Today we had a session to try and distil some cross-cutting findings from FAP, thinking specifically about Innovation, Feed Assessment and Scaling out issues. Here I highlight one key point I took from each session
Ranjitha Puskur led the session on innovation: we spoke about the challenges of embedding innovation approaches within national systems. Taking Ethiopia as a case, before long we were talking about “mandates”, “pushing the concept”, “assigning roles and responsibilities”…. It struck me that such terminology is at odds with the whole innovation approach – what we have been aiming for in FAP is loose, responsive networks that form to deal with specific issues and are driven by the personal interests of those involved – trying to institutionalize this informality within a national system would surely kill the informality which makes these things work.
Michael Blummel led the Feed Assessment session: We began by talking about methods of assessing feed gaps. Something we have learned through application of the FEAST (Feed Assessment Tool) we have been developing within FAP is that feed assessment can be too narrow – usually better to start with a more general enquiry among farmers about key constraints within the livestock system. In some cases this will point to issues other than feed, for example problems with marketing livestock products, problems with sourcing decent genetic stock etc. Even when feed is identified as a primary constraint, a wider assessment can identify other issues that will soon become key constraints once better quality feed is available.
Werner Stur led a session on scaling out: we asked the question “what are we scaling out”? Very often scaling out refers only to the scaling out of successful technologies. However, the success of such technologies is usually dependent on a whole suite of accompanying factors: local market demand for livestock products, availability of credit, the labour situation, local expertise etc. Simply scaling out the technology without scaling out the processes that led to the technology becoming successful in a particular locality tends not to work. We need to find ways of scaling out innovation processes that lead to successful technologies in given circumstances rather than a narrow focus on the technologies themselves.