INNOVATION PLATFORM: METHOD TO ENGAGE CROP-LIVESTOCK STAKEHOLDERS IN WEST AFRICA
With an objective to understand the process on how can research (ers) in innovation platforms contribute in engaging crop-livestock stakeholders in mixed –farming systems of the semi-arid tropics of West Africa, five innovation platform meetings were initiated by the International Crop Research Institute for Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) together with national research institutes: Centre for Dryland Agriculture, Bayero University, Nigeria and Institute National de Recherche Agronomique du Niger between February to October, 2014. The trans boundary transect between Nigeria and Niger called as Katsina Kano and Maradi (KKM) five villages was purposively selected as action site. Apart from innovation platform methodology, mixed methods using quantitative and qualitative methods like- structured questionnaires, focused group discussions, interviews (semi structured, face to face, unstructured) with farmers and stakeholders; direct observations, information from participants in various meetings and discussions during innovation platform meetings and site visits were undertaken. Following the analytical framework of innovation methodology data was coded and characterized to identify the role of researchers in innovation platforms to contribute in engaging crop-livestock stakeholders in mixed –farming . Results indicated that research and innovation platforms can engage stakeholders for a win –win situation. Demand driven research strengthens innovation platforms: researchers work is better informed, more systematic and more authentic. Researchers help in understanding in the Innovation platforms challenges faced by different stakeholders, through diagnostic exercises, visioning, and needs assessment. Platforms strengthen research by feedback so that it is more likely to be adopted. Researchers contribute to innovation platforms through traditional research, b) by knowledge management and action research; c) enabling environment; d) network brokering and mobilising funds. However, researchers face constraints associated with innovation platforms sustainability because of fixed budgets, staff time and resources. For sustainability of innovation platforms it should governed locally.