Multi-stakeholder dialogue space on farmer-led irrigation development in Ghana: an instrument driving systemic change with private sector initiatives


  • Thai Minh International Water Management Institute
  • Olufunke Cofie International Water Management Institute (IWMI), Ghana
  • Nicole Lefore Texas A & M University, USA
  • Petra Schmitter International Water Management Institute (IWMI), Myanmar


private sector, farmer-led irrigation, multi-stakeholder dialogues, systemic change, Ghana


Private sector actors bring expertise, resources, and new perspectives to agricultural development, but the tendency to short-term approaches and market-based orientation has been unable to drive a systemic change in the development agenda. We explore how multi-stakeholder dialogues can capitalize on and trickle systemic change through private sector involvement. Analysis from the farmer-led irrigation development multi-stakeholder dialogue space (FLI-MDS) in Ghana shows the need for a physical and institutional space to cater for and merge different stakeholder interests. For all stakeholders, the institutional space is a multi-level-playing institution which can trickle systemic change by leveraging the private sector?s investments with multi-stakeholders? collaboration, interactive learning, and potential support for commercial scaling of FLI. For private sector actors, a physical space for collaboration is crucial. It enables them to envisage their commercial interests, opening up opportunities for collaboration and mobilization of resources. Ensuring long term sustainability of an FLI-MDS requires catering for the private sector needs for a physical dialogue space to trickle systemic change and accelerate commercialization in farmer-led irrigation development.

Author Biographies

Olufunke Cofie, International Water Management Institute (IWMI), Ghana

Dr. Olufunke Cofie is a Principal Researcher and IWMI Representative for West Africa, with responsibility for leading the development and implementation of IWMI?s research agenda in the sub-region. She holds a PhD degree in Soil Science with over 20 years? research experience in natural resources management. Her research focusses on water and sanitation linkages to agriculture as well as on smallholder agricultural water management.

Nicole Lefore, Texas A & M University, USA

Dr Nicole Lefore is the director of the Feed the Future Innovation Lab for Small Scale Irrigation, which is hosted by the Norman Borlaug Institute at Texas A & M University. With over 25 years of international experience in research, policy advocacy and project implementation related to development, her research focuses on natural resources (water and land) and institutions, including household scale irrigation, gender and equality, smallholder finance models, and qualitative and participatory research methods. She completed a PhD in Government at University of Virginia and MSc in Development from the School of Oriental and African Studies.

Petra Schmitter, International Water Management Institute (IWMI), Myanmar

Dr Petra Schmitter is a Senior Researcher at the International Water Management Institute (IWMI), Myanmar, and leader of the Research Group on Sustainable and Resilient Food Production Systems. Her main research focusses on developing suitable water solutions for smallholder farmers to improve their agricultural resilience and to assess the impact of scaling those solutions on water resource availability and quality at different scales. She has over 30 peer reviewed publications in the field of farmer-led irrigation, water productivity, hydrological processes, biogeochemistry, land degradation and hydrological modelling.


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