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Multi-stakeholder Platforms Strengthening Selection and use of Fodder Options in Ethiopia: Lessons and Challenges

Abstract : Although existing literature eloquently elaborates the role of an “innovation systems perspective” in rural development and provides theoretical insights into the concepts of the approach, there are few practical lessons emerging from application of the approach in research for development projects in various contexts. This paper analyzes a project designed to strengthen the ability of smallholders to innovate in ways that improved the returns to fodder use in Ethiopia. The paper applies an innovation systems perspective to the innovation process as a means of describing the contribution of a project-driven multi-stakeholder platform. A number of key lessons were gleaned from our research. Participatory selection of technologies that addressed farmers' priority problems and demonstrating tangible economic benefits were found to be effective in winning the trust of farmers and drawing the attention of a wider group of stakeholders. The benefits from the technologies needed to carry limited risk and accrue early economic gains to be attractive to farmers. Linking forage technologies with a range of value chain issues in livestock enterprises was essential for successful adoption of forage technologies by farmers. Engaging diverse actors in stakeholder platforms, including local decision makers, along the dairy/fattening value chain was found to be instrumental in turning the wealth of knowledge surrounding fodder technologies and practices into action and creating immediate benefits to poor livestock keepers. On the other hand we found that nurturing collective capacity of a network of organizations and individuals was a major challenge for small projects with limited mandate and resources. For sustainability, organizations with a long term commitment and strong decision-making power need to play a leading role in facilitating innovation processes. An effective agricultural innovation system requires a cadre of professionals with a new skill set and mind set (markets, agribusiness, rural institutions, rural microfinance, facilitation, system analysis, conflict management, etc.). This implies the need for research and development organizations to re-skill, and the need for the reform of university curricula to include skills in agribusiness, communication and partnership facilitation. Large scale institutional and policy change requires piloting of the concept and practices of facilitating innovation through stakeholder platforms in different contexts, documenting and sharing experiences, building on successes and engaging policy makers in the research process.
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Submitted on : Monday, October 4, 2010 - 10:16:56 AM
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K. Ergano, A. Duncan, A. Adie, A. Tedla, G. Woldewahid, et al.. Multi-stakeholder Platforms Strengthening Selection and use of Fodder Options in Ethiopia: Lessons and Challenges. ISDA 2010, Jun 2010, Montpellier, France. 12 p. ⟨hal-00522978⟩

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