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Tropentag, September 20 - 22, 2017 in Bonn

"Future Agriculture: Social-ecological transitions and bio-cultural shifts"

Innovations Don't Fly – Engaging Young Professionals as Service Providers to Accelerate Adoption and Impact at Large Scale

Marc Bernard

Africa Rice Center (AfricaRice), Knowledge Management Unit, Benin


There are no silver bullets in agricultural development, nor have merely participative approaches of the past 30 years proven to provide sustainable diffusion of innovations. The Africa Rice Center has developed a range of scalable technologies, but their implementation remains a challenge and research cannot sufficiently impact people's realities.
Therefore, the Green Innovation Center at AfricaRice in Benin develops service packages to promote promising technologies and to contribute to business development. So to speak it is acting as a “marketing unit” for research products of AfricaRice and national centres. To achieve impact at scale the unit operates on a franchising model. Local institutions and graduates from agricultural colleges and universities are engaged to provide a range of networking, innovation support and business development services in response to the diverse needs expressed by producers and processors. Costing of services is based on the prices of the local economy. Service providers are paid upon delivery using mobile money technology. An internet platform assures monitoring of the innovation process in near real time and to provide feedback to research.
The centre has established a network of 500 service providers covering one third of the country. It is currently assisting 6000 producers directly and is reaching out to 50,000 in 173 villages.
The success of the approach raises structural questions. Do we need a permanent “marketing unit” between research and development organisations to make innovations fly? What would be an appropriate institutional setting in order to meet the diverse demands of end users?

Keywords: Benin, cooperation, innovations, rice

Contact Address: Marc Bernard, Africa Rice Center (AfricaRice), Knowledge Management Unit, 01 B.p. 2031, Cotonou, Benin, e-mail: m.bernard@cgiar.org

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