Multi-stakeholder Innovation Platforms (IP)
IP is a tool to help identify value chain actors, examine bottlenecks and weak links in the value chain, build and strengthen partnerships and collaborative learning among actors (both public and private), and address business opportunities and new products for improving market outcomes, food security and natural resource management.
Through the IPs, ‘issues’ and opportunities are identified. The multi-stakeholder approach enables IPs to work at every level in the rice value chain — organizational and institutional issues (e.g. contractual arrangements, quality control rules and regulations), technological and biophysical issues (e.g. what variety is best suited to the local environment? how can we make parboiling and milling more efficient?) and issues related to collective action, learning and knowledge-sharing, and policy processes to enhance governance of the value chain.
The IPs are the engines of the rice sector development hubs. They set an example of how diverse social and economic operators can work together to achieve positive change. AfricaRice is using a business approach to IP establishment: in its target hubs, the IPs have been created to improve the commercial aspect of farming, bringing the whole value chain together to improve ‘farming as a business’ from choice of crop and land preparation to sale to consumers and food preparers.
IP sustainability is dependent on getting its three drivers ‘right’ — the technologies, the organizational aspects (how the IP is established and facilitated), and the institutional side (working with the culture, norms and value systems of local and national institutions and partners, and policies for the benefit of the IP actors).
To date, 17 IPs have been established by AfricaRice in select rice hubs in 11 African countries. The IPs have been piloted with over 4000 farming households (21% women) and over 2000 rice processors (80% women). Members of the IPs also include seed enterprises and input dealers, extension agencies, transporters, financial institutions, researchers, NGOs, and policy makers among others.
IPs are a flexible and dynamic institutional innovation that can be adapted and applied in different contexts to address and mainstream a range of value chain constraints and opportunities, and other tools and approaches in rainfed upland, lowland, and irrigated rice ecologies.