Loraine Ronchi interviewing Agnes Kalibata (photo credit: IWMI Southern Africa).

What does it take to scale an agricultural innovation? Loraine Ronchi talks with Agnes Kalibata

Getting science innovations out of the labs and into the hands of millions of smallholder farmers across the global South is crucial in development work. In October 2023, CGIAR orchestrated a dynamic week-long event titled 'The Science and Practice of Scaling Agri-food System Innovations.' Among the luminaries contributing to these discussions were Loraine Ronchi, a distinguished Canadian economist and CGIAR senior policy advisor, and Agnes Kalibata, an esteemed African agricultural scientist and the president of AGRA (formerly Alliance for Green Revolution in Africa).

Agnes Kalibata's illustrious career includes her tenure as Rwanda's Minister of Agriculture and Animal Resources, her role as the UN Secretary-General's Special Envoy for the 2021 Food Systems Summit, and her appointment to the advisory committee of the 28th Session of the Conference of the Parties (COP28) of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. These experiences underscore her global leadership and commitment to transformative change in food systems.

Loraine Ronchi is a World Bank lead economist with a Rhodes Scholarship and degrees from Oxford and Sussex Universities. Currently on a two-year secondment to CGIAR, she works as a senior advisor on policy impact at the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) in Washington, DC. Ronchi focuses on enhancing CGIAR's agriculture and food policy research impact by linking it with climate research and high-level policy dialogues. Her interests include scaling science, private-sector scaling of climate innovations, and designing policies for a just transition to a 1.5-degrees Celsius world.

Their dialogue encapsulated the essence of scaling success, delving into the crucial components and persistent challenges within the agricultural landscape.

In the face of evolving challenges, Kalibata championed adaptability and innovation as linchpins in addressing pressing issues such as climate change. She emphasized the need for tailored solutions rooted in local contexts, underlining the pivotal role of collaborative partnerships spanning governments, institutions and the private sector.

Echoing Kalibata's sentiments, Ronchi delved into the imperative of evidence-based decision-making in navigating agricultural complexities. She emphasized the indispensable role of reliable data in sculpting inclusive policies and propelling sectoral growth.

This insightful dialogue between Ronchi and Kalibata epitomises the collective drive towards scaling agricultural innovations. Their exchange not only elucidates the intricacies of scaling processes but also inspires concerted action towards sustainable agricultural development.

As Kalibata aptly puts it, 'You quickly learn that the biggest drivers of scale are the incentives built in each system/ecosystem.'

For a full view of their discourse visit cgiar.org.