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Innovation platforms: Documenting experiences from the imGoats project and beyond

Innovation platforms are a complex and some would say a not-so-straightforward approach. Nevertheless, ILRI, other CGIAR centers and other partners are using this approach in various projects such as the Nile Basin Development Challenge, IMGoats and the recently-completed Fodder Adoption and Fodder Innovation projects.

What are innovation platforms exactly?

This poster gives some ideas.

 

In light of experiences shared and questions posed in the recent imGoats workshop, here we briefly take stock of some ILRI experiences.

The recent India-Mozambique goats (imGoats) project reflection and learning workshop (July 2012) in Udaipur helped shape some reflections. The project, which aims to “increase incomes and food security in a sustainable manner by enhancing pro-poor small ruminant value chains in India and Mozambique”, has been using innovation platforms in its three sites: Mozambique as well as Jharkhand and Rajasthan in India.

In the learning and reflection workshop, two sessions were dedicated to a) describing the innovation platform processes in the three sites and b) finding practical solutions to improve these processes.

Early reflections indicate that using innovation platforms is much appreciated because it helps solve different issues, creates awareness about a wider set of issues related to a specific research agenda, reduces the weight of project interventions against the environment in which they are taking place (as the local constituents are taking ownership of the IP agenda), informs planning for all IP members and – though arguably perhaps – reduces the timeline between raising an issue and finding a solution.

The imGoats participants also identified some challenges related to innovation platforms:

  • How to stimulate consistent participation of IP members?
  • Should we ensure the sustainability of the IP and if so, how?
  • How to facilitate the IP meetings and ensure strong engagement and ownership of participants?
  • How to facilitate activities in between IP meetings and, as much as possible, with value chain actors?

They also reflected what they would do differently if they were to start the IP process all over again, revealing interesting opportunities on the horizon:

  • Spending more time on advocating, explaining and agreeing about the  approach at the onset;
  • Getting to know all members better before developing secretariat and groups;
  • Pre-identifying issues that matter to goat farmers before bringing them to an IP meeting.
Group discussions at the imGoats project learning and reflection workshop

imGoats participants at the learning and reflection workshop sharing views about innovation platforms in India and Mozambique

Other wider IP questions raised in Udaipur concerned the diversity and intensity of participation, clarity of the vision/roles/tasks, information sharing and communication processes, problem-solving capabilities and facilitation mechanisms.

In the coming months, the imGoats project will try and unpack these questions and further document innovation platforms through:

  • A technical advisory note on collective action (including innovation platforms);
  • An internal reflection meeting on our experiences with IPs, hubs and collective action;
  • An article on IP processes in the imGoats project and on the outcomes registered;
  • Leaflet about the IP processes (in English and in Hindi).

More generally, ILRI and other organizations like it may need to better specify the roles they want to play vis-à-vis these platforms – which require a lot of facilitation and partnership/stakeholder management.

Read more about innovation platforms and systems

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