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Immersive learning experience at INERA, Burkina Faso

Peer-to-Peer business plan implementation assessment and review

“It is always a great pleasure to have partners check our progress and for the opportunity to learn from other institutions in order to improve agriculture in Africa,” said Dr. Korodjouma Outtara, the Director of Centre for National Research for Science and Technology (CREAF) in Burkina Faso. Dr. Outtara was speaking while welcoming a team from the International Potato Center (CIP) and the Rwanda Agricultural and Livestock Board (RAB) at the Environmental Institute for Agricultural Research (INERA), Kamboinse station in Burkina Faso. INERA is the national research station on roots, cereals and legumes. The teams from CIP and RAB were at the INERA station to conduct a peer review on the progress of the use of their business plan to support a sustainable early generation seed (EGS) business.

The peer review process is part of SASHA II seed systems component conducted 18-24 months after the development of a business plan with the aim of assessing the extent of institutionalization of the business plans in the National Research Institutes (NARIs). Business plans provide an analysis of the sweetpotato value chain, business model, production plan, financial plan (including cost structure for EGS, and pricing strategy) and marketing plan. To ensure sustainability, the revenue from the business of EGS production is linked to a revolving fund to cover future production cost. 

The peer-to-peer review process is guided by a set of assessment tools that are used to gather data through internal self-assessment and external assessment around four main pillars: the technical pillar, the administration and finance pillar, the social and cultural pillar and the policy pillar. The data and information collected is analyzed and the results are used in the development of strategies to address the weakest pillar in the NARI. More information on this process can be found here.

Day one of the review began with an introduction of the process to INERA staff by Margaret McEwan, a senior project manager with the SASHA II project. Srini Rajendaran, the sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) CIP’s regional agricultural economist, then took all the participants through the program of three days, the activities that would be carried out and what was expected of each participant. The RAB team which comprised of the Jean Ndirigwe, a breeder and Principal Investigor (PI) with the SASHA II project,  and Charles Amahoro, an accountant, then proceeded to the tissue culture lab, the virology lab and the screenhouses to conduct their assessment. They were accompanied by technical staff who provided background information and answered questions as guided by the tools. In the afternoon INERA staff used tools to carry out individual self-assessment using indicators around the four main pillars.

Day two started off with a presentation of the results from the individual assessment showing how the staff scored the organisation. INERA staff then came together to do a joint assessment. The RAB team took some time to speak with the policy makers and to carry out an external assessment of the four pillars using the same tool that the INERA staff had used to assess themselves individually and jointly.

Dr. Some Koussao leads his team in conducting a joint assessment. Photo: I. Ezekiel/INERA

The morning of the third day began with a presentation on the results of the joint internal and external assessments on the four pillars. Participants then proceeded to work in two groups to do a SWOT (Strength, Weakness, Opportunities and Threats) analysis on the pillar where the organisation had the lowest score. With Srini and Margaret’s guidance, participants then used the TOWS method (please find literature here) to identify strategies that would be used to improve the performance of the weakest pillar. The morning was energized by interactive participation by both INERA and RAB staff. The afternoon and final session focused on presentation of overall results and recommendations for INERA by both CIP and RAB. The immense learning experiences shared among the participants was evident.

I have learnt a lot from this process”, Jean Ndirigwe, RAB, said “I applaud the openness and collaboration amongst the staff and the good relations you have.  I will take back to Rwanda the positive effect of putting revenue generation as a policy in a national research institution, it is very important for NARIs as they are able to generate income to support research and production of quality seed for the future”. he concluded.




About Rosemary Kihiu

One comment

  1. We have now done the peer review with RAB, (Rwanda) KEPHIS (Kenya) and INERA (Burkina Faso). Even though INERA started a year later than the other countries – they are catching up fast! I liked the use of reflective net on the screenhouse to help reduce the very HOT temperatures in Burkina. Across all countries it will be important to maintain high phytosanitary practices to keep producing quality sweetpotato EGS.

    Well done, the INERA team, and thanks to Jean and Charles for their constructive review.

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