SARD-SC scientists have been using the ‘innovation platform’ (IP) approach to demonstrate the usefulness of improved wheat varieties and technologies. Innovation platforms bring together individuals from different stages of an agricultural value chain to boost understanding and increase uptake of technological solutions.
Working with farmers and other stakeholders in three hub countries, the SARD-SC team has used the IP approach to showcase new wheat varieties and management techniques. During the same period, other SARD-SC partner countries in East, Southern and West Africa have starting adopting the IP approach.
In East and Southern Africa, the hub countries Ethiopia and Sudan have spearheaded the innovation platform approach. In Sudan, SARD-SC brought together more than 3,200 stakeholders, including policy makers, farmers, financial institutions, researchers, extension workers, and representatives from financial institutions and the media. SARD-SC also trained more than 160 individuals from the wheat value chain.
The IP process demonstrated that high-performing varieties and new crop management techniques can increase yields by 1.5–4.8 t/ha. These increases have persuaded policy makers to triple Sudan’s wheat-growing area in order to reduce food imports and improve food security.
In Ethiopia, 2,394 farmers participated in IP demonstrations. Of these, SARD-SC selected 60 ‘champion’ farmers to produce wheat seed for sustainable production; more than 150 tonnes is expected.
Five other countries in East and Southern Africa have started to implement the IP approach: Tanzania, Kenya, Zambia, Zimbabwe, and Eritrea. With the help of SARD-SC, farmers and other stakeholders in these countries have established new IPs. In addition, 450 farmers in Tanzania participated in ‘farmers’ field days’.
In West Africa, the hub country Nigeria has held three key IP events for a total of 175 participants. One of these events, a workshop jointly organized with the Agricultural Transformation Agenda (ATA), noted that Nigeria has seen a significant increase in wheat production as a result of interventions by SARD-SC and ATA.
Three other countries in West Africa have started to implement the IP approach: Mali, Mauritania, and Niger. In these countries, SARD-SC has held consultations with stakeholders and identified suitable sites for demonstrating new wheat technologies.