opinion By Pauline Bangirana
Three projects on innovative farmers’ cooperatives, best farming practices in hilly areas and better marketing of milk were winners at recent awards for Innovation Platforms (IP) Case Study Competitions held in Kampala.
These were part of the 30 entries that were submitted and the 12 shortlisted.
It was organised by International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), International Institute for Tropical Agriculture (IITA) and Forum for Agricultural Research in Africa (FARA), Makerere University and National Agricultural Research Organisation (Naro), among others.
At the same occasion, a book titled, Innovation Platforms for Agricultural Development: Evaluating the Mature Innovation Platforms Landscape, arising from the winning studies and five others, was launched.
The publication documents stories and assessments of IPs from various countries: Central Africa, Ethiopia, India, Kenya, Nicaragua and Uganda.
Ruth Nankabirwa, the Government Chief Whip, was the guest of honour at the occasion at which the winners were awarded prizes of $2,000 (Shs6.9m), $1,500(Shs5.2m) and $1,000(Shs3.5m) respectively for the first, second and third positions.
During the launch, Nankabirwa noted, “The platforms facilitate the farmer to produce quality products. This is because the focus is on value addition and how bad farming methods affect the quality of produce and everyone involved in the value chain such as the buyer, seller, store owner and another farmer.”
However, she pointed out, stakeholder involvement is paramount since there are challenges such as inadequate water, pests and diseases.
Rebecca Kalibwani, from Bishop Stuart University was overall winner for the case study, Can an Innovation Platform Succeed as a Cooperative Society? The Story of Bubaare Innovation Platform Multipurpose Cooperative Society Ltd. It was about a new model of cooperative society with an innovative organisation.
As the abstract sums it: “IP registration as a cooperative society has created additional success for the IP. Registration has raised the status of the IP and motivated infrastructural development. Considering the level of activity, the society has decided to embark on the construction of a building; to have a physical presence in an office, house a community bank, a potato processing unit, sorghum milling and packaging facility, and a computer room. The IP cooperative society has been able to link with the Uganda National Bureau of Standards for quality certification of its products.”