The developing value chain innovation platforms to improve food security in East and Southern Africa (VIP4FS), based in Uganda and Zambia, aims to identify principles and drivers that support scalable establishment of effective and equitable innovation platforms that enhance food security through greater engagement of smallholder farmers with markets. Innovation platforms (IPs) in this context refers to ‘a network of organizations, enterprises, and individuals focused on bringing new products, new processes, and new forms of organization into economic use, together with the institutions and policies that affect their behavior and performance’. Through established IPs, the project intends to offer practical ways to deal with complex issues and bring together multiple stakeholders. The main roles of stakeholders will be to design solutions to problems identified along value chains.
Evaluations throughout Africa suggest that IPs that engage local producer knowledge in a collaborative framework with value chain partners are more successful than traditional research and extension systems. The VIP4FS project centers on: what makes value-chain IPs, IPs that incorporate value chain development strategies, are successful in terms of institutional, technological, market and policy factors that determine IP performance and how the establishment of IPs can be most cost-effectively called up across a range of contexts. The project emphasizes particularly on enabling women and young people improve their livelihoods.
The project goal is to be realized through the following five objectives:
- Assess smallholder livelihoods, institutional arrangements across scales, and identify drivers that enable value chain IP development for sustainable agricultural commercialisation
- Identify best fit value chain development strategies and market information delivery systems, and examine their influence on the success of value chain innovation platforms in enhancing rural enterprise development.
- Develop and evaluate scalable approaches for promoting value chain innovation platforms among smallholders and other stakeholders in ways that generate inclusive and sustainable economic benefits.
- Engage with and strengthen the capacity of key stakeholder groups to both enhance the research process and promote the widespread scaling up of approaches generated by the project.
- Systematically monitor and review project implementation and evaluate its outcomes and impacts.