The research project “Joint Learning in Innovation Systems in African Agriculture” (JOLISAA) is funded by the European Commission (EC) and led by Bernard Triomphe from CIRAD, France, working together with ETC EcoCulture / Prolinnova, ICRA (International Centre for development-oriented Research in Agriculture), Wageningen University and decentralised networks coordinated in West, East and Southern Africa by University of Abomey-Calavi (UAC) in Benin, Kenya Agricultural Research Institute (KARI) and University of Pretoria (UP) / Institute of Natural Resources (INR) in South Africa, respectively.
JOLISAA aims to increase understanding of agricultural innovation systems focusing on smallholders’ livelihoods and integrating local and global knowledge. Lessons learnt about past and ongoing experiences with agricultural innovation in small-scale farming in sub-Saharan Africa will be synthesised by combining joint case-study assessment with capacity-strengthening and networking. Joint learning will be fostered by engaging diverse stakeholders, including researchers, development practitioners and policymakers , in comparing and analysing these cases. The project will deliver recommendations to the EC and African decision-makers for future research, practice and policy in agricultural research and development (ARD).
JOLISAA starts with making an inventory of relevant experiences with multi-stakeholder innovation processes in small-scale farming. During workshops in Benin, Kenya, South Africa and an international meeting, several innovation cases will be selected for assessment. These will include 10–15 “ light” case studies per country/region, relying on available information in formal and grey literature, and 3–5 in-depth case studies per country/region. The latter will involve more intensive data collection and will be conducted with the help of local and foreign students.
Capacity strengthening in assessing innovation processes will be coordinated by ICRA and will take place through training, mentoring and exchange-and-learning workshops. Lessons on the potentials and limitations of the innovation processes studied will be drawn innational and international meetings involving not only those involved in making the case studies but also other stakeholders.
Prolinnova partners in Kenya and South Africa are directly involved. For the wider Prolinnova group, the networking activities to stimulate joint learning and sharing of lessons are particularly important. There are three main circles for networking:
- a global outreach circle for information sharing and dissemination of outputs;
- an international learning platform involving key resource persons engaged in discussion of project findings and lessons learnt; and
- a national-level networking and learning circle in Benin, Kenya and South Africa, respectively.
ETC EcoCulture is facilitating networking within the first two circles, working together with FARA (Forum on Agricultural Research in Africa), while UAC (Benin), KARI (Kenya) and UP (South Africa) facilitate networking within the third circle.
The project builds on existing networks, including Prolinnova, to seek synergies. It is hoped that many Prolinnova partners, also in countries other than the three focus countries, will engage in the information-exchange and joint-learning activities within JOLISAA, e.g. by suggesting interesting cases for the studies of innovation processes in small-scale farming and providing documentation on these cases. Some resources will be available to support participation of Prolinnova partners in the learning and sharing activities.
JOLISAA started in February 2010 and ran for 30 months.