Following the launch of Humidtropics in Uganda inÂ August 2013, two Innovation Platforms were established, one in Kiboga-Kyankwanzi and another in Mukono-Wakiso. Both Platforms bring together different actors: national facilitators from Makerere University and the National Agricultural Research Organization (NARO), international research institutions, universities, local governments, international and local NGOs, farmer organizations and the private sector. These actors meet regularly to discuss the best way to implement the researchable entry points selected in their respective areas.
Humidtropics Platforms represent a recent development in agricultural research that has great opportunities but also faces a number of potential challenges. Likewise, other multi-stakeholder platforms have been established in Uganda, one of the many initiatives being implemented by Â NARO and the National Agriculture Advisory Development Services (NAADS). Funded by the World Bank and ATAS, NARO-NAADS is the joint collaboration between the National Research and the National Extension bodies of Uganda. The ATASÂ NARO-NAADSÂ arrangement works through platforms for technology development and transfer, thereby using a single commodity approach.
Since these and other platform-based initiatives all operate in the same area, the NARO management and Humidtropics’ team in Uganda decided to co-organize a workshop to share experiences, avoid implementation conflicts and learn from each other with a possibility of identifying synergies. The workshop was held inÂ May 2014 and was organized under the themeÂ â€˜Innovation Platforms â€“ Knowledge Sharing for Effective Partnershipsâ€™. While there are many similarities, one clear difference is the fact that Humidtropics operates through various commodities within a system.
The workshop started with presentations from the different programs in place:Â NARO-NAADS project, the Sub-Saharan African Challenge program, Humidtropics and the Pineapple MSPâ€™s, followed by the main lessons learned during these programs and short plenary discussions. After this, more in-depth group discussions were carried out to identify the main differences, strengths, challenges and especially potential synergies for working together. The latter led to the designation of a working group, involving key actors of all the present organizations, that would develop a concrete plan for working together and routinely sharing experiences. In this way the exchange of information that was initiated by the workshop will continue in the future and ideally facilitate more learning and aligning of activities.
Overall, participants expressed excitement to have the opportunity to share experiences, as it made them more knowledgeable about different ways to implement multistakeholder processes. In addition, it allowed them to share how each of them struggled and dealt with similar challenges which amplified the mutual interest and opened the door for future synergies.
Blog by Perez Muchunguzi and Anna Sole of the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA), and Dieuwke Lamers of Wageningen University (WUR).