Institutional dynamics of innovation platforms: A case study of conservation agriculture in Gwanda district, Zimbabwe
Nyamwanza, Owen T.
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Platforms and fora to facilitate innovation and improved livelihoods at the local level are currently being implemented in Southern Africa including Zimbabwe and yet the institutional and livelihood performance of such platforms are not understood. Using Conservation Agriculture Innovation Platforms in Gwanda District as a case study, this study investigates the institutional and livelihood outcomes of these platforms. Data for this study were gathered through observation over six months in three wards of the district. Interviews were conducted with key figures including traditional leaders, local champions of development, extension and civil society staff. Multiple Focus Group Discussions were also held in all three sites. Secondary data which include project reports by participating nongovernmental organizations and minutes of platform meetings were also utilized. Challenges encountered included language difficulties especially in Sotho speaking households. This was counteracted by seeking clarity on issues from multi-lingual informants. The study observes that multiple stakeholders hold differing perceptions towards Conservation Agriculture Innovation Platforms, affecting their participation in the platform and its related activities. The study also established that existing institutions are affected and respond differently to the advent of the platform. Further, the livelihood outcomes of the platform are not yet well pronounced owing to the propensity of platform activities to compete with already established livelihoods. In conclusion, the study notes that activities in the innovation platform are underlined by self interest and profit maximization as actors seek to make the most out of the prevailing situation. The observed self-serving actions by people and organizations at various scales suggests a theoretical point, namely that people have individuality and at the heart political.