Facilitating institutional change in West Africa: the CoS–SIS experience

S. Adjei-Nsiah, O. Sakyi-Dawson, L.W.A. Klerkx

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference paperAcademicpeer-review


The Convergence of Sciences–Strengthening Innovation Systems (CoS–SIS) programme is based on the premise that the livelihood of the African smallholder farmer is constrained by the existence and/or performance of formal and informal institutions that are not conducive to small-farm development. CoS–SIS employs nine platforms in Ghana, Benin and Mali – “Concertation and Innovation Groups” (CIGs) – that aim to facilitate institutional change above the farm level (e.g. rules and regulations, bylaws, policies, interaction patterns in the value chain), in order to create a conducive environment for farm-level innovation, which is also often linked to technical innovation. Issues that should be taken into consideration when implementing an innovation platform include: conditions external to the platform, power relations within and outside the platform, role of research and development, capacity building of stakeholders, scaling up and sustainability. Lesson learnt include the need to: i) build motivation and manage expectations from the start; ii) get the right representation of actors on the platform; iii) invest in time; iv) manage power imbalances and mitigate power relations; v) create opportunities and seize them when they arise; vi) be sensitive to gender dynamics; vii) adjust platform membership when the need arises; viii) monitor external factors; and ix) embed critical platform functions in the existing structures. Some challenges encountered were: i) high expectations from platform members; ii) tight work schedules of some of the platform members, especially actors from the public sector; iii) how to sustain platform activities when funding ceases; and iv) influence of external factors such as government policy, political changes and changes in commodity price on platform activities.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings of the International Workshop on Agricultural Innovation Systems in Africa (AISA) : Innovation in smallholder farming in Africa: recent advances & recommendations
EditorsB. Triomphe, A. Waters-Bayer, L. Klerkx, M. Schut, B. Cullen, G. Kamau, E. Le Borgne
Place of PublicationMontpellier
Publication statusPublished - 2014
EventInternational Workshop AISA, Nairobi, Kenya -
Duration: 29 May 201331 May 2013


WorkshopInternational Workshop AISA, Nairobi, Kenya

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