In this 4th week of our e-consultation, we would like to turn the focus to another critical feature of our proposed Mega Program on livestock and fish, namely how will our technology generation work link to the value chain development efforts (see also some ideas shared at the recent Addis Ababa stakeholder meeting).
As explained in the 1st week of this e-consultation, we propose to focus our efforts on working with development partners to transform and upgrade selected livestock and fish value chains in a few countries to increase their production and benefits to the poor. A significant share of our resources will therefore be devoted to gaining a systemic understanding of each value chain, evaluating its performance, and identifying opportunities that add value and improve their efficiency and benefits. In some cases, we will be able to respond to these opportunities by applying readily available technologies and strategies and support our development partners to build the needed capacity for their uptake. In many cases, though, specific long-standing constraints will limit the response to an opportunity– e.g., poor feed availability during the dry season–and research will be needed to propose better solutions.
This is where the technology generation component fits in. Because livestock and fish productivity is largely driven by three factors – breed, feed, and health, our research capacity is structured primarily around these three topics. In the past, priorities for this research emerged from a sometimes formal, sometimes ad hoc dialogue between national and regional priorities and evolving scientific opportunities, and from trials and case studies in specific contexts interacting with generic research at a more global level. Scanning the technology research on our websites can give you a sense of the types of research and approaches we are currently working on.
The spirit of MP3.7 is to now re-focus the technology generation component to more directly serve the development of the selected value chains. At the consultation with stakeholders at the FARA Africa Agriculture Science Week, we were asked to explain better how the technology research will link into the focus on selected value chains. We outline here some of the principles of how we envisage it will work.
Basically, our researchers will be challenged to work within the value chain development teams to identify and understand the technological constraints to upgrading and expanding the value chain and use this information to formulate their research agenda. They will increasingly rely on the value chain research sites as their field laboratory for characterizing the problems and testing approaches to solve them. We see several advantages of this approach.
- Immediacy: By working within the value chain development teams in a specific but dynamic context over time, technology researchers will be challenged to innovate to solve real problems in real-time to the degree possible. In some cases, immediate fixes may be adapted from existing technologies leveraged from other partners with the appropriate expertise, with the MP3.7 researcher playing the role of facilitator or catalyst. In other cases, a longer-term agenda will be needed to draw on scientific advances that will lead to the future breakthroughs that will sustain productivity growth.
- Delivery: Working within the context of value chain development will constantly remind technology researchers that generating a technology is not sufficient – it must also be sustainably delivered for it to be taken up and used. Under the MP3.7 approach, we expect a much more natural balance of research devoted to the technology (e.g. genetic resources) and to its delivery (e.g., breeding schemes) to evolve, improving the relevance of both.
- Accountability: Monitoring of the performance of the value chain will provide a means for evaluating the degree to which the technology research is addressing major productivity gaps and is translating into improved productivity and increased production. Integration into longer-term value chain development activities is also expected to enhance the commitment of technology researchers by grounding their work more effectively.
- Relevance: Understanding constraints and offering and testing solutions within large-scale development interventions will sharpen the focus of the MP3.7 technology research agenda. Also importantly, by having to consider the interdependence of the technology and its delivery, and trialling directly with development partners, the research agenda will be continuously challenged to prove its relevance.
- Cross-cutting nature: We do not anticipate the focus in selected value chains changing our ability to generate research of broad international relevance. The sharpness of the focus of technology research in the selected focus chains will bring out in more clearly fundamental generic problems across the value chains and guide cross-cutting research expected to have applications and relevance globally.
Getting your thoughts…
We would appreciate your feedback on this strategy:
STEP 1: Please click here to answer four questions on the links between value chains development and technology development, then come back to this page.
STEP 2: Next, please comment on the questions below.
Week 4- Question 1: Value chain and technology generation components clearly linked? Is the link as described between the value chain development and technology generation component clear and well reasoned? If not, are there specific suggestions how to strengthen this link?
Week 4- Question 2: Technology research can serve selected value chains? Do you agree that focusing our technology research to serve selected value chains can provide an appropriate guide to the CGIAR’s global research agenda, both for short-term adaptive and longer-term basic research? Are there risks associated with this approach?
Week 4- Question 3: Balance of short-term adaptive research and longer-term blue sky research is appropriate? Is it appropriate for CG research to seek to balance short-term adaptive research with longer-term blue sky research?
Week 4- Question 4: Local focus for global research results? Is it reasonable to assume that a focus on selected value chains leads to cross-cutting research of a global nature? How can this link be strengthened?
Or let us know any other thoughts or ideas by commenting on this blog post below.
The paragraph under the sub-heading ‘Better strategies for getting the results to more people more directly’ highlights on the basis of CGIAR best practices ways to better link technology generation activities with value development efforts.
Notwithstanding those practical challenges within a specific context need specific custom-made solutions, we may still need to highlight in the proposal three more issues: producers’ collective action, exploitation of ICT for knowledge management, and enabling policy environment. These may involve organizing producers and linking them with vertically coordinated value chain; creatively using the expanding ICT infrastructure as a means for facilitating multi-stakeholder interaction and knowledge management; supporting the formulation of appropriate and adaptive policy for the sub-sector development; along with complementary national strategy capable of providing clear roadmap; guiding spatially targeted investment and intervention decisions; and defining principles for pragmatic participation, inter-organizational interaction and coordination.
Tesfaye Lemma Tefera
Innovation systems research