International workshop on “Agricultural Innovation Systems in Africa” (AISA)

29-31 May 2013
KCB Leadership Centre, Karen, Nairobi, Kenya
Back to the public agenda

Organizers' agenda

  1. Learn jointly about agricultural innovation processes and systems in Africa
  2. Identify policy implications and develop policy messages
  3. Explore perspectives for collaborative action research on smallholder agricultural innovation.

See the concept note

After Action Review

  • Cold start on Thursday.
  • Overall, what we had in mind worked.
  • Too many events in the same week; on the other hand, having the JOLISAA and IP events beforehand strengthened the inputs to the AISA workshop and piggybacking the events also saved on travel and costs.
  • Have a team of facilitators to avoid running facilitation (due to lack of time).
  • Presenters shouldn’t be facilitating in the small groups after their presentations
  • No social reporting team around or anyone to document, although Vivien took some photos and posted twitters; also the KARI photographers made many photos.
  • Not enough flipchart stands for the group work, e.g. in the world café.
  • Not easy for Francophone people to follow the discussions, partly because of the bad acoustics in the main meeting room; it would have been better to put the notes on the policy messages (fishbowl) up on the screen.
  • Despite confusing process (for some participants), a lot of engagement and learning.
  • Many participants found collaborators; this meeting gave them a chance to develop ideas on what they could work on together – but perhaps not enough space for forging more formal collaboration?
    • Give more people a special role.
Link with the Innovation Fair:
  • Good combination with the farmer fair to shift the mind of people towards ‘life under the hedge’.
  • But at the same time, not being on the site didn't help to prepare the next day.
  • Considering the complexities of getting the fair going, we didn’t get as much mileage out of the fair as we could have.
  • The part with visiting the booths was good but the dialogue afterwards was not so good to produce something that could be used as input into discussions during rest of workshop.
  • The closing ceremony didn’t work at all.
  • It might have been better to hold the fair on Monday and Tuesday, then organise a field trip for workshop participants and all the farmers, then hold the two-day workshop. This would have allowed more time to process the outputs from the fair into the workshop.
Poster session:
  • Good poster session.
  • Poster session should have lasted longer.
  • Perhaps viewing posters during Day 1 morning to see each other’s work would have been better.
  • We should have done more justice to the posters, many of which were very good.
  • Bringing in someone from farmer organisation helped.
  • Good to have Australian group there; they are not part of the “inside” AIS group that has been discussing these topics for some time; it was an opportunity to learn from how the Australians structure the propositions emerging from their analyses of case studies and they started to understand the AIS concepts that the “inside” group has been discussing.
  • A shame that some people who were supposed to be around did not show up or did not stay.
Oral presentations (World café):
  • We didn’t capitalize on this well enough to tie it more with the living keynote.
  • We could have had some more inputs for world café work.
  • The IP world café presentation and group discussions went well. It was good to see the value of a group that had worked together before and then tried to validate the outputs with a broader group.
  • An “oral presentation” meant different things to different people (with/without PPT).
  • 15’ exploration / Q&A didn’t work; perhaps it could have worked if everyone had been together in different corners of the same room and could more easily wander from one presenter to the other; moving people from one room to another was a bit cumbersome.
  • Not enough briefing for world café facilitators.
Open space:
  • Open Space Technology worked out very well – we had created a good energy level and the discussions were good, even if they were a bit slow in starting up.
  • Very rich discussions in the small groups but not sure if we captured everything.
  • The IP chat show worked out.
Living keynote:
  • Living keynote was a good concept and, if we manage to close this document, it will be a proof of concept, although the approach could be improved.
  • It would be good to have a mini-team (2–3 persons) working on each “hot” topic; the individuals involved had only a partial view.
  • We did not have time to invest and did not do it early enough so that all oral papers could be better linked with the topics in the living keynote.
  • People volunteered quickly and worked very hard and well on this; there was good engagement and they really took ownership.
  • The questions that came up in the final presentation of the “hot” topics were interesting and useful in pointing to what we should be asking ourselves in our work – recognising that there is more than one way of doing things.
  • Having an illustrator was nice (but we did not thank Birgit at the end of the workshop – this should be followed up by email).
  • The wall had a lot of impact – many participants took pictures of the wall and of the flipcharts.
Policy messages:
  • “We’ve heard it all before” – but it’s not necessarily bad; we need to repeat some things again and in different ways for reinforcement. However, we also have to probe deeper and ask why these things we keep repeating are not being done. How to achieve the change needed? How to influence the people who need to be influenced to make it happen?
  • We could have captured messages on the spot.

Next steps:
A lot of stuff is yet to be documented:
  • ELB to contact Iddo to get everything documented by professional fixers (digitized)
  • Ann to contact Dan to collect AusAid presentation
  • Bernard to get all digital posters from all
  • Photos:
    • o Vivian putting all her pictures on CCAFS website
    • o Our pictures: Put them on JOLISAA (if not possible, then Prolinnova) FlickR account
    • How to address the ‘elephant in the room’ things in the next meeting: starting with the big problems that we know we’re facing (e.g. the how to ensure we act upon all the stuff we already know) rather than wait until the end to find out that we know about these challenges but are still not doing enough about them.
    • Blog posts: reflections from...
      • o Jo Cadilhon on ILRI blog
      • o Vivian Atakos on CCAFS blog
      • o JOLISAA item (in French)
      • o Prolinnova item in English


Wednesday 29 - Feedback from the EAFIF and the Innovation Platform Writeshop

  • 13.00: Lunch and transition from Farmer Fair to AISA
  • 14.00: Welcome and introduction
    • (A1a) Welcome (KARI / KARO director / MoA rep)
    • (A1b) Introduction of participants'expectations by stakeholder groups (Ewen)
    • (A1c) Introduction of the objectives and agenda (Ewen)
  • 14.45: (A2) Inviting all AISA participants to meet and learn from farmer innovators
  • 15.45: Coffee / tea break
  • 16.15: (A3) 'Feedback from the farmer innovator learning tour and mapping key issues'
  • 17.00: Close
  • 18.00: Drinks at the venue

Thursday 30

  • 09.00: (B1) Keynote and buzz Q&A (and possibly introducing the IP writeshop)
  • 10.30: Coffee / tea break
  • 11.00: (B2) Oral paper session + contextual world cafe
  • 12.30: Lunch break
  • 13.30: (B3) Oral paper session + contextual world cafe
  • 15.00: Coffee / tea break
  • 15.30: (B4) World cafe feedback + consolidation of keynote wall + policy dialogue fishbowl, ending with identification of gaps
  • 17.00: Close
  • 18.00: Cocktails at ILRI campus

Friday 31

  • 09.00: (C1) Poster, open marketplace and open space session
  • 10.30: Coffee / tea break
  • 11.00: (C2) Stakeholder dialogue
  • 12.30: Lunch break
  • 13.30: (C3) Stakeholder dialogue
  • 15.00: Coffee / tea break
  • 15.30: (C4) Next steps and close
  • 17.00: Close

Additional details

Wednesday 29:
  • A1:
    • A1a: Welcome by director, short and not technical
    • A1b: Introduction of participants' expectations: Cluster participants according to stakeholder groups (groups of max 10 people e.g. several farmer groups) and brainstorm among themselves for 5' what they would like to see come out of this workshop in 1-2' (total of 30'). Only the spokesperson introduces him/herself to the crowd - this means no introductions of 150 people!
    • A1c: Introduction of program, of objectives, of workshop ground rules - all straightforward, no fluff.
  • A2:
    • Ewen invites farmer-innovators to go to their booths and others to form 10 groups of 7 to 9 people (groups form with 1-2-3-4-5-6-7-8-9-10). Instructions for all groups:
      • Each group should receive one carton card, a set of 7 sticky dots and 5 blank 'insight cards'
      • Appoint one documenter
      • Visit at least 7 different farmer booths of at least 2 different countries.
      • Crucially, leave one of their 7 sticky dots [which will be handed out to them beforehand] at each stand they visit.
      • In their hourly visit of 60' they should note down the key insights from their visit (what they learnt about farmer-innovators and what this tells them about how agricultural innovation systems work in Africa) so they can share a maximum of 5 insights at the end - they should probably find some time to synthesise their findings within the group before reconvening.
      • Once a farmer booth has been visited by two teams (displayed with 2 colour dots) it can't be visited by other teams (to ensure all booths are being visited rather than certain booths over-visited and others not at all). Farmers from that booth can then go to another farmer stand and hold them company.
      • Every stand should be visited at least once so the teams
      • At the end of the hour, as the groups are breaking for coffee, they report their insights by pinning their insight cards on one panel on the wall.
      • (Organisers will cluster the cards over the break).
      • All teams (of about 10 people) are supposed to bring back the results of their investigation (documented on a set of colour cards) on a wall where they can cluster their answers (see above).
      • ALTERNATIVELY, we could actually cluster people in stakeholder groups and get a different set of representations to give (as an illustration of the different perspectives -and also of the overlaps- we are dealing with in multi-actor innovation systems).
    • This session nicely meshes in with the coffee/tea break - during that break we (Ewen/organizers) cluster up the wall with ideas.
  • A3: Upon coming back, we look back at the card-clustering picture(s) that is emerging and briefly comment on it per group.
    • Before we close, farmer innovators are invited one final time to give their ideas and suggestions about what the AISA workshop should not forget about and should build upon.
  • We close the workshop, thanking the farmer participants and move on to the CLIC-SR launch and cocktail for farmer-innovators and AISA workshop participants.
Required inputs:
  • Sticky coloured dots - and a card on which to stamp their participation (including overview of all stands) where they take one observation.
  • Exact idea about amount of farmer booths, their content etc.

Thursday 30:
  • B1:
    • We start again with a short recap of the workshop program by participants (facilitated) (10')
    • Then we move swiftly on to the keynote presentation + Q&A (30')
    • After that keynote presentation, Peter B introduces the process of keeping it updated throughout the event and who will be updating it how. (10')
    • We use some of the time left (after keynote, Q&A etc.) to start the exploration of oral papers
  • B2:
    • 10' facilitator explains how the oral papers' session will work and the 3 paper presenters each give an elevator pitch of 1' to attract the audience and we split participants according to their interest + some level of balance across groups.
      • Possible sessions: Jolisaa experiences, Prolinnova experiences, CoSys, World Bank, Innovation Platform writeshop.
    • 15-20' Participants go freely to either of the presentation spaces (for 15' to 30') to hear about the oral paper. The presenters become documenters of their interactions with participants (i.e. they write down Q&As on a flipchart sheet) unless there is a dedicated documenter for each of these.
    • 60' We host 6 simultaneous world cafes (2 convened by each of the presenters/presenting teams) around specific issues that feature in the presentation and relate to their (presenter) experience but matter generally and can relate to any participant's experiences. The documenters pay particular attention to a) general trends (the usual reporting stuff from world cafe) and b) outliers (e.g. the innovative, quirky gems from interesting view points or deepening expertise). They spend coffee time to generate a few headings to put under the general keynote document (on the wall - to prepare for the virtual work).
    • Over lunch break the world cafe owners/documenters make sure they prepare a set of colour cards to report later on (in addition to the Flipchart sheet that was developed during the world cafe session).
  • B3: Another set of oral papers is being presented with again 2-3 different sessions hosted. Same process with elevator pitch to help participants attend the session of their choice and world cafe.
  • B4: In the final session of the day, we bring back insights from the world cafe tables (prepared on colour cards by the 2x6 documenters): we gather around the keynote wall. Reporters from the group one by one bring about their insights and stick them on the keynote wall. Once all groups are done, we use the remaining time (if any) for a fishbowl discussion (the seats being next to the wall) to distil interesting insights emerging + important policy messages. If any left, the time is used among others to populate the document (on the wiki?) through dedicated typists for each interest group. We take a bit of time at the end to see if there are gaps emerging from the groups, which need to be addressed the next day - this could be done by e.g. asking specific interest groups (e.g. Jolisaa, Prolinnova, CGIAR or any typology that separates people) to think about the gaps they see emerge and to think about who they think could hold the solution - and we do this small exercise to do so.
    • ALTERNATIVELY we could also have the feedback from the first set of world cafe discussions to feed back onto the wall and urge participants, as and when relevant, to explore new stuff in the next round.
  • We close with a few very brief final words from participants - ideally by dedicated/appointed 'observers' and we ask who is planning on presenting some of their work informally the next day.
  • We all move to the ILRI campus for the cocktail reception there.

Required inputs:
  • World cafe owners (to be briefed) and ideally dedicated documenters.
  • Exact overview of number (and contents) of oral presentations and posters
  • Exact ideas to
  • 3 projectors (or we need to structure this differently).

Friday 31:
  • C1: Poster / open marketplace / Open Space: After a short recap of the previous day and introduction of the program (10'), we start the open poster space and marketplace:
    • We first start with posters (and other exhibitions): Poster presenters introduce their posters (40'). In the process, we invite anyone who wants to share other work (not explore and suggest new actions, just share at this stage) they can also take a place/spot somewhere.
    • Poster presenters keep track of/document interactions on a flipchart sheet or a set of colour cards. Participants can also write down key insights on colour cards. During the session (or at coffee break) they stick up their insights onto the keynote wall.
    • The second part of the session (40') is an Open Space / 'marketplace of other experiences and ideas'. An Open Space of exploration, documentation and action is organized: Participants can propose any topic that fits under the general event theme and it can either be to a) further explore some issues in more depth, b) document in more details existing conversations and experiences that have been shared (on/from the online document or its wall equivalent) or c) propose actions that will guide recommendations in the next session. Every presenter has the responsibility to document their session on the wiki (and in an intermediary way on a flipchart sheet if they want + possibly colour cards for the keynote wall but it's probably too late for that).
  • C2: end of marketplace / open space and start of the stakeholder dialogue
    • (possibly skipped, depending on how it goes in the previous session) In the first part of this session we continue the Open space / marketplace started.
    • The stakeholder dialogue starts with Groups of stakeholders who are invited to first gather as their functional group to share some insights and points for discussion in the collective arena (20'). In the remaining time, they form small groups (8 max) to discuss key insights and recommendations to go forward (20'). Each group should elect 1 representative to speak on their behalf and bring forward a number of points and possible commitments.
  • C3: Stakeholder dialogue continues in plenary
    • In a closed fishbowl/panel-like session, (40') representatives share their recommendation and work in a 'Yes and...' format to develop a more coherent vision of where they stand vis-a-vis ways forward.
    • POSSIBLY: we use a first fishbowl to get a sense of the key issues then we organise several parallel fishbowl discussions to address these topics in more details.
  • C4: Next steps and close: Peter B and his team present the results of the keynote document as it stands. A group of observers/organizers reflects upon the fruits of the stakeholder dialogue and of the keynote document and suggest some ways forward. All participants gather in functional group and come up with a word or 2 that corresponds to their commitment to making this policy dialogue work out. Each member holds an A4 format letter making up that word and they can also write, at the bottom of that letter, their personal commitment to making it work. All participants then align in concentric semi-circles (one for each of the stakeholder group) and they represent a multi-stakeholder engagement to the recommendations made in this workshop.
  • Facilitator and organizers summarize next steps (proceedings), thank everyone and we rejoice!
  • Official closing by Kenyan partners.

Required inputs:
  • Exact overview of posters, amount and contents.
  • An idea of other spontaneous presenters too.
  • Dedicated documenters for the poster and marketplace session

The combination of keynote, oral presentations, posters and free marketplace is an allegory to the process of collecting, cultivating, sharing and learning from various knowledge and information sources in multi-stakeholder processes and other innovation systems, from 'more structured around a set agenda' (the keynote end of the spectrum) to less structured/organic/civic-driven (the free marketplace).

Guidelines for wiki documenters

The purpose of documenting a session (on the wiki or otherwise) is to make sure that the major discussion points and 'actionable content' (e.g. next steps, decisions etc.) are clearly kept track of, so that the session is useful and effectively used beyond that session, as part of the event in which it features and even beyond. It should make the high points of the conversation as clearly featured as possible.
  • The less documentation you end up with the better - but it takes time to write synthetically;
  • When documenting a session, best record the session with an audio recorder if you can;
  • At the least, try and capture: key insights (the main discussion points and 'aha moments' and decisions taken that lead to next steps);
  • Document online on the wiki directly (particularly if working on one specific page that others are not likely to update at the same time) or on Word or any other such software;
  • Offer some information about the process of the session at the beginning (1-2 lines to give context about what the assignment [content] was and how it was set up);
  • Use bullet points, headings and formatting to make distinctions within your documentation;
  • Feel free to interrupt speakers (politely) to make sure you understand what they're talking about and are offering notes that you understand yourself;
  • Find some (highly recommended) additional guidelines on the ILRI wiki:

Guidelines for session facilitators

Generally, facilitating is about creating a space that helps everyone contribute, listening with your eyes and ears how the flow of the event takes place and adjusting to make sure that the flow of the participants' conversation is not disrupted but matches well the intended objectives.
  • Pay attention to the objective of the assignment and clearly state it, both the content (e.g. the lead question) and the process (what is supposed to happen, what is the expected output, how long the assignment works etc.);
  • Pay attention to time spending - perhaps ask a participant to keep track of time during the session;
  • Appoint a documenter to make sure that key insights and decisions are taken care of and can be built upon later - even after the workshop;
  • Appoint someone to report in plenary (if that is expected) at the beginning of the session to avoid trouble assigning this role at the end;
  • Pay attention to how participants speak and use the public space, make sure that everyone gets a chance to speak, that the most vocal participants occasionally shut up and that introverts can express themselves sincerely;
  • At the end, feel free to summarize the key points exchanged and to make sure that participants agree with your summary. If some points are disputed, make sure the reporter presents those points as such (as disputed, not as agreed);
  • For world cafe, here are some more specific guidelines:


Wednesday 29 May(Venue: KARI National Laboratories, Waiyaki Way, Nairobi–Westlands)

Welcome and introduction
  • Welcome (KARI / KARO Director)
  • Interactive introduction of participants' expectations in working groups (facilitator)
  • Introduction of the event's objectives and agenda

Learning visits (in working groups) to farmer innovator booths


Sharing feedback from visiting farmer innovator booths and mapping key insights from farmer innovators' experiences


Cocktail at KARI National Lab (organiser: CLIC–SR project)

Thursday 30 May(Venue: KCB Leadership Center, Karen)

Plenary keynote about agricultural innovation systems in Africa
  • Presentation, followed by questions and answers
  • Introducing the process of updating the “living” keynote throughout the AISA workshop


Parallel sessions based on experiences from JOLISAA, Prolinnova, CCAFS, CoS-SIS
Brief presentations, followed by group discussion

Lunch break

Parallel sessions based on experiences from FARA, AusAID, ILRI, World Bank
    • Brief presentations, followed by group discussion


Plenary sharing feedback from group discussions, consolidation of insights for the living keynote & identification of emerging policy messages / knowledge gaps that could inform or constrain application and mainstreaming of innovation approaches in African smallholder farming


Cocktail at ILRI campus (organiser: ILRI) - Bus shuttle organised from/to KCB leadership Center

Friday 31 May(Venue: KCB Leadership Center, Karen)

Open exhibition of relevant experiences in smallholder agricultural innovation
    • Free-roaming poster and stand exhibition (individual and/or group visits to stands and posters)
    • Open marketplace of experiences: exploring ideas, documenting conversations, suggesting actions and recommendations to apply and scale up innovation approaches


Policy synthesis dialogue preparation (groupwork): Preparing key policy messages and recommendations per group of stakeholders (research centres, NGOs, farmer associations etc) to stimulate agricultural innovation processes and systems in Africa

Lunch break

Plenary policy synthesis dialogue: Interactive panel session on important issues, insights and ways forward


Next steps, final words from participants, official closing by KARO/KARI Director