Capacity for sustaining agricultural innovation platforms in Rwanda: A case study of " Research into use" project
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Research Into Use (RIU), is a DFID funded project (2006-2011), aiming at strengthening capacities for uptake of agricultural innovations by end-users through Innovation Platforms (IPs). In Rwanda, RIU IPs are focusing on maize, cassava, potato and farmers associations respectively in Nyagatare, Gatsibo, Gicumbi and Karongi districts. The funding is coming to an end whereas capacity building is vital to sustain these platforms beyond the project duration. This study was designed to establish the contextual factors, institutional arrangements, incentives and competences required for effective functioning and sustainability of agricultural IPs in Rwanda. Based on relevant literature review, the methodology used included focus group discussions,individual interviews, observations and capacity needs scoring by IPs actors. Results indicate the success of RIU in establishing the four agricultural innovation platforms and strengthening social networks between various actors (farmers, cooperatives, local leaders, NGOs, etc.). Contextual factors conducive to agricultural IPs development include local resources, local actors and hard work. Institutional arrangements identified comprise the memoranda of understanding (MoUs) and the collective action plans elaborated by the IPs actors with RIU support. The RIU incentives portfolio includes trainings, improved seeds, inorganic fertilizers, equipments and study tours. The competences needed by various actors vary from a category of actors to another in relation to their functions. Most of them were with respect to crop management techniques, post-harvest technology, seed system, skills in machinery, knowledge on agriculture lows and business plan. The lessons learnt allow concluding that RIU should continue scaling up IPs in Africa or elsewhere in spite the challenges faced. The results will be used by DFID, RIU managers, the Ministry of Agriculture and rural development agencies.