At last week’s end of project workshop, we asked project teams to identify ‘generic’ lessons that could inform the selection of research sites in a project like this one.
Keith Sones reflects on the conversation on site selection, asking “what would be a ‘good’ FAP site?”
An interesting dilemma arose during the discussion about site selection for a project based on innovation systems principles and value chain approaches. Do you chose the ‘best’ possible site – the one where you have worked before, know suitable partners who are already actively engaged on the ground, where the local authorities are supportive, which is accessible and which has good prospects for market access – such as reasonable roads to urban centres which are not too far away?
Or do you chose somewhere all together more challenging – but more representative of the country/region?
If you choose the former, then clearly the chances of ‘success’ during the project phase are higher – but the prospects for scaling out are likely to be limited – having cherry-picked the ‘best’ site for the pilot are there any cherries to be picked elsewhere?
If you pick the latter, you’re in for a hard time during the project phase but, if – against the odds – you do succeed, there is a much better chance that the lessons learnt and approaches used could be scaled out in other similar sites in the country/region.
Clearly there is no right answer, but the discussion provided food for thought.