Project summary

The project aimed at developing and testing an operational framework for strengthening agricultural innovation systems in Sub-Saharan Africa in view of further scaling. It took advantage of a innovative business model, the RUN-System, that was developed in collaboration with a number of partners since 2000 and successfully tested in Uganda in the years 2009 to 2011.

The Film - A bridge between science and farmers

The film about the Information Exchange Service permits a better understanding of the business model. The movie length is 14 minutes.

The system seeks to strengthen the performance of all actors in the innovation system by the delivery of knowledge management services. It gives all actors a voice and empowers them to acquire the information that satisfies their individual needs. The project was launched in the frame of the PSTAD project of FARA with financial support of the AfDB. It was successfully implemented at 19 sites in 8 countries of sub-Saharan Africa.

The total project budget was 257,683 €. 164,331 € were invested into the delivery of service, training and equipment of collaborators, 16,000 € into the improvement of the eRAILS information system, 11,315 € in supervision missions and 60,660 € into the planning coordination, data-analysis and controlling of the action.

19 communities and farmers organizations, 76 field and local data entry agents, 1116 pilot farmers, 12 national knowledge management experts, 96 subject matter specialists (experts) and 8 national facilitators (young professionals) have actively collaborated in the delivery and documentation of 1,434 services.

Each pilot farmer raised a particular problem on his farm. All of them received a printed answer of an expert. The field agent took care that each pilot farmer addressed a different problem. As a result an inventory of 50 different problems and answers was compiled for each site. Field agents explained the answers to them and to the 3,220 other farmers attending the meeting (2.8 on average) bringing the total number of direct beneficiaries to 4,370. It is promising that 157 farmers, who were interviewed one year later, indicated that the application of the proposed solution increased their yields on average by 40% in the subsequent season and that the advice was shared with 5 neighboring farmers. This diffusion rate suggests that an estimated 25,000 could be reached in the first and more than 100,000 in the second year of the project. Local archives with a printout of all questions and answers were established in 38 markets. They are publicly displayed once a month and frequently consulted by farmers.

A total of 1,116 requests and answers with 9,371 images, 2,360 links to relevant web-resources and 565 documents with additional information were published on the Internet in near real time.

Farm-household interviews with all pilot farmers allowed establishing a database that holds about 300,000 data entries. In a baseline study the national facilitators characterised each site and gathered facts and figures describing the agro-ecological and socio-economic context. Household and baseline data together are a solid basis for improved and evidence based decision making at all levels. A descriptive statistical analysis with detailed figures and facts can be downloaded from this site.

Based on the experiences and lessons learned, an operational framework for further scaling was elaborated in an iterative process involving representatives of all stakeholder groups. In a first step towards implementation, an action plan for the development of a regional agricultural technology platform was elaborated by the national facilitators, representatives of the RAILS and DONATA teams of the 8 countries, the SROs and FARA.