As of 1 February 2009, a new country-level initiative has become part of the Prolinnova Community of Practice: Prolinnova–Nigeria. In late October 2007, the International Secretariat in the Netherlands received an expression of interest from a group of people from different governmental and non-governmental organisations in northern Nigeria to launch such an initiative. They proposed a process of identifying further interested people and organisations, and holding a workshop to explore jointly the possibilities of setting up a network to promote local innovation in ecologically oriented agriculture and natural resource management in their country. They received some seed money from Prolinnova to cover part of the costs. The coordinating NGO, DRIVE (Development Resource Initiative), based in Kaduna, organised this meeting and asked Prolinnova-Ghana North to send a resource person to support them. The Prolinnova Working Group in northern Ghana proposed Naaminong Karbo, Director of the Animal Research Institute in Ghana and long-time member of the Northern Ghana LEISA Working Group and later of Prolinnova-Ghana North.
The workshop took place in Kaduna at the end of August 2008 and included 26 Nigerian participants from farmer organisations, NGOs, extension, research, agricultural colleges and input suppliers. After learning more about Prolinnova and Participatory Innovation Development (PID) – particularly in Ghana through the inputs of Naaminong Karbo – and about the interests of the participants, they agreed to form a “Learning Group”. They selected a small team to develop a proposal for an inception phase of Prolinnova-Nigeria, based on ideas generated by the workshop participants, and asked DRIVE to host the secretariat. A new items on this event, and the proceedings, are posted on the Prolinnova website. The Prolinnova Learning Group in Nigeria is now starting up a 12-month inception phase to: 1) identify and document local innovations, innovation processes and innovators among farmers as entry point for joint investigations in ARD; 2) facilitate establishment of multi-stakeholder platforms for testing and using innovations in agricultural research and development (ARD); 3) build capacity in PID approaches in Nigeria; 4) raise awareness of PID approaches among policymaking institutions in the ARD sector; and 5) document lessons learned from implementing PID approaches in Nigeria and share these more widely. The coordinator of the Learning Group is Yemi Adeleye from DRIVE. Other members come from the Kaduna State Agricultural Development Programme, the Federal Department of Fisheries, Ahmadu Bello University, the Institute of Agricultural Research (Zaria) and the Ginger Farmers Cooperative in southern Kaduna State. The group plans to start in Kaduna Region of northern Nigeria but hopes to be able to extend activities gradually to other regions with the guidance of a National Steering Committee and working through regional teams. Prolinnova-Nigeria, like the initiatives in Kenya, Mozambique, the Andes and PROFEIS (Promoting Farmer Experimentation and Innovation in the Sahel), is not among the original nine country programmes receiving core funds from the Netherlands government. It will therefore have to pool existing resources of partners in pursuit of a common aim and raise additional funds for further support needed. We welcome the Prolinnova–Nigeria Learning Group and invite all other Prolinnova partners to support this group by providing information and advice – both by email and during face-to-face meetings such as at the upcoming International Partners Workshop in Nepal in May 2009. Warm thanks go to Prolinnova Ghana North for helping the group in Nigeria to start the ball rolling!