February 2010


Read in ICRISAT SatTrends Issue 100

Success of innovation platforms in southern Africa
Appropriate partnerships bring about change in southern Africa

Given the recent economic crisis, the expectation is that there isn’t much money changing hands in rural Zimbabwe. However, data from Gwanda district in Zimbabwe shows that this is definitely not the case. The first and only goat auction sales pen established with ICRISAT’s support generated US$ 53,000 during 2009.

Nhwali auction in Gwanda
Goats being auctioned at the Nhwali auction in Gwanda, Zimbabwe
.

These figures clearly indicate the potential of livestock to contribute to household incomes in rural Zimbabwe. The production and marketing of goats is a viable business opportunity and can generate a reasonable income for the smallholder farmer in southern Africa – given the right circumstances, or in many cases the right partnerships.

In Gwanda, the creation of a sales pen and the formalization of goat sales through regular auctions generated such circumstances. This facilitating environment fostered successful relationships between buyers and sellers and instilled confidence in markets.

In the case of Namibia, public-private partnerships generated the right conditions for boosting livestock production and marketing. AGRA, a national agricultural input supply cooperative, recently established an outlet in Hoachanas near the sales pen. Farmers are benefiting from the proximity to inputs and information. This will ultimately increase the productivity of their herds and result in higher incomes.

The key to these successes has been partnerships. The Livestock and Livelihoods project has been testing the use of innovation platforms as a tool to facilitate dialogue between the main players in the value chain to identify bottlenecks and opportunities in production, marketing, and the policy environment. One of the outcomes of engaging in this process is the creation of appropriate partnerships for change.

The innovation platform approach has shown that there are two critical elements for building successful partnerships:

  • Initial facilitation: Successful partnerships are not formed on their own. Someone, usually from the public sector, must take the onus upon themselves to establish the initial dialogue for partnership. They create the buy-in of potential partners, promote ownership of the process, and establish a basis for negotiations. Facilitators should also address the costs
    of creating partnerships.
  • Flexible and open collaboration: Flexibility in the structure of collaboration is required as are well-developed channels of communication, arbitration, monitoring and evaluation, and sound financial management.

Successful partnerships exploit the complementarities and comparative advantages of those involved. They can encourage local innovations and area-specific solutions to improve livestock production and marketing. Moreover, investments from the private sector can alleviate pressure from overburdened government support services and stimulate increased use of inputs, information flow and generate tangible benefits at the market place.

Compiled by Amir Kassam, Moderator of CA-CoP listserver

ILRI vacancy: Research Assistant – Innovation in livestock systems (closing Friday, 05 March 2010)

ILRI vacancy: Director of Human Resources (open till filled)

ILRI vacancy: Livestock Systems Scientist (closing 28 February 2010)

ILRI vacancy: Agricultural Economist (Value Chains and Development) (Screening starts on 15th March and open until the position has been filled)

ILRI vacancy: Junior Scientist – Economist (closing 28 March 2010)

ILRI vacancy: Head of Operations, ILRI Addis Ababa campus

Yet another forward looking publication on Food Security….

This time in Crop Science and  using the IMPACT-IFPRI model (as in the recent Science piece by Herrero et al.)

Full article in pdf

Abstract
This background article addresses key challenges of adequately feeding a population of 9 billion by 2050, while preserving the agroecosystems from which other services are also expected. One of the scenario-buildings uses the Agrimonde platform, which considers the following steps: choosing the scenarios and their underlying building principles, developing quantitative scenarios, and building complete scenarios by combining quantitative scenarios with qualitative hypotheses. These scenarios consider how food issues link to production, for example, the percentage of animal vs. vegetal calorie intake in the full diet. The first section of this article discusses Agrimonde GO and Agrimonde 1 scenarios, which indicate that global economic growth and ecological intensification remain as main challenges for feeding the earth’s growing population toward the mid-21st century. The second section provides the outcomes of the analysis of alternative futures for agricultural supply and demand and food security to 2050, based on research done for the International Assessment of Agricultural Science and Technology for Development. The last section of this article provides a summary analysis of food systems and functions, as well as the role of food technology that address some of the global challenges affecting the supply of more nutritious and healthy diets. It also highlights the food production by novel means (e.g., alternatives for animal products based on plant materials) and increasing the presence of potentially health-promoting compounds in food to improve human and animal health. Finally, this article proposes priority areas that should be included in further agri-food research.

The full report is now available on the FAO website

In Science today:

‘….Although Brazilian sugar cane is the most competitive ethanol feedstock today, the United States and Europe are investing heavily in next-generation approaches. In 2009, the U.S. Department of Energy alone budgeted more than $325 million for biofuel science and demonstration plants. Much of that effort is aimed at “cellulosic ethanol,” or how to obtain fermentable sugars cheaply from straw, wood chips, and other plant material normally considered waste’

Science 327 (5968), 928. [DOI: 10.1126/science.327.5968.928]
Summary »Full Text »PDF »

Note: Next generation biofuel might have a major impact on livestock feeding, new opportunities for feeding monograstics and could be a treat to sustainability in some production systems. It will create  new competitive interests for cereal crop residues (conservation agriculture practitioners strongly advocating for keeping large amounts of residues in the field to maintain or improve long term productivity)

1) Post Doctoral Fellow – Agro-ecosystem specialist (Ethiopia)

IWMI seeks to recruit a well qualified Post Doctoral Fellow with skills in ecosystem analysis to participate in a Challenge Program on Water and Food project located in the Nile Basin that focuses on integrated rainwater management strategies, technologies, institutions and policies. S/he will work in an inter-disciplinary team that will consider the impact of rain water management technologies and strategies on catchment hydrology, livelihoods and landscape functioning at different locations within the Nile Basin, with the ultimate aim of upgrading water and system productivity in mixed farming landscapes.

Job Description

2) Post Doctoral Fellow – FIELD HYDROLOGY (Ethiopia)

IWMI seeks to recruit a well qualified Post Doctoral Fellow in Field Hydrology to participate in a Challenge Program on Water and Food project located in the Nile Basin that focuses on integrated rainwater management strategies, technologies, institutions and policies. S/he will work in an inter-disciplinary team that will consider the impact of rain water management technologies and strategies on catchment hydrology – the downstream and groundwater impacts as well as evaporation and transpiration – at different locations within the Nile Basin, with the ultimate aim of evaluating water allocation and water productivity implications.

Job Description

Deadline for application: 31 March 2010

For further information visit IWMI – http://www.iwmi.org

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