Building capacity for market-chain innovation in Uganda
Through South-South collaboration, the Participatory Market Chain Approach (PMCA) was introduced and applied in the potato, sweet potato and vegetable market chains in Uganda in 2005-2007. Eight women from diff erent Ugandan Research and Development (R&D) organizations led and facilitated application of the PMCA. Training, coaching and backstopping were provided by PMCA specialists from the International Potato Center (CIP) in Lima, Peru. Studies in 2007 and 2011 indicate that involvement in the PMCA helped R&D professionals and market chain actors to identify areas for improving market chains and work together to develop new products, processes, and institutional arrangements. Participation also strengthened inter-personal networks across the public and private sectors. As a result, the capacity for innovation in agricultural market chains was enhanced. The PMCA triggered commercial, technological and institutional innovation processes that continue until the present. While some early innovations have disappeared, others continue to be used, and several second or third generation innovations have improved on the original ones. Women farmers, processors, and market agents have increased their incomes and acquired productive assets, including land. The PMCA facilitators upgraded their communication and facilitation skills and learned a new R&D approach, which many have put to use in their professional lives. Several individuals and organizations have incorporated the PMCA into their activities. The authors suggest three ways to improve future applications of the PMCA: (1) provide business development services to entrepreneurs after completing the PMCA; (2) provide support for smallholder farmers to improve their capacity to respond to changing market demands; and (3) develop more adequate and sustainable funding and institutional arrangements for Einnovation facilitators.