Strengthening women’s participation

The work was led by Dina Najjar, Social and Gender Specialist, Social, Economics and Policy Research Theme, Sustainable Intensification and Resilient Production Systems Program (SIRPS), International Center for Agricultural Research in the Dry Areas (ICARDA), Amman, Jordan. (Photo: ICARDA) –


Strengthening African women’s participation in wheat farming

Gender inequality is a recurring feature of many agricultural production systems across the wheat-growing regions of Africa, and women farmers often lack access to credit, land, and other inputs. The result: limited adoption of new innovations, low productivity and income, and a missed opportunity to enhance household food security and prosperity.

In contrast, enhancing women’s involvement in agricultural development generates positive impacts beyond the lives of individual women – with benefits felt across entire communities and nations.

Identifying and challenging obstacles

Challenging the obstacles that rural women face is a key priority of a wheat initiative managed by ICARDA and supported by the African Development Bank and the CGIAR Research Program on Wheat.

Action research to integrate women beneficiaries into the SARD-SC project in Sudan, Nigeria, and Ethiopia has helped identify actions and approaches that can be applied more widely to enhance women’s integration within diverse wheat production systems.

The main objectives were: increasing women’s income generation and contributions to food security, while addressing structural inequalities in access to inputs and services such as information, training, and microcredit.

Context-specific interventions

Our project employed context-specific interventions for growing grain, demonstrating technologies, adding value, and facilitating access to microcredit. Women’s involvement (65% in Sudan, 32% in Ethiopia and 12% in Nigeria) was often facilitated by gaining the trust and approval of male kin and support at the institutional levels – for example, recruiting women beneficiaries through the inclusion of female field staff: 4 in Nigeria, 4 in Sudan, and 6 in Ethiopia, all trained on gender integration.

Read the full article: CGIAR

CGIAR innovations


SIAC mid-term workshops are an attempt to stock take funded studies, and through discussions provide feedback on analysis approach and preliminary results. The 30th July workshop focuses on the seven (7) studies funded under SIAC 3.1 – these are a rather diverse set of studies, some quite macro in nature, that assess the adoption and impact of a number of technologies that have apparently spread widely. Description of these studies (including the CGIAR innovation under study), early results and snapshot of discussions follow.

C88, for instance, which is a late blight resistant variety has been claimed by CIP as one of its most successful varieties. Considering the extension efforts in China to promote potatoes – the study focuses on Yunnan province which accounts for 10% of the Chinese potato production – and, expert estimate that 33% of potato varieties in China can be traced to CIP germplasm, this study carefully examines the adoption (including through DNA fingerprinting), the determinants of adoption, and consumer/producer surplus through household and community surveys. Data from another SIAC activity suggests that C88 is an important crop in the (main) early spring season (around 16% of all cultivated varieties, 400K ha), and a significant winter crop variety (around 50%, 60K ha). So, what is the story of C88 as revealed by this study (so far)?

The focus of DNA fingerprinting (leaf or tuber samples, SSR marker) was not to identify the range of potato varieties – it was to confirm that the potatoes grown by households that self-identified the variety as C88 was indeed C88. 137 of the 141 fresh samples were confirmed to be C88 suggesting that C88 self-identification by farmers is not an issue. What we don’t know yet is the varietal identity of potatoes in households that do not self-report C88 – are they growing C88 and are we underestimating C88 diffusion in Yunnan? What are the varieties that C88 has not replaced or have that replaced C88 following dis-adoption? There are also questions about the dynamics of adoption over time: for instance, farmers recycle seeds and seed degradation could be an issue. While preliminary analysis suggests that current disease pressure and adoption is related, farmers who value blight resistance are less likely to continue growing C88 over time – plausibly suggesting that farmers are constantly looking for resistant varieties and dis-adopt C88 over time as seed degeneration occurs. Seed degeneration might also account for up to 25% of yield loss. Location is also found to be critical for adoption: farmers close to urban areas are likely to have grown C88 at some point in the past, but much less likely to grow it now. There are also some interesting issues raised by value chain providers – chip manufacturers prefer C88 because of its quality, but are forced to source other varieties from other provinces because high quality C88 potatoes are not available.

Read the full article: CGIAR


Evaluating indicators of gender gaps in control over productive resources



Small changes for big improvements: Criteria for evaluating indicators of gender gaps in control over productive resources

by Smriti Rao

There is an increasing need for indicators that can track the impacts of agricultural policies and technologies upon gender inequalities at the national and international levels. A recent working paper commissioned by the CGIAR Gender and Agricultural Research Network reviews the body of published research that uses such indicators and recommends a set of robust indicators that can help measure these impacts, either using data that already exist, or data that could be collected through relatively simple additions to existing national and international surveys. The goal is not to measure empowerment specifically – that is done in the Women’s Empowerment in Agriculture Index – but to track changes with regard to two specific outcomes: 1) control over key agricultural resources, and 2) decision making about labor, income, and within groups or collective bodies. Since agricultural interventions are often targeted at a particular point in the value chain, the recommended indicators are disaggregated by resource type, such as land, livestock, or common pool resources.

One of the challenges in writing this paper was clarifying criteria for selecting the indicators. Such criteria relate to both conceptual and measurement issues. For example, if we want to measure how a project affected women’s access to land, we first need to answer the question “how do we define access to land?” (conceptual issue) and then we can ask “are data collected from interviewing only heads of household sufficient?” (measurement issue).

Five conceptual and five measurement-related criteria emerge as particularly significant (see Box 1).  Although many of the recommended indicators do not meet all of these criteria, foregrounding the criteria could help us be more aware of the strengths and weaknesses of the indicators we use, as well as help us work on improving them.

Read the full article: CGIAR

Shifting sands: putting carbon back into soils


Photo credit: CGIAR

A scientist conducts soil testing at the Selian Agricultural Research Institute, Arusha, Tanzania.Photo Credit: Georgina Smith/CIAT

Evaluating the effectiveness of soil carbon sequestration

The world has a carbon problem, and we all know it. Tons of carbon dioxide are emitted into the atmosphere every day, contributing significantly to climate change. But slowing the rate of emissions will be no easy feat. In order to mitigate its effects, scientists are looking at alternative ways of dealing with the issue, such as carbon sequestration.

A moving target

In recent years, carbon sequestration has gained tremendous momentum and national andinternational initiatives have been taken up. But as to exactly how much of this carbon can be mopped up through sequestration is up to debate. Some scientists believe that indeed all anthropogenic emissions could be offset in such a way, while others believe only a few percent can be.

Certain key factors contribute to this uncertainty amongst the scientists. In soil carbon sequestration specifically, where organic matter such as manure, and compost are added to the soil, there are three major factors that influence its potential:

  • The dynamic nature of soil from place to place and over time
  • Variances between agricultural practices that influence the soil’s ability to act as a carbon sink
  • The significant changes to agricultural management practices that would need to be undertaken such as no-till agriculture. Globally, the adoption of such practices by farmers will take time.

Soil carbon? There’s an app for that!

To address these issues, the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT) created an app to help farmers and scientists calculate a soil’s current amount of sequestered organic carbon, as well as the quantitative impact of soil conservation practices on sequestration over time and at different scales.

Read the full article: CGIAR-THRIVE

Farmer-led irrigation in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia is transforming food security


Photo credit: CGIAR

Farmers manually irrigate a field in Kumasi, Ghana.Photo Credit: Bernard Keraita/IWMI

Water-smart investment benefits ripple beyond food security

Nearly four years ago, researchers documented for the first time how farmer-led irrigation in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia is transforming food security at an astonishing scale. They also showed that smallholder water management innovations hold potential to boost crop yields and household revenue by tens of billions of US dollars.

Since then, however, new research for development has revealed how small-scale irrigation may have benefits that reach far beyond food security alone.

Four ways to invest in smallholder irrigation

The research was initially carried out by the CGIAR Research Program on Water, Land and Ecosystems (WLE) and its partners under the AgWater Solutions project. At its conclusion, the project recommended four key areas that investments should focus on in order to unlock the potential of small-scale irrigation:

  1. increasing access to water resources, including sustainable groundwater, small reservoirs and rainwater harvesting;
  2. catalyzing smallholder value chains, removing information and marketing constraints;
  3. creating policy synergies, such as aligned energy policies; and
  4. taking a watershed perspective to reduce adverse environmental impacts.

Learn more: Water for wealth and food security: Supporting farmer-driven investments in agricultural water management.

Building on this work, WLE and USAID have supported research and development of business models that can operationalize these recommendations, while also exploring new solutions and creating a better understanding of potential additional impacts and benefits from investments in smallholder irrigation.

New technologies produce new opportunities and remove constraints

One new opportunity is solar pumps, which has only recently become a financially viable option for smallholder farmers. Solar power irrigation has taken off in India and is starting to take hold in sub-Saharan Africa, where solar powered pumps can serve as a more versatile, green alternative to motor pumps. The Africa Rising project, in collaboration with the International Water Management Institute (IWMI), has begun demonstrating solar powered pumps in two regions of Ethiopia.

Read the full article: CGIAR

“Women’s crops” in the Sahel countries


Photo credit: CGIAR


What do we mean by ‘women’s crops’?

by Alastair Orr

“Women’s crops” is a familiar feature in writing about smallholder agriculture in Africa south of the Sahara. Although not always easy to define, they generally refer to crops grown by women for home consumption rather than for sale. The growth of domestic and regional markets has opened new opportunities for commercializing these crops. This is good news for women – unless men muscle in and take control of the income, leaving women to do the work. This was the widely reported experience when the commercialization of rice occurred in the Gambia. We wanted to revisit this issue of gender and commercialization. What happens to women’s control when these crops find a market? 

The ‘Women’s Crop’ Tool

We developed a ‘women’s crop tool’ that measures how much control women have over different crops. We used this tool to compare women’s perceived level of control at different stages of commercialization and to compare the perceptions of men and women regarding women’s control.

The tool maps out  up to four crops’ (C) and key decisions made about each crop (D) that are weighted according to their relative importance (W) and scored according to the level of control (S) that women have over each decision.

Women's Crop Tool

C: Crop (e.g. maize, groundnuts, sunflower, and cotton).

D: Decision category (area planted, land preparation, hired labour, weeding, use of inputs, harvesting, selling, use of income).

S: Level of women’s control (0-100%)

W: Importance of each decision (on a scale from 0-5).

We implemented this tool in Zambia, where the Eastern Province Farmers’ Cooperative (EPFC) works with farmer groups to supply improved groundnut seed and has introduced portable, hand-operated machine shellers to replace shelling groundnuts by hand. To test the ‘women’s crop’ tool, we used a mixed methods approach: Focus Group Discussions (FGDs) in six villages with EPFC groups at different levels of commercialisation and a survey of 200 households. All participants were members of EPFC groups.

Read the full article: CGIAR


A new success story in India

Photo credit: IWMI-CGIAR

Adjusting a sprinkler, India. Photo: Alexis Liu, IWMI


Irrigation for the nation

How one Indian state is leading the way on farm water supply

India’s farmers have often struggled to secure reliable water supplies. For much of the country, rainfall is concentrated during the monsoon, leaving the rest of the year dry. If the monsoon fails, destitution can threaten many millions. The country’s media regularly highlights the tragic numbers of farmer suicides as a graphic illustration of just how precarious agriculture can be.

So the Indian Prime Minister’s recent promise of “har khet ko pani” (water to every farm) must have been welcomed by many. But just how realistic is this? Can publicly funded irrigation policy really give every smallholder a guaranteed supply of water?

In response to the new announcement, the IWMI-Tata Water Policy Research Program had undertaken an analysis of irrigation reform in several Indian states. A synthesis of their findings has just been published and cautions that money needs to be carefully targeted if farmers are to truly benefit.

“Spending billions of rupees on grand irrigation projects is risky,” says IWMI’s Tushaar Shah, one of the report’s authors. “But some states have managed to invest effectively in irrigation improvements, and it is important that those lessons are shared.”


Power to the farmers

Firstly a distinction needs to be made between large public canal irrigation, and smaller on-farm investments such as tube wells and pump sets. Farmers want as much control over their water supply as possible, which generally makes wells and ponds preferable to big canal schemes, which have often been poorly managed. The downside is that on-farm irrigation usually requires power to run water pumps – a commodity that can be in short supply in India’s chaotic electricity supply network.

Read the full article: IWMI

World Day to Combat Desertification

Photo credit: Google – Imgres.jpg


United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification

World Day to Combat Desertification to be held on 17 June 

Let us find long‐term solutions, not just quick fixes, to disasters that are
destroying communities,” urged Monique Barbut, Executive Secretary of the UNCCD.(See PRESS RELEASE below).


Willem Van Cotthem: We keep hoping that success stories and best practices will be applied at the global level. Priority should be given to methods and techniques providing daily fresh food to the hungry and malnourished. It cannot be denied that hunger and malnutrition are constantly undermining the performances of people. Application of existing success stories in local food production (kitchen gardens, school gardens, hospital gardens, …) would positively influence the efforts to combat desertification (limiting erosion, stimulating reforestation, etc.). We keep hoping.

ReplyUnited Nations Convention to Combat Desertification Hi Willem Van Cotthem, would you like to share some success stories you have? We always welcome all to share!”

       ReplyWillem Van Cotthem : Hello Friends at the UNCCD Secretariat: It will be my pleasure to select a series of success stories in the literature. However, I am convinced that the UNCCD secretariat has the necessary documentation to compile even a book on this subject (to the best of my knowledge the documents, e.g. presentations at COPs and meetings of CST and CRIC, have been there during my active period in the CST and in Bonn). Please consider a consultancy to achieve top class work that would serve all member countries, the CST and the CRIC. To be presented at the next World Day June 17th 2016.

UNCCD’s Monique Barbut Calls for Long‐Term Solutions Not Just Quick Fixes To Drought Bonn, Germany, 22/02/2016 –
“Protect Earth. Restore Land. Engage People. This is the slogan for this year’s World Day to Combat Desertification to be held on 17 June. I am calling for solidarity from the international community with the people who are battling the ravages of drought and flood. Let us find long‐term solutions, not just quick fixes, to disasters that are destroying communities,” urged Monique Barbut, Executive Secretary of the UN Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD).
The droughts and floods beating down on communities in many parts of the world are linked to the current El Niño, which is expected to affect up 60 million people by July. In some areas, including in North Eastern Brazil, Somali, Ethiopia, Kenya and Namibia, the El Niño effects are coming on the back of years of severe and recurrent droughts. It is impossible for households that rely on the land for food and farm labor to recover, especially when the land is degraded.
What’s more, these conditions do not just devastate families and destabilize communities. When they are not attended to urgently, they can become a push factor for migration, and end with gross human rights abuses and long‐term security threats.
“We have seen this before – in Darfur following four decades of droughts and desertification and, more recently, in Syria, following the long drought of 2007‐2010. It is tragic to see a society breaking down when we can reduce the vulnerability of communities through simple and affordable acts such as restoring the degraded lands they live on, and helping countries to set up better systems for drought early warning and to prepare for and manage drought and floods,” Barbut said.
Ms Barbut made the remarks when announcing the plans for this year’s World Day to Combat Desertification, which will take place on 17 June.
“I hope that World Day to Combat Desertification this year marks a turning point for every country. We need to show, through practical action and cooperation, how every country is tacking or supporting these challenges at the front‐end to preempt or minimize the potential impacts of the disasters, not just at the back‐end after the disasters happen,” she stated.
The United Nations General Assembly designated 17 June as the observance Day to raise public awareness about international efforts to combat desertification and the effects of drought.
Ms Barbut thanked the Government and People of China, for offering to host the global observance event, which will take place at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing.
“China has vast experience in nursing degraded lands and man‐made deserts back to health. This knowledge can and should benefit initiatives such as Africa’s Great Green Wall, the re‐ greening in southern Africa and the 20 X 20 Initiative in Latin America. We can create a better, more equal and climate change‐resilient world,” she noted.
“I also call on countries, the private sector, foundations and people of goodwill to support Africa  when the countries meet later in the year to develop concrete plans and policies to pre‐ empt, monitor and manage droughts,” Ms Barbut stated.
The 2016 World Day campaign is also advancing the Sustainable Development Goals adopted in September last year. The Goals include a target to achieve a land degradation‐neutral world by 2030. That is, a world where the land restored back to health equals to, or is more than, the amount degraded every year.
For more information on the Day and previous events, visit:‐and‐campaigns/WDCD/Pages/default.aspx
For background information and materials for the 2016 Observance, visit: For information about the Global Observance event, visit:‐and‐ campaigns/WDCD/wdcd2016/Pages/default.aspx
Contact for World Day to Combat Desertification:
For Media information:

Necessity to build the capacity of Ivorian stakeholders

Photo credit: CCAFS

Many cocoa gardens in Côte d’Ivoire are old and suffer from declining productivity. Climate-smart agriculture addresses this problem, while helping farmers increase their income. Photo: C. Adjehi (ICRAF)

Towards climate-smart agriculture in Côte d’Ivoire

by Mathieu Ouédraogo, Cheick Mbow, Christophe Kouamé (CCAFS, ICRAF)

To prepare the implementation of climate-smart Agriculture, it is necessary to build the capacity of national Ivorian stakeholders.

Agriculture plays an important role in the economic and social development of West African countries. It employs 60% of the working population, and makes a significant contributionto GDP (35%) and export earnings. To continue performing its economic and social function efficiently, West African agriculture needs to address the challenge of climate change.

Climate change poses challenges to agriculture

Climate change poses three major challenges to agriculture, namely:

Feeding an ever-growing population: Estimated at 290 million in 2010, the West African population will more than double by 2050. This will increase food demand from 60% to 80% and require additional resources.

Adapting to climate change: Rising temperatures, less rainfall, more frequent droughts and floods, as well as the proliferation of pests as a result of climate change will lead to low and volatile returns, as well as a sharp increase in the prices of major food crops. Consequently, agriculture needs to adapt to climate change.

Producing while minimizing environmental impacts: Agriculture is the world’s primary source of methane and nitrous oxide emissions, a major source of carbon emissions and the world’s leading factor of deforestation. Agriculture and deforestation account for about 30% of global emissions of greenhouse gases. Agriculture is therefore a major element of climate change.

Need for agricultural transformation

To meet these three challenges, it is urgent to adopt climate-smart agriculture (CSA).This is an integrated approach already implemented by the CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS) in five pilot countries (Burkina Faso, Ghana, Mali, Niger, and Senegal).

Read the full article: CCAFS


How to increase agricultural productivity and enhance drought resilience

Photo credit: CCAFS – CGIAR

Exchange meeting with farmers on farmer-managed natural regeneration in Niger. Photo: P. Savadogo
(view original)


A real opportunity to scale up Climate-Smart Villages in Niger

In Niger, the World Bank is financing a project inspired by the Climate-Smart Village model of Kampa Zarma.

by Mathieu Ouédraogo (CCAFS West Africa)

In August, the 3N (Nigeriens Nourish Nigeriens) facilitated a formulation workshop of a climate-smart agriculture project in Niger. The CGIAR Research Programme on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS) West Africa programme was among the attendees of the workshop, which was led by the 3N High Commission in partnership with the World Bank.

About the World Bank-funded CSA project in Niger

Led by the 3N High Commission of Niger, it is a seven year-long project (from 2016 to 2023) with a total budget of USD 111 million. The objective is to increase agricultural productivity and enhance drought resilience of agro-pastoral systems in 60 targeted communes in Niger.

Although the project is primarily focused on building resilience, it will attempt to deliver on the triple win of climate-smart agriculture (CSA): improving productivity, building resilience, and reducing emission in selected locations in Niger. This is why the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT), the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT) and CCAFS were invited to participate in the formulation workshop of the Niger CSA project.

A real opportunity to scale up the Climate-Smart Village model across the country

With the Participatory Action Research (PAR) team of INRAN, CCAFS organized a field visit to the Kampa Zarma site to show a concrete CSV to a team of representatives of the World Bank, the HC3N and the project consultancy bureau. This was the first time a delegation of this importance visited a CSV in Niger. During the field visit, participants had discussions with people from Kampa Zampa village and visited various CSA options that are implemented in the individual fields of famers including Farmer Assisted Natural Tree Regeneration, zaï (or tassa) and improved varieties of millet.


Climate-Smart Agricultural Practices



Testing climate-smart agricultural technologies and practices in Southeast Asia: a manual for priority setting

Author(s) Vernooy RBertuso ALe BVPham HParker LKura Y
Vernooy RBertuso ALe BVPham HParker LKura Y

The project Integrated agricultural technologies for enhanced adaptive capacity and resilient livelihoods in climate-smart villages (CSVs) of Southeast Asia aims to provide climate-smart agriculture options to enhance adaptive capacity among CSV farmers and stakeholders, and contribute to more climate-resilient livelihoods, in selected sites in Cambodia, Lao PDR and Vietnam. In order to facilitate a participatory process leading to the selection of the most effective technologies and practices, a team of CCAFS researchers worked on the development of a prioritysetting manual. This manual includes a number of principles and a sequence of six steps which were developed based on a critical review of past and ongoing participatory climate-smart technology selection experiences carried out as part of CCAFS in Africa and Asia, the experiences of the research team with similar processes and activities and were complemented by insights from the literature. A draft of the manual was put to test by the CIAT-Asia coordinated project research team in Ma village in the north of Vietnam in July 2015.

See the text: CCAFS-CGIAR

This year’s water systems model?

Photo credit: IWMI-CGIAR

Source: IMPACT hydrological model simulation (2013)


Computer models of the world’s water systems need some new thinking

The last two decades have seen substantial effort in the development of GHMs

Is it possible to model the world’s water? In an age of unprecedented computing power, what might seem like an insurmountable challenge has become a reality. Indeed there are now so many global hydrological models (GHMs), as they are known, offering such varying insights into water systems, that scientists may be wondering which they can rely on.

Fortunately help is at hand.

Two researchers based at the International Water Management Institute compared the various global-scale models developed over the last two decades. They conclude that some refinements may be needed if the current selection is to prove useful in addressing future challenges. The results have just been published in the Hydrological Sciences Journal and are currently featured as a time-limited open-access paper.

Read the full article: IWMI-CGIAR


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