Innovative Idea Development and Innovation through Design thinking in agriculture


Within the framework of the TMT “Strengthening the appeal of a bright future in agriculture to youth through entrepreneurship and innovation” in Burundi, Mr Alain Nkurikiye delivered an interesting training module entitled Innovative Idea Development and Innovation through Design thinking in agriculture from 13 till 16 November.

The training on design thinking in the context of agriculture in Africa presents a unique and impactful opportunity. Design thinking is a problem-solving approach that emphasizes understanding the user, challenging assumptions, and redefining problems to identify alternative strategies and solutions. When applied to agriculture in Burundi, it can lead to innovative, efficient, and sustainable practices tailored to local needs and challenges.

By focusing on design thinking, this training aims at supporting the transformation of the agricultural landscape in the agriculture, fostering innovation and sustainability tailored to the unique challenges and opportunities of the country.

Day 1 focused on an introduction to Design Thinking and Agriculture and started with the introduction to the five stages of design thinking: empathize, define, ideate, prototype, and test; then, the lecturer provided an overview of global and local agricultural challenges that require innovative solutions. The last part of the first day was focused on learning how to understand the needs of farmers, consumers, and the environment through empathy mapping.

Day 2 was dedicated to Ideation and Concept Development, starting with training on brainstorming, SCAMPER, mind mapping, and other creativity tools; then, the lecturer provided an overview on the methods for filtering and selecting the best ideas to pursue. The training included also a focus on crafting problem statements that are user-centered and which form the basis for solution development. Day 2 concluded with developing the selected ideas into actionable project concepts.

On day 3, the trainees were challenged with Prototyping and Testing, specifically hands-on training on creating low-fidelity prototypes for agricultural solutions, and also learning how to gather and incorporate user feedback into the prototype development. The last part of day 3 was focused on iterating on prototypes based on feedback, and planning for small-scale validation tests of the prototypes.

Day 4 focused on Validation, Communication, and Pitching. The day started with an explanation on how to conduct basic validation tests to assess the viability of the prototypes, and then an introduction to business models and value proposition for agricultural innovations. The participants were trained on how to communicate their innovation effectively to different stakeholders (e.g., investors, farmers, partners). The final day was also devoted to presentations, and the participants had time to present their prototypes and receive feedback from the group and trainers.

The training methodology included interactive lectures, group discussions and workshops, case studies analysis, hands-on prototyping sessions, role-playing and simulation exercises and guest speakers from the agricultural innovation sector. The lecturer encouraged them to continue developing their prototypes.

In terms of expected outcomes, at the end of this training the participants were able to: understand the principles and processes of design thinking; apply ideation techniques to generate innovative ideas in agriculture; create user-centred solutions for agricultural problems; develop a prototype for a new agricultural product, service, or business model; plan and execute a basic validation test for their prototype; communicate their innovative solutions effectively to stakeholders.

Orange Knowledge Programme
This project is part of the Orange Knowledge Programme (OKP) which is funded by the Netherlands’ Ministry of Foreign Affairs and managed by Nuffic. For more information click here.

MSM's Expert Centre on Emerging Economies

This institutional collaboration project is part of MSM's Expert Centre on Emerging Economies. The department is an expert centre on local economic development in emerging and developing markets.‚Äč We capacitate managers and professionals from government, private sector, NGOs, and post-secondary education in Africa, Asia, Middle East, and Latin America. We offer consultancy and customized training programs, and we manage complex projects in key sectors, e.g. water, agriculture and health. For more information click here.

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