CGIAR Research Program "Dryland Systems"

Establishing Strategic Innovation Platform for multi-stakeholder process to foster reducing vulnerability of the agro-pastoral system and sustainable intensification in Action Sites

Supporting and facilitation of interaction between different actors of innovation system can give additional kinetic input to out-scaling impacts of research and development intervention in agriculture in Central Asia. To make it possible systems-based efforts are required to deliver demand-driven technologies to farmers and smallholders. Innovation platform is considered as one key elements of the CGIAR Research Program on Dryland Systems pursuing a new approach to integrated and ‘holistic’ agricultural research, since it promotes multi-disciplinary research through multi-stakeholders approach.

The CA flagship uses innovation platform approach to engage a range of stakeholders into collective actions to identify and alleviate the constraints to productivity growth and the conditions that enable sustainable intensification and diversification, and improve the access to quality seed materials, varieties, breeds, data and knowledge, advisory services, technologies, economic incentives that are needed to enhance the resilience of smallholder farmers, and rural communities.

This approach is based on participatory planning and multi-disciplinary research and work with end-users and beneficiaries to test and scale out innovations, technologies, and research methods, multi-stakeholders dialogue, and foresight mechanisms that also involve partners from the research, policy, development and civil-society sectors. It also reveals niches that need to be addressed by solid and comprehensive set of measures, considering CRP DS theory of change.

Innovation Platform (IP) facilitates dialogue between the main local players in the value chain: farmers, input suppliers, traders, transporters, processors, wholesalers, retailers, regulators, and the research and development institutions. Innovation Platform identifies bottlenecks and opportunities in production, marketing and the policy environment, and therefore IP identifies and implements technologies to improve production to fulfill market demand. Therefore, the Innovation Platform is recognized by CRP DS stakeholders as an open platform for different players to pursue technology, institutional and policy options for enhancing productivity and managing risks through diversification sustainable intensification and integrated agro-eco-system approaches in DS CRP Action site.

Innovation Platform being as one of the key components of DS CRP CA flagship is aimed at out-scaling program impacts and facilitating:

  1. perspectives, knowledge and actions of all DS CRP stakeholders;
  2. innovative partnership for implementing collective actions;
  3. diagnostic tool, identifying and justification of actions and changes across the economic, social, environmental, livelihoods and welfare of end users and consumers;
  4. technological, institutional and policy options towards reducing vulnerability, improving productivity demand and setting in place innovations.

Establishing Innovation Platform formation is a dynamic, highly context specific process that incorporates all essential elements for successful innovation at once and provides an opportunity for local innovations to bear while at the same time nourishing on introduced innovations. In establishing Innovation Platform, the recognition and value of indigenous knowledge and capitalization on prevailing policy, institutional setting and involvement of local leadership is vital. The IP structure, content and time taken by IP establishing process depends on both the conceptual and local context, quality of facilitation, socio-economic, culture, biophysical, political environment in which a common challenge and/or opportunity is identified and on the capacity of stakeholders to comprehend the Innovation Systems Approach.

CRP DS Interdisciplinary Research Team (IRT) envisages that agricultural research for development within the Central Asia region must be accompanied with effective process for inclusive participation in the development and out-scaling of technologies, moving away from linear approaches of technology development and dissemination, and thereby addressing priority needs for rural communities and farm households. Innovation Platforms play important role to catalyse joint action. Innovation platforms can help where there are multiple interdependent stakeholders who operate in complex settings, where there are institutional barriers hampering development, competition or conflict is likely to occur, and where there is a need for experimentation.

IP is a tool for facilitation the collective actions towards large scale development DS CRP impacts. It uses a combination of joint learning systems and approaches to catalyze the robust engagement of relevant stakeholders during the DS CRP implementation period. Innovation platform is realized and used through:

Development or adaptation of approaches for Dryland systems based on results of systematization and comparative analysis of cases such as:

Objectives of IP cluster activity for 2013-2015:

-        Coordinate technical advice to CRP DS actors, including researchers, farmers and other users in facilitation of innovation (information support, demonstration of the practical applications, consulting and training);

-        Assist rural/agricultural producers, involving extensionists/advisory service providers, on issues related to introduction of new technologies and approaches, and to increase the effectiveness of existing technologies and approaches;

-        Establish links between scientific and educational organizations, other sources and triggers of innovation to develop best practices for innovative cooperation;

-        Create and maintain a database on innovations developed by research institutions for transfer and scaling out to different types of users;

-        Base-line survey in Action Sites for determining ‘starting points’ for monitoring and evaluation CRP DS progress, determine the needs of field researchers, farmers and extension in the innovation and development of new projects;

-        On-line consultations on agricultural productivity, research, extension and human capacity within Action Sites and in the broader CA region

Geographical Location (s) including the Action Sites:

  1. Aral Sea Region (Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan)
  2. Rasht Valley (Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan)
  3. Fergana Valley (Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan)