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Tropentag, September 14 - 16, 2022, Prague

"Can agroecological farming feed the world? Farmers' and academia's views."

Scalability of agroecological initiatives in horticulture in West Africa: the use of vegetable business network

Mwasilwa Ambali1, Lennart Woltering2, Katharina Diehl3

1World vegetable center, Enabling impact, Benin
2cimmyt, Systems research, Mexico
3HarvestPlus, Scaling, Kenya


The world is experiencing important systemic changes. The climate is changing, pest pressure increases, rainy seasons are shorter, and water shortages are threatening vegetable production in West Africa. The challenges posed by COVID-19, skyrocketing fertiliser and cereal prices led to widespread unrest and increased West African demands on food sovereignty. This combination of agro-ecological and socio-economic changes have led to a significant increase in demand for agroecological solutions to vegetable farming. To address the increased demand in such solutions on a national and regional level, it is crucial to have a viable, inclusive and sustainable scaling strategy. Strategizing scaling at the beginning and adaptive management during the implementation of an intervention is important to set up proper goals and address challenges. Hence, World Vegetable Center has implemented an approach to improve the functioning of value chains by developing Vegetable Business Networks (VBN). VBN are existing business networks that combine and align the efforts of producers, processors, and sellers. Multiple actors of the VBN are linked together by an aggregator that can be linked to at any level of the value chain. The VBN approach aims to strengthen these business links to enable the network to reach new market opportunities.
This study assesses the use of VBN as a scaling vector for agroecological innovation drawing from the Scaling Scan and Scaling Readiness methodologies developed and implemented by the CGIAR, Wageningen University, GIZ and national research and innovation partners around the world. Formal interviews and group discussions have been used to gather information on the perception and knowledge of the existing VBN actors and non-VBN actors using a semi-structured questionnaire. The results show that VBN actors and non-VBN actors have moderate knowledge of Agroecological approaches. However, VBN actors have committed to a common vision for the development of their networks by releasing “agroecological labeled products” on the market. To achieve this common vision, VBN actors are willing to increase their skills or capacities through training. World Vegetable Center uses and proposes this approach as a tool to enable the scaling of new technology as new agroecological practices in West Africa and beyond.

Keywords: Adoption, business, impact, innovation, scaling, vegetable

Contact Address: Mwasilwa Ambali, World vegetable center, Enabling impact, 08 tri postal, 0932 Cotonou, Benin, e-mail: mwasilwa.ambali@worldveg.org

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