CIMMYT


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.

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1. Agricultural Systems/Climate Change Mitigation
Achieving sustainable food security in a world of growing population and changing diets is a major challenge under climate change. The International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT) is looking for an innovative, results-oriented young scientist with excellent skills in agricultural systems analysis and modeling. The scientist will work as a member of CIMMYT 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 systems research is conducted, as well as partners in advanced research institutes, national research programs, and the CCAFS (CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security) community. He/she will be responsible for evaluating the potential impact, in the Indo Gangetic plains, of improved agricultural management practices, including conservation agriculture, to mitigate climate change. The position is supported by the CGIAR Research Program (CRP7-CCAFS) and other donors.

The complete description of this position is available from the CIMMYT website

2. Agricultural Systems/Climate Change Adaptation
Achieving sustainable food security in a world of growing population and changing diets is a major challenge under climate change. The International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT) is looking for an innovative, results-oriented young scientist with excellent skills in agricultural systems analysis and modeling. The scientist will work as a member of CIMMYT 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 systems research is conducted, as well as partners in advanced research institutes, national research programs, and the CCAFS (CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security) community. He/she will be responsible for assessing the potential of conservation agriculture as an adaption measure to climate change in the Indo Gangetic plains and East Africa, in coordination with similar studies in South Asia region and in East Africa. The position is supported by the CGIAR Research Program (CRP7-CCAFS) and other donors.

The complete description of this position is available from the CIMMYT website

The co-location of WCCA and FSD, with input from Landcare, provides a great opportunity to explore the application of conservation agriculture practices and principles in a systems context with broader environmental awareness. The common objective is the design of more productive, economic, and sustainable farming systems to meet the challenges of expanding population, global change, and environmental degradation.

Our objective in program design has been to provide a stimulating Congress for all, regardless of participant’s background – high or low resource, scientist or farmer, and regardless of speciality –Conservation Agriculture, Farming Systems Design or Landcare. By mixing traditional oral/poster paper presentations, with workshops, “so what” sessions and the field day we have tried to balance specialist requirements with opportunities for broader discussion between people with different backgrounds and disciplinary perspectives.

Pdf document available from the WCCA website

This blog has been very quiet for some months. However, the CGIAR Systemwide Livestock Program continues to be active. With the departure of the Coordinator – Bruno Gerard – from the SLP, it is also a time of transition for the team.

Below is a short update from ILRI Deputy Director General John McDermott on the coming period:

“Bruno Gérard will be joining CIMMYT from 1 September 2011 as the Programme Director, Global Conservation Agriculture Programme, based in Ethiopia, and will therefore be ending his tenure as SLP Coordinator.  I am sure you would like to join me in both thanking Bruno for his three years as SLP Coordinator and the tremendous leadership he has shown in moving this joint CGIAR agenda forward, as well as congratulating him on his new appointment.

Given that we are undergoing a transition period during which SLP activities will become fully integrated into the new CGIAR Research Programmes (CRP1.1 and 1.2 in particular), we have put in place some interim arrangements for SLP, which we anticipate will continue to evolve as the CRPs are initiated.

Oversight of SLP coordination and administration: Shirley Tarawali (Theme Director of People, Livestock and the Environment, ILRI, Ethiopia). 

Day to day management of the current SLP regional projects: Diego Valbuena,(Postdoctoral Scientist, SLP, Ethiopia) with backstopping from Alan Duncan (Livestock Scientist, People, Livestock and the Environment Theme, ILRI, Ethiopia)

Wubalem Dejene will continue as the Programme Assistant, dealing with budgeting and administrative issues”.

John McDermott
Chair, Livestock Programme Group
Deputy Director General (Research), ILRI, Nairobi

The corporate report looks ‘back to the future’—to the thousand million farmers practicing small-scale mixed crop-and-livestock agriculture in poor countries—the kind of seemingly old-fashioned family farming systems that have become so fashionable in recent years among those wanting to reform the industrial food systems of rich countries.

The report synthesizes results of a study, ‘Drivers of change in crop-livestock systems and their potential impacts on agro-ecosystem services and human well-being to 2030,’ being published in book form in 2011. The study was a collaborative endeavour conducted by a group of scientists in centres belonging to the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR). The study was funded and coordinated by the CGIAR’s Systemwide Livestock Programme and led by Mario Herrero, a livestock systems analyst at the International Livestock Research Institute.

The SLP study shows that it is not big efficient farms on high potential lands but rather one billion small ‘mixed’ family farmers tending rice paddies or cultivating maize and beans while raising a few chickens and pigs, a herd of goats or a cow or two on relatively extensive rainfed lands who feed most of the world’s poor people today, and is likely to play the biggest role in global food security over the next several decades, as world population grows and peaks (at 9 billion or so) with the addition of another 3 billion people.

Read the report in pdf

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.

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From Science Blog 26/08/10

Cattle grazing maize residues after harvest in Zimbabwe. Photo: Sabine Homann

As climate change intensifies drought conditions in Africa and sparks fears of a new cycle of crippling food shortages, a study released today finds widespread adoption of recently developed drought-tolerant varieties of maize could boost harvests in 13 African countries by 10 to 34 percent and generate up to US$1.5 billion in benefits for producers and consumers.

Read the full story

SLP Comments: Benefits of drought tolerant maize by-products/crop residues should also be addressed as the technology is mainly targeting mixed crop-livestock smallholders

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