With increasing recognition holding the promise of overcoming the outstanding problems faced by African agriculture, IAR4D faces the danger of being ‘blurred’ by past approaches and falling short of its potential to deliver the desired impacts in diverse multi-stakeholder, biophysical, socio-economic, cultural, technological and market contexts unless its actualisation and working is clearly understood. In this paper, we present the conceptualisation and principles of and knowledge-based experiences and lessons from the implementation of the sub-Saharan Africa Challenge Programme (SSACP) in the Lake Kivu Pilot Learning Site (LKPLS). The presentation covers the formation and facilitation of IPs for the actualisation of IAR4D to evolve mechanisms for the early recognition of interlinked issues in natural resource management, productivity and value addition technologies, markets, gender and policy arrangements. These have autonomously triggered flexible, locally directed interactions to innovate options from within or outside their environment for resolving the challenges, and have moved along a new institutional and technological change trajectory. Emerging lessons point to the endowment of IP members with selfhelp knowledge interactions, training in IAR4D, quality of facilitation and research to be key determinants of the power behind of self-regulating mechanisms.