Tagged: Collaboration

Bullish on East African Dairy


There are many reasons to be optimistic about the dairy sector in East Africa; at the May 8, 2014 Dairy Value Chain Collaboration Colloquium, participants counted over 150 of them.  To be exact, participants at the Dairy Value Chain Collaboration Colloquium in Kampala, Uganda identified 167 opportunities for partnership to take on challenges in the dairy value chain.  Drawing on the experience, expertise, and initiative of over 50 representatives of industry, research, government, and civil society, this Colloquium was structured to spur the creation of solutions to such challenges through collaborative partnerships.

Not satisfied to foster partnership for partnership’s sake or to anchor the activities of the day in the abstract, the Dairy Value Chain Collaboration Colloquium trained participant focus on seven important challenges presented by a group of vetted “Challengers” already working to address these issues and looking for partners to join their efforts. The Challengers—Clayton Arinanye of the Uganda Crane Creameries Cooperative Union; Fred Kabi of Makerere University; James Lwerimba of World Wide Sires; Billy Butamanya of the Uganda Cooperative Alliance; Henry Njakoi of Heifer International; Tom Sillayo of Faida MaLi; and Mayasa Simba of the Tanzania Dairy Board—presented challenges ranging from increasing smallholder farmers’ access to veterinary care, to incentivizing compliance with regulation among informal dairy sector actors.

Over the course of the one-day, highly interactive Colloquium participants and Challengers explored shared goals for tackling their challenges, opportunities for reaching those goals, and resources for taking strategic action.  These steps revealed a clear rationales and actionable opportunities for partnership.  At the close of the day, Challengers presented a “pitch” on their challenge, what they hope to accomplish in one year, the resources they still need to achieve this vision, and their expected impact.  Participants and other Challengers then offered questions, insights, and resources to help each Challenger refine his or her approach and call to action.  With resources such as business models, online platforms, and students offered, the group was invigorated and keen to move forward to tackle challenges together.  The full details of the Colloquium activities, outputs, and key takeaways can be found in the After Action Report.

Looking beyond the Colloquium, there is ample fodder for participants and Challengers to move forward together.  to address pressing challenges and take strategic action.  It is the explicit goal of the Colloquium and GKI’s sincerest hope that the connections made and rationales for partnership revealed will provide the foundation necessary for new collaborative efforts and solutions.  To incentivize ongoing partnership and solution development beyond the Collaboration Colloquium, the Dairy Value Chain Challenge Prize will provide a package of technical support to a winning team brought together under the auspices of the Collaboration Colloquium.  The generous support of Agri-ProFocus and SNV; the Uganda Industrial Research Institute (UIRI); and the Uganda National Council for Science and Technology (UNCST) made the Prize possible.  Applications are due on June 20th and we can’t wait to see how participants collaborate on shared challenges to transform the East African dairy value chain!

Contributor: Courtney O’Brien


Rwanda Collaboration Colloquium: Network Convenes in Rwanda to Solve Potato Taste Challenge

“Your presence here is a vote of confidence in Rwandan coffee,” George Kayonga, head of Rwanda’s National Agricultural Export Development Board (NAEB), told Coffee Research Symposium attendees on March 17. A vote of confidence, in this case, as over 150 representatives from academia, private sector, government, and international organizations assembled in Kigali to discuss a challenge threatening to reduce confidence in Rwanda’s high quality coffee. The potato taste defect—thought to be caused by an insect pest called the “antestia bug”—causes otherwise exceptional East African specialty coffee to exhibit a potato-like taste, which impacts the industry’s revenue potential. Rwanda’s Ministry of Agriculture and Animal Resources, NAEB, University of Rwanda (UR), and others organized the Symposium to gather a global network of experts to share knowledge on the state of science on this taste defect. Beyond discussing new research, the gathering sought to identify practical solutions to the challenge.


Rogers Family Coffee’s Mario Serracin speaks with Rwanda Agriculture Board’s Dick Walyaro. Photo: GKI

The cost of potato taste to Rwanda’s economy remains in debate, but available numbers present a perilous picture. Matt Smith, head of exporter Rwanda Trading Company, estimates that losses solely due to potato taste—and solely in medium grade coffee—reach at least US$3.9 million annually. Combined with specialty coffee losses, experts estimate this number to be multiple times higher. Rwanda’s government has taken bold steps to combat antestia and mitigate potato taste. At the Symposium, researchers from the Rwanda Agriculture Board (RAB) and UR reported on efforts to map the distribution of the antestia bug and potato taste. NAEB—which oversees farmer outreach—described its focus on improving farm-level pest control.

Buttressing these efforts is a global team supporting research on the cause of, and treatments for, potato taste. Since 2012, US non-profit the Global Knowledge Initiative (GKI) has built a potato taste research network through its LINK (Learning and Innovation Network for Knowledge and Solutions) program. Starting with UR, GKI built a network of partners including Seattle University; Rogers Family Company; CIRAD; University of California, Riverside; and many others aimed at studying and solving this challenge. Representatives from these institutions presented research on antestia bugs, chemical and biological profiles of the potato taste itself, and variables predicting potato taste.

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GKI signs Memorandum of Understanding with Uganda National Council for Science & Technology


Pedestrians walk through downtown Kampala, Uganda. Photo Credit: GKI. 

The Global Knowledge Initiative (GKI) is pleased to announce the formalization of a relationship we have long enjoyed with Uganda’s National Council for Science and Technology (UNCST).  On 6 November 2013, GKI Program Officer Andrew Gerard (on behalf of Chief Operating Officer Sara Farley) and UNCST Executive Secretary Dr. Peter Ndemere signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) officially connecting the two organizations and providing a framework for future activities.

GKI and UNCST have collaborated with great success in the past.  In 2009, GKI helped UNCST develop mechanisms to put their newly developed National Science, Technology and Innovation policy into action.  GKI’s “From Policy to Action” policy dialogue connected policy makers and researchers to critical resources to facilitate the implementation of the national policy.  Given the success of our past collaborations, we are thrilled to inaugurate an even closer long-term partnership with UNCST.

Announcing LINK Round IV: Solving Challenges in Africa Through Collaboration

The first round of LINK focuses on Rwandan coffee

The first round of LINK focuses on Rwandan coffee. Photo: GKI

The Global Knowledge Initiative is proud to announce the commencement of a fourth round of our flagship partnership-forging, LINK (Learning and Innovation Network for Knowledge and Solutions) program.  GKI designed LINK to harness the power of international collaboration to solve development challenges.  Specifically, LINK seeks to solve challenges that beckon for scientific and technical research, scientific and technical education, innovation, and entrepreneurship.  The LINK process involves four core functions: activating communities of practice, locating resources, enabling sustainable partnerships by learning shared tools and processes for collaborative innovation, and connecting people and resources together into durable purpose-driven networks to solve challenges.

The fourth round of LINK targets researchers from East and Southern Africa working on challenges in the fields of agriculture, food security, water and land management, and/or climate change.  Applicants must submit their completed Request for Engagement by January 17, 2013.  GKI will announce the winning proposal in Spring 2014, after which the LINK network-formation process will begin.

Distinct from typical research grant programs, LINK eschews traditional methods of delivering development assistance in favor of fostering collaborative networks of stakeholders in the academic, public, and private sectors.  The program is not a direct funding mechanism.  Rather, LINK provides participants with the tools to solve their challenges: practical trainings in collaboration, communication, and networking; an in-depth analysis of the participant’s challenge context; a small amount of seed funding to initiate partnership formation; assistance in developing a working network; and a design process that helps define specific challenges and determine the best ways to tackle them.   Continue reading