The DFID-funded Research Into Use (RIU) programme can be characterised as ‘a new type of organisation performing a blend of new roles’. In a broad sense, RIU’s role in brokering agricultural innovation involved serving as an interface between policy and practice, involving research, capacity building, business incubation, network facilitation, policy advocacy, and facilitation of the use of agricultural research. However, instead of a cookie-cutter approach across all Africa country programmes, this paper examines how implementation strategies and thematic priorities varied with each context, and takes the instances of Nigeria and Sierra Leone, in particular. This paper reveals that although the Nigeria and Sierra Leone country offices were literally embedded within national agricultural agencies, each country programme developed its own unique links to the agricultural policy arena. Both country programmes’ strategies proved effective in getting the desired results, although the successes were, perhaps, due to different reasons. In Nigeria, the effectiveness of the RIU programme in the policy arena was, possibly, due to the maturation and readiness of the national agricultural research system (NARS), coupled with other forces coalescing serendipitously. In Sierra Leone, the challenges of post-war rehabilitation and revitalisation of the NARS and related systems created a situation in which the national government had been very receptive to the ideas of innovation thinking and having these incorporated into the new national policy on agriculture.
RIU 2011 Discussion Paper 18, 34 pp.