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Triple Helix approach to innovation in Rwanda's agricultural sector

20-12-2023

Recently the article “Triple Helix approach to innovation in Rwanda's agriculture resulted in a partnership between educational institutions and a private firm producing clean seed potatoes” of MSM’s Prof. Meine Pieter van Dijk was published in the Journal of Agribusiness in Developing and Emerging Economies (JADEE)

The paper dives into the subject of producing clean seed potatoes via a triple helix approach within the Potato Service Training and Innovation (STIC) that was established under the NUFFIC SEAD project. Within the SEAD and SEAD West projects, in total five STICs were developed in the fields of potato, horticulture, dairy, poultry and agri-tourism. The STICs were Rwanda’s first constructs to strengthen partnerships between academia, government and industry. The STIC model is a Triple helix concept meant to bring together education partners and the private sector in production centres to promote and implement innovations. All facets of this STIC concept come together in an orchestrated operation and where the education and private sector partners have committed themselves to a long-term partnership, serving the interests of both the education and private sector.

Innovative partnerships to strengthen the potato value chain

Within the paper, which is one of the first research done regarding the potential success of the STIC constructs, Prof. van Dijk looked into how the partnership between the private partner and the IPRC has resulted in producing clean seed potatoes.

Higher productivity in the potato value chain in Rwanda requires good quality seed potatoes. The problems of the potato value chain are analyzed and innovations are introduced in the framework of a development project to produce better seed potatoes and more potatoes per hectare, using the Triple Helix approach. In the Triple Helix model government, academia and the private sector work together to develop and introduce innovations. This led to producing and introducing improved seed potatoes at an affordable price through a public private partnership. A Service, Training and Innovation Center has been created for that purpose to produce the first clean potato seeds in Africa on a commercial scale, based on cultivation of invitro potato plantlets and min-tubers. The Seed Potato Advancement Centre is an education-enterprise partnership, using invitro produced plantlets to produce mini-tubers through aeroponics. Seed multiplicators are responsible for the next three stages of seed multiplication. The final product is the certified potato, sold to ware potato farmers. The availability of disease-free seed potatoes in Rwanda gives a boost to the production of ware potato and contributes to food security. The ambition is to make the Seed Potato Advancement Centre the nucleus of a dynamic (agro) cluster of potato related activities in the northern part of Rwanda. Cooperatives are currently involved in marketing (aggregating), some transport, storage and training activities, but could play a more important role in increasing the productivity of the seed and ware potato value chains by providing the necessary extension services. Interviews and a survey brings out the success of the Triple Helix approach, the usefulness of a value chain perspective and the factors influencing the success of the partnership.

Read the full published article here

Strengthening the sustainability of the Service, Innovation and Training Centres in Rwanda

The potato STIC is already successfully producing clean seeds and providing students with the possibility to put theory into practice in the aeroponic greenhouses. In the meantime, MSM in close collaboration with the Rwanda Polytechnic (RP) is supporting all five STICs regarding the sustainability of the concept. That the STICs are operational is step one. Step two is expanding the STIC ecosystems and working towards strong agricultural value chains which are crucial for improving food security in the East African country.

Over the next year MSM will support the STIC partners in expanding their capacity, knowledge and skills on topics such as STIC governance, strategic planning, access to finance and marketing. This will be done in parallel with organizing workshops where the STICs will be lifted to innovative platforms and expanding towards a broader ecosystem via round table sessions. The purpose of the latter is to bring together a select group of people from public, private and financial institutions to learn from each other, generate new ideas and strengthen the value chain which contributes to the sustainability of the STIC.

Lastly, within this project, the focus will also be on research, where MSM and RP will support students to get to know the STIC concept through internships and at the same time support the project by carrying out an applied research assignment.

Ultimately, this capacity development project helps towards improved food security, better nutrition, and increased resilience in the face of changing environmental and economic conditions, through sustainable PPPs, applied research and strengthened communities.

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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