“It was a marketplace of innovative ideas, with a cocktail of partners”
The CDAIS ‘marketplace’ to promote agricultural innovations in Burkina Faso took place on July 6th 2017 in Ouagadougou. It was a rich event involving more than 80 people who are working directly with, or interested in working with, different partnerships. The marketplace allowed stakeholders in the six selected niches to get to know and develop relationships with suppliers of agricultural support services. It also provided an opportunity for service suppliers and other participants to show their interests in accompanying the niches on their respective journeys…
“Before, I had a ‘traditional’ view of agriculture, as subsistence farming”, said Mr Kaboré François, Agency Network Manager of Orobank. “But participation in this ‘marketplace’ made me realize how so many people involved in agricultural value chains are becoming more and more innovative, using new processing techniques to increasing their incomes. And this attracts the interests of bankers…” He added that Orobank did not hesitate to accept the invitation to take part. “Our company strategy places the agricultural sector in prime position regarding investment. As such, it was very useful to learn about existing agricultural innovations, increase our visibility, and to better position ourselves for the future.”
“My motivation for participating in the marketplace was to look for partners and attract donors” said another participant, René Emmenegger of CNABio, the national council for organic agriculture in Burkina Faso. “I was wanted to find innovative and appropriate approaches to promote our GSP organic agriculture label. And the marketplace allowed us to increase our visibility, make many new contacts, and gather a range of possible support.”
“The marketplace helped to convince me that agriculture in Burkina Faso is undergoing a fundamental change” Mr François Kaboré, Agency Network Manager, Orobank
This idea developed and implemented by CDAIS brought together 80 different stakeholders, in addition to all those mobilized for the organisation of the day’s activities. These included representatives of CSOs and NGOs, government services, education and research organisations, financial and microinsurance institutions, support services, producer and processor organisations, bilateral organisations, international development agencies, and national projects, programmes and funding bodies. The media also covered the event.
The opening ceremony started after a beneficial rain fell in Ouagadougou on the morning of 6 July 2017, seen as symbolic for ‘watering’ the ideas that would grow throughout the day. Representatives from government ministries and international organisations heard speeches from the Ministry of Higher Education, Scientific Research and Innovation (MESRSI) and FAO, who recognized the significant experiences already gathered by the CDAIS project in Burkina Faso. These were followed by presentations on CDAIS aims, activities, approaches and expected results. Then, the ‘micro-enterprise’ innovation partnership was presented as an example of one of the six national niches, also explaining the essential need for strengthening capacities at this level. Then, everyone visited the stands of the various support services, which each had to make the most of a two-minute opportunity to present their ‘offer’.
The niche world café
This comprised of six ‘niche’ groups of about ten people, each associated to one of the innovation niche partnerships: micro-irrigation, organic labelling, producer organization services, sunflower production, micro-enterprise development, and land tenure reform. Participants were invited to join those stands corresponding to an allotted group number, and an ‘expression of interest’ sheet was given to every participant at every stand, to collect the interests of partners to accompany different niches and what type of support they could supply. This took place in six rounds of about 20 minutes, with a bell being rung to invite groups to change stands. During each round, niche leaders and facilitators had 15 minutes to present their needs for building functional capacities, followed by five minutes of exchanges.
“Knowledge gained and new contacts made during the marketplace will help to stimulate change.” Mr René Emmenegger, CNABio
The support services world café
In parallel with the ‘niche world café and organized in the same way, a dozen invited support services presented what they had to offer at the marketplace, during the ‘support services world café’. Turns were taken, with five minutes to present and five minutes to answer questions before the ringing of a bell indicated the time to change. All participants were also asked to complete ‘expression of interest’ sheets, with different ones being used depending on participants’ actual and potential roles.
Towards the end of the day, those responsible for monitoring, evaluation and capitalisation of the CDAIS project presented findings from 256 registered expression of interest sheets. Of these, 79% showed an interest in accompanying at least one of the niches. Partners stated that they could offer support in the following areas: access to financial and micro-insurance services, diffusion of large-scale innovation, on-farm innovation, experimental design, incubation of innovative projects and the market launching of innovative products, amongst others. They also noted coherence between the needs of different niches, and of the niches, 86% expressed a desire to use such support services as offered.
“Agricultural production is clearly becoming more and more commercial, and of interest to the financial sector.” Mr François Kaboré, Agency Network Manager, Orobank
The closing ceremony was marked by statements from the Burkina Faso CDAIS project coordinator and the FAO representative from Rome. They thanked all participants for their full participation and interest shown in this marketplace, and invited everyone to remain available and become more involved in the implementation of CDAIS. François Kaboré concluded by saying that “The marketplace allowed us to realize that efforts are being made to innovate in the agricultural sector in Burkina Faso. We also realized that these innovations focus on family-oriented, market-oriented agriculture. And new processed products we saw such as new micro-irrigation systems and techniques for producing high quality, high market value sunflower oil. These made me realize that the agricultural sector is no longer isolated, but is increasingly opening up through the development of collaborative capacities.”
This ‘marketplace of agricultural innovations’ was seen by all as a great success. It clearly achieved its objectives, as was seen by the input of all participants, the number of expressions of interest to collaborate, new contacts made, and the responses of so many of the invited people. In all, 97% said that it was an effective means for building partnerships with other actors. But participants noted that more time would have been better. Activities were intense and they would have preferred more time to listen and to talk at each stand. The words of one participant was representative of most. “Next time, we would like two days, and not just one, to make the most of such an event”
René Emmenegger of CNABio added what he gained from the day: “We learned a lot about existing support services and benefited greatly from sharing experiences with them. We will make firm appointments with donors who indicated their interest in accompanying us, plan to use Agridata to share price information and the availability of certified products, and will solicit the services of TallMedia Group to help us increase our label’s visibility. The CDAIS project has created confidence amongst those involved in the organic label niche, building on the collaborative approach and joint reflection inspired by CDAIS. And implementation of the accompanying plan will be a masterpiece of this dynamic.”