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Innovation Platforms To Bridge Gap Between Farmers And Researchers

by Jacquiline Nakandi
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By Prossy Nandudu

Farmers, research scientists, the private sector and policymakers are to be brought under one umbrella to discuss the available technology, its performance and its impact on smallholder farmers.

The aim is to make sure that farmers have a platform where they can ask all kinds of questions and can get any communication material or knowledge needed.

The aim is to make sure that farmers have an avenue, which can be a WhatsApp group or meeting room, where they can ask all kinds of questions, and get answers and communication materials or knowledge from experts all in one place, so as to increase production.

This was revealed by the executive director of the Association of Agricultural Research in Eastern and Central Africa (ASARECA), Dr Enock Warinda.

According to Warinda, the platforms are one of the avenues that they plan to use to address the concerns of the 14 ministers of agriculture under ASARECA, on how technologies from researchers get to farmers.

The agriculture ministers in those countries need to monitor how research benefits smallholder farmers in terms of increased production, access to markets and increase in household incomes.

“It’s a single space where we bring together the farmer, the private sector and the researcher who develops the technology. In this space, a farmer will tell the researchers if the technology is working or not, but also demand what works for them,” said Warinda.

The other advantage of the platform, according to Warinda is that it brings together policymakers with actors like standards bodies, customs or revenue authorities and immigration, such that once there is an increase in production, a farmer, is helped by the responsible authorities to market his or her produce.

Warinda was officiating at the opening of the five-day annual review meeting of Strengthening Agricultural Knowledge & Innovation Ecosystem for Inclusive Rural Transformation & Livelihoods in Eastern Africa (AIRTEA) at Fairway Hotel in Kampala.

AIRTEA is funded by the Organisation of African, Caribbean and Pacific States (OACPS) through ACP-Innovation Fund which itself is funded by the European Union (EU) through the 11th European Development Fund (EDF).

The project is being implemented by three organisations that include Forum for Agricultural Research in Africa (FARA), ASARECA and Eastern Africa Farmers Federation (EAFF).

“The meeting will also review projects being implemented under the AIRTEA project in selected member countries to identify challenges and successes so as to make the projects work better among others,” added Dr Kwaku Antwi a research, policy and investment cluster lead at the Forum for Agricultural Research in Africa (FARA).

Antwi gave examples of projects being supported through the project dairy project in Mityana, AbiZARDI in West Nile, where researchers are being supported to ensure that there are fish feeds to increase production so that the women and youth in the fishing industry can have an additional income but also for food security.

He added that the project is also supporting fish researchers in areas of value addition and access to markets among others.

For the project to work among member countries, a representative from OACPS-TAU, Gerard den Ouden, called for collaboration among stakeholders.

“You find research institutions working in isolation, individual farms, and experts working alone, but these should work together, learn from each and exchange ideas. That should be achieved through this meeting,” Ouden said.

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