International Partners Workshops held in the Netherlands 2010!

The Prolinnova International Partners Workshop (IPW) is an annual event that gathers various members of the Prolinnova network. This year, the IPW was successfully held last March 22-26, 2010 at Hotel Nol in’t Bosch in Wageningen, Netherlands. Around forty participants coming from Africa, Asia, Latin America and Europe came to participate.

The workshop proved to be very insightful even at its first day where guests Frans Verberne: director ETC; Jim Woodhill, director Centre for Development Innovation, Wageningen University and Research; and Ron Havinga from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs share their thoughts and inputs about the role of Prolinnova and its way forward as a growing, complex network. These are very much complemented by the market, which showcased materials that shares activities and achievements of Prolinnova network members.

The IPW provided an opportunity for the Country Platforms, the International Support Team (IST) and the international secretariat of Prolinnova to review progress made and share and learn from reflections of last year’s experiences. Central to this was an assessment of each country programs in terms of where they are in terms of institutionalization of Participatory Innovation Development (PID). While various initiatives have been done, institutionalization is still far from being realized. Nevertheless, there are a lot of indications that are very encouraging for CPs to sustain their commitment to carry on their mission. One challenge that was posed to everyone was the need to involve the farmers themselves in the governance. Specific actions will be identified and implemented, even at the POG level to address this issue.

A field visit, which was fulfilling, at the same time enjoyable, was one of the highlights of the IPW. The participants were divided into four groups and four farms were visited. Group 1: organic dairy farm of Cor den Hartog; Group 2: conventional dairy farm + organic chicken of CeesJan and Marjan Nell; Group 3: conventional dairy farm – Henk and Marja Verweij; and Group 4: Regional rural development centre of Streekhuis Krommerijn, Marieke Leentvaar – Leader coordinator, Wytze Brandsma – LaMi. After some interactions with the farmers and ocular visit of the farms, the four groups converged at a Broadening farm of Leo and Ria van Doorn, where reflections were done and learning were processed. The field visit provided practical examples of farmers’ innovations and a better look at some issues that support or oppose innovativeness of the farmers.

Another important highlight of the IPW was a briefing from the Prolinnova Oversight Group (POG), where summary of the POG report was shared. Action Plan for 2010 was also agreed upon. Key planned activities include a customized course on Monitoring and Evaluation, where Fundraising session will be integrated, Annual Farmer Innovation Day, Regional Capacity building on PID etc.

Just before the IPW the Prolinnova Oversight Group (POG) met allowing it to brief the network during the IPW on its conclusions and decisions. Also before the IPW the Country Programs involved in the FAIR program came together in a separate meeting to review progress, share and plan work for 2010. After the IPW an afternoon meeting of the IST was held where planned activities in 2010 and relevant issues were discussed.

The weeklong workshop is truly an inspiring and enriching international learning event. Everyone came back to their countries with renewed energy and commitment to promote PID, with the farmers at the center of research and development.

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