Research-Extension-University Linkage Platform Meeting Showed Promising Results
EIAR-MOA-CASCAPE joint workshop was organized to evaluate the results of large scale joint demonstration of agricultural technologies based on BENEFIT-CASCAPE piloted PAR (Participatory Action Research) approach. The workshop was held on March 12, 2019 at Executive Hotel, Adama. This is part of the research-extension university linkage platform which forms sub-platform of ADPLAC (Agriculture Development Partners Linkage Advisory Council) that was established based on CASCAPE-initiated programme of strengthening Research-Extension-University linkages.
The work towards strengthening collaboration and linkage between extension, research and higher learning institutes started in 2018 with a study commissioned by BENEFIT-CASCAPE in partnership with MOA to better understand the gaps in linkages between the three institutions. The findings of the assessment were shared with relevant stakeholders at “The Hawassa Convention” where EIAR was assigned to lead the effort. In May 2018, BENEFIT-CASCAPE organized a high level workshop at Beshouftu to identify missing links opportunities to ensure effective and efficient technology transfer. Since then, a series of meetings were conducted to turn lesson and opportunities into action, leading to the initiation of “High impact partnership project”. This is BENEFIT-CASCAPE ‘s efforts towards institutionalization of the Participatory Action Research (PAR) approach and institutional innovation that brings together researchers, extensionists and universities to work together for a better and lasting impact. With endorsement by the Minister of MoA and under direct supervision of the state minister, the Research-Extension-University linkage platform is now officially institutionalized within the MoA. CASCAPE will continue supporting the establishment of the regional platform as sub-set of the ADPLAC.
Since 2018, EIAR has been leading the sub-platform including setting up of large scale demonstrations on strategic commodities (maize, teff, wheat, malt barley, sesame and sorghum) on 100 ha per commodity per region for high level policy engagement and extension dissemination. Researchers in four regions (TARI, ARARI, OARI and SARI) were presenting the results of the 2018 demonstrations during the joint workshop in Adama (12-13 March 2019) and identify gaps, challenges and opportunities to be considered in the 2019 collaborative planning process.
The workshop was attended by over 70 experts and relevant stakeholders including MOA State Minister, EIAR Director General, presidents and deans of universities and BENEFIT-CASCAPE Manager and staff. The meeting was relevant to appreciate and recognize the first attempt towards large scale full package demonstration to identify factors that affect scaling potential and promote sustained large-scale scaling of technologies that can transform the agriculture sector.
The project aims to design large-scale (atleast 100ha per commodity) geographic focused technology demonstrations to enhance technology dissemination and adoption, promote action research and complementarity, strengthen linkage between the three institutions and document best practice and experiences to promote joint learning. EIAR, RARIs and universities met in their respective regions to develop concept notes and action plans with budget requirements, signed MoUs that spells out the roles and responsibilities of each institution, made strategic selection of technologies, formed necessary teams to implement the selected interventions and conducted joint monitoring and evaluation.
The presentations highlighted the project was beneficial in establishing joint planning and advocacy, cost sharing, building joint capacity development of stakeholders, and conducting joint monitoring and learning. In total 23 technologies were demonstrated in 21 zones in large scale clusters.
The discussion in the afternoon focused on strengthening the approach and modalities, inclusion of horticulture, livestock, mechanization, labor saving technologies in future initiatives, efficient utilization of water resources, capitalizing on universities’ expertise and community service resources, sustainability of the forum, understanding scaling in terms of inputs, addressing acidic soil issues at national level, and forming linkages at regional levels etc.
Following the discussion, it was noted that last year’s planning was done hastily and the focus on crop was intentional considering this is the first year of the project. Other agricultural issues will be considered as linkage strengthens among the institutions. It was also highlighted that the key is not about signing MOUs but changing our way of thinking and working to address the critical issue that only 1/3 of available technologies are being adopted by the farming community. At the end the team agreed to extend their effort to engage more universities, include other regions and evaluate comments and feedbacks raised to refine their 2019 plan focusing on strength of each institution.
Overall the participants acknowledged and appreciated the new practice of using piloted approach to bring systematic change; accomplishments achieved in this first attempt; EIAR for its openness and leadership to take this initiative forward; and BENEFIT-CASCAPE for the critical role the programme played in initiating this effort and its intermediary role in linking research demonstration and extension level demonstration.
At the end, BENEFIT-CASCAPE affirmed its commitment to support this effort in the coming year and universities’ representatives promised to do their part to ensure the success and sustainably of this effort.