Feed aggregator

A meta-analysis of the effects of communal livestock grazing on vegetation and soils in sub-Saharan Africa

Our latest outputs -

A meta-analysis of the effects of communal livestock grazing on vegetation and soils in sub-Saharan Africa Yayneshet, T.; Treydte, A.C. Extensive livestock grazing is one of the most common and widespread forms of land uses in sub Saharan Africa (SSA). Studies assessing the effects of extensive livestock grazing on vegetation and soils in SSA are inconsistent in the direction and magnitude of study outcomes. We applied meta-analysis to identify whether studies so far conducted in the rangeland systems of SSA have detected significant rangeland degradation as approximated by changes in vegetation attributes (reduction in species diversity and richness; decreased biomass and ground cover; increased woody species density and canopy cover) and soil properties (Decreased soil OC, N and P). We quantified results of the included studies using the response ratio, which is the log proportional change in the means of a treatment and a control group. Four moderator variables (elevation (<1500 and ≥1500 m above sea level); plant life form (herbaceous and woody), rainfall amount (<600 mm and ≥600 mm), rainfall modality (mono and bimodal), and soil texture (Loam, sandy, sandy loam)) appeared to affect the response of species diversity and richness patterns to different grazing regimes, i.e., communal grazing systems, exclosures, livestock ranches and game reserves. Species diversity and richness values were generally lower in the communal grazing systems compared to the other grazing regimes. Only three moderator variables (rainfall amount and modality, and soil texture) affected the herbaceous basal cover response. Differences in soil OC were highest between communal and exclosure areas, visible at high elevations and under high rainfall. Soil N was influenced by rainfall modality and soil texture. We conclude that the effects of grazing regimes onto the environment cannot be generalized but are specific across vegetation and soil variables and differ considerably with rainfall and elevation.

Rapid, low-cost technologies generate high-value soils information for planners and farmers

CRP 5: Program news -


 Keith Sheperd/ICRAFphoto credit: Keith Sheperd/ICRAF

A big, risky decision for smallholder farmers is what type and how much fertilizer to apply to their crops. There is lot of uncertainty about how the crops will respond, with a risk that the farmers will even lose when they harvest and sell the produce. Testing the soil beforehand and knowing how plants will respond can play an important role in reducing this risk. But the high cost and lack of access to testing services have been major bottlenecks for famers in developing countries.

Similarly, planners in governments, the private sector and non-governmental organizations who are working out what to supply to smallholder farmers are also faced with large uncertainties on what types and combinations of inputs to supply and where, in relation to the local soils. Continue reading…

This story is an excerpt from a post originally published on the Agroforestry World Blog. This research is carried out as part of the CGIAR Research Program on Water, Land and Ecosystems’ Decision Analysis and Information Systems research theme.

The post Rapid, low-cost technologies generate high-value soils information for planners and farmers appeared first on Water, Land and Ecosystems.

CIMMYT-Ethiopia new staff – Njeri Okono

Latest ILRI announcements -

CIMMYT-Ethiopia is glad to introduce Njeri Okonowho joined CIMMYT as Communications Manager for Africa, effective January, 2015. Njeri was working from CIMMYT HQ in the first few months, and relocated to Addis Ababa this week. She holds a Masters in Communication Studies and a Postgraduate Diploma in Mass Communication, both from the School of Journalism, University of Nairobi. Njeri previously worked for the CGIAR Generation Challenge Programme (GCP) as Communications Manager from 2007 until December 2014 when the Programme closed. Prior to GCP, she was a Science Writer/Editor with Green Ink Ltd and a Communications Officer at ICRAF.

Currently, she is sitting in office # 47 (1st floor of Res. Bldg. 2 – FOGERA ); and you can reach her on ILRI’s Ext. # 2308 and CIMMYT’s direct tel. nos. 011-646 2324/26/27.

Please join us in welcoming Okono to CIMMYT’s team & the ILRI campus!

Kind regards,


ILRI Ethiopia: Temporary GYM opened

Latest ILRI announcements -

Please be informed that the temporary GYM is operational now.

The GYM schedule:

  • Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday  from 6:00AM until 8:00PM
  • Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday from 6:00AM until 7:00PM

Admassu Wondimu
Email: A.Wondimu@cgiar.org

ILRI Kenya: Cat needing a home…

Latest ILRI announcements -

image1We recently took the stray cat and her kittens from around ILRI Nairobi canteen for neutering, vaccinations & deworming. The kittens have all found homes but we are still looking for somewhere for the mother. There is the option of bringing her back to ILRI but opinion seems split on whether this is a good idea. If you can offer her a home please contact me (J.POOLE@cgiar.org) via this email. She’s pretty tame and a friendly cat. The cat is at the vets this week as I’m working in Addis.

Jane Pool

P.S Apparently the fertile father is also a stray and hanging around – someone else’s turn to sort him out :-)
P.P.S Pet owners – please please get your animals neutered as soon as they are old enough!

Pastoralism and the green economy

Clippings -

A study by IUCN and UNEP argies that “pastoralism—extensive livestock production in the rangelands—is one of the most sustainablefood systems on the planet. Pastoralists safeguard natural capital in more than a quarter of the world’s land area. Pastoralism is both a livestock management system and a way of life that provides globally important ecosystem services, which are enjoyed far beyond the boundaries of the rangelands.”

The study Pastoralism and the Green Economy – a natural nexus? focuses on pastoralism’s current and future potential to secure sustainable management and green-economy outcomes from the world’s rangelands. The book explores:

  • the contribution of pastoralism to maintaining natural capital
  • pastoralism’s resource efficiency and sustainable production in highly variable dryland environments
  • the conditions that enable pastoralism to deliver on its green-economy potential.

Download the full report

Download the policy brief

Filed under: Pastoralism Tagged: IUCN, UNEP

Labour saving technology development with women smallholder farmers

CRP 7 News -

Many of women smallholder farmers are using labour intensive agricultural hand tools for onerous tasks such as weeding, planting, harvesting and crop/food processing. With minimal access to alternative energy sources (draught animals or mechanised farm equipment) such smallholders remain largely dependent on human labour for cultivation and agri-processing. This technology and energy deficit trap can perpetuate poverty, when the source of farm power is predominantly human labour.

The labour constraints facing women smallholder farmers arise for a range of reasons, including poverty; low levels of education and awareness of the importance of improved agricultural tools; use of poorly manufactured tools; cultural perceptions limiting the adoption of tools and implements; lack of linkages with local toolmakers; and lack of adequate market research by tool producers, particularly in relation to tools used by women smallholders with limited purchasing power.

Labour-saving technologies and tools could help improve the livelihoods of women smallholder farmers. The effective adaptation of smallholder farmer agri-systems and livelihoods to climate change will require increased access by farmers to labour saving technologies and tools. Routes out of poverty for smallholder rural communities will require a swathe of innovations that improve the labour productivity of their agricultural systems. A key challenge is how to enable smallholders to generate more income and agricultural produce whilst at the same time reducing the labour burden on women and children so that their livelihoods can improve.

Empowerment through farmer-participatory design and user-led innovation

The 3D4AGDEV program is harnessing the creativity and innovation of women smallholders in Malawi to develop new or improved labour saving agricultural tools. Advocates of the power of grassroots innovators (such as Anil Gupta of the Indian Honeybee Network) have highlighted that “the minds on the margin are not marginal minds.”

Majority of groundnuts are shelled by hand by women smallholders in Malawi. Photo: Zewdy Gebremedhin / 3D4AGDEV NUI Galway

The farmer participatory 3D4AgDev Program is harnessing the power of grassroots innovators. The program is linking the potential of User-Led Innovation with Rapid Prototyping (via 3D printing, arc welding and metal casting) to enable women smallholder farmers in Africa to design and develop their own labour-saving agricultural tools, tailor-made for their cultures, soils and cropping systems.

The 3D4AgDev Program was kick-started by a Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF) Grand Challenges Exploration (GCE) Phase I grant to the Plant & AgriBiosciences Research Centre (PABC) in the National University of Ireland Galway (NUI Galway) in 2013. The 3D4AgDev Program is a research partnership program between the NUI Galway PABC and Concern Worldwide and is hosted at CIAT Malawi. Key partners also include Bunda College of Engineering, Makerbot Industries and the CGIAR CCAFS program.

The 3D4AGDEV program is working with smallholder women innovator groups in Northern and Central Malawi (Nkhamenya and Kabudula respectively). Each innovator group works with the 3D4AGDEV program to design and on-farm test improved or new labour saving agricultural tools. High-labour peaks and tasks across daily schedules during rainy and dry seasons have been identified to indicate where improved tools are urgently needed. Local resource mapping has pinpointed opportunities for local design of tools, while opportunities for local manufacturing of tools have also been identified.

The 3D4AGDEV farmer participatory design sessions with innovator groups have revealed significant capacity of the women innovator groups to identify, propose and design improved labour saving agri-tools and agri-processing technologies for labour and time consuming tasks. Rapid-prototyping of tool designs has been conducted and prototype tools have been tested against existing tools in on-farm trials involving the women innovator groups. The farmer-designed tools have displayed major labour-saving potential, with the women smallholders exhibiting significant demand for the next phase of the 3D4AGDEV program to mass-produce and disseminate the new labour saving tools. The most promising tools are now being scaled up for production and dissemination using a social enterprise approach involving the women smallholders.

Through linking the women smallholder farmer groups to user-driven innovation and rapid-prototyping processes, the status of rural women can be improved. The research process has demonstrated the significant ingenuity and creativity of the smallholder women farmers. The next phases of the 3D4AGDEV program will involve a scale-up process whereby smallholder women farmers can move “rung by rung” up a technology ladder via a 3D4AGDEV social enterprise model that can ultimately improve livelihoods and incomes.

Plotting to get the word out: Gender and land research

CRP 2: program news -

Ruth Meinzen-Dick and Agnes Quisumbing are International Food Policy Research Institute's (IFPRI) researchers closely working with PIM on various topics including property rights and gender. In this blog, they share their experience and ideas about best ways to publicize results of scientific research. 

A colleague asked us recently about the “secret” behind IFPRI’s strategy to share its work on gender and land.  She mentioned that her colleagues had seen, and also heard from others, that the work got a lot of visibility and were wondering what the publication strategy was. 

We thought a bit about this—and realized that the answer lay beyond a “publication strategy”—it was a communications strategy that involved formal (discussion papers, journal articles, conference presentations) as well as informal approaches (social media, blogs, and, very importantly, personal networking), but one that was anchored in many, many years of research.

Our work on gender and property rights (including, but not limited to land) began with an e-conference on gender and property rights in 1995.  These were the early days of electronic collaboration (hard copy papers were mailed out, all postings were done by email—there were no blogs or websites then), and the e-conference culminated in a special issue of World Development that was published in 1996.

Fast forward to 2015, twenty years later, when our work on gender and land myths in Africa was prepared for a workshop in 2012, released as a discussion paper in 2013, presented in conferences and featured in blogs in 2014, and published as a journal article in Agricultural Economics and cited in the Washington Post in 2015.  Even before the work was out in print, it had already circulated in the virtual world—research communications has changed a lot!


The paper “Policy reform toward gender equality in Ethiopia: Little by little the egg begins to walk”, by Neha Kumar and Agnes Quisumbing, was first published as an IFPRI discussion paper in 2012 and later as an article in World Development in 2015. Both were published open access, which helped increase the paper’s accessibility, discoverability, and re-use (citation). The Altmetric score means that the paper ranks in the 91st percentile of the 96,824 articles tracked by Altmetric, with one of the highest scores of any article ever published in World Development (#26 of 659 articles).

This has prompted an online discussion among our team and with our great colleagues in IFPRI’s Communications and Knowledge Management division (special thanks to Tamar Abrams and Luz Marina Alvare).  So here are some thoughts about how to communicate one’s research effectively.

  • Do good research.
    • While bad research also gets lots of attention, in the long run, thorough, evidence-based research builds a reputation and following.  (If you do bad research, you may have publicity in the short run, but the fact checkers will find you and call you out!)
  • Talk to your communications division early to think about who you want to reach, and the best strategies for reaching them.  Identifying your audiences – and what you want them to think, feel or do – is key to success.
    • Ask your communications/knowledge management division how they can help. Their social media networks are surely broader than your personal ones and they may be able to reach key audiences much easier than you. They would likely be happy to work in partnership with you on promoting your work.
  • Present the research early and often—during and after the research. 
    • Within the institute first for feedback (and to let your colleagues know so they can mention it to others)
    • With national collaborators at their institutes or at meetings in their country.  This is important because we owe it to the countries where we collected the info, for feedback and validation of the work, and for it to have impact.
    • At key conferences in the field.  For example, for our gender and land work, we hit both “gender” meetings and “land” meetings: the World Bank Land and Poverty Conference, the International Association for Study of the Commons, Feminist Economics meetings, and other professional association meetings.  Offer to present at donor organizations who paid for the research.
    • In response to invitations from universities, or other specialized conferences (this is where reputation becomes important).
  • When you have presentations, see if they can be posted online somewhere.
  • Publish a working paper or discussion paper as open access when it is in good shape and can pass basic external review.
    • Some university professors put out things very early, with no review, to get feedback, but we find that the IFPRI Discussion Papers or CAPRi Working Papers are going to be cited, especially by those who don’t have access to libraries with journal subscriptions, so we want to make sure they are sound before the work goes out.
  • When it is out in discussion paper form, circulate the announcement with your networks.
    • For our gender and land work, we use the CAPRi listserv, the Gender and Food Policy blog (that we host), the CGIAR Gender & Agriculture Research Network, and the Gender Agriculture Partnership hosted by GCARD
    • If you don’t have a critical mass of researchers in your field, create your own virtual network with researchers with whom to exchange ideas. Agriculture for Nutrition and Health (A4NH) did so with the Gender-Nutrition Idea Exchange blog and workshops, and Policies, Institutions, and Markets (PIM) created the EnGendering Data blog to foster a community of practice around methods for collecting and analyzing sex-disaggregated data.
    • Through the institutional repository records it will appear in the Social Research Network (SSRN), Google Scholar, Mendeley and Repec among other academic sources.  Those, in turn, are picked up by other listservs and are then often cross-posted.
    • Look for the lists and blogs that people in your field read. Other possibilities are Eldis, Bridge, Devex, etc.
  • Be sure to refer to the publicly available data sets that you use in your paper, and provide the links.
    • This will increase visibility of your data (and get your datasets cited) as well as of your work, if other researchers analyze the data too.  So much data, too little time--there is no point in hoarding or being selfish about one’s data. It is better to be cited than to just sit on the data.
  • Consider guest blogs on key blogs that the people you want to know about your research will read.
  • Shortly after submitting the discussion paper, submit to a journal.
    • Pick one that the audience you want to reach reads, but keep in mind that some journals do not accept papers that were published as working papers.
    • If you want to reach a gender audience, go for a gender journal, but if you want fisheries people to think about gender, go to a fisheries journal, or an interdisciplinary journal.
    • Better yet, target different pieces of the research to different journals (but don’t recycle so much that people think that you are just self-plagiarizing).
  • Prioritize open access.
    • Either pick an open access journal, or pay for open access.  If this is not possible, make sure your library has a copy and the metadata record to provide document delivery to those with no access.
  • Make sure to contact your library/KM folks to place your publications in open institutional repositories, tagged properly, with metadata that interlinks to other research products related to the work being added.
    • Make sure your library gets a copy to be able to provide document delivery in case in it is not posted in an open access journal. This will increase the discoverability, accessibility and reusability bringing more citations to your research work.
  • Publicize the journal article when it’s out.
    • Tweet like crazy. Tweet entire sentences from the article. Tweet photos and tables. Use great hashtags. Post on Facebook and LinkedIn.
    • Don’t forget to tell your communications colleagues that the paper is out! Make sure the paper DOI is included in the posts and when using it in citations.
  • If you have a lot of material on a common project, develop a micro-site for it on the web.
    • For the GAAP project, we set up http://gaap.ifpri.info/ early on to write about what the project was about, then as we developed products (our conceptual framework, component projects, toolkit of methods, and then the outputs from component projects and synthesis) we added these to the site.
    • For WEAI we have the Women’s Empowerment in Agriculture Resource Center  with all publications, training materials, presentations, datsets, even Stata program files.  You can just point people to that site to find everything.
  • Link the microsite, or individual publications, to your institute’s gender page, like the.
    • The IFPRI Gender Page is the gateway for gender research at IFPRI. It includes links to project microsites, blogs, publications, datasets, and a gender toolbox organized by theme.
  • Don’t stop promoting the article just because time has passed. If there is a relevant world event or conference related to your article, start up the social media campaign…again!

Photo: Increasing Production via Land Certificates, by Anthony Piaskowy/USAID


Subscribe to International Livestock Research Institute aggregator