The agricultural Innovation platform has gained popularity as an effective partnership framework to ensure that agricultural technologies are translated into measurable impact in livelihood and quality of life of farmers as well as other stakeholders. The Innovation platform was initially developed as the operational framework for the implementation of the Integrated Agricultural Research for Development (IAR4D) concept. The IAR4D concept, developed by FARA, has assembled guidelines to overcome the shortcomings of the linear approaches for implementing agricultural research and development. The concept appraises agriculture as a system and recognizes the several implicit sub-systems that must work together to foster the development of the sector. Thus, IAR4D engages all actors, organizations and institutions that are involved in the agricultural sector to interact and jointly foster the development of the sector. IAR4D uses both the system and the commodity approach, and engages all actors along the commodity value chain, including external actors such as policy makers, financial institutions, meteorologists, insurance providers, etc. that influence the chain to interact and proffer solutions to the jointly identified constraints on the platform.
The IP is a forum for groups of relevant actors selected along the value chain of a specific commodity or system of production. The actors include farmers, researchers, extension agents, traders, processors, financial institutions, policy makers, regulators, output market operators, consumers and others. They interact to jointly identify problems, investigate solutions leading to the generation of innovations and its accompanying socio-economic benefits. The IP essentially works in a commercial mode as it facilitates public-private partnerships. Essentially, activities on the IP are guided by a well-articulated business plan.
Following the proof of the IAR4D concept, the IP concept has enjoyed good acceptance by the agricultural research and development fraternity in Africa. This has led to the wide use and establishment of different variants of multi-stakeholders’ groups and innovation platforms. Efforts to scale-up and scale-out the IAR4D/IP concept will necessarily require a coordination platform to guide the scaling, to ensure adherence to principles that trigger the delivery of results during the IP formation, establishment and operation; to, prevent duplication of efforts by projects and development partners interventions; to stimulate synergy, joint learning, to facilitate big business development through linkages between producers, commodities and end users, and create data source and analytics on the growth of innovation platforms in Africa.
The Innovation Platform Agribusiness Portal (IPAbP) was developed as part of the activities of the Program of Accompanying Research for Agricultural Innovation (PARI), a collaborative project of the Forum for Agricultural Research in Africa (FARA), and the Centre for Development Research (ZEF), with funding support from the Government of Germany. The IPAbP is a web information repository with the goal of aggregating information for all the Innovation Platforms in Africa to foster linkages with other agricultural innovation organizations, donors and development partners; to facilitate access to information on platforms to enhance collaboration and develop big businesses.
The IPAbP gives the different IP facilitators a platform to demonstrate their Innovations and other products to a wider audience. With this, an IP can broaden its business horizon without restriction and link-up with potential agricultural bodies, donor organizations, find possible solutions to market access and establish direct contacts with policy makers to influence the growth and development of the agriculture sector in Africa.
Through its analytics component, it further provides development partners, policy makers and agriculture stakeholders with an avenue to directly source data on availability and veracity of all Innovation Platforms on the continent.
The IPAbP is a first of its kind and an innovation of FARA and ZEF within the PARI project. The IPAbP is expected to foster the scaling of the IP concept in Africa. It is essential to the platform as well as to the growth and expansion of all Innovation Platforms in Africa.
To this end, IP facilitators from all over Africa are encouraged to sign up and showcase to the world the innovations their IPs are offering to enhance the development of the agriculture sector in Africa.