CIMMYT and Wageningen University are looking for three highly motivated and inquisitive PhD candidates to investigate the development trajectories of cereal-based systems in Mexico, South Asia and Ethiopia, major drivers of change, and impacts on agroecosystem processes across spatial and temporal scales. This knowledge will be used to analyse and explore how promising technological and institutional innovations targeting sustainable intensification can more effectively improve rural livelihoods and environmental quality in these agro-ecosystems to better inform development actions and policy.
October 20, 2012
Three PhD positions on system trajectories, diversity and cross-scale trade-offs: targeting innovations for the sustainable intensification of cereal-based agro-ecosystemsPosted by Diego Valbuena under CIMMYT, Conservation Agriculture, Crop-Livestock, East Africa, Intensification, Job opportunity, Latin America, Modelling, South Asia, Wageningen University
March 28, 2012
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This week in the session of Food Security of the Planet Under Pressure conference in London, Diego Valbuena presented the preliminary results of the SLP residue project. Focusing on biomass use and pressures in mixed crop-livestock systems, the main messages of this presentation were that:
- Mixed systems are dynamic and diverse, with different options and challenges
- Pressures on crop residues needs to look at both production and demand
- Trade-offs between livelihoods and ecosystem services can be avoided
- System research is useful to better understand pressure and options on residue/biomass, but we need more participatory, integrated and coordinate research
March 20, 2012
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The first peer-reviewed publication of the Systemwide Livestock Programme (SLP) crop residue project is now on-line in Field Crops Research. This paper describes the options and challenges of Conservation Agriculture (CA) in mixed systems by comparing 12 study sites in 9 countries across Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia. Results illustrate that “despite its potential benefit for smallholder farmers across the density gradient, the introduction of CA-based mulching practices appears potentially easier in sites where biomass production is high enough to fulfil existing demands for feed and fuel. In sites with relatively high feed and fuel pressure, the eventual introduction of CA needs complementary research and development efforts to increase biomass production and/or develop alternative sources to alleviate the opportunity costs of leaving some crop residues as mulch”.
February 27, 2012
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The International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT) is looking for for an innovative, results-oriented scientist with excellent skills in agricultural innovation to facilitate technology adoption and maximize CIMMYT’s impact. The scientist will work as a member of CIMMYT’s Global Conservation Agriculture Program (CIMMYT-GCAP), and will play a key role in a large multi-disciplinary and multi-institutional team. The selected scientist will work closely with CIMMYT’s research teams in the different regions where innovation approaches are implemented, and will partner with advanced research institutes, national research and extension programs, NGOs and private sector stakeholders. He/she will be responsible for reinforcing/evaluating and redesigning, if necessary, multi-stakeholder approaches for the co-development and increased adoption of sustainable agricultural practices in Latin America, East and Southern Africa, and South Asia.
December 21, 2011
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Last week, the crop residue trade-offs project team met in Addis Ababa to take stock of the data collected across all four regions (South Asia, Southern Africa, West Africa and East Africa). The idea was to see how we could build on and use the data collected towards practical solutions on how residues could be used better for livelihoods and the environment. Another key discussion point was about how the research momentum on crop livestock systems built up during the lifetime of the CGIAR Systemwide Livestock Program (SLP) could help to shape the new CGIAR Consortium Research Programs (CRPs), especially the ‘system CRPs’,1.1 and 1.2, which are meant to integrate research results from all other CRPs).
The workshop included representatives from the four regions where SLP works as well as guests from different institutions: CIMMYT (International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center), ICARDA (International Center for Agricultural Research in the Dry Areas), ICRISAT (International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics), IITA (International Institute of Tropical Agriculture), ILRI (International Livestock Research Institute), the University of Minnesota in the US and finally from Wageningen University in the Netherlands.
Taking stock of phase I
Phase I of the crop residue trade-offs project developed a description of residue use and identified determinants of use and potential effects of different uses for livelihoods and the environment. This was based on a socio-economic analysis of 12 study sites across the SLP regions, based on village and household level surveys. The first day of the workshop included an update on the progress of each region, identification of major lessons on both process and content and an overview on the current data analyses. Most regions have finished data entry and are busy cleaning data from errors and missing information.
General lessons are: residues are mostly grazed or fed; trade-offs depend on both production and demand, but they are still more evident in low intensive agricultural sites; the participation of farmers and other stakeholder is essential to identify potential Technological, Institutional and Policy options (TIPs). Regional reports should be ready by end of March 2012. These will include a general descriptive analysis, as well as simple econometric approaches to identify determinants of crop residue use.
From diagnosis to action: phase II
Phase II aims to identify promising TIP options to reduce trade-offs in crop residue use. A consultation with external ‘experts’ and unfolding SLP internal discussions seemed to agree that a more participatory approach will bridge the diagnostic phase I into a more practical phase II. The SLP does not have either the resources or the long term timeframe to embark on action research, therefore phase II should be seen as a transition phase that can help link SLP research to ongoing and new projects or to develop new proposals to go beyond diagnosis.
On the last day of the workshop, we started with a description of CRP 1.1 and 1.2 and went on to discuss how SLP can share some experience on systems research and institutional collaboration, which have been major SLP principles. Additionally, a work plan for 2012 for Phase II was mapped out. Phase II will focus on well-defined consultations with farmers and other stakeholders in the different regions to identify promising TIPs, and to enrich the already quantitative description of crop residue uses and trade-offs with a more qualitative analysis across study sites and households in mixed crop-livestock systems.
This workshop marked the beginning of the last year of the SLP and the crop residue trade-offs project. We hope to keep enriching the research of the CGIAR centers and projects with experiences in system analysis and intra-CGIAR collaboration. We also plan to make full use of the time remaining to move into a more action-oriented mode. We will identify promising TIPs that will tackle trade-offs in biomass use to the benefit of the livelihoods of the rural poor and the long term sustainability of rural regions in the developing world.
November 15, 2011
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Interesting initiatives of two major donors for agricultural development in Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia.
Last October the Australian Government announced that will provide AUS 36 million to establish a new Australian International Centre for Food Security led by the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR). The centre aims to boost food production in Africa, through the provision of research and technical expertise. The initiative would expand the work of ACIAR, particularly and initially in African countries, but with scope to broaden its geographic reach.
Early this month, the Gates Foundation announced a new agricultural policy that will focus on only few countries in Sub-Saharan Africa (Ethiopia, Ghana, Mali, Nigeria, Tanzania and Uganda) and South Asia (Bangladesh, and Bihar and Orissa States in India). The new strategy will focus not just on technological interventions to reduce productivity gaps in certain crops but also the infrastructures, institutional reforms and policy changes required to improve productivity.
October 5, 2011
SLP participation in the 5th World Congress of Conservation Agriculture incorporating 3rd Farming System Design ConferencePosted by Diego Valbuena under Animal Feeding, Conference, Conservation Agriculture, Crop Residues, Crop-Livestock, Crop-Livestock, East Africa, Intensification, Livelihoods, South Asia, Southern Africa, Survey, West Africa | Tags: cgiar |
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SLP was part of the 5th WCCA & 3rd FSD held in Brisbane, Australia last week. Diego Valbuena (SLP Postdoc Scientist) gave an overview on the crop residue use in different mixed crop-livestock systems across Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia. This presentation reflects the current analysis and synthesis of the village-level data of the SLP Crop Residue project. The main points of this presentation were that:
- Crop residues in mixed systems are fundamental resources for short-term objectives, especially for livestock feed.
- Residues as mulch is not a common practice, mainly occurring in regions with relatively very high crop production or with high crop production and relatively low feed demand. In regions with high pressure on residues, an increase of agricultural production is needed.
- There are no silver-bullets: each region has its own potential, challenges & options for more sustainable agriculture.
Finally, the presentation shows the next steps of the SLP Crop Residue project.
September 7, 2011
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These proceedings are an important source of information for animal and crop scientists working on the challenges of feeding the developing world’s rapidly rising livestock population and improving the productivity of its agriculture. It is hoped that, by collaborating more closely, these scientists will be able to develop the innovative approaches and new technologies needed in the next century
October 1, 2010
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Smallholders in mixed crop–livestock systems make up a large proportion of the farming enterprises in developing countries. In these systems, crop residues are an important component of production since they have multiple uses including livestock feed, construction materials, cooking fuel and organic fertilizer for the fields.
Mixed crop–livestock systems are very dynamic and are evolving rapidly in response to external drivers such as demographic pressure, development of urban markets, climate variability and climate change. In addition, recent interest in biofuels has further implications for land use and resource allocation.
This study aims to improve understanding of the tradeoffs among different crop residue uses in cereal-based systems in four regions: millet-, sorghum-, and maize-based systems in West Africa; maize-based systems in eastern Africa, maize- and sorghum-based systems in southern Africa; and wheat/rice-based systems in South Asia. The major trade-off in most systems is the short-term benefit gained from using crop residues to feed livestock versus the longer-term benefit gained from leaving crop residues in the field to improve soil fertility and control erosion.
The study focuses on decision-making processes at the farm and household level and the findings will capture the diversity and contrasts as well as recent changes in crop residue uses at various scales. The results will help decision makers to target technical, institutional and policy options to improve livelihoods, without compromising the long-term sustainability of these farming systems.