Innovation Platforms at Their Best When Interests Converge

The primary purpose of Innovation Platforms is to facilitate the transfer of technologies and knowledge among actors of a specific value chain.

Several innovations and technologies in Niger were generated and placed directly in the market before the start of the West Africa Agriculture Productivity Program (WAAPP).

There were often few or no interactions at all for actors in a value chain. The challenges, potentials, and opportunities of a specific technology or innovation were hardly discussed between stakeholders before it made its way to the market. This step is critical as it allows all within the value chain to fully understand the value as well as they benefit from a specific product.

The Innovation Platform is a new forum for stakeholders to discuss the various links in the value chain (production, conservation, packaging, and marketing) of a product. Thanks to WAAPP Niger intervention, the actors in the chain of production and marketing of several products including milk, kilichi (dried meat), vegetable seed, onion, etc. have been able to organize themselves and put in place this new platform. For example, small-scale farmers involved in milk production, collection and transportation who previously had virtually no relationships have formed milk platforms in almost regions of Niger.

Souley Hamidou, WAAPP Niger Monitoring and Evaluation Specialist

These milk platforms are today serving as veritable channels for the exchange of critical knowledge on milk making, collection, and transportation. They have become a real tool for dissemination and adoption of improved technologies in this sector and this in turns leads to scaling up.

Bankable Action Plans

Actors on these platforms have benefited from a series of training and coaching. In this process, many of the players have gained vital negotiation and management skills. Bankable action plans have emerged from these training and submitted to WAAPP for funding. Public-Private Partnerships are created and strengthened in the process with further potential for business opportunities and the involvement of the private sector.

Impressive Results

Within the framework of the 2016 annual work program of WAAPP Niger, about 30 activities resulting from the action plans developed thanks to the innovation platforms were funded for close to 200 million FCAF. About 25 young bakers were trained in view of the creation of their businesses. kilichi sale points were established. Milk collection centers and fish ponds were created.

On these platforms, actors became convinced to let go their individual ambition as they could see larger potential to work in collaboration and synergies with other actors having similar interests. Together, they have used the space as not only negotiation but also platforms to build partnerships and engage those wishing to work together. Thanks to the platforms, women of Togone village have become even closer and co-operating more on finances. Each week, the close of twenty women collect and hand about 70 000 FCFA to one designated member.

Delegations from other countries have been to the platforms to learn how to conserve kilichi. As part of the knowledge sharing and learning, WAAPP officials from Mali, Burkina Faso and Senegal engaged their colleagues from Niger and gained vital knowledge to develop kilichi further. This has helped these countries to improve their approach to drying meat.

Overall, 18 platforms were created and strengthened in the milk, rice, Kilichi, composite bread, onion, poultry and fish farming, seeds and product transformation.

Approximately 2400 members benefited from the actions of these platforms in terms of capacity building and equipment.

Each of these platforms has a clear agreement and action plan that determines the fund they get from WAAPP Niger.

Lessons Learned

By banding together, members of these platforms have come to be convinced that their aspirations are best served in acting collectively.