Meetings


“The ‘Second Phase’ of the SLP crop residue project has begun in Ethiopia and Bangladesh and will continue in Zimbabwe and Niger shortly. In this phase of the project, a participatory and collaborative approach is being taken in order to understand constraints faced by farmers and other stakeholders, and to generate knowledge that can inform future action.

The work, led by Dr Beth Cullen (ILRI) in collaboration with other researchers from ILRI, ICRISAT, IITA, CIMMYT and local partner institutions, has consisted of presenting highlights from survey work to farmers from selected villages in each of the sites of the SLP crop residue project. Basic graphs were prepared to help farmers visualize the results and these acted as a starting point for further discussion. Topics covered included: cropping patterns, crop residue use and competition, feeding strategies and livestock productivity, impact of technologies such as fertilizer, improved seed, herbicide and pesticides, income sources, mulching and soil fertility, access to information and extension services. Discussions with farmers helped to probe these subjects in more depth in order to better understand dynamics of crop residue use and decision making processes at farm level.  This process has generated important qualitative information which will be used to fill gaps in the quantitative data collected so far.

Dr Elahi Baksh from CIMMYT discussing survey results with farmers in Bangladesh (photo: Beth Cullen).

 

After in-depth conversations with researchers about the results, farmers were asked to think about their plans and visions for the future. They were presented with four options: intensification, diversification, specialization and out of farming. Farmers voted for their preferred future option and were asked to explain the reasons for their choice. Choices were influenced by factors such as livestock numbers, land size, access to markets and roads. Farmers were then asked to brainstorm the main constraints they face, to prioritize these constraints, identify root causes and potential solutions. Challenges varied from village to village, but consistent themes also emerged. At the end of the exercise farmers expressed thanks to researchers for feeding back the survey results and for involving them in further discussion.

After working at village level a stakeholder workshop was arranged to bring together experts including crop and livestock experts from local agricultural bureaus, extension coordinators, local extension agents, staff from national research centers, researchers from local universities and NGO representatives. Farmers from selected villages were invited to join the discussions, they valued being part of the process from start to finish as well as the opportunity to engage in dialogue with other stakeholders. Results from the survey and farmers feedback were synthesized and presented to stakeholders for their comments. Stakeholders were then invited to consider three key challenges and identify technical, institutional and policy options for improving livelihoods and ensuring longer term system sustainability.

 

A group of stakeholders working together to identify ‘TIPs’ in Ethiopia (photo: Beth Cullen).

 

The combination of qualitative and quantitative approaches and exchanges between researchers, farmers and other stakeholders has yielded valuable results. These results will be communicated in a series of reports and briefs to policy makers, researchers and the various partners and stakeholders involved in the research. SLP researchers will also consider how the collaborative research process and the findings could help to inform and be integrated into ingoing research, particularly the new CGIAR Consortium Research Programs (CRP’s)”.

By Dr. Beth Cullen

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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.

By Sabine Homann-Kee Tui (ICRISAT, Bulawayo):

Part of the SLP team met in ICRISAT-Bulawayo from 28 November to 4 December to discuss research results and outputs of the crop residue project for the Southern African region. One of the main activities of the week were two workshops in Nkayi to review preliminary study results on the current state of crop livestock systems and crop residue utilization and discuss options with farmers and other stakeholders. The first workshop was held in one of the eight study villages, Sibangilizwe, where land use seemed the most intensive. Around 20 farmers of different ages, gender and herd sizes attended the meeting. The farmers first discussed the SLP survey results and then divided into two groups to discuss means to a) improve crop production and b) improve livestock production.

For crop improvement, access to improved seed and agricultural knowledge were emphasized. For livestock access to inputs and information on animal health and feed were of major concern. Exploring the option of improving cropping technologies to produce more and higher quality crop residues was viewed as an important solution to address livestock feed shortages. A final exercise clearly showed that farmers prefer to intensify the existing croplands and livestock above croplands and livestock expansion, take up new products for niche markets and commercialize, and move out of agriculture.

The following day, another workshop was hosted by local government (Rural District Council). Participants included farmers from a different village as well as from district and provincial level support services (Agricultural Extension Services, Department of Livestock Production and Development, Department of Veterinary Services, Department of Irrigation, Environmental Management Authority) and NGOs. A delegation, preparing a project proposal for submission to the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR), also joined the meeting.

The participants discussed promising technical, institutional, policy options with regards to crop livestock intensification. Methods to improve soil fertility, crop diversification for food and feed and fodder crops were identified as important possibilities to explore. This needs to be supported by multidisciplinary teams that can capacitate service providers on supporting crop-livestock intensification and train farmers on the relevant technical issues. Local bylaws need to be strengthened for better use of cropland and rangeland. Crop and livestock markets should be resuscitated, sensitizing private sector about the existing market potential among smallholder farmers, improving linkages between input and output markets and knowledge on how farmers can make best use of these markets. Effective forms of facilitating communication among stakeholders, particularly research, extension and development, should be institutionalized for these purposes, with access to information highlighted as key requirement to enable farmers to embrace change.

The SLP team will use the experience (results and process tested) from the Nkayi workshops to inform the development of research tools across the SLP sites, especially to further study the institutional frameworks and options and for developing future research proposals.

The Technical Consultation on Integrated Crop-Livestock Systems for Development reported in this document was the culmination of a collaborative process in which FAO, IICA, EMBRAPA and IFAD and
many individuals from a number of organizations participated over several months to ensure its success. The Consultation process was initiated by the Office of the Assistant Director General of the Agriculture Department of the Food and Agriculture Organization (AG-FAO) of the United Nations. The process comprised two parts – an electronic Consultation during February and March 2010 in which some 300 individuals from a number of organizations participated, and a face-to-face Technical Consultation that was held at the EMBRAPA Maize and Sorghum Institute in Sete Lagaos, Brazil, from 23-26 May 2010. Institutions that helped to plan and organize the Consultation included: FAO, IICA/PROCITROPICOS, EMBRAPA, IFAD, FARA, ICRAF, ILRI, CGIAR-SLP.

Pdf document is available from FAO website

Read on People Daily Online website (China)

Climate change in Africa and the world at large has impacted on many fronts resulting in drought and floods hence resulting in food shortage.

Consequently, poverty levels have increased leading to low development among many developing nations.

It is against this backdrop that leading agriculture and climate scientists, policymakers, farmers, and development experts from around the world will gather in Nairobi from today to focus on the threat of climate change to the global food supply.

The conference is jointly convened by the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR) and the Earth System Science Partnership (ESSP).

Speakers are drawn from World Agro forestry Centre (ICRAF), International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), UNEP, and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

The conference conveners noted that if climate change is not checked, it could negatively affect efforts to reduce poverty and hunger.

This would threaten the stability of entire nations as farmers struggle in hotter and more uncertain conditions to feed a population set to reach 9 billion people by 2050. Less rain and changing rainfall patterns have resulted in low yields.

According to the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) of the United Nations, one in three people living in Sub-Saharan Africa were chronically hungry in 2007.

The region is also hardest hit by extreme poverty, harboring 75 percent of people worldwide that live on less then a dollar a day.

Since 2007, erratic rainfall has led to increased food shortages in southern Africa where droughts damaged and destroyed maize crops.

A study by the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) warns that in Africa alone, over the next four decades higher temperatures and more frequent droughts could depress wheat yields by over 30 percent, rice by 15 percent, and maize by 10 percent.

Yet FAO has projected that over this same period food production globally must increase by 70 percent to feed a population expected to reach 9.1 billion people.

IFPRI found that neutralizing the effects of climate change on productivity requires investing at least 7 billion dollars per year on research, irrigation, and rural roads.

The conference comes in the wake of talks in Copenhagen last December, where high-level recognition of the link between climate change and food security was reinforced.

In a month’s time, climate change negotiators reconvene in Bonn, Germany to continue discussions to reach consensus on a new global agreement for reducing greenhouse gas emissions and adapting to their impacts.

African leaders have been particularly frustrated by the failure of negotiators to give adequate attention to the food security-climate change connection and have joined other developing country officials in declaring: “no agriculture, no agreement.”

Scientists blame climate change for causing more intense and frequent droughts, floods, hurricanes, rising sea levels, and other negative effects in different parts of the world.

The cheapest and most efficient way to mitigate the harmful effects of climate change on poor nations like Kenya is to have lots of trees. Trees absorb excess carbon dioxide and other harmful gases from the atmosphere. But when trees are cut down, this process is halted.

The government recently, launched the third phase of tree planting in bid to reclaim Kenya’s water tower the Mau forest and forest cover.

Source:Xinhua

GCARD 2010 meeting on SciDev.Net

To register to FAO mail server and see the background note

This electronic consultation is an informal discussion forum to exchange views and information among the subscribers during the month of February 2010. It is a prelude to a face-to-face workshop which will be held in Brazil from 23-26 March 2010, co-organized by FAO, Embrapa, IFAD and IICA.

The technical discussions will focus on the following four complementary and inter-connected topics across a range of types (on-farm or area-wide) and scales of crop-livestock integration in different agroecologies in the developing regions:

  1. From 1-5 February: Promising integrated crop-livestock systems and innovations that merit mainstreaming and scaling, and the tactics for implementation (including: technical designs of integrated systems and their economical, environmental and social dimensions; functional biomass production for multiple use; Farmer Field Schools, Farmers Clubs, Cooperatives, Associations etc for participatory farmer learning and adoption, and for economies of scale and competitiveness; knowledge services and communication needs, common resource management issues etc).
  2. From 8-12 February: Input and output market linkage development for promising crop-livestock systems and associated input and output supply chain processes and public-private service providers for different production systems and diverse markets (including: constraints and opportunities in input supply chains covering production inputs of seeds, agro-chemicals, farm power, equipment and machinery, veterinary services, advisory and innovation systems on good farming practices, marketing infrastructure and organization forms etc; constraints and opportunities in output supply chains covering animals for meat, milk and other dairy products, hides and skins from cattle and small ruminants, and meat and eggs from poultry, and meat from pigs; and opportunities for processing in integrated production systems etc).
  3. From 15-19 February: Political will, and policy and institutional support for the adoption and enabling the spread of innovations and practices associated with promising crop-livestock systems for food and nutritional security (including: sector policies, goals and strategies; strategic planning; enabling environment including infrastructure, credit, marketing, insurance, land tenure etc; tactics for action, incentives, regulations, strategic directions for change in extensive and intensive crop-pasture-livestock systems etc).
  4. From 22-26 February: Research needed to generate knowledge and innovative practices to underpin farmer adoption and scaling of promising crop-livestock systems for sustainable production intensification (including: technical, biological, nutritional, landscape, economic, environmental and social dimensions of integrated systems and practices; on-farm and area-wide integration of crop-livestock systems; functional biomass production and prioritization of its multiple role and use; feed and nutritional formulations; animal health management; effective innovations systems and processes; linking research result to policymaking etc).

In addition to the topic-specific core issues and their interactions, the following two cross-cutting themes will also be addressed:

i. Roles of stakeholders (public sector, private sector, civil Society — NGOs and parliamentarians, international research and development institutions, including the FAO, donors, etc.); and

ii. Capturing public goods and incentives for action (payment for environmental services, special market access based on adoption of good practices – including food safety and quality, global awards to private sector and civil society champions, etc).

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