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Climate action: Do we need to change how we innovate?

1 day 10 hours ago

Climate change poses profound challenges for farmers and our food and water systems. Equally challenging are poverty (with some 600 million persons in extreme poverty), food insecurity (with some 800 million persons suffering from undernutrition), and water insecurity (with some 780 million people without access to an improved water source). Climate change makes our efforts to deal with poverty and food and water insecurity that much more difficult. It is for small-scale farmers, fishers, and livestock keepers that these problems come together, compounding each other. Extreme weather events, changing seasons, and increasing heat make a risky existence even riskier. In many locations agricultural producers are coping by selling off their productive assets, reducing the number of meals they eat and migrating to cities where life may not be that much better. 

To solve these and other agriculture-related environmental challenges, we have concluded that nothing short of a transformation of food systems is needed. This requires four "R"s: REROUTING farming and rural livelihoods to new trajectories; de-RISKING livelihoods, farms and value chains; REDUCING emissions through diets and value chains; and REALIGNING policies, finance, support to social movements, and innovation. On the 25th of June, CCAFS and many partners will release a flagship report on food systems transformation under climate change. The report outlines concrete actions that can be taken to achieve each "R."  

Transforming agricultural research for development

Today we want to focus on one of the actions proposed: essentially, transforming ourselvesthe agricultural research for development (AR4D) community.

AR4D systems are often fragmented, inefficient, overly supply-based, and siloed. Innovation can be hampered by a fear of failure, a short-term orientation, the existence of inappropriate or perverse incentives that may result in redundancy and duplication, and a focus on “publish or perish.” If we want research to contribute to societal outcomes, that is what we should be measured by, not our numbers of publications in prestigious journals.

One of the key premises for a new AR4D is that we need to work (at least for a good portion of AR4D) more closely with those development agencies, national governments and private sector actors who have the responsibility, power, interest and/or means to drive significant positive change—in other words, with the AR4D community as a trusted knowledge partner in a coalition of actors. For this reason, together with partners across CGIAR, the CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS) has put together the “Two Degree Initiative,” a coalition of partners with the ambition to reach significant climate change, poverty, nutrition and environmental targets. This initiative will focus on low- and middle-income countries and work on a set of global themes that align with a theory of change for transforming the food system. It will be implemented through eight or so "Challenges" in specified geographies, with the coalition working towards ambitious locally-defined targets.

The eight listening sessions in 2DI Challenge Geographies. Image: T. Ferdinand

Climate, poverty and nutrition challenges are particularly pronounced in Africa. For example, by 2030, forecasts indicate that nearly 9 in 10 of the extremly poor will live in Sub-Saharan Africa. And so on Africa Day, we initiate the first listening session—a webinar bringing stakeholders together in Southern Africa to start the process of defining a bottom-up agenda for research in a climate hotspot. This process is led by the International Water Management Institute (IWMI). Various regional organizations and USAID are co-hosts. Steve Collins from USAID’s Resilient Waters Program noted, “I am heartened that researchers are coming to us without an agenda and asking us what they should be working on.” The initial webinar will be followed by bilateral meetings and an eventual face-to-face meeting later in the year.

Such processes are being set in motion for all eight Challenge Geographies. These “listening sessions” will be accompanied by the World Resources Institute (WRI), who will prepare a summary of inputs received for all geographies. The Sahel Challenge is also soon to start, with World Bank and CGIAR (led by the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT)) collaborating on a series of creative virtual sessions followed by a face-to-face later in the year. In June we also expect start-up meetings in the Middle East and North Africa, and in the Asian mega-deltas.

It will only be through major partnerships that we will rise to the significant challenges. We cannot do research for development “for whom it may concern.” We need to be targeted, demand-driven, participatory and willing to provide end-to-end solutions. We also need to be scientifically credible, which does mean papers in high-end journals—but that should not be our target.

Read more:

ILRI feed technology research platform makes more fodder available to developing-world livestock keepers

6 days 23 hours ago

Located at the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT)campus in Patancheru, India, the feed technology research platform of the Feed and Forage Development Program of the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) provides laboratory infrastructure and tools for rapidly and affordably analysing fodder quality. By supporting work on most key cereal and legume food, feed and […]

The post ILRI feed technology research platform makes more fodder available to developing-world livestock keepers appeared first on Grain Legumes and Dryland Cereals.

Youth in fisheries, aquaculture and value chains: A study and foundation for building back better

1 week ago

As impacts of the global pandemic COVID-19 continue to spread, young people face particular challenges, with having to worry about the health of their families, their workplaces or schools closing and access to food and other necessities. The  CGIAR Research Program on Fish in Agri-Food Systems (FISH) - led youth study began over one year ago, before the COVID-19 situation had emerged, but we are and will be giving special attention to impacts on youth in fisheries and aquaculture in our COVID-19 research response. The study reported below provides a timely review of present knowledge, an important baseline for responding to the challenge of COVID-19, and putting into practice the concept of “building back better” aquaculture, fisheries and fish value chains in a youth inclusive manner.


Daw Cho Mar's daughter Ma Nwe Nwe Wah attending the family fish store. Photo by Majken Schmidt Søgaard.

What do we know about how youth participate in small-scale fisheries and aquaculture? Not enough.

“Fishing is tiring work” feels Ma Win, a 26 year old female living in the Ayeyarwady Delta of Myanmar, whose family practices small-scale fishing. “You are submerged in the water for long periods of time, pulling the net, sometimes working against the wind, all of which is physically taxing”. Ma Win would instead like to be a farmer and own her own plot of land, but due to her economic circumstances, does not see how this aspiration might materialise.

Likewise, Hassan, aged 25 from Oyo State, Nigeria could not find the type of employment he was looking for. I have always wanted to learn and build a career from the tiles business (house tiling), but I have not found an opportunity to learn the skill… I am a fish wholesaler, because I did not...

Youth in fisheries, aquaculture and value chains: A study and foundtation for building back better

1 week ago

As impacts of the global pandemic COVID-19 continue to spread, young people face particular challenges, with having to worry about the health of their families, their workplaces or schools closing and access to food and other necessities. The  CGIAR Research Program on Fish in Agri-Food Systems (FISH) - led youth study began over one year ago, before the COVID-19 situation had emerged, but we are and will be giving special attention to impacts on youth in fisheries and aquaculture in our COVID-19 research response. The study reported below provides a timely review of present knowledge, an important baseline for responding to the challenge of COVID-19, and putting into practice the concept of “building back better” aquaculture, fisheries and fish value chains in a youth inclusive manner.


Daw Cho Mar's daughter Ma Nwe Nwe Wah attending the family fish store. Photo by Majken Schmidt Søgaard.

What do we know about how youth participate in small-scale fisheries and aquaculture? Not enough.

“Fishing is tiring work” feels Ma Win, a 26 year old female living in the Ayeyarwady Delta of Myanmar, whose family practices small-scale fishing. “You are submerged in the water for long periods of time, pulling the net, sometimes working against the wind, all of which is physically taxing”. Ma Win would instead like to be a farmer and own her own plot of land, but due to her economic circumstances, does not see how this aspiration might materialise.

Likewise, Hassan, aged 25 from Oyo State, Nigeria could not find the type of employment he was looking for. I have always wanted to learn and build a career from the tiles business (house tiling), but I have not found an opportunity to learn the skill… I am a fish wholesaler, because I did not...

Equality in a post-pandemic era: gender, COVID-19, agriculture and climate change

2 weeks 4 days ago

COVID-19 is intensifying climate change impacts, adding extra pressure to food systems, livelihoods, and health. Women are especially affected by this added pressure due to their critical roles, both paid and unpaid, in food production, healthcare, and the household. Gender-based vulnerabilities are further exposed due to social norms that dictate women’s behavior. For instance, in times of food insecurity, women tend to eat last, often skipping meals.

Women and agriculture

Globally, one in three women works in agriculture, which tends to be informal, low paid, and especially vulnerable to shocks. For example, when droughts and floods limit access to safe water, more time and energy must be spent collecting water for sanitation and food production. In Africa, these effects are aggravated by current lockdowns that have restricted movement amidst conflict and locust infestations. This, coupled with their existing care burdens, means women have less time to spend in their own fields or in paid work when a family member falls ill.

For instance, during the 2014–16 West Africa Ebola virus disease outbreak, the movement of goods and people was restricted, limiting women’s ability to cultivate their land and engage in other agricultural activities. As a result, many women defaulted on village savings, further stunting their long-term economic prospects. Additionally, as household incomes decline, the demand for products produced by women also falls. For example, due to COVID-19, women poultry and dairy producers in Uganda are unable to find a market for their eggs, live birds, and milk, intensifying economic stress.

Women are especially vulnerable to system shocks as the demand for their goods plummets in the face of economic uncertainty. Photo Credit: Mariola Acosta

Not only does climate change make women’s work more difficult, disease vectors and transmission rates also shift with changing weather patterns and extreme climate events (e.g. risk of malaria epidemic increases after an El Niño event). Disease and climate change are intimately linked, with an estimated 75 percent of emerging diseases considered zoonotic and exacerbated by changes in the environment. As women make up two-thirds of low-income livestock keepers their risk of infection is heightened while the demand for their time, in the form of care, is also increased. This is also, however, an area where women’s knowledge is important, as their experience in managing zoonotic disease risks may help curtail the continued spread of disease.

Migration by men and youth is also triggered by climate effects, as an economic coping mechanism to offset crop/livestock failures and low pay in the agriculture sector. Pandemics, like COVID-19, may force these household members to return from cities and other countries. While, in some cases, this may reduce their household and agricultural workloads, women may experience reduced decision-making power, autonomy, and household incomes as remittances dry up. As lockdowns keep women isolated and economic stress intensifies, rates of domestic violence are also likely to increase.

Preparing for and coping with shocks

It’s important to remember, however, that women are also active change agents who are often responsible for positive action in the face of shocks. For example, self-help groups (SHGs) across 27 Indian states have sewed more than 19 million masks, manufactured protective equipment, 100,000 liters of sanitizer, and nearly 50,000 liters of hand wash, in addition to running community kitchens and even providing banking and financial solutions. In Senegal, the government is buying rice and cereals grown by women farmers to distribute to vulnerable households. And, women leaders have been credited with taking demonstrable action, from Jordanian cabinet members to Rise For All, a women-led UN movement.

Representation in decision-making spaces is also important for preparing and coping with system shocks, like those presented by COVID-19. While women make up 70 percent of the global healthcare workforce, they are a small minority of senior managers in the health care sector. For example, just 28 percent of the World Health Organization’s leadership is female. Better representation of women at all levels of crisis and pandemic response, in addition to gender budgeting, will broaden the perspective of leadership bodies and contribute to more effective decision- and policy-making.

A path forward

Clearly, women are capable of taking on pandemic-induced challenges. What they often lack, however, is recognition and the support, services, and access to resources to stay healthy and prosper. Technologies such as digital transfers for social protection payments and mobile money help women retain control over income and revenue. Access to information that is targeted to women’s activities and priorities and is accessible better prepares women for weather changes, disasters, and epidemics. It also needs to be targetted to their activities and resilience priorities, through accessible formats and platforms, such as radio, voice-enabled information lines, women’s organizations, and community forums.  

Despite disparities in access to resources, women are often catalysts for positive change in their community. Photo Credit: Ayush Manik

Prevention and planning processes can use gender hotspot analysis to identify climate, poverty, and gender “hotspots,” or areas more likely to experience intensified climate effects. Gender-responsive agricultural practices and technologies increase resilience while decreasing workloads. Energy-efficient technologies enable smallholder farmers to store and process produce for use during food shortages or crises.

These actions are all important steps to take to address food security in crises while supporting women as food producers. To ensure climate change and systems shocks, such as pandemics, do not further entrench inequalities, we must understand gendered effects in the food system. This includes collecting sex-disaggregated data on the impacts of COVID-19 on health, employment, livelihoods, and food security. How are women, men and youth producers, entrepreneurs, and consumers affected by changes along food value chains caused by pandemics? How do pandemics affect consumer behavior (e.g. in food choices), given women’s role in household consumption choices? Getting better answers to these questions will build a more just and resilient world.

Read more:

CGIAR Research Program on Fish Agri-Food Systems (FISH)

3 weeks 1 day ago

FISH is a collaborative global partnership to sustainably improve the productivity of aquaculture and fisheries and enhance the contribution of fish to global development goals. The CGIAR Research Program on Fish (FISH) fosters impact-driven research innovations across the whole spectrum of aquaculture and fisheries production systems and value chains, with the goal of achieving sustainable increases in gender and socially-inclusive production and equitable distribution of nutritious fish to those most in need.

Integrating climate resilience into Farmer Field School methodology in East Africa

4 weeks 1 day ago

Farmer Field Schools (FFS) were introduced in East Africa in the late nineties as an alternative to top-down extension methods. At the time, climate change and variability were not key elements of the approach. The CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS) in East Africa is working with partners to integrate climate resilience into the region’s Farmer Field School (FFS) methodology, to promote climate-resilient agricultural practices in selected value chains.

This is undertaken within the five year Climate Resilient Agribusiness for Tomorrow (CRAFT) project funded by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in the Netherlands, and implemented by the Netherlands Development Organisation (SNV) in partnership with CCAFS, Wageningen University and Research (WUR), Agriterra and Rabo Partnerships. The consortium offers a strong platform to not only manage and coordinate a robust climate-smart agriculture (CSA) project, but also provide targeted technical assistance, business facilitation, as well as research and knowledge management support.

Farmer Field School 101

The FFS is a group-based learning process that brings together concepts and methods from agroecology, agroclimatology, and experiential learning through regular field observations and group analysis. The synergy of climate resilience and FFS methodologies, known as CR-FFS, is a novel approach. Given this, building the capacity of key resource people on the integration of these two concepts has been critical. Key stakeholders have included farmers, small and medium-sized enterprises (SME) employees, and public extension agents.

Throughout the training, CCAFS and SNV facilitated courses on the nexus of FFS and climate resilience in Uganda, Kenya and Tanzania. The sessions included Training of Trainers (ToT) and more advanced Master Trainers (MToT) events. The capacity building process involved partner cooperatives, SMEs, farmer representatives, and local government agricultural extension workers.

The training events were instrumental in empowering participants with knowledge and skills in the CR-FFS methodology, with the following objectives:

  • Equiping trainees with knowledge about climate change, climate variability and climate related risks affecting agriculture
  • Providing participants with the right tools for facilitating CR-FFS learning
  • Transferring skills to identify relevant stakeholders in CR-FFS
  • Preparing participants on how to plan improved CR-FFS implementation
  • Preparing a climate-resilient crop production curriculum for selected crops
  • Sharing knowledge, skills and experience in different farming systems to improve production

The training process followed a mixed approach of brainstorming, presentations on key scientific concepts and theories, group work to expose participants to Participatory Rural Appraisal (PRA) tools commonly used in FFS, plenary sessions to stimulate debate, and field visits for on the ground experience.

Making an impact in critical value chains

Throughout the course of the trainings, a total of 339 participants (24% female) from six cooperatives and SMEs focused on sesame and soybean value chains were trained in Uganda. In Kenya, 99 participants (28% female) were trained from 15 cooperatives and SMEs on green gram and potato value chains. In Tanzania, 210 participants (51% female) from six cooperatives and SMEs on sunflower and common bean value chains.

The participants sharpened their decision-making skills when faced with production constraints, including the use of climate information and appropriate climate-smart technologies and practices in different agroecological zones. Lessons from the trainings reflect a strong need to work more closely with meteorological agencies to ensure that farmers are guided to collect agrometeorological data which they can interpret easily and utilize for their agricultural production purposes.

Read more:

COVID-19: Flattening the food insecurity curve

1 month 1 week ago

This blog was originally published on the agCelerant websiteagCelerant is a value chain orchestrator for smallholder farmers and CCAFS partner.

COVID-19: the domino effect

The COVID-19 pandemic is already affecting the world on an unprecedented scale. Yet, the unfolding health crisis is only the most visible part of the iceberg. The impending global recession coming in its wake will likely be the most challenging event mankind has faced in recent history. Given the considerable difficulties experienced by developed nations in their struggle to contain COVID-19 and manage its impacts, one can easily imagine the potential for catastrophic scenarios in the developing world, and most critically on the sustainability of its food systems.

A risky dependence on food imports

Today, 80% of Africa’s agricultural production relies on smallholders. Their productivity is among the world’s lowest, capped at 30% of their potential due to lack of financing and market integration[1]. To feed their rapidly increasing populations, sub-Saharan African countries thus have to rely on massive food imports, projected before the onset of the pandemic to grow from USD 35 billion (2017) to USD 110 billion (2030) [2].The COVID-19 crisis is already accelerating the prospect for a dramatic increase in Africa’s dependence on food imports for the following reasons:

  • Assuming that national agricultural and agri-food industry workforces will be affected in proportions similar to those observed in the developed world, one can expect a brutal drop in Africa’s food production;
  • Financial institutions have started contracting. Banks will increasingly turn towards less risky investments, significantly reducing agricultural lending, particularly to smallholder producers;
  • The price of major food security commodities such as rice, wheat and maize will increase commensurate with spiking demand on world markets. This will severely constrain the financing of imports by countries that are already highly indebted.
Flatten the food insecurity curve

These extraordinary circumstances herald food crises of unique magnitude for the world’s most vulnerable nations, with direct implications on hunger, poverty, social unrest and stability. After the 2008 financial crisis, countries and financial systems adopted a reactive, demand-driven approach to provide the means to sustain the status quo, wages, purchasing power, etc. Such simple interventions cannot be afforded in the time of COVID-19, as the uncertainty grows as to where food will indeed be available at all. Ensuring the sustainability of supply itself will require marshalling a much more profound intervention on the world’s food systems.

The immediate emergency for appropriate curative and preventive solutions to COVID-19 should therefore not hide the concurrent imperative to prioritize and fast-track sustainable mitigation strategies to contain the massive emergent food insecurity brought about in vulnerable regions by the imminent global economic crisis. To avoid societal collapses and their many potential ripple effects on world security, we must act now to flatten the food insecurity curve in the same way flattening the COVID-19 infection curve will help preserve the integrity and function of national health systems.

Orchestrate food sovereignty

Food aid will obviously be critical to address symptoms of food insecurity, but not any more sufficient than ICU patient transfers to address symptoms of hospital saturation under COVID-19. We need a more transformative, orchestrated approach to food production, resulting in food systems that are both more integrative, more inclusive and hence more resilient. In Africa as elsewhere, COVID-19 presents us with the opportunity to accelerate agricultural transformation through orchestrated value chains that honorably promote (i) food sovereignty, traceability and quality and (ii) valuable participation on international markets, hence reducing trade balance deficits, improving food and nutritional security and reducing exposure to future shocks for individuals and entire societies alike.

The utmost priority is to immediately strengthen, in each target country, national support capacity for the next 2020 agricultural season with a triple trigger intervention that includes:

  1. A direct smallholders’ financing mechanism implemented through partner banks to (i) ensure accessibility and affordability of inputs to manage a minimum safety acreage allotment for food security purposes and (ii) provide technical backstopping to increase productivity by up to 60%;
  2. Simultaneously, direct support to agro-industries to enhance their capacity to absorb and transform the expected increase in smallholder throughput;
  3. Support to transactions between agricultural value chain stakeholders to help (i) aggregators and transformers purchase smallholders’ production and (ii) retailers purchase transformed food items for commercialization on the market.

Read the full blog on the agCelerant website.

[1] Only 11.32% of African smallholder producers have regular access to agricultural credit (source: Manobi Africa, 2019. Data from 15,850 smallholder farms of Ghana, Côte d’Ivoire, Nigeria and Senegal).

[2] Adesina A. 2017. Betting on Africa to feed the world. Norman Borlaug Lecture, World Food Day, Des Moines, IA, USA

[3] Given average production costs estimated at USD 600/ha in Africa (source: Manobi Africa, 2019)

COVID-19: flattening the food insecurity curve

1 month 1 week ago

This blog was originally published on the agCelerent websiteagCelerant is a value chain orchestration for small holder farmers and CCAFS partner.

COVID-19: the domino effect

The COVID-19 pandemic is already affecting the world on an unprecedented scale. Yet, the unfolding health crisis is only the most visible part of the iceberg. The impending global recession coming in its wake will likely be the most challenging event mankind has faced in recent history. Given the considerable difficulties experienced by developed nations in their struggle to contain COVID-19 and manage its impacts, one can easily imagine the potential for catastrophic scenarios in the developing world, and most critically on the sustainability of its food systems.

A risky dependence on food imports

Today, 80% of Africa’s agricultural production relies on smallholders. Their productivity is among the world’s lowest, capped at 30% of their potential due to lack of financing and market integration[1]. To feed their rapidly increasing populations, sub-Saharan African countries thus have to rely on massive food imports, projected before the onset of the pandemic to grow from USD 35 billion (2017) to USD 110 billion (2030) [2].The COVID-19 crisis is already accelerating the prospect for a dramatic increase in Africa’s dependence on food imports for the following reasons:

  • Assuming that national agricultural and agri-food industry workforces will be affected in proportions similar to those observed in the developed world, one can expect a brutal drop in Africa’s food production;
  • Financial institutions have started contracting. Banks will increasingly turn towards less risky investments, significantly reducing agricultural lending, particularly to smallholder producers;
  • The price of major food security commodities such as rice, wheat and maize will increase commensurate with spiking demand on world markets. This will severely constrain the financing of imports by countries that are already highly indebted.
Flatten the food insecurity curve

These extraordinary circumstances herald food crises of unique magnitude for the world’s most vulnerable nations, with direct implications on hunger, poverty, social unrest and stability. After the 2008 financial crisis, countries and financial systems adopted a reactive, demand-driven approach to provide the means to sustain the status quo, wages, purchasing power, etc. Such simple interventions cannot be afforded in the time of COVID-19, as the uncertainty grows as to where food will indeed be available at all. Ensuring the sustainability of supply itself will require marshalling a much more profound intervention on the world’s food systems.

The immediate emergency for appropriate curative and preventive solutions to COVID-19 should therefore not hide the concurrent imperative to prioritize and fast-track sustainable mitigation strategies to contain the massive emergent food insecurity brought about in vulnerable regions by the imminent global economic crisis. To avoid societal collapses and their many potential ripple effects on world security, we must act now to flatten the food insecurity curve in the same way flattening the COVID-19 infection curve will help preserve the integrity and function of national health systems.

Orchestrate food sovereignty

Food aid will obviously be critical to address symptoms of food insecurity, but not any more sufficient than ICU patient transfers to address symptoms of hospital saturation under COVID-19. We need a more transformative, orchestrated approach to food production, resulting in food systems that are both more integrative, more inclusive and hence more resilient. In Africa as elsewhere, COVID-19 presents us with the opportunity to accelerate agricultural transformation through orchestrated value chains that honorably promote (i) food sovereignty, traceability and quality and (ii) valuable participation on international markets, hence reducing trade balance deficits, improving food and nutritional security and reducing exposure to future shocks for individuals and entire societies alike.

The utmost priority is to immediately strengthen, in each target country, national support capacity for the next 2020 agricultural season with a triple trigger intervention that includes:

  1. A direct smallholders’ financing mechanism implemented through partner banks to (i) ensure accessibility and affordability of inputs to manage a minimum safety acreage allotment for food security purposes and (ii) provide technical backstopping to increase productivity by up to 60%;
  2. Simultaneously, direct support to agro-industries to enhance their capacity to absorb and transform the expected increase in smallholder throughput;
  3. Support to transactions between agricultural value chain stakeholders to help (i) aggregators and transformers purchase smallholders’ production and (ii) retailers purchase transformed food items for commercialization on the market.

Read the full blog on the agCelerent website.

[1] Only 11.32% of African smallholder producers have regular access to agricultural credit (source: Manobi Africa, 2019. Data from 15,850 smallholder farms of Ghana, Côte d’Ivoire, Nigeria and Senegal).

[2] Adesina A., 2017. Betting on Africa to feed the world. Norman Borlaug Lecture, World Food Day, Des Moines, IA, USA

[3] Given average production costs estimated at USD 600/ha in Africa (source: Manobi Africa, 2019)

Women’s engagement in and outcomes from small-scale fisheries value chains in Malawi: effects of social relations

1 month 1 week ago

Women play an important role within small-scale fishing communities in sub-Saharan Africa through engaging in fish value chain activities and contributing to household food security and income. There is, however, little empirical information about the nature of women’s engagement in small-scale fishery value chains and the outcomes of that engagement especially in Malawi, our study country. This study addresses the gap by examining (1) the ways in which women participate in fish value chains; (2) the outcomes of their participation at individual, household, and community level; and (3) how social relations influence the participation and the outcomes obtained. The study adopted a case study approach and draws upon qualitative data from the two small-scale fisheries in Msaka on Lake Malawi and Kachulu on Lake Chilwa.

Rising market pull for dryland crops prompts move for setting up efficient seed delivery systems

1 month 2 weeks ago

Increasing market demand for dryland crops in Kenya and Tanzania owing to IFAD-funded project interventions across the agriculture value chain for three years has led to last mile delivery plans of setting up efficient seed systems in the region. So far, over 14,268 project farmers in 369 farmer groups in the two countries received 10,963kg […]

The post Rising market pull for dryland crops prompts move for setting up efficient seed delivery systems appeared first on Grain Legumes and Dryland Cereals.

Making sense of the market: Assessing the participatory market chain approach to aquaculture value chain development in Nepal and Bangladesh

1 month 3 weeks ago

The participatory market chain approach (PMCA) is a methodology for improving the performance of poorly-coordinated value chains. This study uses a mixed methods approach to assess the effectiveness of PMCA for promoting aquaculture value chain development in Bangladesh and Nepal. The study consists of a quantitative structured survey and two story-based qualitative methods, Most Significant Change analysis, and SenseMaker® research software. Quantitative results show that in both countries the PMCA intervention significantly increased the quantity of fish produced, consumed and sold by participating households, leading to an approximate doubling of yields and income from fish. Qualitative findings indicate that PMCA fostered better access to markets for inputs and end products among market chain actors of all types, and improved their coordination and collective decision making, thereby somewhat rebalancing the dynamics of trade relationships to empower small producers.

Women’s engagement in and outcomes from small-scale fisheries value chains in Malawi: effects of social relations

1 month 3 weeks ago

Women play an important role within small-scale fishing communities in sub-Saharan Africa through engaging in fish value chain activities and contributing to household food security and income. There is, however, little empirical information about the nature of women’s engagement in small-scale fishery value chains and the outcomes of that engagement especially in Malawi, our study country. This study addresses the gap by examining (1) the ways in which women participate in fish value chains; (2) the outcomes of their participation at individual, household, and community level; and (3) how social relations influence the participation and the outcomes obtained. The study adopted a case study approach and draws upon qualitative data from the two small-scale fisheries in Msaka on Lake Malawi and Kachulu on Lake Chilwa.

First Lady of Niger leads millet movement

1 month 3 weeks ago

Niger recently celebrated the second annual International Millet Festival (FESTIMIL), aimed at enhancing the production, processing and consumption of millets, so as to create wellbeing and better dietary diversity. The festival is led by the First Lady, Dr Lalla Malika Issofou, a Smart Food  Ambassador, and offered a framework for discussions around strengthening value chains […]

The post First Lady of Niger leads millet movement appeared first on Grain Legumes and Dryland Cereals.

Brokering research crucial for climate-proofing drylands

2 months 1 week ago

Of the 12 interventions identified for agriculture by the Global Commission on Adaptation (GCA) in its September report, ‘Adapt Now: A Global Call for Leadership on Climate Resilience’, research and development has a role to play in nine interventions. That is just about the number of interventions involving policy and markets, and two more than […]

The post Brokering research crucial for climate-proofing drylands appeared first on Grain Legumes and Dryland Cereals.

Scaling climate-resilient agribusinesses in East Africa

2 months 3 weeks ago

There are growing private-sector driven efforts to scale up climate-smart agriculture (CSA) interventions in East Africa. These measures are aimed at building resilient farming systems through sustainable intensification across different agroecological zones. The Climate Resilient Agribusiness for Tomorrow (CRAFT) project is one such initiative. It supports a market-driven scaling agenda through inclusive business models along selected oilseed, pulse and potato agricultural value chains in Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania. The CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS) is one of the partners in the CRAFT project that is implemented by SNV Netherlands Development Organization.

Crops that are included in the initiative are potatoes, green grams, common beans and sorghum in Kenya; soybeans, sesame, sunflower and potato in Uganda; and common beans, sunflower, sorghum and potato in Tanzania. These crops were selected based on: 

  • Sufficient private sector interest and capacity for co-investment; 
  • Adequate domestic consumption to drive market development opportunities; 
  • Ample evidence of climate change risks projected to impact their value chains.

SNV has co-partnered with several high-potential small and medium enterprises (SMEs) across these value chains. CCAFS is working with SNV to enhance the capacity of SMEs to increase the availability of improved farm inputs, train farmers in CSA production practices and post-harvest management, and deliver climate information services.

Among these SMEs is Equator Seeds Limited (ESL) in Uganda. ESL handles the production, processing and distribution of improved seeds; provides extension support to out-grower farmers; and operates agricultural equipment hire services. The company will work with SNV to scale up the supply of improved sesame seeds from its current levels of production of about 190 tons per year to 1,000 tons per year. Such seeds will be marketed through agro-dealers to a target population of about 30,000 sesame producers.

Finding the scaling sweet spot

Reaching large numbers of beneficiaries or clients with a specific technology or practice as described above is how scaling is commonly understood. In the scaling literature, this approach is referred to as horizontal scaling. This type of scaling entails the replication, roll-out or expansion of proven innovations to more people in existing or new markets and contexts. In the vast majority of agricultural development contexts, however, the adoption and continued use of new innovations by small-scale farmers do not happen in isolation. It requires engaging with various complementary non-technological mechanisms (rules, policies, institutions, etc.) to create an enabling environment for innovations to go to scale. This process is usually referred to as vertical scaling and focuses on changing or strengthening existing policies and practices by governments, the public and private institutions.

Successful strategies to scaling tend to combine elements from both horizontal and vertical approaches. This ensures that relevant key actors and multiple levels of governance come together to facilitate the uptake of proven innovations. An innovation may be “ready” in a technical sense, in that its core components have been successfully tested to meet specific objectives in a specific environment. However, if existing systemic barriers (institutional, structural, policy, etc.) in the intervention context or landscape are not sufficiently understood and adequately addressed, the innovation may fail to go to scale.

Indeed, CRAFT recognizes the important role that public institutions play in facilitating and implementing climate-resilient farming and adaptation to climate change at the national and local levels. Among the project’s core objectives is to support policy efforts to address the most significant institutional and socio-economic barriers for large-scale CSA interventions. Given this, the project’s scaling activities are guided by a private-sector driven agenda that supports business champions to horizontally scale their innovations. To complement this, CRAFT will engage and collaborate with relevant institutions and actors to harness additional support and resources through vertical approaches.

In each implementing context, CRAFT will need to understand well and engage the system dynamics that determine the ‘scalability’ of innovations. These include incentives, required services, conducive policies and regulations and other relevant characteristics of the sector. For instance, a widespread sale of counterfeit seeds in Uganda’s agricultural sector stifles not only yield potential but farmers’ trust to invest in improved CSA farm inputs. Addressing this problem requires collaborative institutional action to effectively enforce quality standards and regulations in the production, multiplication and distribution of sesame seeds. Overall, developing effective and realistic scaling strategies demands flexibility in project design and implementation. This allows for the delivery of innovations that answer to local conditions and work within the confines of the wider agricultural systems of a particular context.

Read more:

Open data to boost Groundnut breeding initiatives

2 months 3 weeks ago

Groundnut is among the key grain legumes playing a vital role in enhancing human nutrition and farm biophysical features. Groundnut provides opportunities for smallholder and women farmers and boosts economies at the household and macro levels. However, agricultural institutions must continue to develop new varieties that meet the current and emerging market needs. More research […]

The post Open data to boost Groundnut breeding initiatives appeared first on Grain Legumes and Dryland Cereals.

Women’s engagement in and outcomes from small-scale fisheries value chains in Malawi: effects of social relations

2 months 3 weeks ago

Women play an important role within small-scale fishing communities in sub-Saharan Africa through engaging in fish value chain activities and contributing to household food security and income. There is, however, little empirical information about the nature of women’s engagement in small-scale fishery value chains and the outcomes of that engagement especially in Malawi, our study country. This study addresses the gap by examining (1) the ways in which women participate in fish value chains; (2) the outcomes of their participation at individual, household, and community level; and (3) how social relations influence the participation and the outcomes obtained. The study adopted a case study approach and draws upon qualitative data from the two small-scale fisheries in Msaka on Lake Malawi and Kachulu on Lake Chilwa.

Write-Shop 1: Systems research to transform agriculture for climate resilience in SAT: Legume intensification transforming agri-food systems for healthy landscapes and people in SSA

2 months 4 weeks ago

The participants representing ICRISAT, ICRAF, ICARDA, IITA, ILRI, CORAF, and NARS partners from Niger, Burkina Faso, Mali, Tanzania, Kenya, Bangladesh, Myanmar and India had a very productive brainstorming to agree .... Read more

The post Write-Shop 1: Systems research to transform agriculture for climate resilience in SAT: Legume intensification transforming agri-food systems for healthy landscapes and people in SSA appeared first on Grain Legumes and Dryland Cereals.

Write-Shop 3: Bio-fortification of GLDC crops to ensure healthy and nutritious food systems under climate change scenarios

2 months 4 weeks ago

The project goal is to reduce malnutrition for millions of people in South Asia, Sub-Saharan Africa and MENA by increasing availability to GLDC crops in daily diet, and provide sustainability to agri-food systems. The outputs of the project contribute to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) 2 that aims to reduce poverty... Read more

The post Write-Shop 3: Bio-fortification of GLDC crops to ensure healthy and nutritious food systems under climate change scenarios appeared first on Grain Legumes and Dryland Cereals.

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