The central development question in African agriculture is how to catalyze a more competitive, equitable and sustainable agricultural growth within the context of smallholder production systems, inefficient agricultural marketing, inefficient investments by private sector amidst degradation prone natural resources base (Lynam and Blackie, 1994; IAC, 2004; World bank, 2006 ). Concerted scholarly analyses of Science and Technology (S&T) strategies have given birth to Integrated Agricultural Research for Development (IAR4D) an organizing concept of the Innovation Systems Approach (ISA) as the promise holder. It is hypothesized that the generation, diffusion and application of impactful innovations critically depend on systemic integration of knowledge systems that promote communication, interaction and cooperation between agricultural research, education, extension, farmers, private sector and policy regulatory systems. This paper examines how the different institutional innovations arising from various permutations of linkages and interactions of ARD organizations (national, international advanced agricultural research centres and universities) influenced the different outcomes in addressing identified ARD problems. A multi-institutional, multi-disciplinary phased Participatory Action Research approach was used to pool knowledge to address outstanding and emerging challenges in three countries 25 (DRC, Rwanda and Uganda) with 2, 16 and 24 years out of conflict, respectively) of the Lake Kivu Pilot Learning Site. A landmark institutional innovation was the participatory establishment of twelve (12) Innovation Platforms as tools for pooling knowledge across the agricultural business, education, research and extension systems. The knowledge “pool” was to generate, diffuse and apply innovations to reduce transactions costs and create value chain based “win-win” situations. A number of innovations (e.g. International Public Goods-IPGs, market binding contracts, registered brands and/or certification processes, diversity, density and quality of networks/collective action, bulking centres, ICT application and depth of knowledge pools) were initiated. There were major breakthroughs which included bringing on board non-traditional private sector and policy maker partners, overcoming the predominant “farmer handout syndrome”, building consensus and addressing common interest challenge. Making markets work, bringing various stakeholders including universities to the community and vice-versa, appreciation of indigenous knowledge system, propelling collective soil and water conservation and demand/utilization of technologies hitherto on-shelf were other very significant breakthroughs. Sustainable operations of the Innovation Systems knowledge “pool” nurturing institutional learning were ensured through the availability of a “functional body”. The body undertook the social enterprise of organizing farmers and traders, facilitating/brokering ARD organization linkages by using multi-media to build social capital to overcome emergent knowledge, credit, market, technology and resource degradation challenges under different policy regulatory systems.
Tenywa, M.M., Rao, K.P.C., Buruchara, R., Kashaija, I., Majaliwa, J.D., Tukahirwa, J.B., Adekunle, A.A., Fatunbi, A.O., Mugabe, J., Wanjiku, C., Mutabazi, S., Pali, P., Mapatano, S., Lunze, L., Mugabo, J. and Ngaboyisonga, C. 2011. Institutional innovations for building impact-oriented agricultural research, knowledge and development institutions. Journal of Agriculture and Environmental Studies 2(1):24-55