Scaling Impact: Strengthening and Expanding Farmer-to-Farmer Scaling Networks, Nandi and Bomet Counties, Kenya

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    CGIAR Initiative on Livestock and Climate
  • Published on
    20.12.23
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Scaling innovative agricultural solutions is crucial for addressing food security and sustainable development. The CGIAR Research Initiative on Livestock and Climate recognizes the importance of co-creating and delivering innovations that help livestock agrifood systems adapt to climate change and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Adopting the CGIAR Innovation Packages and Scaling Readiness (IPSR) approach is a key strategy to ensure the scaling of these solutions. 

The IPSR program builds on the Scaling Readiness approach, a collaboration between CGIAR and Wageningen University. Rooted in agricultural innovation systems, network, and management theory, this approach provides step-by-step guidance for innovation teams and research and development organizations to enhance their innovation and scaling performance. The process involves tracking the development of innovations, creating innovation packages for specific contexts (e.g., country), strategizing on scaling innovations with high impact potential, and managing a portfolio of multiple innovations along an impact pathway or pipeline.  

On 21 November, a workshop was held in Bomet County, Kenya, focused on supporting and scaling farmer-to-farmer scaling networks in Bomet and Nandi counties in Kenya. This innovation has been developed with the Pioneer-Positive Deviance (P-PD) approach. Through P-PD farmers have been identified who successfully implement their own adaptation innovations, understand the scientific aspects, and support others in adopting and scaling these practices. These farmers are dubbed adaptation pioneers.  

The workshop brought together a diverse group of adaptation pioneers, other farmers, experts, government officials, and public and private partners. This dynamic gathering aimed to co-design an innovation package by jointly defining the key enablers and solutions necessary for the farmer-to-farmer networks to achieve the potential impact, identify crucial bottlenecks and strategize for the future. Workshops are critical in the IPSR process, actively engaging stakeholders to identify and address scaling challenges and solutions. 

The workshop commenced with introductions, where stakeholders, including livestock extension officers, local bank representatives, and private sector counterparts, shared their insights. Adaptation pioneers highlighted the importance of learning from each other, emphasizing the benefits of interconnection and the exchange of innovative ideas. The IPSR workshop aimed to evaluate the networking process among farmers, fostering knowledge sharing and creating a sustainable model to scale impact beyond the project’s conclusion. Birgit Habermann, climate adaptation scientist leading the work on P-PD and farmer-to-farmer scaling networks, emphasized the workshop’s purpose—to strengthen supportive networks related to the project and ensure its continuity, to achieve the scaling ambitions of ensuring that 20,000 dairy households have strengthened capacities to implement climate-smart practices and expand knowledge within farming communities. 

Leah Gichuki, research officer in the P-PD team, presented the process of identifying and empowering pioneer farmers that began in 2019. Focused on climate adaptation practices in Bomet and Nandi counties, the project addressed challenges related to feeding practices during drought seasons. Qualitative household surveys identified suitable adaptation pioneers, leading to operations in four sub-counties of Bomet and five sub-counties of Nandi. 

The workshop then addressed challenges in scaling the project. Participants identified common challenges, focusing on user awareness, confidence, access, financial constraints, compatibility issues, capacity gaps, and legal and governance concerns. Small groups of stakeholders proposed solutions, including sensitization strategies, empowerment programs, improved access to innovation, financial training, and better compatibility with existing systems. 

Participants pinpointed challenges associated with scaling the farmer-to-farmer scaling networks. Photo by M.Spinelli/ILRI.
Participants pinpointed challenges associated with scaling the farmer-to-farmer scaling networks. Photo by M.Spinelli/ILRI.

Participants discussed lessons learned, emphasizing collaboration between pioneers and county governments, documenting farmer practices, and adopting a social inclusion approach to scaling. The Scaling Readiness Assessment provided insights into potential areas for improvement, focusing on guidelines, extension methodologies, and collaboration with county-level agricultural bodies.  

In small discussion groups, participants addressed challenges identified in the first activity. Photo by M.Spinelli/ILRI.
In small discussion groups, participants addressed challenges identified in the first activity. Photo by M.Spinelli/ILRI.

The next steps involve substantiating claims with evidence, gathering feedback, and reaching out to partners to fully realize the project’s potential. The IPSR Workshop in Bomet County showcased the dedication of adaptation pioneers and the concerted effort to build a resilient agricultural community, setting the stage for a sustainable and climate-smart future. 

Learn more about the farmer-to-farmer scaling networks (Innovation brief 2023) and meet the adaptation pioneers (Brochure 2023).  

Header photo: Participants of the IPSR Workshop. Photo by M.Spinelli/ILRI.

Story by Madison Spinelli

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