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Reporting from: Scaling-up strategies – From Technology Transfer to Empowerment

Within the agricultural development sector there are a growing amount of interventions specifically focused on strategies for scaling-up production processes.  The concept of scaling-up has almost become a buzzword in many development projects. In order to assess and highlight crucial factors influencing the success of scaling-up projects and to learn from past experiences, participants with various professional backgrounds came together for a two day seminar at the Ultuna campus at Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences in Uppsala. The session was structured into four blocks of activities. First, as a point of departure, Seerp Wigboldus presented a thorough examination of scaling-up on a conceptual basis where he related scaling-up to development and innovation as well as posing statements related to the importance of scaling-up processes not only being successful in themselves but rather adding value to society and the target groups. Furthermore, Wigboldus emphasized the need for scaling-up strategies to be flexible so that they do not inhibit innovation processes.

The second block of the seminar consisted of an examination of five case studies, all of which were projects focused on scaling-up but with various levels of success. Group discussions on each case generated a series of important conclusions regarding the participants’ thoughts on factors essential for a successful scaling-up. An issue particularly emphasized by participants was the importance of process ownership. It was commonly agreed that all stakeholders have to feel involved and that they are gaining from the project in order for it to generate real change. In relation to ownership, the issue of transparent and two way dialogues between stakeholders was important, as well as the empowerment of smallholder farmers in decision making processes. Dialogues were emphasised by participants as two important ingredients of a successful intervention. Furthermore, the group unanimously felt the importance of getting to know the local context in which the project will be implemented before starting development processes. Without knowing the context, including social, historical, cultural, ecological and other enabling factors, the project may fail and not reach the stated goals. Finally, gender dynamics was mentioned as an important aspect that should permeate all development interventions because without this dimension in the implementation, outcomes may be opposite to what was wished for.

The outcome of the second phase of the seminar was a set of questions to be used as guiding questions for successful future interventions. In order to test these questions, the third phase of the seminar consisted of cases proposed by participants where the questions were applied to optimize the design and probability of successful implementation. As a result of the two days’ group based activities outcomes were summarized in a fourth and final discussion session.

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