to effectively resolve the selected/identified
challenge. It is important to understand that at the outset of IP formation, not all important actors should
be brought on board at the same time, but only the most relevant ones.
NB: These two steps can be addressed in one meeting. Another meeting can be set for Step 3.
- Step 3: Meeting with all relevant actors. The objective of this meeting is to ensure the commitment
of the different actors. It involves sharing information and validating the identified challenges with
all relevant actors. Participants are briefed on the job done so far. Each category of actor expresses
their interests and wishes. This will bring out a full picture of the different actors’ views so as to make
adjustments in shared challenges. During this meeting, general information should be shared on the
rationale behind an IP, the outcomes expected from the IP and how to make it work. Participants at the
meeting should have a crystal clear idea of the validated challenges that need to be addressed.
12
- Step 4: Analyze motivations of different actors: A workshop can be organized to further analyze the
motivation of each category of actors (as recorded in Step 3) and how better to address them.
NB: Steps 3 and 4 can be done in one meeting. Another meeting can be set for Step 5. At Step 3, some
actors we think relevant might defect and leave.
- Step 5: Formal IP launching and first IP meeting. An inception workshop is organized for the IP. This
workshop is meant to officially launch the IP through a formal declaration by all involved stakeholders.
In the declaration message, all actors commit to engaging themselves to address the common challenge
in a participatory way. As part of the outputs of the workshop, participants define the rules they need to
follow to make team work easy, the IP structure, the temporary IP steering committee, and the draft of
their work plan.
NB: Steps 3, 4, 5 can be taken up in a single meeting. To avoid having a workshop of several days, we
suggest tackling Step 5 in another meeting.
As IP deals with complexity, we should make sure that the selected challenges are well described and
contextualized. We should ensure that the selected challenge can promote interactions among various
actors. This means that when the challenge is resolved all value chain actors can benefit from the created
value. This is the only way each actor will be motivated to attend IP events. IP is not a non-benefit social
gathering but a space for each actor to do business to make a good living.
As this section ends, if you are involved in an active IP, look back to check the kind of adjustments you can
make to revitalize it in terms of challenges being addressed and actors involved.
3.4. Key points of attention on innovation platform implementation
3.4.1. Innovation platform governance/internal organization
By IP governance we mean the operational and organizational arrangements put in place to make the
IP perform at its best and deliver meaningful outcomes to the members. Once the IP is established, it is
necessary for its members to appoint/elect a committee to manage its activities. While we recognize that
there is no ideal governance structure to suggest, we stress on the importance to keep it simple and make
the selection process democratic. The IP management structure can be composed of a steering committee
to facilitate the IP decision implementation processes; and a facilitation unit composed of researchers,
extensionists, NGOs and skilled representatives of primary beneficiaries. Specific committees or working
groups can be formed to solve emerging particular issues, for example, seed market, facilities for seed
conservation, early generation seed availability, specific inputs access, access to credit, policy advocacy,
etc. While setting the number of people per committee is up to IP members, our advice is to keep it as
small as possible.
Basic rules are also necessary to guide IP meetings, conduct IP activities, and manage conflicts. Those rules
should be developed per IP and put in a document called the ‘team contract’ (cf. 3.6.1).
3.4.2. Leadership within the innovation platform
To be fully functional, an IP needs good leaders. Being a good leader starts with behavior. The good leader
must know his team members and work on his own shortcomings to impact the team positively. The
leaders must create a friendly environment for IP members, and take into account the needs of members.
They should create suitable conditions for people to change their behavior, attitudes, and to fully engage
in the innovation processes. The leaders must set a clear vision, show the right direction, value differences,
communicate well, accept a reasonable level of risk, be open to/generate new ideas, and translate ideas
into business opportunities.
13
3.4.3. Level of intervention/operation of innovation platform
Most of the challenges the innovation platform members are working to resolve require multi-level actions
that should be interconnected (from village to country or even regional levels). Platform actions can be
dissected at 2 levels: operational and strategic levels (Figure 2). At the operational level, the following
activities can take place: joint diagnostic with field actors, seed technology testing and validation using
demonstrations, identification and validation of mechanisms to access farm services (credit, information,
market, etc.), capacity building for seed actors and their organizations, cross-visit, field days on the ground,
and other learning activities.
At the strategic level IPs are involved in higher level interventions, mainly institutional support to different
actors: organizational linkages, interventions for seed policy change/harmonization, negotiation of better
market access, clinching higher level mechanisms to access various farm services, i.e., credit, market,
information, technical supports.
Geographically, the operational level IP interventions can take place at the village or close to beneficiary
actors’ level. On the other hand, the strategic IP interventions can take place at the district or regional
or national level. There should be a close connection between different levels of interventions to avoid
information asymmetry and dysfunction between actions at various levels.
3.4.4. Funding innovation platform activities
So far, most IPs are project initiated and draw their financial resources from those projects. For the sake of
sustainability, field experiences indicate that the sources below can be used to fund IP works.
•	 Membership fees
•	 Monthly contributions/Levy at the source
•	 Overhead from marketing initiatives
•	 Volunteer service members
•	 Projects/donors with similar domain of interest
Figure 2. Linkages between different levels of IP interventions
Flow of information between level
of IP interventions
Strategic level
interventions
Operational level
interventions
14
3.4.5. Other sustainability issues
Most platforms established through a project disappear after the end of the project. This has raised
a debate on how to make IPs sustainable so that their life extends beyond the life of the project. The
facilitators should put sustainability issues at the center of any action being implemented or any platform
decision made. Instead of carrying out most IPs activities through indirect beneficiaries, such as extension
and research agents, more responsibilities should be given to the direct actors in terms of leadership,
organizing meetings, strategizing for resource mobilization, and documentation of the IP processes
(Figure 3).
3.5. Learning cycle within the innovation platform
When platforms want to use more rigorous ways to handle challenges, it is advised that they go through
these steps. Each time there is a challenge that the IP wishes to resolve, these steps can serve as a process
to guide IP decision making (Figure 4).
Step 1: In-depth analysis of the challenges and validation with actors: Describe in detail the challenges,
with focus on the existing context or social structures in which each challenge occurs; clarify also who the
different actors affected are, their perceptions and existing opportunities to deal with the challenge; re-
visit jointly with actors the results of the in-depth analysis and reformulate/redefine the challenge; write
and share report with key actors.
Step 2: Identification of options, prioritization and selection of best strategies to address them: Formulate
different ways to approach the problems or the opportunities, prioritize the list of options, select among
prioritized options, identify the available resources and assess the amount of resources required to
implement each option, and also to develop alternative strategies if necessary.
Step 3: Development of action plan and implementation: Identify activities that need to be carried out to
make defined options successful; define specific roles and responsibilities of key actors, set a timeframe
for activities, take actions; and finally put in place mechanisms of monitoring and evaluation – define
indicators, have regular meetings to assess progress and make adjustments if necessary.
Step 4: Review and redefine options: After a period of action plan implementation has gone by, evaluate
to know which options have succeeded, why other options failed and what to do to make them successful.
This helps to draw out lessons whereby new options are identified and the cycle can then be redefined.
Figure 3. Evolution of the roles and responsibilities of IP actors over time
(adapted from Swaans  Pali, ILRI, 2013)
Roles and responsibilities
of R  D actors
Roles and responsibilities
of the direct beneficiary actors
0 				 time 				 t
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3.6. Facilitation of a functional innovation platform
Having learned the path to set up a functional platform, the reader at the end of this section, will
understand what IP facilitation stands for. Some tools to support and make IP functional are also
presented.
By definition, facilitation is the art of making something easy. For instance, a one-hour meeting without a
facilitator might take longer or may never even end. Facilitating an IP consists of making the IP members’
interactions successful with full participation of all actors involved, and respecting the diversity of their
views. IP facilitation is a flexible process that offers guidance to actors whose interests are sometimes
conflicting (e.g., contract seed producers and seed companies). A key principle of facilitation is to make
sure that the outcome is owned by the group and not highjacked by a minority because of their power or
social position. The facilitator should have some knowledge of power relations and conflict management.
The facilitator works to balance power in favor of the weak actors. This requires the facilitator to be
neutral, and have good skills in managing communication among IP members.
The facilitation here goes beyond IP meeting management and includes all IP processes. A facilitator
is that person who uses his knowledge and skills to help the IP deliver effectively. The responsibility of
the IP facilitator is to help identify the knowledge gaps of IP members and create the opportunity to fill
the identified gaps. The facilitator is responsible for both internal and external support to IP activities,
initiating or suggesting relevant institutional linkages, especially outside the IP.
As such, the facilitation of change processes such as the innovation platform requires further skills that
go beyond the traditional approaches of extension and knowledge brokering. A facilitator should have
much knowledge and many tools to improve participation of members for more vibrant meetings (e.g.,
Icebreaker, Energizer), these include tools to visualize information (e.g., use of presentation materials,
color combinations), to assess trainees’ knowledge, to generate some ideas (e.g., brainstorming),
organize ideas/issues into categories, to prioritize issues (e.g., card techniques), to analyze an issue
(e.g., cause-effect mapping), to describe an activity or a technology (e.g., flow diagram), to diagnose
platform challenges (e.g., SWOT analysis), analyze the relationship between platform and other partner
organizations (e.g., Venn diagram), to analyze the roles of various platform actors (e.g., matrix of actors’
roles), to analyze the influence of the different actors (e.g., matrix of actors’ influence), and to provide
relevant messages to low-literacy people (e.g., use of symbols).
As an exercise, select a challenge and go through the different stages of the learning cycle.
Figure 4. Learning cycle within the innovation platform for more consistent decision making
(adapted from Dangbegnon, per. com.)
1
In-depth/contextualized
analysis of the challenges 
joint validation with actors
2
Identification of options,
prioritization and selection of
best strategies to address them
3
Action planning and
implementation
4
Review and redefinition
of a new cycle
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3.6.1. Team contract
The team contract is an operational working document that defines IP composition and its focus. It is
a reference document for all IP members where their mutual commitment is recorded. As a reference
working document, it can play an important role in IP sustainability.
The team contract document is structured as follows:
•	 The context of the IP establishment: describe why the need for an IP, its main focus and composition;
•	 The IP vision: show the image of the IP and its beneficiaries in the near future;
•	 The IP objectives: indicate the IP objectives based on the set vision;
•	 The IP strategy and work procedures: describe the key pillars upon which the IP relies to achieve its
objectives and show how IP works are conducted;
•	 The IP organization: describe IP organs/structures and responsibilities of IP committees;
•	 The operational IP rules: highlight the code of conduct and the rules of decision making;
•	 The IP work plan: show different activities with person responsible for it and deadlines; and
•	 The signatures of IP members who are responsible for implementing the listed activities.
A team contract should not be a lengthy documents. It should be developed by IP members or jointly with
them. The final version should be validated with IP members in a platform meeting.
The reader is encouraged to develop a team contract if involved in an active IP. Afterwards, the document
should go back to IP members for final validation.
3.6.2. A special reference to the documentation of innovation platform processes
All IP activities must be documented in order to keep track of ongoing activities and any other major
events that influence IP performance. The process documentation should be participatory as well as
inclusive of all relevant stakeholders who should be given a chance to provide their inputs. The IP should
ensure that data are gathered on relevant indicators so that achievements can be measured at the end of
the process (increase in seed production, income of seed producers, assets, new seed companies, gender
issues, resource-poor farmer inclusion, number of farmers using improved seeds, yield increase,and
sustainability of implemented interventions). IP meeting minutes, different visits, change stories (avoid
reporting only success stories) collected with different stakeholders, and activity records should be kept
and made available in the IP archives. The documentation of the various processes is critical for the
purpose of drawing strong conclusions and sharing successful experiences with the professional and
scientific worlds. Various means can be used to share knowledge: exchange visits, fairs, exhibitions,
technical notes, fact sheet, policy briefs, workshops, audio/videotapes, publications, radio  TV events,
and web sites.
4. Concluding Remarks
Innovation platforms are now used commonly as a means to facilitate and produce lasting change for
smallholders. Unfortunately, most professionals involved in IP setting and facilitation have limited
knowledge and understanding with regard to the way in which to conduct the process. Setting up
functional IP requires going through a methodological pathway that cannot be taken for granted by those
who are supposed to do the job. They need to be supported through trainings, coaching and mentoring
that provide them the basics and good knowledge for a successful and sustainable IP.
Calling to mind our field experience, we find that many IPs are set up but do not involve research activities
and research actors. The integration of research activities in the IP work plan is important and should be
carefully taken into account by the facilitation team.
17
Appendices
Appendix 1. Some tools for innovation platform setting and facilitation
These tools can be used to analyze actors’ motivations, their roles and the contributions they can make
and their influence.
Analysis of actors’ influence
Source: Adapted from McArthur (1997)
Matrix of actors’ roles
Category of actors Actor Roles
Farmer organizations Farmer groups, seed producers Holding technology trials
Private sectors Seed companies, warehouses Market connections
Decision makers Local authorities, administrators Institutional support
Research Universities, research institutes, etc. Technical support, facilitation
…
…
Analysis of potential IP actors
Challenges to address
(problem/opportunity)
Actor affected/concerned
by the challenge
Potential interests
of actors
Poor seed sale Seed producers Large seed market
…
…
NB: Information in second row is just an example.
18
Appendix 2. A model to bring legume seed to scale
Appendix 3. An example of maize value chain map in Burkina Faso
19
Appendix 4. Selected literature
Adekunle AA, Fatunbi AO, Buruchara R and Nyamwaro S. 2013. Integrated agricultural research for
development: from concept to practice. Forum for Agricultural Research in Africa (FARA).
van Rooyen A et al. 2013. Facilitating innovation platforms. Innovation platforms practice. Brief 10.
Available at: https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/media/57a08a28ed915d3cfd000602/Brief10.pdf
FARA. Nd. How to set up an Innovation Platform. Available at: https://www.researchgate.net/
publication/263064184_How_to_set_up_an_Innovation_Platform_Sub_Saharan_Africa_Challenge_
Programme_SSA_CP_What_is_an_Innovation_Platform
ICRISAT-India
(Headquarters)
Patancheru, Telangana, India
icrisat@cgiar.org
ICRISAT-India Liaison Office
New Delhi, India
ICRISAT-Nigeria
Kano, Nigeria
icrisat-kano@cgiar.org
ICRISAT-Malawi
Lilongwe, Malawi
icrisat-malawi@cgiar.org
ICRISAT-Mozambique
Maputo, Mozambique
icrisatmoz@panintra.com
ICRISAT-Niger
Niamey, Niger
icrisatsc@cgiar.org
ICRISAT-Ethiopia
Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
icrisat-addis@cgiar.org
ICRISAT works in agricultural
research for development across
the drylands of Africa and Asia,
making farming profitable
for smallholder farmers while
reducing malnutrition and
environmental degradation.
We work across the entire value
chain from developing new
varieties to agri-business and
linking farmers to markets.
ICRISAT appreciates the support of CGIAR investors to help overcome poverty, malnutrition and environmental degradation
in the harshest dryland regions of the world. See http://www.icrisat.org/icrisat-donors.htm for full list of donors.
About ICRISAT: www.icrisat.org ICRISAT’s scientific information: EXPLOREit.icrisat.org
We believe all people have a right to nutritious food and a better livelihood.
ICRISAT-Mali
(Regional hub WCA)
Bamako, Mali
icrisat-w-mali@cgiar.org
ICRISAT-Zimbabwe
Bulawayo, Zimbabwe
icrisatzw@cgiar.org
ICRISAT-Kenya
(Regional hub ESA)
Nairobi, Kenya
icrisat-nairobi@cgiar.org
/ICRISAT /ICRISAT /ICRISATco
/company/
ICRISAT
/PHOTOS/
ICRISATIMAGES /ICRISATSMCO

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TL III Innovation Platform Training Manual

  • 1. Setting and facilitation of functional innovation platform: Training of TL III project support teams in groundnut and common bean seed systems in Tanzania and Uganda Training Manual Tropical Legumes III (TL III)
  • 2. Setting and facilitation of functional innovation platform: Training of TL III project support teams in groundnut and common bean seed systems in Tanzania and Uganda Training Manual September 2016 Essegbemon Akpo, ICRISAT, Nairobi, Kenya Emmanuel S. Monyo, ICRISAT, Nairobi, Kenya Jean-Claude Rubyogo, CIAT, Arusha, Tanzania Tropical Legumes III (TL III)
  • 3. Contents 1. About this Manual...............................................................................................................................................5 1.1. How is the manual written?........................................................................................................................5 1.2. What to expect from this manual?.............................................................................................................5 1.3. Intended users............................................................................................................................................5 2. Introduction to the Training Context...................................................................................................................5 2.1. Context........................................................................................................................................................5 2.2. Objectives....................................................................................................................................................6 2.3. Expected outputs........................................................................................................................................6 3. Description of Training Themes...........................................................................................................................6 3.1. Concepts of innovation, innovation systems approach and innovation platform for agricultural development....................................................................................................................................................6 3.2. Seed value chain.........................................................................................................................................8 3.3. Setting up the functional innovation platform along the seed value chain ..............................................10 3.4. Key points of attention on innovation platform implementation.............................................................11 3.5. Learning cycle within the innovation platform..........................................................................................13 3.6. Facilitation of a functional innovation platform........................................................................................14 4. Concluding Remarks..........................................................................................................................................15 Appendices............................................................................................................................................................16 Appendix 1. Some tools for innovation platform setting and facilitation.........................................................16 Appendix 2. A model to bring legume seed to scale........................................................................................17 Appendix 4. Selected literature.......................................................................................................................18 Appendix 3. An example of maize value chain map in Burkina Faso................................................................18
  • 4. List of Figures Figure 1. An example of an array of actors who may be part of an innovation platform..............................8 Figure 2. Linkages between different levels of IP interventions..................................................................12 Figure 3. Evolution of the roles and responsibilities of IP actors over time................................................13 Figure 4. Learning cycle within the innovation platform for more consistent decision making..................14
  • 5. 5 Acronyms AIS Agricultural Innovation Systems GRAD Groupe de Recherche et d’Actions pour le Développement, GRAD Consulting Group IAR4D Integrated Agricultural Research for Development IITA International Institute of Tropical Agriculture IO International Organizations IP Innovation Platform TL III Tropical Legumes III ICRISAT International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics CGIAR Consultative Group for International Agricultural Research CIAT International Center for Tropical Agriculture NARS National Agricultural Research Service
  • 6. 6 1. About this Manual 1.1. How is the manual written? The manual is tailored to the needs of intended users. We gather useful information so that the reader is able to set up a functional innovation platform. We use direct and simple language to facilitate the understanding of the reader. We put more practical content into each section so that the reader can easily use it for formation and facilitation of innovation platform in the agricultural sector in general, but also in other fields of interest related to smallholders in the developing world. The manual is written based on the lead author’s experiences and knowledge gained from training innovation support teams in West Africa when working at the “Groupe de Recherche et d’Actions pour le Développement”, GRAD Consulting Group. 1.2. What to expect from this manual? This is a training of trainers’ manual organized in different sections, delivered not only in the form of presentations and interactive discussion but also as practical group work to connect learned concepts and tools to real facts and ongoing experiences in the field. The following themes are discussed: • Concepts of innovation, innovation systems approach and innovation platform (IP) for agricultural development; • Key steps to set up a functional IP; • Learning cycle within IP; • Facilitation of IP; • Team contract to shape IP work. Selected complementary reading material and references are provided for more information. Overall, the training material is more practical than just vague theories so that readers can make better use of it to bring seed use to scale for smallholder farmers. 1.3. Intended users Though not excluded, this training is not for executives, but rather for operational staff who are more active in field work and meet with beneficiaries involved in the actual implementation of Tropical Legumes III (TL III) project activities. The intended participants are those expected to facilitate the innovation platforms that are to be formed in the near future. For this training of trainers, different categories of actors are expected. It includes: the focal point of TL III and its support team, other relevant researchers, extension workers, person in charge of seed per country, representatives of seed companies, representatives of farmer organizations, relevant NGOs, and agro-dealers. Specifically, we expect focal point staff, person in charge of seed in the country, other researchers, extension agents, managers of seed companies, representatives of farmer organizations, representations from partner NGOs and other civil organizations, representatives of agro-dealers, and regional agriculture authorities. 2. Introduction to the Training Context 2.1. Context This manual is produced for the use of the Tropical Legumes III (TL III) project team. The TL III project is a research and development project that targets major valuable dryland grain legume crops that contribute significantly to the economy and livelihood of smallholder farmers and possess commercial potential to fight hunger, increase income and improve production systems for resource-poor farmers. TL III is a major international initiative partnering ICRISAT, CIAT, IITA, seven African countries and one Indian state, as well as other partners, to develop improved cultivars of common bean, cowpea, chickpea and
  • 7. 7 groundnut, and deliver their seed at scale to smallholders in the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation focus geographies. The project intends to fundamentally strengthen the NARS and CGIAR breeding programs and seed platforms to enhance their ability to deliver high and sustained outputs to smallholders. In Tanzania and Uganda, two of the eight target countries, while the groundnut improvement and seed systems are implemented by ICRISAT with full participation of national program partners, the common bean is under the responsibility of CIAT. In both countries and for both crops there is strong involvement of public and private sectors and non-governmental organizations to assure effective delivery of groundnut and common bean innovations so as to ensure secure harvests against drought and outburst of major pests and diseases, guaranteeing high yields and quality, and assuring effective marketing systems. TL III seeks to strengthen the capacity to deliver seeds of new varieties and build capacity of partners to utilize integrated legume innovations for research and production purposes. To deliver seeds of groundnut and common bean at scale, there is a need to catalyze the partnership of different stakeholders. TL III has suggested the use of innovation platform (IP) as a mechanism to bring legume seed to scale. Innovation platform is not a common concept for most partners who are expected to implement it. There is need to provide an opportunity for partners to acquire new skills by way of strengthening their capacity. It is the reason why this training session has been initiated. It gathers partners in each country who can share their experiences, and get familiar with the innovation platform concept and its operational implementation. 2.2. Objectives This manual intends to: • support national partners to better understand the rationale behind IP and introduce key concepts; • strengthen the capacity of national partners on key steps to set up a functional IP; • provide tools to facilitate the IP; • develop with partners their plan to set up a functional IP. 2.3. Expected outputs At the end of the trainings all participants: • have a good understanding of the IP concept; • are able to set up a functional IP; • are skilled to develop their own team contract and make the draft document available; • have made available their plan to set up a functional IP. 3. Description of Training Themes 3.1. Concepts of innovation, innovation systems approach and innovation platform for agricultural development 3.1.1. Definitions From our training experiences, we have observed that a quick assessment of trainees’ knowledge of the concepts of innovation, innovation systems and innovation platform shows wide diversity in their understanding of each concept. Innovation is often perceived as a new product, a discovery, a change, a creativity, an improvement, an adaptation and a new technology. Agricultural innovation systems (AIS) are perceived as an innovative way of doing (something), a way of thinking, a synergy of action between various actors. Innovation platform is considered as a tool, a mode of interaction to take advantage of opportunities or solve problems by different actors. In this section, we clarify these three concepts and make an attempt to connect them in order to update the reader’s understanding.
  • 8. 8 Contrary to Latin America and South Asian countries where rural poverty is decreasing, the poverty situation is not following the same trend in sub-Saharan African countries in spite of the efforts made by research and extension. In the conventional research and development approach (also called the linear or pipeline or top-down approach) researchers are the think tank who develop new technologies that they pass on to extension agents whom they train; extension workers are then in charge of bringing those technologies to the farmers who are considered as mere users. Successive approaches of RD that followed and have been used, inspired by more participatory approaches, fell short of reaching meaningful impacts on end-users. Research and development have put much emphasis on developing technologies but overlooked the context in which these technologies are supposed to work. The discrepancy between technologies and the eventual user explains the poor impact on smallholders in sub-Saharan Africa countries. The inability of the conventional approach of research and development to deliver significant changes in agriculture and alleviate poverty in rural areas led to the conception of AIS. The AIS approach is grounded in the thinking that innovation does not happen in isolation, or overlook former approaches. Innovations emerge from the interactions of different stakeholders and processes at different levels, be it niche, regime, and landscape1 levels. Innovation can be defined as the use of knowledge to change the way of doing things in order to make an impact. In AIS, innovation is perceived not as a product but rather as a process through which knowledge is created and used, and actors involved derive social benefits and public goods that translate into improved livelihoods. As innovation happens through collective actions of different stakeholders, there is need to have a frame or space to facilitate it. Innovation platform (IP) has been suggested as the mechanism that can bring together stakeholders for joint interactions and coordination to facilitate change. IP is composed of stakeholders and all required activities/functions that can make innovations happen. It is a frame/space for interactions of different stakeholders who collaborate, create and share knowledge, define, and take action to innovate practices of all actors involved in the innovation processes. AIS is holistic and takes into account all important social, economic, political, organizational, and other critical factors that play major roles in the development, diffusion, and use of innovations. It is an integrated way of production and uses knowledge to deliver the goal of agricultural intensification and improved livelihoods for rural population. This approach is thought to ensure the sustainability of production systems by giving great consideration to institutional factors, be it people, values, market, and political issues. Recently, in the 2000s, the Forum for Agricultural Research in Africa (FARA) developed a clear path to implement AIS, which was known as ‘the Integrated Agricultural Research for Development (IAR4D)’ approach. So IAR4D is a way of implementing AIS. To conclude this section, the AIS approach is a way of realizing agricultural innovation which is a process that requires an actors’ network, social interactions, and their coordination, whereby they create and use knowledge to improve livelihoods. IP is the tool used to operationalize AIS and includes all relevant actors involved in the process, leading to innovation. We think it is useful to define the difference between organizations and institutions. Organizations are defined as bodies or known structures, such as government structures, universities, research institutes, enterprises, farmer cooperatives or organizations, and Non-Government Organizations (NGOs). Institutions, on the other hand are the ‘rules of the game’, the set of common habits, routines, practices, rules or laws that shape the relationships and interactions between individuals and groups (Edquist 1997). IP focuses on improving the ‘rules of the game’. 1. The niche level includes localized change where institutional and socio-technical experiments can take place; the regime level signifies relative stability in institutions across multiple locations; and landscape level includes larger institutional context that cannot be readily changed by niche experiments or regime-level ‘rules of the game’.
  • 9. 9 3.1.2. Categories of actors that can be part of an innovation platform The types of actors for a successful IP include (Figure 1): • Technical support staff that we name here as facilitators of change: researchers (national or international), extension agents, NGOs’ workers, and other experts are part of this group; • People in charge of farmer services delivery that we name here as catalyzers of change: input suppliers and various services and logistics suppliers; • Direct beneficiaries or the end-users of change produced: farmers, seed producers, seed companies, processors, traders, and various service suppliers. 3.1.3. Principles of agricultural innovation systems • (1) AIS recognizes the complexities and multiple dimensions (organizational, political, markets) of the different challenges that affect sustainable production, marketing and utilization of each agricultural commodity; • (2) AIS integrates research and development along a field of interest for beneficiaries, e.g., commodity value chain, natural resource management, etc. Here we are interested in the seed value chain; • (3) AIS values contributions and synergies of different actors who act collectively to identify problems, explore solutions, implement and assess the solutions. Joint learning for improved practices and services is key to innovation. 3.2. Seed value chain This session clarifies the difference between value chain and traditional supply chain and provides analytical tools for improved competitiveness. Figure 1. An example of an array of actors who may be part of an innovation platform.
  • 10. 10 3.2.1. Concept of value chain and seed value chain A value chain includes all activities and the different actors that intervene in making the product, from inputs acquisition to the consumer’s table. At each stage of product making, value is created and the value of the resulting product increases. In other words, value chain focuses on creating value along the chain mainly through innovation of products, processes, marketing and use of the added value. The competitiveness of a value chain is measured through how much value is created from one segment to another from production to the marketing of the product, including transport, cleaning, storage, processing and packaging of the product. The difference between the traditional supply chain and value chain is presented in Table 1. While the traditional supply chain is supply-oriented, focuses on commodity, and individual actor competitiveness with low emphasis on communication, the value chain is market-oriented, with focus on specific products, and competitiveness of the chain with important information flows. The seed value chain entails sequences of activities/functions and the different actors required to create, multiply, process, market and disseminate (improved) seed to farmers that responds to market demands and user preferences. The seed value chain should not look at the flow of seed to farmers only but also the grain market demand. The chain of actors who make seed as it moves through the value chain includes inputs suppliers, researchers, extensionists, seed inspection, policy makers, seed companies, seed producers, farmers and their organizations, other farm service suppliers, traders, processors, exporters/ wholesalers, retailers and final consumers. Seed value chains are complex and need proper mapping for better understanding on how to improve their delivery performance. Some tools for value chain analysis are: participant observation, focus group discussion, semi-structured interviews, questionnaire, operation site visits, etc. 3.2.2. Seed value chain mapping The seed value chain can be mapped using the following key steps: 1. identify the products marketed; 2. gather data on marketed products using archival research and an exploratory study; 3. identify various functions in the chain (e.g. collection, conservation, processing, wholesale, exportation, etc.,); 4. clear graphical separation between seed value chain functions; 5. mention the types of actors per function, although an actor might fulfill more than one function; 6. draw arrows representing the flow of products/income from one actor to another; 7. indicate the final market and place accordingly at the end of the map; 8. show the various categories of support services: transportation, packaging, inspection, finance, research, extension (use arrows to indicate the actors that benefit from which service); 9. validate the final version of the seed value chain map with the identified actors using participatory methods during meetings with key informants and/or a workshop. Table 1. Difference between traditional supply chain and value chain. Supply Chain Value Chain Communication (information sharing) Little or none Extensive Value focus Cost/price Value/quality Product Commodity Differentiated product Relationship Supply push Demand pull Organizational structure Independent Interdependent Philosophy Self-optimization Chain optimization Source: Agriculture and Food Council of Alberta. 2004. Agri-Food Value Chains: A practical guide to building customer-focused alliances.
  • 11. 11 3.2.3. Improving seed value chain competitiveness Improving the competitiveness of the seed value chain consists in identifying the weak points along the value chain and making subsequent decisions to address them. For example, if one of the weak points is poor germination rate, training seed producers on good conservation practices can be an option. A diagnostic along the seed value chain is a good tool to identify weak points/gaps as a first step to improving the chain’s competitiveness. 3.2.4. Diagnostic along seed value chain A diagnostic along the seed value chain consists of the following: 1. identify not only critical weaknesses and major opportunities per function but also per actor; 2. the identified critical problems and opportunities are further prioritized; 3. based on the ranking, the issues of great interest to the various categories of actors are derived; addressing these issues becomes key to improving chain competitiveness; 4. these derived issues become the focus or the entry point for setting up the innovation platform. 3.3. Setting up the functional innovation platform along the seed value chain 3.3.1. Preliminaries For an IP to perform well and deliver significant outcomes to its members, it cannot be set up in a vacuum. It needs to be grounded in a setting that produces substantial economic return, that means it should have a business dimension. That is the reason why we recommend setting up the innovation platform along the agricultural value chain. Other domains, such as natural resource management, are good fields to set up an IP. 3.3.2. Steps to set up the functional innovation platform This section presents the path to setting up an IP that delivers meaningful outputs for its beneficiaries. Some tools to facilitate the establishment of the functional IP are also presented. Before getting into details, we remind the reader that the IP should be grounded on existing structures and contexts and not on completely new issues outside the current interest/knowledge of the beneficiaries (examine carefully what is already in place). In the project we already have an idea of the area of interest or the core issue we wish to focus on to make meaningful change in smallholder lives (project documents). Overall the platform establishment involves a number of steps. - Step 1: Select/identify the major challenge (constraint/opportunity) to work on based on the diagnostic along the seed value chain. - Step 2: Identify the relevant actors who need to be involved to effectively resolve the selected/identified challenge. It is important to understand that at the outset of IP formation, not all important actors should be brought on board at the same time, but only the most relevant ones. NB: These two steps can be addressed in one meeting. Another meeting can be set for Step 3. - Step 3: Meeting with all relevant actors. The objective of this meeting is to ensure the commitment of the different actors. It involves sharing information and validating the identified challenges with all relevant actors. Participants are briefed on the job done so far. Each category of actor expresses their interests and wishes. This will bring out a full picture of the different actors’ views so as to make adjustments in shared challenges. During this meeting, general information should be shared on the rationale behind an IP, the outcomes expected from the IP and how to make it work. Participants at the meeting should have a crystal clear idea of the validated challenges that need to be addressed.
  • 12. 12 - Step 4: Analyze motivations of different actors: A workshop can be organized to further analyze the motivation of each category of actors (as recorded in Step 3) and how better to address them. NB: Steps 3 and 4 can be done in one meeting. Another meeting can be set for Step 5. At Step 3, some actors we think relevant might defect and leave. - Step 5: Formal IP launching and first IP meeting. An inception workshop is organized for the IP. This workshop is meant to officially launch the IP through a formal declaration by all involved stakeholders. In the declaration message, all actors commit to engaging themselves to address the common challenge in a participatory way. As part of the outputs of the workshop, participants define the rules they need to follow to make team work easy, the IP structure, the temporary IP steering committee, and the draft of their work plan. NB: Steps 3, 4, 5 can be taken up in a single meeting. To avoid having a workshop of several days, we suggest tackling Step 5 in another meeting. As IP deals with complexity, we should make sure that the selected challenges are well described and contextualized. We should ensure that the selected challenge can promote interactions among various actors. This means that when the challenge is resolved all value chain actors can benefit from the created value. This is the only way each actor will be motivated to attend IP events. IP is not a non-benefit social gathering but a space for each actor to do business to make a good living. As this section ends, if you are involved in an active IP, look back to check the kind of adjustments you can make to revitalize it in terms of challenges being addressed and actors involved. 3.4. Key points of attention on innovation platform implementation 3.4.1. Innovation platform governance/internal organization By IP governance we mean the operational and organizational arrangements put in place to make the IP perform at its best and deliver meaningful outcomes to the members. Once the IP is established, it is necessary for its members to appoint/elect a committee to manage its activities. While we recognize that there is no ideal governance structure to suggest, we stress on the importance to keep it simple and make the selection process democratic. The IP management structure can be composed of a steering committee to facilitate the IP decision implementation processes; and a facilitation unit composed of researchers, extensionists, NGOs and skilled representatives of primary beneficiaries. Specific committees or working groups can be formed to solve emerging particular issues, for example, seed market, facilities for seed conservation, early generation seed availability, specific inputs access, access to credit, policy advocacy, etc. While setting the number of people per committee is up to IP members, our advice is to keep it as small as possible. Basic rules are also necessary to guide IP meetings, conduct IP activities, and manage conflicts. Those rules should be developed per IP and put in a document called the ‘team contract’ (cf. 3.6.1). 3.4.2. Leadership within the innovation platform To be fully functional, an IP needs good leaders. Being a good leader starts with behavior. The good leader must know his team members and work on his own shortcomings to impact the team positively. The leaders must create a friendly environment for IP members, and take into account the needs of members. They should create suitable conditions for people to change their behavior, attitudes, and to fully engage in the innovation processes. The leaders must set a clear vision, show the right direction, value differences, communicate well, accept a reasonable level of risk, be open to/generate new ideas, and translate ideas into business opportunities.
  • 13. 13 3.4.3. Level of intervention/operation of innovation platform Most of the challenges the innovation platform members are working to resolve require multi-level actions that should be interconnected (from village to country or even regional levels). Platform actions can be dissected at 2 levels: operational and strategic levels (Figure 2). At the operational level, the following activities can take place: joint diagnostic with field actors, seed technology testing and validation using demonstrations, identification and validation of mechanisms to access farm services (credit, information, market, etc.), capacity building for seed actors and their organizations, cross-visit, field days on the ground, and other learning activities. At the strategic level IPs are involved in higher level interventions, mainly institutional support to different actors: organizational linkages, interventions for seed policy change/harmonization, negotiation of better market access, clinching higher level mechanisms to access various farm services, i.e., credit, market, information, technical supports. Geographically, the operational level IP interventions can take place at the village or close to beneficiary actors’ level. On the other hand, the strategic IP interventions can take place at the district or regional or national level. There should be a close connection between different levels of interventions to avoid information asymmetry and dysfunction between actions at various levels. 3.4.4. Funding innovation platform activities So far, most IPs are project initiated and draw their financial resources from those projects. For the sake of sustainability, field experiences indicate that the sources below can be used to fund IP works. • Membership fees • Monthly contributions/Levy at the source • Overhead from marketing initiatives • Volunteer service members • Projects/donors with similar domain of interest Figure 2. Linkages between different levels of IP interventions Flow of information between level of IP interventions Strategic level interventions Operational level interventions
  • 14. 14 3.4.5. Other sustainability issues Most platforms established through a project disappear after the end of the project. This has raised a debate on how to make IPs sustainable so that their life extends beyond the life of the project. The facilitators should put sustainability issues at the center of any action being implemented or any platform decision made. Instead of carrying out most IPs activities through indirect beneficiaries, such as extension and research agents, more responsibilities should be given to the direct actors in terms of leadership, organizing meetings, strategizing for resource mobilization, and documentation of the IP processes (Figure 3). 3.5. Learning cycle within the innovation platform When platforms want to use more rigorous ways to handle challenges, it is advised that they go through these steps. Each time there is a challenge that the IP wishes to resolve, these steps can serve as a process to guide IP decision making (Figure 4). Step 1: In-depth analysis of the challenges and validation with actors: Describe in detail the challenges, with focus on the existing context or social structures in which each challenge occurs; clarify also who the different actors affected are, their perceptions and existing opportunities to deal with the challenge; re- visit jointly with actors the results of the in-depth analysis and reformulate/redefine the challenge; write and share report with key actors. Step 2: Identification of options, prioritization and selection of best strategies to address them: Formulate different ways to approach the problems or the opportunities, prioritize the list of options, select among prioritized options, identify the available resources and assess the amount of resources required to implement each option, and also to develop alternative strategies if necessary. Step 3: Development of action plan and implementation: Identify activities that need to be carried out to make defined options successful; define specific roles and responsibilities of key actors, set a timeframe for activities, take actions; and finally put in place mechanisms of monitoring and evaluation – define indicators, have regular meetings to assess progress and make adjustments if necessary. Step 4: Review and redefine options: After a period of action plan implementation has gone by, evaluate to know which options have succeeded, why other options failed and what to do to make them successful. This helps to draw out lessons whereby new options are identified and the cycle can then be redefined. Figure 3. Evolution of the roles and responsibilities of IP actors over time (adapted from Swaans Pali, ILRI, 2013) Roles and responsibilities of R D actors Roles and responsibilities of the direct beneficiary actors 0 time t
  • 15. 15 3.6. Facilitation of a functional innovation platform Having learned the path to set up a functional platform, the reader at the end of this section, will understand what IP facilitation stands for. Some tools to support and make IP functional are also presented. By definition, facilitation is the art of making something easy. For instance, a one-hour meeting without a facilitator might take longer or may never even end. Facilitating an IP consists of making the IP members’ interactions successful with full participation of all actors involved, and respecting the diversity of their views. IP facilitation is a flexible process that offers guidance to actors whose interests are sometimes conflicting (e.g., contract seed producers and seed companies). A key principle of facilitation is to make sure that the outcome is owned by the group and not highjacked by a minority because of their power or social position. The facilitator should have some knowledge of power relations and conflict management. The facilitator works to balance power in favor of the weak actors. This requires the facilitator to be neutral, and have good skills in managing communication among IP members. The facilitation here goes beyond IP meeting management and includes all IP processes. A facilitator is that person who uses his knowledge and skills to help the IP deliver effectively. The responsibility of the IP facilitator is to help identify the knowledge gaps of IP members and create the opportunity to fill the identified gaps. The facilitator is responsible for both internal and external support to IP activities, initiating or suggesting relevant institutional linkages, especially outside the IP. As such, the facilitation of change processes such as the innovation platform requires further skills that go beyond the traditional approaches of extension and knowledge brokering. A facilitator should have much knowledge and many tools to improve participation of members for more vibrant meetings (e.g., Icebreaker, Energizer), these include tools to visualize information (e.g., use of presentation materials, color combinations), to assess trainees’ knowledge, to generate some ideas (e.g., brainstorming), organize ideas/issues into categories, to prioritize issues (e.g., card techniques), to analyze an issue (e.g., cause-effect mapping), to describe an activity or a technology (e.g., flow diagram), to diagnose platform challenges (e.g., SWOT analysis), analyze the relationship between platform and other partner organizations (e.g., Venn diagram), to analyze the roles of various platform actors (e.g., matrix of actors’ roles), to analyze the influence of the different actors (e.g., matrix of actors’ influence), and to provide relevant messages to low-literacy people (e.g., use of symbols). As an exercise, select a challenge and go through the different stages of the learning cycle. Figure 4. Learning cycle within the innovation platform for more consistent decision making (adapted from Dangbegnon, per. com.) 1 In-depth/contextualized analysis of the challenges joint validation with actors 2 Identification of options, prioritization and selection of best strategies to address them 3 Action planning and implementation 4 Review and redefinition of a new cycle
  • 16. 16 3.6.1. Team contract The team contract is an operational working document that defines IP composition and its focus. It is a reference document for all IP members where their mutual commitment is recorded. As a reference working document, it can play an important role in IP sustainability. The team contract document is structured as follows: • The context of the IP establishment: describe why the need for an IP, its main focus and composition; • The IP vision: show the image of the IP and its beneficiaries in the near future; • The IP objectives: indicate the IP objectives based on the set vision; • The IP strategy and work procedures: describe the key pillars upon which the IP relies to achieve its objectives and show how IP works are conducted; • The IP organization: describe IP organs/structures and responsibilities of IP committees; • The operational IP rules: highlight the code of conduct and the rules of decision making; • The IP work plan: show different activities with person responsible for it and deadlines; and • The signatures of IP members who are responsible for implementing the listed activities. A team contract should not be a lengthy documents. It should be developed by IP members or jointly with them. The final version should be validated with IP members in a platform meeting. The reader is encouraged to develop a team contract if involved in an active IP. Afterwards, the document should go back to IP members for final validation. 3.6.2. A special reference to the documentation of innovation platform processes All IP activities must be documented in order to keep track of ongoing activities and any other major events that influence IP performance. The process documentation should be participatory as well as inclusive of all relevant stakeholders who should be given a chance to provide their inputs. The IP should ensure that data are gathered on relevant indicators so that achievements can be measured at the end of the process (increase in seed production, income of seed producers, assets, new seed companies, gender issues, resource-poor farmer inclusion, number of farmers using improved seeds, yield increase,and sustainability of implemented interventions). IP meeting minutes, different visits, change stories (avoid reporting only success stories) collected with different stakeholders, and activity records should be kept and made available in the IP archives. The documentation of the various processes is critical for the purpose of drawing strong conclusions and sharing successful experiences with the professional and scientific worlds. Various means can be used to share knowledge: exchange visits, fairs, exhibitions, technical notes, fact sheet, policy briefs, workshops, audio/videotapes, publications, radio TV events, and web sites. 4. Concluding Remarks Innovation platforms are now used commonly as a means to facilitate and produce lasting change for smallholders. Unfortunately, most professionals involved in IP setting and facilitation have limited knowledge and understanding with regard to the way in which to conduct the process. Setting up functional IP requires going through a methodological pathway that cannot be taken for granted by those who are supposed to do the job. They need to be supported through trainings, coaching and mentoring that provide them the basics and good knowledge for a successful and sustainable IP. Calling to mind our field experience, we find that many IPs are set up but do not involve research activities and research actors. The integration of research activities in the IP work plan is important and should be carefully taken into account by the facilitation team.
  • 17. 17 Appendices Appendix 1. Some tools for innovation platform setting and facilitation These tools can be used to analyze actors’ motivations, their roles and the contributions they can make and their influence. Analysis of actors’ influence Source: Adapted from McArthur (1997) Matrix of actors’ roles Category of actors Actor Roles Farmer organizations Farmer groups, seed producers Holding technology trials Private sectors Seed companies, warehouses Market connections Decision makers Local authorities, administrators Institutional support Research Universities, research institutes, etc. Technical support, facilitation … … Analysis of potential IP actors Challenges to address (problem/opportunity) Actor affected/concerned by the challenge Potential interests of actors Poor seed sale Seed producers Large seed market … … NB: Information in second row is just an example.
  • 18. 18 Appendix 2. A model to bring legume seed to scale Appendix 3. An example of maize value chain map in Burkina Faso
  • 19. 19 Appendix 4. Selected literature Adekunle AA, Fatunbi AO, Buruchara R and Nyamwaro S. 2013. Integrated agricultural research for development: from concept to practice. Forum for Agricultural Research in Africa (FARA). van Rooyen A et al. 2013. Facilitating innovation platforms. Innovation platforms practice. Brief 10. Available at: https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/media/57a08a28ed915d3cfd000602/Brief10.pdf FARA. Nd. How to set up an Innovation Platform. Available at: https://www.researchgate.net/ publication/263064184_How_to_set_up_an_Innovation_Platform_Sub_Saharan_Africa_Challenge_ Programme_SSA_CP_What_is_an_Innovation_Platform
  • 20. ICRISAT-India (Headquarters) Patancheru, Telangana, India icrisat@cgiar.org ICRISAT-India Liaison Office New Delhi, India ICRISAT-Nigeria Kano, Nigeria icrisat-kano@cgiar.org ICRISAT-Malawi Lilongwe, Malawi icrisat-malawi@cgiar.org ICRISAT-Mozambique Maputo, Mozambique icrisatmoz@panintra.com ICRISAT-Niger Niamey, Niger icrisatsc@cgiar.org ICRISAT-Ethiopia Addis Ababa, Ethiopia icrisat-addis@cgiar.org ICRISAT works in agricultural research for development across the drylands of Africa and Asia, making farming profitable for smallholder farmers while reducing malnutrition and environmental degradation. We work across the entire value chain from developing new varieties to agri-business and linking farmers to markets. ICRISAT appreciates the support of CGIAR investors to help overcome poverty, malnutrition and environmental degradation in the harshest dryland regions of the world. See http://www.icrisat.org/icrisat-donors.htm for full list of donors. About ICRISAT: www.icrisat.org ICRISAT’s scientific information: EXPLOREit.icrisat.org We believe all people have a right to nutritious food and a better livelihood. ICRISAT-Mali (Regional hub WCA) Bamako, Mali icrisat-w-mali@cgiar.org ICRISAT-Zimbabwe Bulawayo, Zimbabwe icrisatzw@cgiar.org ICRISAT-Kenya (Regional hub ESA) Nairobi, Kenya icrisat-nairobi@cgiar.org /ICRISAT /ICRISAT /ICRISATco /company/ ICRISAT /PHOTOS/ ICRISATIMAGES /ICRISATSMCO