The second all partners consortium meeting of InnovAfrica took place in Kigali, Rwanda from 13-16 February 2018. The meeting was hosted by Rwanda Agriculture Board (RAB) the Rwanda partner, and the project coordinators, NIBIO from Norway and ILRI, Nairobi. More than 60 participants representing 22 organizations from 20 countries took part in the 3 days meeting.

The second meeting marks an important milestone in the implementation of the project as it reviewed the progress of the work made so far, which included the empirical work kick off in the six case countries, the initiation of the six Multi-Actor Platforms (MAP), a major data collection exercise covering 600 farmers in each of the case countries, the Focus Group Discussions to assess the current situation, gaps, opportunities, and plan future directions.

Photo 1: Second project consortium meeting at Kigali, Rwanda, 13-16th February 2018

Speaking at the meeting, one of the Stakeholder Advisory Board (SAB) member, Dr. Kayumbe Raymond from the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries, Tanzania appreciated the various components the project is addressing including, value chains, gender, knowledge generation and extension. He clearly sees the linkage of InnovAfrica with ongoing programs like Agricultural Sector Development Program (ASDP), Tanzania and the complementarity.

Dr. Yemi Akinbamijo, Executive Director of Forum for Agricultural Research in Africa (FARA) another SAB member pointed out to the team “You have the found the track and that is commendable, and wish that you continue with the same spirit. You must look out and should prepare for an exit strategy already, where will this project dock. How do we leave the footprint after InnovAfrica ends, with so many partners and more than 70+ scientists”? He assured that FARA has an interest, and that he will do his best to link InnovAfrica to “Science Agenda for Africa”.

Dr. Denis Kyetere, Executive Director of African Agricultural Technology Foundation (AATF) and InnovAfrica Scientific Expert Advisory Board (SEAB) member commented “I really appreciate the progress made so far, but still there are some challenges, for e.g. those related to monitoring and evaluation of the project, the SAIs chosen and their appropriateness”. He wished that the team addresses all the gaps/challenges in the coming days.

Agnes Mwang’ombe, Professor at the University of Nairobi and InnovAfrica SEAB member said, what are you doing fits very well into the Africa agenda, for e.g. Brachiaria intervention. She mentioned about the Vision 2030 – of government in Kenya focusing on Food and Nutrition Security, and that initiatives such as InnovAfrica work will help in countries such as Kenya to realize such agendas. She also emphasized on linking with students is important, and using the knowledge for improving the curriculum at the universities. In addition, short courses for rural youth are important. In brief, there is a great opportunity for InnovAfrica.

At the meeting, all the work package leaders, case country managers and other partners shared the progress of work and experiences from the field visits and plans for coming months.

Udaya Sekhar Nagothu, the project coordinator of InnovAfrica, highlighted in his presentation that good team work and cooperation has helped to achieve the progress as planned in the first nine months of the project and should be further strengthened by addressing the challenges. He also emphasized that the primary target group of InnovAfrica are smallholders, especially youth and women.

Dr. Jacob Mignouna, Director, BecA-ILRI Hub in his key note message emphasized on the importance of integrating with national and international initiatives within the six countries and regions- taking technology to scale.

Another highlight of the meeting was a whole day field visit to InnovAfrica project site at Kirehe, Rwanda and discussions with the farmers, and MAP members. During the visit, the team was exposed to innovative Brachiaria forage livestock systems that small farmers were taking up in the project.

Photo 2: Field visit to InnovAfrica project site at Kirehe, Rwanda