Step by Step: Using Collaborative Approaches to Scale the UPTAKE Ladder
The Upscaling Technologies in Agriculture through Knowledge and Extension (UPTAKE Project) works to scale up the use of productivity-enhancing agricultural innovations amongst 1,000,000 small holder farmers in Tanzania. It employs wide reaching information and communication technologies (ICTs) particularly radio and SMS to reach farmers in rural areas. UPTAKE brings together agricultural value chain stakeholders to build consensus on common campaign approaches and harmonized information. During the project's initial stages, diverse stakeholder interests and the project’s omission to effectively engage stakeholders resulted in apathy in the SMS content development process affecting campaign effectiveness. This necessitated a radical change in the project’s trajectory. Adopting an attitude of openness towards addressing the challenge, UPTAKE consciously turned to the Collaborate, Learn and Adapt (CLA) approach as a problem solving tool to tackle the inherent challenges in the content development process. Using the pause, reflect, decision and relationships elements, the project adapted its content development process to what is now a relatively collaborative mechanism propped up by solid relationships with external stakeholders. Today, the project has an elaborate content development and dissemination process with feedback looped in from stakeholders to address emerging information occasioned by variable weather, insect pest outbreaks and market information. The result is an improved output backed by partners who freely invest their time, financial resources and technical advice in the project for a common goal; that of improving productivity amongst small holder farmers.