Newly approved CGIAR Portfolio sets agenda for next generation agriculture research for development

 

Photo credit: CIMMYT

CGIAR system retools to fight hunger and climate change

 

CGIAR, a global research partnership for a food-secure future, dedicated to reducing poverty, enhancing food and nutrition security, and improving natural resources and ecosystem services, today announced the approval of a new, targeted research portfolio to boost poor farmer incomes, food availability and resilience in the face of climate change in developing countries.

“Food demand is set to rise by at least 20 percent globally over the next 15 years, with the steepest increases in Africa, South Asia and East Asia,” said Juergen Voegele, Senior Director of the World Bank’s Agriculture Global Practice and Chair of the CGIAR System Council. “CGIAR and its network of 15 research centers is ideally positioned to deliver the suite of new agricultural technologies that are climate-smart, nutrition-sensitive and pro-poor.”

Upon the recommendation of the System Management Board, the CGIAR System Council carefully reviewed and approved a strong set of 11 CGIAR Research Programs (CRPs) and three research Platforms to start in January 2017, with funding allocations to be determined in November 2016.  CGIAR’s Independent Science and Partnership Council (ISPC) assessed the research proposals for relevance and pro-poor impacts in Africa, Asia and Latin America.

To achieve durable impacts, CGIAR depends on national partnerships and critical support from CGIAR Funders and other contributors. The World Bank, which helped found CGIAR in 1971, will remain a strong partner. According to Voegele:“The World Bank is committed to its continued engagement with CGIAR, which is essential for improving the sustainability of global food systems, achieving improved nutritional outcomes, addressing climate change and meeting targets of the U.N. Sustainable Development Goals by 2030.”

Research outputs from CGIAR Research Centers continue to be the chief source of new technologies for poor farmers in Africa, Asia and Latin America. A recent study found that CGIAR-derived wheat varieties – nearly all traceable to the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT) and its sister-center, International Center for Agricultural Research in the Dry Areas (ICARDA)

– cover more than 100 million of the 220 million hectares planted to the crop worldwide, bringing as much as $3.1 billion each year in economic benefits.

Read the full article: CIMMYT

See also: Cimmyt

Land degradation vs. economic and environmental sustainability

 

Photo credit: CGIAR

A Taru woman selling homegrown produce at a local market in Rajbiraj, Nepal. Photo credit: Mark Schauer.

Putting economic and environmental sustainability hand in hand to protect our lands

*Note: This article first appeared in the Solutions Journal (Volume 7, Issue 5, p. 17-20)

Land degradation is an underestimated global concern with far-reaching implications affecting the ability of land to provide food and incomes. Globally, a large portion of the vulnerable human populations—the rural poor—live on degrading and less-favored agricultural lands without market access. Heterogeneous solutions that ensure both economic and environmental sustainability are needed at multiple scales.

On a policy level, awareness of land and soil degradation is increasing. Last year all countries adopted a set of goals as part of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. The specific goal on land degradation includes a commitment for countries to take steps to achieve a land-degradation neutral world. This commitment is universal; it will apply to developed as well as developing countries and covers lands with sufficient rainfalls for agriculture as well as drylands across political borders.

However, a recent publication claims ‘the end of desertification’ and calls for a more nuanced approach to the serious problem of global land degradation that moves away from the emotional rhetoric of expanding deserts and sand-covered villages, forcing people to migrate into an uncertain future (1). Such doom and gloom stories dominated international discussions in the late 20th century and provided the arguments for the establishment of a UN Convention to Combat Desertification, which is now specifically addressing this issue. Others have countered this direction of thoughts with a more optimistic view of how populations can survive by building on traditional knowledge in a new paradigm for people, ecosystems, and development.

Despite these debates, no one contends that land degradation is not a very real and serious problem. This is especially so for the sectors of society who are mainly smallholder farmers in drylands and characterized as being the poorest,hungriest, least healthy, and most marginalized people on Earth. These people depend on land as the basis for their economic development and opportunities, as small as they might be. A sustainable management and rehabilitation approach of land must thus be engaged for their survival and well-being.

Read the full article: CGIAR

Soil and land restoration (CIAT)

 

Photo credit: CIAT

CIAT and partners focus on soil and land restoration in Paraguay

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There is a first time for everything, as the saying goes. And for CIAT´s Soils Research Area, the project “Confronting the challenges of smallholder farming communities: Restoration of degraded agroecosystems,” provided the entry point for a new effort in Paraguay to enhance the livelihoods of smallholder producers through restoration of soils and landscapes that are degraded, and conservation of those that are still in good health.

With assistance from the German Agency for International Cooperation (GIZ, its German acronym) and financial support from Germany´s Federal Ministry of Cooperation and Economic Development (BMZ), the project is focusing on two regions of strategic importance.

One is the buffer zone of the Mbaracayú Biosphere Reserve, which is a major remnant of the Atlantic Forest in Paraguay. CIAT scientists are working in this area with the Moisés Bertoni Foundation to help smallholders improve their systems for producing yerba mate (used to make a traditional beverage) in the shade of native tree species. The idea is to establish green corridors in the landscape, which has been extensively deforested, with severe soil degradation resulting from large-scale production of soybean and other crops.

Read the full article: CIAT-CGIAR

Food security and gender

Photo credit: CGIAR

Gender differences can create barriers to climate change adaptation. In many places, women are less likely than men to adopt new technologies, use credit or other financial services or receive education or extension advice. Photo: C. Peterson (CIAT/CCAFS)
(view original)

 

Tackle gender gaps to improve food security, say researchers

Data shows differences in how men and women experience – and deal with- climate change.

by Vanessa Meadu (CCAFS)

Women and men perceive climate change differently, and gender differences influence their ability to adapt, according to an analysis published on the IFPRI blog. Researchers Elizabeth Bryan, Patti Kristjanson and Claudia Ringler looked at gender dissagregated data collected at CCAFS research sites in Senegal, Uganda, Kenya and Bangladesh. What they found can help researchers and policy makers develop better interventions.

For example, there are differences in how women and men in the different countries perceived climatic changes, weather and events like flooding.

Read the full article: CCAFS-CGIAR

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

 

Impacts of Soil and Water Conservation

Photo credit: CGIAR

Traditional soil and water conservation structures in the arid agroecosystem of Southern Tunisia/ Photo credit: C. Zucca

 

Reviewing soil and water conservation research in Tunisia

Submitted by Dryland Systems CGIAR

A new report entitled “Impacts of Soil and Water Conservation Techniques in Tunisia – Inventory of Research Works and Studies” provides a comprehensive inventory of the research work and studies undertaken to date to assess the impacts of soil and water conservation in the country. This review is critical to the research effort at national and regional levels to address challenging issues such as water scarcity and land degradation.

A holistic systems approach that takes into account both biophysical and socio-economic factors was taken into account in order to pool together and categorize the main research topics, as follows:

  • The economic cost of the soil and waters conservation structures
  • The social value of soil and water conservation
  • Impact on landowners, and their investment behavior
  • Impact on the value of productivity
  • Impact on the environment

This inventory report covers over 150 documents in the English or French languages published in scientific journals, conference proceedings, and project reports and technical studies by governmental agencies that were, in some cases, not easily available to the public. A variety of studies on different soil and water conservation structures were reviewed, including terraces or contour benches, hill lakes, jessour, and recharge wells/check dams.

Read the full story: CGIAR Dryland Systems

Lasting impact for rural dryland communities

 

CGIAR DRYLANDS SYSTEMS

CGIAR – A N N U A L  R E P O R T  2 0 1 4

Pathways to lasting impact for rural dryland communities in the developing world

Contents

Dryland Systems at a glance………………………………………………………..2

  • Message from the Director General, International Centre for Agricultural Research in the Dry Areas………………………………………….3
  • Message from the Program Director, Dryland Systems…………………..4
  • Our research……………………………………………………………………………….7
  • Where we work………………………………………………………………………… 14
  • Highlights of 2014 …………………………………………………………………… 15
  • Pathways to impact………………………………………………………………….. 21
  • Dryland Systems contributes towards universal sustainable development……………………………………………………………………………. 22
  • Strategies for women and youth ……………………………………………….. 41 Capacity development to achieve outcomes………………………………. 45 Partnerships ……………………………………………………………………………. 49
  • Financial summary for 2014…………………………………………………….. 53 Governance …………………………………………………………………………….. 57
  • Dryland Systems people…………………………………………………………… 59
  • Selected publications ………………………………………………………………. 61
  • Acronyms ………………………………………………………………………………… 63

Smallholder farmers are a key part of the solution to the climate change challenge

Photo credit: UN News Centre

Farmers growing lettuce and other vegetables in the highlands of Bevatu Settlement, Nadrau, Viti Levu, Fiji. Photo: IFAD/Susan Beccio

Small farmers can be major actors in reducing agriculture’s carbon footprint – UN agency

Helping farmers adapt to the impacts of climate change can also significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions, finds a new study released today by one of the agricultural agencies of the United Nations system.

“What this report shows is that smallholder farmers are a key part of the solution to the climate change challenge,” said Michel Mordasini, Vice President of International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD). “With the right investments, smallholders can feed a growing planet while at the same time restoring degraded ecosystems and reducing agriculture’s carbon footprint.”

IFAD chose UNESCO’s Our Common Future under Climate Change Science Conference in Paris to release details of its latest research with the Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security of the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR).

The study finds reducing emissions may not be as big a burden as some may believe and could be another benefit of adaptation activities. The study, released today, examines IFAD’s portfolio of projects focused on making smallholder agriculture more resilient to climate change.

Read the full article: UN News Centre

Farmers in Pakistan’s drylands love it, African farmers too ?

Photo credit: CGIAR

 

Please read:

A Prickly Cactus Journey in Pakistan

CGIAR Dryland Systems

EXCERPT

Since the 1980s, scientists at the International Center for Agricultural Research in the Dry Areas (ICARDA) in collaboration with a host of partners and stakeholders have been documenting lost knowledge of how indigenous communities used cacti in the past, and identifying the potential uses of cacti, such as:

  1. Forage for livestock and animals;
  2. Fruit and vegetable where young cladodes are consumed fresh or cooked;
  3. Source of natural red dye accepted by health authorities worldwide;
  4. Processed foods where a potential market for cacti-based concentrated juices, liquors, semi-processed and food supplements is viable;
  5. Cosmetics industry, which might be a significant source of income;
  6. Medicinal applications: promising results for the treatment of gastritis, diabetes, hypercholesterolemia, and for obesity.

 

ICARDA and ILRI scientists, in collaboration with the Pakistan Agricultural Research Council and the National Agricultural Research Center of Pakistan, supported by the CGIAR Research Program Dryland Systems and the USAID-funded Agriculture Innovation Program for Pakistan have been conducting a series of on-farm demonstrations and farmer field days in the Chakwal research action site in Punjab Province  to showcase the multiple uses of the cacti crop, including feeding livestock on chopped cactus pads.

The cactus pear was introduced to Pakistan in recent years through Cactusnet, an international technical network on cactus established back in 1993 through an initiative led by FAO and ICARDA. Network members from several countries shipped cactus cladodes to first to India, where different cultivars are being evaluated against criteria of suitability and adaptation to local conditions. Based on preliminary findings, the most prominent varieties are being identified and then shared with farmers in both India and Pakistan.

Many varieties of offspring cactus cladodes have been already produced and shared amongst local dryland farming communities. The farmers are now focusing on letting their cactus plants grow larger so that more cacti crop can be harvested annually.

It is hoped that in time, the cactus pear crop will be utilized as green forage to reduce the feed gap during the driest part of the year, when other crops fail to survive, and livestock mortality is the highest. The use of these high-energy, nutrient-rich cacti plants is not only helping to reduce risks associated with extreme climate variability and depleted natural resources; it is also providing farmers with an alternative source of income through the sale of cacti fruit and cacti seed oil to cosmetic companies. Cooked cladodes are also appropriate from human consumption, therefore contributing to increased food security for Pakistan’s dryland communities. As knowledge of the benefits of the cactus pear spreads from one community to another, scientists are helping farmers refine the cultivation, harvesting, and processing practices for this game-changing crop that has been resurrected from a mythical hellfire.

This research is being conducted in the framework of the CGIAR Research Program on Dryland Systems under the South Asia Flagship and supported by the CGIAR Fund Donors.

For more information, please contact:

Mounir Louhaichi, Senior Rangeland Scientist, International Center for Agricultural Research in Dry Areas and ICARDA Focal Point for the FAO-ICARDA Cactusnet at m.louhaichi@cgiar.org

Read the full article: CGIAR Dryland Systems

Farmers embracing prickly pear cactus as a multipurpose, income-generating crop

Photo credit: CGIAR Dryland Systems

Farmers Day at cactus field managed by the National Agricultural Research Center of Pakistan, Photo:ICARDA

A Prickly Cactus Journey: From Hellish Plant to Farmers’ Darling

Farmers in Pakistan are now embracing cactus as a multipurpose, income-generating crop to reduce risks associated with climate change

EXCERPT

Today, the reality is very different. Farmers have not only changed their mind and beliefs about the cactus pear; they have actually increased their demand for its production.

Adapted to extreme conditions, the cactus pear can grow and survive in severely degraded soils and areas, where not much of anything else will grow. Given its high water efficiency and content, the cactus pear can sustain livestock through the driest of seasons. Compared to many other common crops and fodder, the cactus pear is easy to establish, maintain, and utilize. Its well-developed root system, which avoids wind and rain erosions, makes it an ideal feed crop in the face of climate change conditions.

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ICARDA and ILRI scientists, in collaboration with the Pakistan Agricultural Research Council and the National Agricultural Research Center of Pakistan, supported by the CGIAR Research Program Dryland Systems and the USAID-funded Agriculture Innovation Program for Pakistan have been conducting a series of on-farm demonstrations and farmer field days in the Chakwal research action site in Punjab Province  to showcase the multiple uses of the cacti crop, including feeding livestock on chopped cactus pads.

It did not take long before farmers started to ask cactus pads to be planted in their fields. The farmers’ change of heart towards the cactus pear has generated a new problem. There is not enough supply to meet the demand.

Local communities and effective adaptation strategies

Photo credit: CCAFS-CGIAR

Emergence of new diseases and pests for some crop varieties has affected farm productivity in Uganda. Photo: IITA

Drought and pest epidemics among top climate risks in rural Uganda

by Vivian Atakos and Maren Radeny (CCAFS East Africa)

The traditional coping strategies developed by local communities provide useful foundations for effective adaptation strategies.

nd e“We find it difficult to plan our farm activities; rainfall patterns are very variable and confusing. Dry spells are common during crop production seasons,” said farmers in rural Uganda, during a focus group discussion session convened by researchers to understand farmers’ perception of climatic trends and climate-related risks.

Smallholder farmers in Uganda face a wide range of agricultural production risks, with climate change and variability presenting new risks and vulnerabilities. Climate-related risks such as prolonged dry seasons have become more frequent and intense with negative impacts on agricultural livelihoods and food security.

A new working paper by the CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS) assessed farmers’ perceptions of climate change and variability and analysed historical trends in temperature and rainfall in two rural districts of Uganda. The paper ‘Climatic trends, risk perceptions and coping strategies of smallholder farmers in rural Uganda’ (PDF) also identified the major climate-related risks affecting crop and livestock production and the existing innovative strategies for coping with and adapting to climate-related risks, with potential for upscaling in rural districts.

Read the full article: CCAFS-CGIAR

Resilience and development

Photo credit: Livestock systems and environment

Water collection for animals and domestic use in Tanzania (photo credit: IUCN)

Understanding resilience and how it relates to development outcomes

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This is the seventh entry of the resilience blog series, written by Davies Jonathan, the Coordinator of the Global Drylands Initiative at the the International Union for Conservation of Nature, IUCN. Jonathan is also a co-author in a recently produced article which is featured in this blog series.

The International Monetary Fund’s Survey Magazine of April 28, 2015, runs the banner headline ‘Resilient Growth in Sub-Saharan Africa, Despite Strong Headwinds’. The International Monetary Fund (IMF), the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), and the Development Banks routinely use the term ’Resilient Growth’ in a sense that resonates with our concept of Development Process Resilience. Whilst economic growth alone may not be an ideal indicator of development, ‘resilient growth’, measured in terms of the rate of change in GDP, is a measure of progress towards one particular development goal; in this way, it is akin to what we are calling development process resilience.

Whether or not the term ‘resilience’ should be used in this context is less interesting to me than what is meant by use of the term. The term is in colloquial usage and it is informative to explore how the normative use of ‘resilience’ relates to the current interpretation in social-ecological science. I suspect that it is the normative use of resilience that has determined its widespread popularity. In our paper it is this implicit or intended meaning that we focus on; the way many actors in the Horn of Africa and globally have adopted the term Resilience to describe their development investments.

The origins of our paper ’Resilience and Sustainable Development: Insights from the Drylands of Eastern Africa’ were a response to the large amount of money being invested in resilience building and concern that the concept was poorly understood and therefore challenging to measure. In the drylands of Eastern Africa such misunderstandings in the past have left a legacy of misguided investments and policies that have aggravated poverty and environmental degradation. So whilst agreeing on definitions can sometimes be tedious, in this case the underlying meaning is of great significance.

Read the full article: Livestock systems and environment