Charting a course for capacity development in Ethiopian livestock and Nigerian aquaculture systems


October 9, 2019

“Capacity development strategies through an agricultural innovation system lens” was the focus of a recent collaboration among partners in several Feed the Future Innovation Labs and CGIAR centers. The initiative, organized by Wageningen University and Research, Michigan State University, and IFPRI under the auspices of the Feed the Future Innovation Lab for Food Security Policy, aimed to help other Innovation Labs improve the design and implementation of their capacity development strategies.

Participants in the workshop in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

It also aimed to help practitioners understand the numerous tools and resources that can be used to integrate capacity development activities into long-term efforts to strengthen agricultural innovation systems.

These themes were featured in a week-long (August 26-30) engagement with the Feed the Future Innovation Lab for Livestock Systems and the International Livestock Research Institute in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, including partners from the University of Florida, the Government of Ethiopia, and several Ethiopian universities. This was followed by a similar engagement with the new Feed the Future Innovation Lab for Fish and WorldFish on September 3-4 in Ibadan, Nigeria. The workshop brought together partners from Mississippi State University, Washington University in St. Louis, and aquaculture stakeholders from Nigeria’s South Western Region, representing government, private sector, civil society, research, and academia.

These workshops provided a lively and interactive atmosphere in which to apply a range of participatory learning tools that encouraged reflection on needs and strategies for capacity development in the respective countries and sectors. In Ethiopia, emphasis was placed on strengthening the livestock research system, while in Nigeria, attention was given to aquaculture value chain development.

Participants in the workshop in Ibadan, Nigeria.

“The learning exercises helped participants think past simplistic solutions such as increasing training or public staffing budgets, to get at deeper root causes and innovative policy solutions that might move the needle on future capacity development efforts,” noted David Spielman, senior research fellow at IFPRI and leader of PIM’s Flagship 1 on “Technological Innovation and Sustainable Intensification.”

Importantly, these two learning events are test cases for a practitioner’s guidebook on capacity development for agricultural innovation systems, currently under construction and due to be released by IFPRI, WUR, and Michigan State University in late 2019. The guidebook will be a product of the Feed the Future Innovation Lab for Food Security Policy, and links closely with the ongoing cluster of activities “Science Policy and Innovation Systems for Sustainable Intensification” under PIM’s Flagship 1.

Photos: Jia Ye/Wageningen UR