The particpants of the second Regional Conference of the Green Innovation Centres came from 13 African countries, India and Germany.
Photo: giz

Green Innovation Centres 2022: Scaling-up promising innovations

The second annual Regional Conference of the Green Innovation Centres of the Agriculture and Food sector focused on “Vision 2022: Working towards Innovation Systems for Rural Development”. Participants from the 15 countries involved in the initiative shared experiences gained in the past year and presented promising innovations from each of the Centres.

A total of 170 participants from 13 African countries, India, and Germany discussed “Vision 2022 – working towards Innovation Systems for Rural Development” at the second annual Regional Conference of the Green Innovation Centres. The meeting was held in Nairobi, Kenya, from the 13th to the 16th December 2017. The Green Innovation Centres are part of the “One World – No Hunger initiative (SEWOH) run by Germany’s Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ). Speakers of Kenya’s Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries (MALF), the German Embassy in Nairobi, the Kenyan Agriculture Committee of the Council of Governors (Government of Kenya), and Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) officially opened the Conference.

Vision 2022 – focusing on scaling up and integrating self-supporting structures

Stefan Schmitz (BMZ) outlined the goals of the Vision 2022 and how to contribute to Sustainable Development Goal 2 (Zero Hunger). Schmitz underlined the bottom-up approach in the previous phase aimed at testing innovations locally before they are adjusted to be scaled up.

For the next phase, until 2022, the approaches in the different countries shall be scaled up at higher level. Therefore, the focus will be on processing goods with a view to creating more jobs as well as linking rural and urban areas. Schmitz noted that integrating more national and international partners and handing over more responsibility to the private sector was crucial to ensuring sustainability. Furthermore, the coordination of joint planning linked with agricultural production, youth and partners, exchange with agricultural research, improved access to agricultural financing and working together at regional level for income generation would be strengthened.

Therefore, Agricultural Training and Vocational Education and Training (ATVET) supporting adaptation to climate change, export-oriented agriculture, organic agriculture and renewable energy were becoming more prominent, Schmitz stated. All this had to be backed high-level political dialogue addressing issues of reforms. Joint common research could deliver inputs to the process.

Schmitz emphasised that better access to inputs, knowledge, markets and energy was needed along with a viable environment in rural areas.

Adopting holistic approaches towards a tailor-made, sound solution

Anne Onyango (MALF, Kenya) expressed the need for harmonised East African and African regulations with regard to access to markets and trade as well as for fostering regional co-operation to enable market expansion.

Dalila Dalhoumi (APIA Tunisia) pointed out that rural Tunisian women still had no access to land or to information and communication technologies (ICT). And Christel Weller-Molongua (GIZ) stated that gender and land rights remained a remaining problem of great importance. Weller-Molongua said that only two of the countries in which SEWOH was present were ready for implementing land reform projects.

The participants discussed both cross-country and cross-cutting critical issues in thematic hubs. Adaptation to climate change, saving the world with potatoes, farmers’ organisations, agricultural financing and knowledge sharing among the countries were some of the further topics addressed in Nairobi.

Sharing innovations among the countries

In principle, an innovation is a new approach in a region, which means that it does not necessarily have to be a globally new approach but it does not yet exist in the respective intervention area. In a ‘market of ideas’, each Innovation Centre presented its innovative approaches or technology that had either been scaled up or were being prepared for scaling. The 2017 Innovation Award 2017 went to the Tunisian team for Plantix, a self-learning, nationally adjusted app to acquire a diagnosis and treatment of plant pests and diseases based on a picture taken of an infected plant. The picture is uploaded, and after a few seconds, the user receives information about the disease or pest as well as a recommendation for treatment.

Innovations of other countries include:

  • Clearly structured Good Agricultural Practice (GAP) training component to reach many farmers (Nigeria)
  • Rice parboiler (300kg/day) facilitating the processing work of women (Mali)
  • Sound system of tomato and potato nurseries (India)
  • Promoting traditional wheat varieties (Ethiopia)
  • Balloon hybrid dryer and birds of prey trained to attack herbivores and thus increase the yield (Ghana)
  • Low-cost soy based meat substitute to balance the protein deficit in malnutrition (Malawi)
  • Fertilising with a mixture of urea and neem oil (ratio of 50:50) to ensure a longer availability of nitrogen in the soil while saving costs (Benin)
  • Mobile solar powered irrigation sprinkler (Cameroon)
  • Innovation trails (Togo)

Cross-country working groups

For some participants, the event started a day earlier with meetings of the five cross-country working groups on potatoes, organic farming, milk, mechanisation and rice discussing plans for their co-operation and activities in the future.

UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) representatives acting as collaboration partners of the Green Innovation Centres presented preliminary results of their study on “youth employment in agricultural value chains – enterprises upstream and downstream the value chain” and guided participants through group discussions to integrate the results in the projects.

The conference ended on the 15th/16th December with a Gender workshop, training on the “Promotion of decent youth employment” and field visits in Kenya to the “Nutrition-sensitive potato value chain promotion in East Africa” project in Nyandarua and to the “Green Innovation Centre” in Kisumu.

Daniela Böhm, German Agricultural Society, Frankfurt