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The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) has awarded CNFA (a non-partisan, non-profit organization dedicated to stimulating economic growth and improving rural livelihoods by empowering the private sector) a contract to implement the Agricultural Growth Program-Livestock Growth Project (AGP-LGP) over the course of five years.  As part of USAID’s Feed the Future Initiative, AGP-LGP will foster growth, create jobs for rural households, and reduce hunger and malnutrition through increased competitiveness of selected livestock value chains in meat and dairy. The project is a key USAID contribution to the Government of Ethiopia’s Agricultural Growth Program (AGP), whose objective is to increase agricultural productivity and market access for key crop and livestock products in targeted woredas with increased participation of women and youth.

More information from the CNFA website

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.

The complete initiative is available from the ACIAR website

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.

A description of this strategy is available from the SciDev Net website

This study reviews evidence on the practice, outcomes, and future potential of CA in sub-Saharan Africa as an approach to increasing food security, alleviating poverty, conserving biodiversity and ecosystem services, and supporting climate change adaptation and mitigation at local to global scales. The study was conducted by EcoAgriculture Partners in conjunction with CARE, WWF, and the World Agroforestry Centre to assist CARE, WWF, and their Alliance in developing an Africa-wide strategy for incorporating CA more effectively into their projects, programs, and policy advocacy work. Research methods included an extensive literature review, interviews, field visits to four CA projects in Tanzania and Mozambique, and critical analysis of these data to assess the most promising opportunities for CA in sub-Saharan Africa.

Pdf document available from CA2Africa 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

SLP projects are presently conducting household surveys in 9 different countries. To gather and/or enter those data we are exploring the use of CAPI (computer assisted personal interviewing) to replace paper based interviews. The advantages of CAPI over PAPI (paper and pencil interviewing) are: faster flow of data between enumerators and regional/central offices, skip the entering data process, an improved error-tracking process and reduced use of paper. Yet, several challenges need to be addressed, including: capacity building, acquisition of technological gadgets, battery requirements and establish/use reliable communication channels to transfer information.

Two main tools have been identified: Surveybe and CSPro. Surveybe is a commercial, very user-friendly software package. CSPro is a public-domain software hosted by US Census Bureau. We want to assess both software packages to see whether they cover our needs. We might not have the resources to implement computerized surveys in all the regions for the present projects. Still, we will try to test it in East Africa and by developing the questionnaire in CSPro, we will be able to use the platform across regions to enter the data gathered on paper in the field. CSPro was tested this week in Ethiopia (see photo below).

Hailu Diressie (MSc student from Wageningen University) interviewing a farmer in a village nearby Ginchi

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

Published: Jun 2010 – IIED and FAO

Recent years have witnessed a renewed interest in agricultural investment. In many cases, this has translated into large-scale acquisitions of farmland in lower- and middle-income countries. Partly as a result of sustained media attention, these acquisitions have triggered lively if polarised debates about “land grabbing”. Less attention has been paid, however, to alternative ways of structuring agricultural investments that do not involve large-scale land acquisitions. These include a wide range of more collaborative arrangements between investors and local smallholders and communities, such as diverse types of contract farming schemes, joint ventures, management contracts and new supply chain relationships. Drawing on a literature review, this report explores the range of business models that can be used to structure agricultural investments in lower- and middle-income countries, and that provide an alternative to large-scale land acquisitions.

The Fodder Adoption Project has recently published Fodder Fact Sheets for Ethiopia in English, Amharic and Oromiffa

An interesting letter exchange between John McDermott (ILRI’s Deputy Director General for Research) and Vicki Hird (Senior Food Campaigner at Friends of the Earth) is published in the June 2010 issue of People&Science

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