A Decade in the Making: Reflections on Sharing Knowledge with the Agrilinks Community
Feed the Future Partnering for Innovation joins in celebrating Agrilinks’ decade of success in connecting development practitioners in the fight for global food security. Since nearly day one, Partnering for Innovation has been an active member of this unique online community.
Agrilinks’ 10-year anniversary offers an occasion to reflect on Partnering for Innovation’s contributions to the platform over the years in enhancing knowledge and providing tools aimed at empowering agribusiness to bring innovative new products and services to smallholder farmers.
Spotlighting transformative innovations
For the millions of smallholder farmers around the world who raise sheep and goats, the threat of peste des petits ruminants (PPR) — one of the world’s most damaging livestock diseases — undermines a vital source of their food, income and household security. While vaccines have existed to eradicate the disease, getting them into the hands of farmers in remote and often inaccessible locations has been costly and logistically difficult.
When Partnering for Innovation’s collaboration with Hester Biosciences Nepal resulted in the company becoming the world’s first private sector firm to produce and commercialize a thermostable version of a PPR vaccine, or TPPR — making its easier than ever before to reach farmers — it was imperative to share this critical advancement with development practitioners from a wide range of backgrounds. Agrilinks provided the ideal platform do so, through an article detailing how collaboration between academia and the private sector — facilitated and incentivized by Partnering for Innovation — helped spark the development of the TPPR vaccine. This was followed by a webinar with leading experts to discuss the implications of this vital new tool for global PPR eradication efforts.
While transformation can come as directly as the development of a vaccine, it can also take the route of gradual progress. This is the road many Partnering for Innovation’s partners travel, recognizing that the introduction of a new game-changing product or service often takes time, strategic focus and flexibility to truly begin to transform a sector, an entire market and, ultimately, the livelihoods of smallholder farmers and their communities. Agrilinks has provided an important space for Partnering for Innovation to capture such efforts over the years, from removing barriers to loans for Kenyan smallholder farmers to reducing Nigeria’s staggering postharvest loss of fresh fruits and vegetables by establishing affordable, solar-powered cold storage rooms.
Insights when needed most
Extreme weather events, climate change, social and political upheaval — all of these create a world of risk for smallholder farmers and can instantly undo hard-won achievements. When shocks do occur, smallholders require both immediate assistance and a pathway to future resilience. Agrilinks offers a channel for sharing ideas with an engaged global audience about what this could look like on the ground.
In 2019, when Cyclones Idai and Kenneth wiped out harvests and left Mozambican farmers without seed to resow their land and rebuild their livelihoods, we detailed through articles on Agrilinks how our partnership with the National Cooperative Business Association CLUSA International (NCBA CLUSA) connected them, for the first time ever, with commercially available improved crop seed varieties bundled with weather-based index insurance. Two years later, and with the conclusion of the partnership, Agrilinks enables the conversation to continue through highlights on how these efforts — which built on the Feed the Future Innovation Lab for Markets, Risk and Resilience’s pilot between 2016 and 2018 — are laying the groundwork for something tremendous: the development of a viable, Mozambique-wide commercial market for weather-based index insurance and insured seeds.
Sharing our knowledge
Sharing knowledge and tools has been at the heart of the Partnering for Innovation program since its inception nearly a decade ago. These resources draw from the on-the-ground experiences of the program’s partnerships, which have collectively resulted in the commercial introduction of 133 new agricultural technologies and management practices to smallholder farmers.
The online community brought together through Agrilinks has enabled Partnering for Innovation to share insights over the years about the types of investment assistance, expert guidance and technical support critical to expand and create a growing and lasting customer base for agricultural innovations. Our knowledge-sharing topics, to name only a few, have ranged from market-tested lessons on digital technologies in agriculture and agricultural traceability adoption to actionable steps development practitioners, researchers and donors can take for creating strong private sector partnerships and designing agricultural research that leads to commercialization.
In the year ahead, as Partnering for Innovation itself turns the corner on ten years, we look forward to continuing to share our lessons and ensure that the knowledge, tools and resources developed and rooted in the experiences of our partnerships continue to be accessible and of high value to the Agrilinks community.