Impact does not occur in a vacuum. The kinds of impact that the CGIAR and therefore GrainLegumes seeks results from development processes that help the poor escape poverty, hunger, malnutrition and environmental degradation.
Towards these ends, GrainLegumes pursues a strategy of Inclusive Market-Oriented Development (IMOD). The essence of IMOD is:
- Harness markets in innovative ways that include the poor, enabling them to grow their way out of subsistence farming towards market-oriented farming; and
- Reduce the risks of that growth through social assistance and safety nets of various kinds, and by strengthening the resilience of smallholder farms and livelihoods.
But how is IMOD implemented in practice within GrainLegumes’ research-for-development domain? During the first decade of the millennium the Sub-Saharan Africa Challenge Program (SSA-CP) studied market-led processes and relationships at its Lake Kivu site where Rwanda, D.R. Congo and Uganda share their borders. They found that when different actors in a value chain work together they can generate big benefits for everybody. These informal yet energetic associations came to be called innovation platforms.
Some key SSA-CP’s learnings about innovation platforms were:
- Market-led innovation platforms work better than research-led innovation platforms;
- Win-win scenarios attract non-traditional actors such as providers of credit;
- An iterative process of planning, action and reflection enhances capacity of stakeholders;
- An innovation platform can broaden the poor’s options for earning income, leading to beneficial livelihood diversification;
- Linking farmers with markets compels attention to product quality, essential for increasing incomes;
- Additional interventions such as financing are required to sustain collective sales among farmers; and
- The innovation platform method is replicable.
GrainLegumes implements the IMOD and innovation platform strategies through the Pan-African Bean Research Alliance (PABRA), Tropical Legumes II project, and other outreach mechanisms. Collectively, these strategies and initiatives are how GrainLegumes partners help the poor reach their destination on the pathway to impact.