Agricultural innovations that increase productivity and generates incomes: lessons on identification and testing processes in Rwandan agricultural innovation platforms

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book chapter
Ngaboyisonga C.
Mugabo J. R.
Musana B. S.
Tenywa M. M.
Wanjiku C.
Mugabe J.
Murorunkwere F.
Ntizo S.
Nyamulinda B.
Gafaranga J.
Tuyisenge J.
Nyamwaro S.
Nyamwaro S.
Buruchara R.

The central question in increasing productivity and generating incomes in African agriculture is how to move from technology generation to innovations that respond to constraints of agricultural production along the value chains. This question was considered in the context of subsistence agriculture, smallholder production systems, inefficient marketing and investments by the private sector, a preponderance of public interventions, and inadequate policies. The Integrated Agricultural Research for Development (IAR4D) presents an opportunity to address the question as it involves innovative principles, demand-driven research, and utilizing organizational capacities of multi-stakeholders and relevant agricultural policies. The key element in identification and testing of agricultural innovations in the concept of IAR4D was the establishment of agricultural Innovation Platforms (IPs). IP stakeholders were used to identify and rank constraints to agriculture production along the value chains in their respective sites and contexts. Two to three main constraints were identified and translated into research questions that were envisaged to generate practical solutions for productivity and better marketing strategies while conserving natural resources. The research proposed a package of innovations and each stakeholder was assigned a role in testing, disseminating, and adopting each of them. A research agenda based on beneficiaries’ demand, targeting value addition, and income generation was elaborated and implemented. Achievements so far indicate a high efficiency of agricultural innovations collectively identified and participatory methods tested by IP stakeholders, such as potato harvest and postharvest technologies in Gataraga IP and hence validating the efficiency of IAR4D over traditional participatory methods of agricultural research and dissemination.

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