The change starts from those who are affected by the problem being around the table with those who want to experiment research and deliver options for development, sitting as equal partners. (Dr. Lindiwe Majele Sibanda)
Science alone cannot help Africa feed itself. That was a strong message from Lindiwe Majele Sibanda, Chief Executive Officer of the Food Agriculture and Natural Resource Policy Analysis Network (FANRPAN) at the recent Africa Agricultural Science Week (AASW) organised by the Forum for Agricultural Research in Africa (FARA), 15-19 July, 2013.
In a special session organized by the Challenge Program for Water and Food, Dr. Sibanda and other key resource persons lauded engagement platforms for the efforts they make to bring together local farmers, scientists and others to collaboratively unearth innovative solutions to the challenge of food security, in Africa and the rest of the world.
“I think that’s what the innovation platforms have brought: a new way of doing business, where you don’t stop at project level but you move vertically to inform change at a higher level: district, national and regional level”.
The FANRPAN CEO stressed that innovation platforms have an essential function in “equipping actors to be drivers of change” through research evidence.
Her words were echoed by innovation platform members from the Nile Basin Development Challenge (NBDC) in Ethiopia: Mussie Melekot (Bahir Dar University) and Andenet Deresse (Ambo University emphasized the role of innovation platforms in helping local farmers and other actors develop joint strategies for natural resource management.
In Ethiopia, after extensive consultation and joint assessment with local actors, innovation platforms members prioritized soil fertility, land degradation and free grazing as the main issues to address. But innovation platforms do not stop at the level of problem identification: “We are planting improved forage on the communal grazing areas; we are also developing different strategies for planting around the backyard; we are also treating crop residues…”