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ACIAR Rice-Fish Systems Symposium Proceedings

2 days 20 hours ago

The ACIAR Myanmar Rice-Fish project is aligned with the research program FISH CRP, led by WorldFish and partners. The main objectives in this program are (1) to optimise fish production systems to produce healthy, nutritious food products, (2) reduce inefficiencies in value chains and optimise resource use, and (3) to address barriers that impede the inclusion of fish in the diets of mothers, infants, and young children. Organising an international symposium on Rice-Fish Systems (RFS) fits within the overall objective to spread technologies with the support of public and private sector stakeholders in order to improve governance and natural resource management.The objectives for the symposium are (1) to share knowledge and experiences around the diversity of existing rice-fish systems overall, in Myanmar, and in countries in the region, (2) to present the current status of Myanmar’s policies related to rice-fish systems and to provide an evidence base for policy changes, and (3) to inform decision- and policy makers about the potential benefits of shifting towards integrated fish-agri-food systems.

How does the COVID-19 crisis affect Colombia’s livestock systems?

1 week 2 days ago

Read the working paperCOVID-19 and the bovine livestock sector in Colombia: Current and potential developments, impacts and mitigation options 

(Spanish version)

By now, everybody is aware of the sweeping negative impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on many sectors of the economy. The beef and dairy (B&D) industry have not been spared. It has not been possible to accurately measure the magnitude of these impacts, whether positive or negative.

A recently published working paper by researchers from the Alliance of Bioversity International and CIAT addresses this challenge comprehensively, assessing current and potential impacts of the crisis on the B&D value chain in Colombia.

The ongoing crisis will likely cause significant changes in our food systems, which includes a greater response to new demands from consumers, who will be increasingly concerned with where their food comes from, its quality, sustainability and the well-being of animals. Once the crisis eases, more investments will be made to improve value chains, so they are better equipped to respond to new demands.

A cattle farmer in Patía, Cauca, in the southwestern region of Colombia, where 200 producers have benefited from the work carried out by CIAT's tropical fodder team, the University of Cauca and the Government of Cauca. Photo: (CIAT)

Not all bad news for the beef value chain

This study focuses not only on primary production, but on the entire value chain, including direct and indirect actors, and of course, consumers. It also provides specific concepts on the impacts at each link in the chain. It also addresses positive trends, some of which may help producers and input providers to cope with the crisis and even strengthen areas that demanded attention before the current situation.

Also addressed in this paper are trends in beef and dairy consumption during and after the pandemic, their possible substitutes, and opportunities to advance the safety and sustainability of bovine livestock production. Trends in consumer behavior, such as how they purchase these products, and how their preferences will be oriented towards better food security, traceability, animal welfare and sustainability, were also examined. An analysis was conducted on variations in prices both nationally and globally.

The dollar exchange rate's behavior, an external factor, but directly associated with the pandemic crisis, is addressed in this document. This is due largely to its impact on the trade balance of bovine products and agricultural inputs such as seeds, vaccines, concentrates, supplements, machinery, and others. The study suggests that, once the crisis is over, there could be an opportunity for Colombia to open new export markets for B&D products.

Bovine livestock value chains are made of many links, the impacts of which were reviewed in detail, especially in the supply of inputs, labor, access to credit, technical assistance and vaccination cycles. Transportation and processing of both meat and milk in the main producing regions were other links examined by the authors. However, crosscutting aspects, such as agricultural research, platforms, and communication across levels are subject to analysis, and how virtuality and digitization will play a key role.

Inclusion gains rolled back

Livestock activity is not exempt from disruptions in the dynamics of gender, youth and minorities in the rural sector. Advances made towards more inclusion and gender equality in livestock farming are in jeopardy. For instance, gender is a structurally fragile issue, with historical labor divisions based mainly on gender identity. The emerging presence of armed actors in rural areas of the country is putting gains made towards gender equality at risk.

The working paper draws attention to rural education, stressing the need to promote better connectivity across the country. It would seem that authorities are accelerating rural connectivity plans and emergency alternatives to continue providing some degree of equality to the always-urgent need for better access to education in rural areas.

Sustainability could have greater attention

Before the pandemic, sustainable intensification was one of the most critical debates in the livestock sector in the country and globally, responding to the need to meet the growing demand for food sustainably. The crisis has affected the continuity of these efforts. Still, sustainability will be an even greater priority when this pandemic is over, requiring mitigation strategies to avoid further setbacks.

A matrix summarizes the main impacts of the crisis in the short (during the crisis), medium and long term, and proposes mitigation options for each impact by sector. While much remains to be investigated, adopting rapid mitigation actions could prevent further losses, even when combined with the risk of increasing threats, such as the challenges posed by climate change.

Although this study focuses on Colombia, using mainly local sources, the results, impacts and possible mitigation strategies are relevant to other countries with similar practices and current state of the livestock sector; and, more importantly, the mitigation strategies that could be applied. Now is the time to act.

This blog originally appeared on the CGIAR Research Program on Livestock and CIAT (Spanish) website. 

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Does the smallholder farmer have access to quality inputs?

2 weeks 6 days ago

With the onset of kharif (monsoon) in the southern states of India, the majority of farmers have started procurement of inputs such as seeds, fertilizers and pesticides. Amidst COVID-19 induced disruptions in input production and distribution, the state governments are making efforts to ensure timely distribution of inputs to farmers. Based on recent field survey […]

The post Does the smallholder farmer have access to quality inputs? appeared first on Grain Legumes and Dryland Cereals.

Does the smallholder farmer have access to quality inputs?

2 weeks 6 days ago

With the onset of kharif (monsoon) in the southern states of India, the majority of farmers have started procurement of inputs such as seeds, fertilizers and pesticides. Amidst COVID-19 induced disruptions in input production and distribution, the state governments are making efforts to ensure timely distribution of inputs to farmers. Based on recent field survey […]

The post Does the smallholder farmer have access to quality inputs? appeared first on Grain Legumes and Dryland Cereals.

Government and research bodies expand seeds support to over 10,000 Nigerian smallholders to shield agriculture from COVID-19

2 weeks 6 days ago

Farmers in 13 states of Nigeria will receive improved seeds of sorghum, pearl millet, cowpea and rice as a part of an initiative to cushion the pandemic’s impact on food...

The post Government and research bodies expand seeds support to over 10,000 Nigerian smallholders to shield agriculture from COVID-19 appeared first on Grain Legumes and Dryland Cereals.

Government and research bodies expand seeds support to over 10,000 Nigerian smallholders to shield agriculture from COVID-19

2 weeks 6 days ago

Farmers in 13 states of Nigeria will receive improved seeds of sorghum, pearl millet, cowpea and rice as a part of an initiative to cushion the pandemic’s impact on food...

The post Government and research bodies expand seeds support to over 10,000 Nigerian smallholders to shield agriculture from COVID-19 appeared first on Grain Legumes and Dryland Cereals.

Strengthening the capacity of agriculture in Rwanda to adapt to a variable and changing climate

3 weeks 2 days ago

Driven in large part by its agriculture sector, Rwanda’s recent economic growth has doubled per capita GDP between 2007 and 2018, and greatly reduced poverty and child mortality. Along with its fragile natural environment and the highest population density in sub-Saharan Africa, the risk imposed by a variable and changing climate works against efforts to improve Rwanda’s agricultural economy and the livelihoods of its 2.1 million smallholder farm households.

Climate services that help farmers and other decision-makers de-risk agricultural livelihoods and value chains—one of the four priority action areas identified by the Transforming Food Systems Under a Changing Climate initiative of the CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS) in a flagship report due out June 25th—is the focus of recent efforts in Rwanda supported by the US and UK governments, and coordinated by CCAFS through the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT) Rwanda office.

US and UK invest in Rwanda’s climate service capacity

The "Rwanda Climate Services for Agriculture” project was launched on World Meteorological Day in March 2016, to develop climate services for farmers and institutional decision makers across the country’s agriculture sector, and to strengthen the capacity of the national meteorological service, Meteo Rwanda, to provide information that enables them to anticipate and manage climate-related risks. This initiative, funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and led by CCAFS, is a partnership of CIAT, Meteo Rwanda, Rwanda Agricultural Board (RAB), International Research Institute for Climate and Society (IRI), University of Reading and World Agroforestry Centre.

Then in 2018, the Weather and Climate Information Services for Africa (WISER) programme, funded by the UK Government’s Department for International Development (DFID) and managed by the Met Office (the UK’s national meteorological service), launched a project in Rwanda designed to enhance and scale up the co-production of climate services for improved climate risk management and to deliver an impact-based early warning system. This partnership between CIAT, the Met Office, IRI and Meteo Rwanda aims to enhance and scale up the co-production of climate services and impact-based early warning for improved climate-risk management in Rwanda.

The synergies between these complementary efforts are preparing a legacy of effective climate services and climate risk management. For example, the USAID initiative developed processes to bring climate services to farmers, while the WISER initiative developed mechanisms to bring farmers’ feedback back to the service providers. The USAID project has a strong focus on making climate services work for the country’s farmers, but recognized a gap in the use of climate services by local government for agricultural planning—a gap that the WISER project was able to target. The complementary efforts supported Meteo Rwanda to develop a range of information products—high-resolution historical data and analyses, improved downscaled seasonal forecasts, impact-based early warnings—that the agriculture sector needs to understand, anticipate and manage risks.

WISER was developed to target specific weather and climate challenges in East Africa, and the Rwanda project is a great example of how the programme has been able to help deliver relevant and accessible climate services. These will continue to have an impact on lives and livelihoods in Rwanda beyond the life of the project, having built capacity in the country”.

- Kate Ferguson, Met Office WISER Programme Manager
June 2020

Rwanda at the cutting edge

Rwanda is gaining a reputation as an innovator. In health, Rwanda pioneered the use of drones to deliver vital medicines and supplies to remote locations, and the use of robots to reduce the risks of spreading COVID-19 as medical staff treat patients. As the two climate service projects draw to a close in 2020 and 2021, it is clear that they have helped position Rwanda at the cutting edge of agricultural climate services:

  • Face-to-face participatory climate communication and planning processes have been implemented at an unprecedented scale. Working through the Twigire Muhinzi agricultural extension service, 112,000 farmers across all 30 districts were trained and supported to access, understand and incorporate climate information into their planning, using the Participatory Integrated Climate Services for Agriculture (PICSA) process.
  • Radio Listener Clubs piloted in Rwanda combine the benefits of participatory, broadcast media and mobile phone communication channels. These clubs meet weekly to listen to climate services broadcasts (accessed by roughly 40% of Rwanda’s farmers), share and record their plans to act on the information, and take turns participating in interactive call-in programs.
  • Rwanda was the first country in Africa to implement an objective seasonal forecast system based on statistical downscaling of output of an ensemble of multiple climate models. 
  • In addition to improved future climate analytics, Meteo Rwanda was supported to reconstruct about 15 years of lost climate data and generate historical records for every 4 km across Rwanda.
  • Meteo Rwanda now provides localized climate information at a national scale, through one of the most advanced suites of online climate information available for agricultural decision makers in Africa. Online “Maprooms” developed in Rwanda have since been adopted by the national meteorological services of Ethiopia, Senegal, Bangladesh, Colombia and Guatemala; and by the IGAD Climate Prediction and Applications Centre (ICPAC), the regional climate center for East Africa.
  • Sixteen cooperatives in four districts now have climate risk assessments and adaptation plans for six priority agricultural commodity value chains.
  • An ICT-based “5Q” (Five Question) monitoring tool has been introduced to efficiently and continuously capture farmers’ feedback on the services they receive. Seven thousand, five hundred (7,500) farmers trained to use the 5Q tool provide regular feedback, and plans are in place to extend it to 100,000 potential participants.
  • M.Sc. scholarships for seven Meteo Rwanda staff members, and three from RAB, have raised the capacity of these national institutions.

Rwanda’s leadership is gaining international recognition, for example through the inaugural Climate Smart Agricultural Project of the Year Award.

A joint initiative … has rebuilt 15 years of lost climate data. The program has also helped our national weather agency build an advanced online climate information system for Rwandan farmers. These results could only have been achieved with sustained partnership over many years.”

- His Excellency President Paul Kagame
Columbia University, New York, 26 September 2019

Climate services make a difference

Following investment in climate information products and training for local government, district agricultural officers have begun to use the information to improve the services they provide to farmers. For example, in the Western highlands, agronomists used climate information to match crop varieties to local conditions, providing more suitable hybrid maize seeds to 87,872 farmers. While in Bugesera District, authorities used crop water deficit calculations based on climate information to provide supplemental irrigation water, pumped from a lake into a lined reservoir, to enable 188 farmers to cope with prolonged dry spells.

Even without improved public sector resource mobilization, participation in PICSA and Radio Listeners Clubs is associated with a substantial increase in the proportion of farmers that report changing  management decisions in response to weather and climate information. Examples include changing what crops and varieties they plant, how they prepare their land and manage crops and livestock, and changing the scale of crop and livestock enterprises. Participation in PICSA is associated with a 24% increase in the value of crop production and a 30% increase in income from crops.  When PICSA was combined with Radio Listeners Club participation, the increase in crop value (47%) and resulting income (56%) was even greater.

I received training on the use of climate information in agriculture; I since then respect my seasonal calendar which allows me to know practices that I should do during dry or wet days. I now prepare myself on time and wait for the seasonal forecast for me to adjust my plans before planting. This opened my eyes and I now do farming, livestock keeping and my family is wealthy.”

- Kabarisa Wellars, a Rwandan farmer,
2017

What’s next for climate services in Rwanda?

Despite these successes, the work is far from over. Rwanda is preparing for a 1.4–2.3 °C average temperature by 2050, coupled with increased risk from heat waves, dry spells and extreme rainfall. But as a result of USAID and DFID intervention, local systems are in place to anticipate and respond to these climate risks. Building on their increased capacity, Meteo Rwanda’s stated priorities moving forward are to fully operationalize the National Framework for Climate Services, and to explore the formation of a Rwanda Meteorological Training and Research Centre (RMTRC).

This blog is part of a series for the Transforming Food
Systems Under a Changing Climate
 initiative. It describes one of the 11 priority actions for transforming food systems outlined in the initiative's flagship report, launching 25 June 2020. We invite you to join us for an around-the-world virtual event to engage on ways to take action together.

See details and register here

  Read more:

TAAT Excites Beninese Farmers with Pro Vitamin A Cassava Varieties

3 weeks 3 days ago
A staple to about 350 million people in sub-Saharan Africa, cassava, had been declared in 2003 by African Heads of State as a poverty fighter. However, the crop is yet to prove its mettle as millions of growers in sub-Saharan Africa who depend on the crop for their livelihoods still live below the poverty line. […]

FAO publication supports achieving 2030 Agenda in Small-Scale Fisheries

3 weeks 6 days ago

The new study, Securing sustainable small-scale fisheries: Showcasing applied practices in value chains, post-harvest operations and trade, supports the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development – specifically SDG 14.b: “provide access for small-scale artisanal fishers to marine resources and markets”.

The highly anticipated paper is the second in the series ‘Securing sustainable small-scale fisheries, and includes nine case studies that constitute a rich and diverse selection of experiences, not only with regard to their geographical setting but also in the topics covered and approaches employed.  The case studies were developed to inform and encourage policies and programs that support the development of small-scale fisheries, and chosen on the basis that they can be emulated elsewhere by small-scale fishery proponents including, but not limited to, national administrations, non-governmental organizations, civil society organizations, private enterprises, development agencies and intergovernmental bodies.

The study showcases applied practices and successful initiatives in support of enhancing small-scale fisheries value chains, post-harvest operations and trade, based on the recommendations contained in the Voluntary Guidelines for Securing Sustainable Small-Scale Fisheries in the Context of Food Security and Poverty Eradication (SSF Guidelines).  The SSF Guidelines recognize the right of fishers and fish workers, acting both individually and collectively, to improve their livelihoods through value chains, post-harvest operations and trade, and recommend building capacity of individuals, strengthening organizations and empowering women; reducing post-harvest losses and adding value to small-scale fisheries production; and facilitating sustainable trade and equitable market access.

MYSAP Inland supports small-scale fish farmers and fish processors during COVID-19

3 weeks 6 days ago

In the Central Dry Zone and upper regions of Myanmar, since April 2017, the Inland component staff of the Myanmar Sustainable Aquaculture Programme (MYSAP) has been working intensively with smallholder fish processors and vendors to improve fish value chains. To boost the opportunities of female micro-entrepreneurs in Kale, Shwebo and Kengtung townships, in March 2020, MYSAP Inland selected as a partner of choice the BoP Innovation Center (BoPInc). BoPInc has extensive experience in supporting women entrepreneurs as well as in the development of business models benefitting the Base of the Pyramid (BoP), low income consumers and entrepreneurs. Through their expertise, BoPInc will assist in the co-development of post-harvest fish value chain innovations with female micro-entrepreneurs working on fish processing and vending, empowering these women to solve problems they face every day. However, due to COVID-19 lockdown restrictions, working closely with female micro-entrepreneurs and surveying their business in the marketplace was temporarily halted.

 

Survey conducted via mobile phone    

MYSAP Inland and BoPInc kick-started their collaboration with the development of a short computer-assisted telephone interview (CATI) questionnaire survey to gather data from fish value chain actors in Myanmar. The survey collected information on the level of mobile phone accessibility, digital abilities, and the overall COVID-19 understanding of fish value chain actors targeted by MYSAP Inland with innovative fish post-harvest training, and messaging. As a result, a total of 41 respondents (32 women), including village and main market fish vendors, wholesalers and fish processors, previously trained by MYSAP on value-added fish products were interviewed by mobile phone. These included key value chain stakeholders from all the MYSAP Inland targeted regions of Kale (5 people) and Shwebo (14 people) townships, in the Sagaing Region, and Pinlaung (11 participants), and Kengtung townships (11 participants), in the Shan State.

The findings revealed that phone usage...

How dryland crops are helping Telangana’s tribal households meet nutritional requirements during lockdown

1 month ago

To ensure nutrition sufficiency in children, pregnant women and lactating mothers of tribal communities in Telangana, India, during times of lockdown, ready-to-eat foods containing millets, sorghum and pulses produced by ICRISAT are being provided at their doorstep. “The food products are scientifically formulated to promote dietary diversity and are produced using locally available nutritious millets […]

The post How dryland crops are helping Telangana’s tribal households meet nutritional requirements during lockdown appeared first on Grain Legumes and Dryland Cereals.

How dryland crops are helping Telangana’s tribal households meet nutritional requirements during lockdown

1 month ago

To ensure nutrition sufficiency in children, pregnant women and lactating mothers of tribal communities in Telangana, India, during times of lockdown, ready-to-eat foods containing millets, sorghum and pulses produced by ICRISAT are being provided at their doorstep. “The food products are scientifically formulated to promote dietary diversity and are produced using locally available nutritious millets […]

The post How dryland crops are helping Telangana’s tribal households meet nutritional requirements during lockdown appeared first on Grain Legumes and Dryland Cereals.

WorldFish discussed COVID-19 impacts with Nigerian aquaculture community

1 month 1 week ago

Thursday 28th May, WorldFish virtually met with several representatives from the Nigerian aquaculture community. They included representatives from Catfish and Allied Farmers Association of Nigeria (CAFFAN), Tilapia and Aquaculture Developers Association of Nigeria (TADAN), Fisheries Society of Nigeria (FISON), Nigerian Association of Fisheries Scientists (NAFS), IDIPR Cooperative Farms, fish processors, and corporate sector fish producers and traders. Several issues were brought into the discussion as compelling difficulties currently faced by the aquaculture community.

Most problems faced by fish farmers and processors appear to be centred around the current government-imposed Movement Control Order (MCO) in response to COVID-19. MCO has significantly reduced fish producers’ access to markets. Markets are not open throughout the week for fish sales and access to production inputs, such as feeds, fingerlings, and feed ingredients has also become limited. Consequently, transport costs have gone up significantly and long delays are experienced at checkpoints.

Reduced market access delays harvest resulting prolonged farming cycles. Keeping fish in ponds needs feed and other farm management inputs, requiring additional funds. Farmers are sceptical as to how long they can continue the process with no financial support, and that they will ever be able to sell their produce with profit once the lockdown is lifted. Unfortunately, no good cold-chain facilities exist in Nigerian aquaculture, which prevents possible cold storage during low demand times.


Cast net fisher, Kainji Lake, NW Nigeria. Photo by David Mills.

Due to lack of demand market price of catfish and tilapia has significantly reduced throughout the country. Job losses are experiencing along fish value chains are some farmers are already dropping off.

Many are worried that Naira will further devalue and already hiking certain grades of commercial fish feeds will become totally unaffordable to smallholders. Farmers also concern that high imported ingredient prices might result in feeds with...

Reviving the farm economy

1 month 1 week ago

The return of migrant workers to their villages offers an opportunity to give agribusiness a leg-up. For the first time in years, amidst the Covid-19 crisis, the general population in India seem to have become increasingly aware of the importance of the migrant workforce. As per the 2011 census, there were about 56 million interstate […]

The post Reviving the farm economy appeared first on Grain Legumes and Dryland Cereals.

Reviving the farm economy

1 month 1 week ago

The return of migrant workers to their villages offers an opportunity to give agribusiness a leg-up. For the first time in years, amidst the Covid-19 crisis, the general population in India seem to have become increasingly aware of the importance of the migrant workforce. As per the 2011 census, there were about 56 million interstate […]

The post Reviving the farm economy appeared first on Grain Legumes and Dryland Cereals.

Understanding partnership dynamics to facilitate innovation scaling

1 month 2 weeks ago
Research for development organizations like the International Potato Center (CIP), which develop science-based solutions to the challenges faced by millions of smallholders, introduce and test those innovations with communities before taking them to scale. But taking even the most promising innovation to scale can be a challenge in and of itself, which is why researchers are increasingly […]

Can Egypt’s fish markets empower women and men retailers equally?

1 month 2 weeks ago
Prospects for change and barriers to success

Unless gender inequalities in food systems are recognized and addressed, nutrition security and poverty reduction will suffer. Yet historically, women have been little recognized in national data, policy, or programming relating to fish value chain development, thus perpetuating inequalities.

Women’s empowerment in Egypt has become even more crucial in the context of the current COVID-19 pandemic that has taken a significant economic toll in Egypt. Social distancing measures established to curb the spread of COVID-19 have particularly affected the operations of informal markets. With governments closing down informal markets or reducing operational hours, the effect is severe for informal workers who earn their livelihood on a day-to-day basis and many poor consumers who rely on street markets/vendors for their daily food and necessities. Women who work in informal trade are at a crossroads where irrespective of their choice to work or stay at home; the consequences are likely negative. If they continue to work in informal trade, they face higher risks of infection for themselves and their household members. If they choose to forego their livelihood, they risk losing their bargaining power and may face higher risks of domestic violence.

A lack of evidence-based understanding of women’s experiences and gender barriers in fish value chains may result in formulating policies and programs intended to help fishers and fish traders recover in the aftermath of COVID-19, being gender-insensitive. As a result, lack of evidence around women fish retailers, may not only leave behind or affect women (in contradiction of the UN Framework), it may also result in the inadequate economic recovery of the fisheries sector as well as the national economy.

Research recently published by WorldFish helps to close this data gap.  It shows that women in fish retail...

Can Egypt’s fish markets empower women and men retailers equally? Prospects for change and barriers to success

1 month 2 weeks ago

Unless gender inequalities in food systems are recognized and addressed, nutrition security and poverty reduction will suffer. Yet historically, women have been little recognized in national data, policy or programming relating to fish value chain development, thus perpetuating inequalities.

Women’s empowerment in Egypt has become even more crucial in the context of the current COVID-19 pandemic that has taken a significant economic toll in Egypt. Social distancing measures established to curb the spread of COVID-19 have particularly affected the operations of informal markets. With governments closing down informal markets or reducing operational hours, the effect is severe for informal workers who earn their livelihood on a day-to day basis and many poor consumers who rely on street markets/vendors for their daily food and basic necessities. Women who work in informal trade are at a crossroads where irrespective of their choice to work or stay at home, the consequences are likely negative. If they continue to work in informal trade, they face higher risks of infection for themselves and their household members. If they choose to forego their livelihood, they risk losing their bargaining power, and may face higher risks of domestic violence.

A lack of evidence-based understanding of women’s experiences and gender barriers in fish value chains, may result in policies and programs intended to help fishers and fish traders recover in the aftermath of COVID-19 being gender-insensitive. This may not only leave behind or even harm women who are fish retailers (in contradiction of the UN Framework), it may also result in inadequate economic recovery of the fisheries sector as well as national economy.

Research recently published by WorldFish helps to close this data gap.  It shows that women in fish retail in Egypt face greater economic barriers and generate smaller financial returns than...

Climate action: Do we need to change how we innovate?

1 month 2 weeks ago

Climate change poses profound challenges for farmers and our food and water systems. Equally challenging are poverty (with some 600 million persons in extreme poverty), food insecurity (with some 800 million persons suffering from undernutrition), and water insecurity (with some 780 million people without access to an improved water source). Climate change makes our efforts to deal with poverty and food and water insecurity that much more difficult. It is for small-scale farmers, fishers, and livestock keepers that these problems come together, compounding each other. Extreme weather events, changing seasons, and increasing heat make a risky existence even riskier. In many locations agricultural producers are coping by selling off their productive assets, reducing the number of meals they eat and migrating to cities where life may not be that much better. 

To solve these and other agriculture-related environmental challenges, we have concluded that nothing short of a transformation of food systems is needed. This requires four "R"s: REROUTING farming and rural livelihoods to new trajectories; de-RISKING livelihoods, farms and value chains; REDUCING emissions through diets and value chains; and REALIGNING policies, finance, support to social movements, and innovation. On the 25th of June, CCAFS and many partners will release a flagship report on food systems transformation under climate change. The report outlines concrete actions that can be taken to achieve each "R."  

Transforming agricultural research for development

Today we want to focus on one of the actions proposed: essentially, transforming ourselvesthe agricultural research for development (AR4D) community.

AR4D systems are often fragmented, inefficient, overly supply-based, and siloed. Innovation can be hampered by a fear of failure, a short-term orientation, the existence of inappropriate or perverse incentives that may result in redundancy and duplication, and a focus on “publish or perish.” If we want research to contribute to societal outcomes, that is what we should be measured by, not our numbers of publications in prestigious journals.

One of the key premises for a new AR4D is that we need to work (at least for a good portion of AR4D) more closely with those development agencies, national governments and private sector actors who have the responsibility, power, interest and/or means to drive significant positive change—in other words, with the AR4D community as a trusted knowledge partner in a coalition of actors. For this reason, together with partners across CGIAR, the CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS) has put together the “Two Degree Initiative,” a coalition of partners with the ambition to reach significant climate change, poverty, nutrition and environmental targets. This initiative will focus on low- and middle-income countries and work on a set of global themes that align with a theory of change for transforming the food system. It will be implemented through eight or so "Challenges" in specified geographies, with the coalition working towards ambitious locally-defined targets.

The eight listening sessions in 2DI Challenge Geographies. Image: T. Ferdinand

Climate, poverty and nutrition challenges are particularly pronounced in Africa. For example, by 2030, forecasts indicate that nearly 9 in 10 of the extremly poor will live in Sub-Saharan Africa. And so on Africa Day, we initiate the first listening session—a webinar bringing stakeholders together in Southern Africa to start the process of defining a bottom-up agenda for research in a climate hotspot. This process is led by the International Water Management Institute (IWMI). Various regional organizations and USAID are co-hosts. Steve Collins from USAID’s Resilient Waters Program noted, “I am heartened that researchers are coming to us without an agenda and asking us what they should be working on.” The initial webinar will be followed by bilateral meetings and an eventual face-to-face meeting later in the year.

Such processes are being set in motion for all eight Challenge Geographies. These “listening sessions” will be accompanied by the World Resources Institute (WRI), who will prepare a summary of inputs received for all geographies. The Sahel Challenge is also soon to start, with World Bank and CGIAR (led by the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT)) collaborating on a series of creative virtual sessions followed by a face-to-face later in the year. In June we also expect start-up meetings in the Middle East and North Africa, and in the Asian mega-deltas.

It will only be through major partnerships that we will rise to the significant challenges. We cannot do research for development “for whom it may concern.” We need to be targeted, demand-driven, participatory and willing to provide end-to-end solutions. We also need to be scientifically credible, which does mean papers in high-end journals—but that should not be our target.

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ILRI feed technology research platform makes more fodder available to developing-world livestock keepers

1 month 3 weeks ago

Located at the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT)campus in Patancheru, India, the feed technology research platform of the Feed and Forage Development Program of the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) provides laboratory infrastructure and tools for rapidly and affordably analysing fodder quality. By supporting work on most key cereal and legume food, feed and […]

The post ILRI feed technology research platform makes more fodder available to developing-world livestock keepers appeared first on Grain Legumes and Dryland Cereals.

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