Capacity Needs for Innovation in Nigerian Aquaculture

October 30, 2019

Joanna Springer
Photo by Jia Yi Ye

In early September, the Fish Innovation Lab participated in a multi-stakeholder workshop to develop a plan to strengthen capacity for innovation in the aquaculture sector of southwestern Nigeria. Approximately 30 representatives of public and private sectors, research institutions, and civil society gathered in the WorldFish offices for two intensive days of hands-on, interactive activities.

As the monitoring, evaluation, and learning advisor for the Fish Innovation Lab, I attended the workshop to bring back key outcomes to guide capacity-building activities undertaken by Fish Innovation Lab subawardees in Nigeria in the upcoming round of funding. Fish Innovation Lab researchers, Julius Nukpezah, assistant professor at Mississippi State University, and Joe Steensma, professor of practice at Washington University in St. Louis, who are studying ways to improve postharvest loss in Nigeria’s fish value chain, also attended as Fish Innovation Lab representatives.

Capacity needs in Nigeria related to innovation are wide-ranging, from an improved regulatory environment, to systems for information flows and sharing improved techniques, as well as complementary markets for production, transport, and sales. In particular, the workshop focused on stakeholders operating at different points in the value chain (i.e., private sector, government, research, etc.) and coordinating to find windows of opportunity for strategic change and growth.

The workshop facilitators, Jan Brouwers and Jia Yi Teresa Ye from Wageningen University, led the group through back-to-back sessions, testing out a sequence of facilitated activities designed to prompt collaboration and creative thinking to solve shared problems. Groups articulated a common vision for Nigeria’s South Western Regional Aquaculture Sector for 2030. These activities included assessing the needs for institutional reform; mapping networks of actors with a stake in the development of the aquaculture sector; identifying development scenarios (subject to both positive innovation trends and negative external factors); and articulating a change pathway for key actors, institutions, and market linkages for achieving their 2030 vision.

Through these activities, the Wageningen team piloted a set of facilitation techniques designed to operationalize a Capacity Development for Agricultural Innovation Systems (CDAIS) methodology, as articulated in the U.S. Government’s Global Food Security Strategy Technical Guidance for Capacity Development. The team’s working definition of capacity was comprehensive, encompassing policy, technology, institutions, networks, and so forth. This cross-sectoral approach gave ample opportunity for Nukpezah and Steensma to contribute their interdisciplinary perspectives and insights from their research on the Nigeria cold chain. They co-facilitated and led sessions, bringing political science and policy lenses, and a business management strategy focus, to the discussions.

The two-day workshop provided an opportunity for rich exchange of knowledge, perspectives, and learning through collaboration. In general, stakeholder attendees established broad consensus on the key issues limiting the aquaculture sector, although they debated over where to place the responsibility for innovation and growth. While many factors are beyond the scope of the stakeholders engaged in the workshop, global issues such as climate change present imminent threats and a heightened sense of urgency for stakeholders. Workshop participants showed motivation and enthusiasm to expand the scope of their own influence on tackling problems through creative solutions and partnerships.

The results of the workshop are to be compared to results from a similar workshop in Ethiopia for the livestock sector and will inform a final guidebook for the CDAIS approach. That resource, along with others, will be released in late 2019 and can be adapted for use by implementers in a broad range of sectors and countries. 

More Information
Charting a Course for Capacity Development in Ethiopian Livestock and Nigerian Aquaculture Systems
Fish and Food Security Policy Innovation Lab Collaborate on Guidebook

Joanna Springer of RTI International is the monitoring, evaluation, and learning advisor for the Fish Innovation Lab. RTI International is a Fish Innovation Lab management entity partner based in Washington, DC.