Capacity Strengthening Clippings

ILRI supports early career agricultural researchers through the CIRCLE fellowships program

By Joyce Maru

The Climate Impact Research Capacity and Leadership Enhancement in Sub-Saharan Africa (CIRCLE) program is an initiative of the UK’s Department for International Development (DFID) that is developing the skills and research output of early career researchers in Africa in the field of climate change.

Started in 2014, the program runs until 2018 and is managed and implemented by the Association of Commonwealth Universities (ACU) and the African Academy of Sciences (AAS).

How ILRI participates in CIRCLE 

The International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) is a partner in the program and is both a ‘host’ and a ‘home’ institute for CIRCLE, which is integrated into ILRI’s graduate fellowship program.

At ILRI, the program is coordinated by the Capacity Development Unit and supported by the Livestock Systems and Environment (LSE) program and the CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS).

In 2015, ILRI, through the LSE program is hosting Abraham Belay, an MSc Fellow from Ethiopia’s Hawassa University’s Wondo Genet College of Forestry and Natural Resources who is supervised by John Recha of CCAFS.

As part of the partnership with CIRCLE, the CCAFS program nominated Catherine Mungai, an emerging young scientist with the program, to study climate change and adaptation at the University of Nairobi for one year after which she will resume her employment at ILRI. ILRI will host more fellows for the duration of the program and nominate other interested emerging researchers undertaking research in climate change.

Why a focus on climate change in agriculture?

With about 70% of Africa’s population depending on agriculture and 40% of the continents total exports being agriculture-based, the impact of climate change on agriculture is a major concern and there’s urgency to focus and address the issues through research. Agriculture related research themes under the CIRCLE remit include:

  • Impact of changing precipitation on agricultural production
  • Development of new and climate-resistant crops
  • Climate-smart agricultural practices
  • Opportunities in new climate regimes

Why focus on early/emerging career researchers?

The aim of the program is not simply to produce a body of research, but to strengthen mechanisms for better research uptake and to support institutions develop and realize a holistic and more (developmental) strategic approach to climate change research.

On their own, the fellowships will have important but limited benefits but by concurrently strengthening the capacity of organizations and institutions to manage, organize and support the career development of ‘next generation’ researchers, it is foreseen that fellows will return to organizations with a more enabling and sustainable environment for further research.

This program is nurturing early career academics for the long-term future development of research, while also offsetting some of the common disadvantages they face in obtaining funding and time for scientific enquiry.

Catherine Mungai

Uganda NAPA meeting

Catherine Mungai (photo credit: S Kilungu/CCAFS).

Host institute: Institute for Climate Change and Adaptation, University of Nairobi, Kenya.

Area of research: Climate change, food security, gender, policy

She says one of the unique features of the CIRCLE program is its mentoring and supervision structure which enables fellows to benefit from knowledge and experience from a wide range of researchers in different institutions.

‘In my case, I have a mentor from ILRI, two supervisors from University of Nairobi and an advisor from the University of Greenwich. I look forward to drawing a lot of inspiration and enriching my research experience by interacting with the entire team.’

Joyce Maru is a capacity development officer at ILRI.

Filed under: Africa, Agriculture, Article, Capacity Strengthening, CapDev, Climate Change, LSE, Research Tagged: Catherine Mungai, CCAFS, CIRCLE

Not only right but also smart! ILRI develops future women leaders in agricultural research

Biosciences eastern and central Africa-ILRI Hub platform

Though the graduate fellowship program, women scientists and graduate fellows are finding opportunities to carry out agricultural research at ILRI (photo credit: ILRI/David White). 

Written by Joyce Maru, capacity development officer at ILRI

Global statistics still show that women are generally underrepresented in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). The International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) is helping bridge this gap by empowering women across the organization and ensuring a gender-sensitive approach in livestock research in its mission towards ‘better lives through livestock’.

Though the ILRI’s graduate fellowship program, which is a key component of ILRI’s capacity develop­ment efforts, many women scientists and graduate fellows from national agricultural research organizations, university departments of agriculture and veterinary medi­cine and non-governmental organizations from across the world are finding opportunities to carry out agricultural research at the institute.

Currently, the program is hosting about 120 fellows out of which 45% are women. During the fellowships, graduates carry out research-for-development activities, which are embedded in ILRI projects. The graduates, who gain access to ILRI’s cutting-edge research facilities, often carry out research in the field and are mentored by ILRI’s senior scientists.

In marking this year’s International Women’s Day on 8 March, whose theme is the clarion call of UN Women’s Beijing+20 campaign empowering women, empowering humanity: Picture it!’, this article shares the experiences of women graduate fellows at ILRI in an effort to encourage other young women who aspire to become scientists.

Thanammal Ravichandran is a PhD fellow with ILRI’s Livelihoods, Gender and Impact program and she is based in India. She is carrying out a comparative analysis of institutional efficiency for the inclusive dairy development in India.

What do you see as the impact of your work or research?
While I was working in Uttarakhand through the MilkIT project, I saw the positive results of involving women in a dairy development project. Many women became employed along the dairy value chain and participated in the innovation platform, which empowered them to express their views and to talk about their needs. As a result, their skills in feeding and managing animals was improved. The opportunities and benefits they received through the program continue to have an impact on their livelihoods. Through the gender and value chain research I am involved in, we hope to reach policymakers in the region to improve women participation beyond the dairy value chain.

What should be done to increase the number of women researchers in agricultural research?
• Financial assistance will encourage women in developing countries, many of whom face financial obstacles, to excel in science.
• More women need to take up leading positions in the agricultural research sector.
• Flexible work arrangements also help women work and fulfil their other social roles.

What is your advice to young girls who aspire to become scientists?
More than 800 million people in the world do not have enough food to lead a healthy life. Agricultural research helps to understand the problem and by taking up work in research, women become part of the solution to global food security and they also play a key role in ensuring healthy families.

Kayla Yurco is a PhD fellow with the Livestock, Systems and Environment program at ILRI in Nairobi where she is working on a project on pastoral livelihoods, nutrition and food security in southern Kenya.

What do you see as the impact of your work or research?
My research intends to have two impacts: illuminate women’s important but as yet understudied roles as livestock keepers in pastoral communities and contribute to efforts that engage women for improved pastoral nutrition and sustainable livelihoods in drylands. My research involves local women in all stages of data collection and for iterative feedback on findings. Long-term, I hope to continue to involve community members in policy-relevant research about environment, gender and development.

What should be done to increase the number of women researchers in agricultural research?
The more we can do to ensure that young women see the efforts, challenges and successes of strong women in science, the better – whether in the lab, in the field or through writing and teaching. Importantly, there is responsibility for both women and men to recognize the work that women scientists already do and that they can do. Increasing early educational opportunities for girls and young women to recognize what science looks like outside of the classroom is key, too. Helping children to turn their innate curiosity about the world around them into scientific inquiries of their everyday environments can open young minds to the endless possibilities of science and research.

What is your advice to young girls who aspire to become scientists?
Most importantly, know that you can reach your aspirations if you set your mind to do so. Reach out to women scientists to hear their stories and their challenges. Learn to ask for advice when you need it. And look to other women (and men!) in your life that you admire, no matter what they do. For instance, neither of my parents are scientists, but I know that any successes I have had in my path to becoming a female scientist have resulted from their support and my efforts to emulate their work ethic. Lastly, pursue a field that you are passionate about and the rest will come.

Clarrise Umutoni is a PhD fellow with the Livestock Systems and Environment program at ILRI. She is based in Mali, where she is carrying out a project to empower local institutions to sustainably manage natural resources in Sudano-Sahelian zone of Mali for improved livestock productivity.

What do you see as the impact of your work or research?
I am convinced that my research will help to identify innovative options that will facilitate optimum use and management of natural resources in the Sudano-Sahelian zone of West Africa thereby improving farmers’ productivity. It will also describe the status of the agro pastoralist and pastoralist systems in the region and help to adapt the functionality of these systems to a context highly affected by climate change.

What should be done to increase the number of women researchers in agricultural research?• Give them opportunities to realize that there is no magic in science
• Encourage learning experiences with women who have successfully combined their career whilst having a    family
• Governments should encourage women in science by providing them special opportunities
• Provide female role models, resources and support for activities that promote science for young girls and      women.

What is your advice to young girls who aspire to become scientists?
Go ahead! Believe in yourself that you can. It does not require a miracle to achieve your dream and goal in life but determination. Follow your passion and you will not be disappointed!

Find out more about International Women’s Day 2015 through the Twitter hashtag #iwd2015

Filed under: Agriculture, Article, Capacity Strengthening, Gender, Women Tagged: 2015 International Women's Day

Pan African University: Call for MSc and PhD applications for 2015/2016 academic year

The Pan African University is an initiative of the Heads of State and Government of the African Union. It is a Premier continental university network whose mission is to provide wholesome postgraduate education geared towards the achievement of a prosperous, integrated and peaceful Africa.

Young, qualified, talented and enterprising applicants from African countries and the Diaspora are invited to apply to join Masters or PhD degree programmes in ANY of the following four PAU institutes listed in the call. Candidates with potential, motivation and desire to play transformative leadership roles as academics, professionals, industrialists, innovators and entrepreneurs are particularly encouraged to apply. Please click here to download the full call.


Filed under: Award, Capacity Strengthening, Scholarship Tagged: African Union, Pan African University

Short ‘Livestock and Fish’ animated video on what ‘capacity development’ is, what it does, why and with whom


What is the CGIAR Research Program on Livestock and Fish doing to develop capacity to enhance smallholder agricultural value chains in Asia, Africa and Latin America?


Niko Pirosmani, Farmer with a Bull, 1916 (via Wikiart).

Take a look at this wonderfully animated 6-minute video to find out.

As you’ll learn from the video, the CGIAR Livestock and Fish Research Program is being implemented by four CGIAR centres:

  1. International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), the lead centre, is based in Kenya
  2. WorldFish, in Malaysia
  3. International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT), in Colombia
  4. International Centre for Agricultural Research in the Dry Areas (ICARDA), formerly in Syria, now moved to Jordan and elsewhere due to the ongoing conflicts in Syria

The program is helping small-scale livestock and fish producers to intensify and commercialize their production, processing and marketing activities.

The Livestock and Fish program is working largely through an integrated capacity development approach that pays particular attention to the empowerment of poor women.

The scientists within this program see capacity development as a ‘strategic enabler’ for getting ‘research outputs’ transformed into ‘development outcomes’.

To do this, the program works with lots of diverse local groups in each of the nine value chains and eight countries it works with.

‘Systems’ — whether within institutions, organizations or individuals — rather than particular given agricultural ‘interventions’ are the focus of the capacity development work in this program.

A seeming lack of absorptive capacity by marginalized communities and their organizations is not an argument against, but rather for, making investments in capacity development.

PirosmaniNiko_FishermanAmongRocks-1906. For more information, go to


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Niko Pirosmani, Fisherman among Rocks, 1906 (via Wikiart).

Filed under: Bangladesh, Burkina Faso, Capacity Strengthening, CapDev, CGIAR, CRP37, Egypt, Ethiopia, Gender, ILRI, India, Livelihoods, Livestock-Fish, Markets, Photofilm, Tanzania, Uganda, Value Chains, Women Tagged: Animated video, CIAT, Diana Brandes-van Dorresteijn, ICARDA, Iddo Dror, Nicaragua, WorldFish

Reducing the vulnerability of Somali livestock communities through capacity development and enhanced market access

Hargeisa livestock market buying and selling

Hargeisa livestock market buying and selling

According to ILRI’s Nadhem Mtimet, livestock provides around 60% of gross domestic product (GDP) in Somaliland and the sector employs over 70% of the population. Livestock producers, he says, are very market-oriented, and the country exports around three million small ruminants each year to Saudi Arabia and other countries in the Middle East.

Ensuring high quality and disease-free animals for export is thus critical to the development of the Somalia’s northern states of Somaliland and Puntland. There is also a growing need to balance the production of more animals with the sustainable management of the dry areas in which the animals are reared. Staff of the IGAD Sheikh Technical Veterinary School (ISTVS) and Reference Centre already see the need for more action and research on issues around soil and land degradation, dryland management and adaptation to climate change. It is not enough to just produce more animals, they need to be better, and produced better.

ILRI’s engagement in Somalia reaches back at least 10 years, with active involvement in several research for development projects, usually alongside NGO partner Terra Nuova.

Mtimet explains that the most important livestock sector challenges he encountered in the project relate to livestock production in terms of access to feed and water and animal health – dealing with diseases, pests and parasites. Livestock marketing is also hampered by insufficient market information for the producers.

He sees the greatest opportunity as the ‘increasing export market demand especially from Saudi Arabia and the geographic location of Somalia close to the Gulf countries. Large foreign private investments are happening which is improving the infrastructure and securing stable demand along the year.’

Somalia is one of the world’s poorest countries and has endured a prolonged civil war. While livestock are critical to the economy, and they support a large part of the population, processing of agricultural products is a small part of GDP.

As an ISTVS professor remarked: Somaliland needs to move from exporting livestock ‘on the hoof’ to exporting livestock ‘on the hook’ – with more value adding activities taking place in Somalia.

This, along with the emerging sustainability agenda, calls for stronger research and learning systems and institutions, more evidence-based decision making – and evidence on which to decide, and effective market organizations and linkages.

Batch of export quality Somali sheep and goats

Batch of export quality Somali sheep and goats

Following the collapse of the Somali state the private sector (including individuals and organizations) have grown impressively, particularly in trade, commerce, transport, remittances and infrastructure services. The primary sectors (livestock, agriculture and fisheries) have led the way. However, capacities of the evolving institutions remain limited, particularly in regulatory services and in transforming export market opportunities into higher incomes and broader development results.

Achieving these market opportunities and delivering their benefits to the rural poor, in Somalia’s extreme physical and institutional environment, requires enhanced investment in and use of the indigenous knowledge base.

Reducing Vulnerability of Somali Communities project

The current project (officially ‘reducing vulnerability of Somali communities by raising the capacity of indigenous systems and enhancing market access and consumer welfare’) was initiated in 2012 and it runs until June 2015. It aims to strengthen local capacity to mobilize and use knowledge from Somali livestock research in decision making. It also aims to enhance the capacities of public and private sectors to improve livestock products’ marketing and safety.

Mtimet: The project is targeting 3 main objectives: First, improving the indigenous knowledge about Somali livestock breeding and marketing practices; second, improving the technical and scientific skill of ISTVS staff through capacity building; and third, increasing the awareness of donors, development agencies, and other international organization about the importance of the livestock sector and attracting those partners to invest more in the sector

Research and knowledge strengthening results are delivered through support to the ISTVS so it can better conduct and disseminate applied research. The idea is for the ISTVS to become a valuable knowledge base and able to partner with regional and international research institutions.

Market access results are delivered through activities that foster the establishment of public-private partnerships to formulate product standards as a way of improving international trade. It also helps consolidate Livestock Market Information System (LMIS) operated by the local Chambers of Commerce, Industries and Agriculture.

So far, the project has developed partnerships between the Somaliland Chamber of Commerce, Industry and Agriculture (SLCCIA), the Somaliland Quality Control Commission (SQCC), the Ministries of Livestock and Commerce, the IGAD Sheikh Technical Veterinary School, Terra Nuova and the Kenya Bureau Standards (KEBS). In Puntland, partnerships have been forged between the Puntland Chamber of Commerce, the Puntland Food Quality Control unit of the Ministry of Agriculture, Ministries of Livestock, Health, Fisheries and Commerce, Department of Water, Terra Nuova and KEBS.

What’s been achieved so far?

Result 1 (on knowledge and capacity development) is focused around the ISTVS, established in 2002, to take on some important training, research and extension roles in the Somali ecosystem that stopped as a result of the collapse of the Somali Federal government in 1991.

The ‘school’ provides professional and academic courses and has links with universities in Kenya, Uganda, and Ethiopia to develop its staff and deliver accredited BSc education. It is being attained through intensive capacity building, largely enabled by ILRI. Activities will enable the ISTVS Reference Centre to conduct and disseminate applied research to local audiences of livestock value chain actors and the nascent civil society. This work is only implemented in Somaliland and has made progress in five main areas.

ISTVS PRA data collection with female community members in Sheikh (Somaliland)

ISTVS students carry our PRA data collection with community members in Sheikh

  1. Research methods training and support combined with mentored action research has been provided to academic staff, especially juniors at the ISTVS. The aim was to familiarize them with conventional and participatory research approaches and tools and gain skills to document and write up science.
  2. Research on livestock importer requirements in importing countries has been carried out in Saudi Arabia to study both the tail end of the up-stream market (Somaliland) and the end-market. This is intended to the help identify opportunities and constraints for the various actors along the market chain and ways to address these.
  3. Activities are underway to promote uptake of applied research results into academic teaching and the wider communities. Findings from past ILRI and Terra Nuova value chain studies have been incorporated into the ISTVS training curricula/program as teaching notes for Diploma students. Students are encouraged to get out to the field – and markets – to gain in-depth knowledge on the functioning and importance of the value chain and the market information systems that support it.
  4. Participants in the project have carried out a number of studies on issues around markets, animal production and pastoralist challenges and opportunities. These are being written up for wider dissemination locally and beyond.
  5. Finally, the functional infrastructure of ISTVS has been upgraded with improvements to labs, offices, power supply and an extension of the kitchen and refectory.

A new focus in recent months focuses on communications and knowledge sharing – examining opportunities to better generate and document knowledge in the ISTVS, making it widely accessible to different stakeholders.

Mtimet: ISTVS is probably the unique “quality” centre in Somalia that has some skills and is developing new skills to tackle the problems that livestock keepers are facing in terms of animal health, animal husbandry, feeding, mating, marketing, etc.

Result 2 (on markets and regulation) is being implemented with chambers of commerce in Somaliland and Puntland. They have brought in the Kenya Bureau of Standards (KEBS) to help establish public-private partnerships to develop and implement appropriate standards and instruments for the sector. This work has made progress in five main areas:

Livestock export quarantine center at Berbera port, Somaliland

Livestock export quarantine center at Berbera port, Somaliland

  1. Work to identify gaps in export standards, needs and policies has been finalized and reports detailing the current status and strategy to improve the quality infrastructure have been developed for Puntland and Somaliland.
  2. Assistance was provided to the chambers to develop a set of Guidelines for Grading of Export Quality Livestock. These contain specifications for different grades for export quality livestock covering cattle, sheep, goats and camels. The chambers were also helped to enforce standards compliance using two codes of practice developed earlier in the project on 1) the Welfare of Export Quality Livestock During Land and Sea Transport and 2) the Welfare of Livestock While at Sale Yards and Quarantine Station. Finally, financial support was provided to the Somaliland chamber to help meet the operational costs of running the Livestock Market Information System (LMIS).
  3. In terms of regulatory support, the project supported development of a draft Somaliland Quality Control Commission Bill that aims to entrench SQCC within the laws of Somaliland. In Puntland, work also began to define the type of standards body sought by the different stakeholders.
  4. This quality control work was supported at the ISTVS through the establishment of a new food laboratory to provide food safety and hygiene surveillance services. Analysts from the food quality laboratory were attached to KEBS in June 2014 to familiarize themselves with the analytical operations of accredited testing laboratories and gain first-hand experience on how a (documented) quality system is implemented.
  5. Finally, since animal health surveillance and delivery of livestock services are so important to the sector, Ministries of Livestock received financial support for networking, communication and supervisory linkages between Regional Veterinary Offices and Directors of Animal Health. A disease surveillance fund was set up in Somaliland to cover operational costs of rapid response teams and to procure laboratory equipment, reagents and diagnostic test kits for early confirmation of trade-limiting animal diseases and sero-surveillance of OIE-listed diseases.

Mtimet: We aim to have a much better understanding of the requirements and standards of importing countries and specifically Saudi Arabia, as well as better assessments of livestock producers’ knowledge about grading systems leading to activities (such as training) to improve their knowledge

More information

This post was developed with Nadhem Mtimet, an Agricultural Economist in ILRI’s Policy, Trade and Value Chains program.

This work in Somalia has been supported by the Government of Denmark and the European Union.

Filed under: Agriculture, Animal Production, Capacity Strengthening, CRP2, Drylands, East Africa, ILRI, Integrated Sciences, Livestock, Markets, Project, PTVC, Research, Small Ruminants, Somalia Tagged: ISTVS, Nadhem Mtimet, Somaliland, Terra Nuova

Ethiopia national, international researchers explore deeper collaboration

HE Ato Tefera Derebew (GoE), Dr. Fentahun Mengistu (EIAR), Dr. Seid Silim (ICARDA)

HE Ato Tefera Derebew (GoE), Fentahun Mengistu (EIAR) and Said Silim (ICARDA) at the CGIAR-EARS consultative meeting (photo credit: EIAR/Semunigus Yemane).

On 4 and 5 December 2014, the Ethiopian Institute for Agricultural Research (EIAR) and CGIAR institutes in Ethiopia organized a special consultative meeting to ‘strengthen EARS-CGIAR partnerships for effective agricultural transformation in Ethiopia‘.

The meeting brought together over 70 participants, spanning EIAR directors, directors of six regional research institutes, five vice-presidents for research from five Ethiopian universities, nearly all heads of CGIAR institutes hosted at ILRI (and some senior scientists) as well as to other stakeholders from Ethiopia in the research, government and development sectors. The whole Ethiopian Agricultural Research System (EARS) was represented.

The meeting featured many presentations, from EARS and from the CGIAR, to map agricultural activities currently taking place in Ethiopia, review ongoing challenges in cooperating and explore opportunities for new and deeper collaboration.

On the second day, after the presentations, participants formed working groups to identify collaboration modalities. Rather than focus on specific areas of agricultural research – which would have been tedious given the incredibly diverse agendas –the meeting organizers (Barry Shapiro of ILRI and Dawit Alemu of EIAR) recommended focusing on ‘how to get this partnership to the next level’. Ideas on how to do this were teased out from the presentations given and the working groups came up with four key areas for discussion:

  • How to establish an EARS-CGIAR partnership committee
  • How to align research and extension priorities
  • How to work on joint publications and communication
  • What capacity development efforts are needed for innovative research

After the group work, Shapiro and Fentahun Mengistu (director of EIAR) introduced a collaborative program on sustainable intensification and climate change that would bring together institutes from national and international research institutes in the country. Concept notes will be developed in the near future to further flesh out this program and get it started by the first quarter of 2015.

This was a first meeting between all of CGIAR and the wider EARS and was an important milestone in a long relationship. It will hopefully contribute to richer and more integrated collaboration in the future. This meeting was also a significant development since the review of the Strategy and Results Framework (SRF) of CGIAR entails a series of national consultation meetings in all CGIAR focus countries (including Ethiopia) and this ‘summit of the systems’ is an excellent foot in the SRF review door….

More on livestock: the livestock master plan, introduced by HE Gebregziabher Gebreyohannes, state minister for livestock resources development 

Following this EARS-CGIAR consultative meeting, Shapiro welcomed Gebregziabher Gebreyohannes, Ethiopia’s state minister for livestock resources development who gave a presentation on the newly approved Ethiopia Livestock Master Plan (LMP) to help the regional research institutes and universities better understand its priorities.

Read notes (and see presentations) from the EARS-CGIAR event 

See pictures from the EARS-CGIAR event

More on the Ethiopia Livestock Master Plan: a recent poster; a media note from ILRI; a newspaper article

Filed under: Agriculture, Capacity Strengthening, CGIAR, Climate Change, Ethiopia, Event, Food security Tagged: Barry Shapiro, CGIAR, EIAR

Netherlands tailor-made training program initiative (Kenya): Call for applications

Call for Applications for a Netherlands Funded Tailor-Made Training Program initiative (TMT)

The program, funded by the Dutch ministry of Foreign Affairs, is specifically meant to enhance the capacity of organizations (public and private) in Kenya by training a selected group of its staff members and is fully funded under the Netherlands budget for development cooperation. They have also openings for Netherlands Fellowship Programmes (NFP II).

Interested organizations that are working in the following areas are invited to participate in the (Kenya) program:

  • Food Security including Economic Development;
  • Security and Rule of Law;
  • Water and Environment.

For detailed information about the application process and the eligibility criteria please check:

Deadline for submission of proposals: March 1, 2015. Proposals can be send to

Filed under: Award, Capacity Strengthening, CapDev, Kenya, Scholarship

International Foundation of Science (IFS) call for individual research grants

Providing early-career support to promising young developing country researchers has been the mandate of the International Foundation for Science (IFS) for many years. Building on this experience, the new IFS Strategy 2011-2020, launched in 2011, emphasizes three approaches:

  1. Individual Research (this call)
  2. Collaborative Research
  3. Contributing Innovation

In the Individual Research Approach, IFS continues its commitment to support excellent individual research and to build capability of early-career scientists in the developing world to undertake research on the sustainable management of biological and water resources.

Applicants are encouraged to tackle research issues linked to these areas, and to develop solutions that are relevant to local contexts. By encouraging local researchers to work in their home countries, generating cutting-edge and locally relevant knowledge, we hope to contribute to strengthening their countries’ research capability and ultimately contributing to a global research community aimed at reducing poverty and supporting sustainable

The Research Areas for Individual Research

Proposals are sought under one of three research areas:

  • Biological Resources in Terrestrial Systems:Including but not limited to:
    Biodiversity, Forestry, Natural Products, Renewable.
    Energy and Climate Change.
  • Water and Aquatic Resources
    Including but not limited to: Water Resources Research; Research on all aspects of freshwater, brackish and marine aquatic organisms and their environments.
  • Food Security, Dietary Diversity and Healthy Livelihoods
    Including but not limited to: Research on Food Production; Animal Production and Veterinary Medicine; Crop Science including Underutilised Crops; Food Science and Nutrition, and Food Security issues.

For further information see:

IFS Research Areas (A detailed description on the IFS website)

Eligibility Criteria

Country eligibility

To be eligible for support from IFS Individual Research, applicants must be citizens of a developing country that is eligible for IFS support, and carry out the research in an eligible country (this does not have to be the country of citizenship).
Eligible Countries list

Personal eligibility

Within Approach 1 individual research grants will be awarded to individual early-career scientists in developing countries in support of excellent science.

Applicants should be at the beginning of their research careers and have a minimum academic degree of an MSc/MA or the equivalent. To be of eligible age, men should be younger than 35 years and women should be younger than 40 years on 31st December 2014 (closing date for this call). If the applicant’s 35th (men)/40th (women) birthday is on the closing date of the call, he/she is still eligible.

Researchers from eligible countries, who are already IFS grantees, are eligible to apply for a renewal grant irrespective of age.

Institutional Affiliation

Applicants must be attached to a national research institute (e.g. university, non-profit making research centre, or research-oriented NGO) in a developing country. The institution is expected to: administer the grant, guarantee that the applicant has a salary (or other source of income), and provide basic research facilities. Researchers employed at international research institutes or NGO’s are NOT eligible. However, researchers doing part of their project at an international institute can apply for an IFS grant, if their principal affiliation is with a national institution.


Individual Research grants are awarded on merit in amounts up to USD 12,000 for one to three years. Grants are intended for the purchase of basic tools for research: equipment, expendable supplies and literature, as well as field activities.

Application Deadline

The deadline for submission of research grant applications is 31st December 2014 and applicants will be informed about the outcome of the competitive review process before the 31st July, 2015.

To apply:
Read the guidelines:

Read also:

Fill in the Application Form:

Deadline for applications: December 31, 2014

Filed under: Award, Capacity Strengthening, CapDev, Scholarship Tagged: IFS

Fellowship opportunities with Borlaug LEAP for African students

The Norman E. Borlaug Leadership Enhancement in Agriculture Program (LEAP) is seeking applications for fellowship grant opportunities for Master’s and PhD students from sub-Saharan Africa. The deadline is December 2, 2014 for fellowships starting April 1, 2015 to March 31st, 2016.

Applications are requested from sub-Saharan African students conducting research on topics related to the US government’s global hunger and food security initiative — FEED THE FUTURE.  The focus region is sub-Saharan Africa. All topics related to agriculture (and related disciplines, as defined by Title XII) and the research strategies of the Feed the Future initiative are admissible.

The Borlaug LEAP fellowship program supports engaging a mentor at a US University and at a CGIAR center to support and enhance the thesis research and mentoring experience.  Awards are made on a competitive basis to students who show strong scientific and leadership potential. Funds are available for one-year (April 1, 2015 to March 31, 2016) and cannot exceed US$20,000.

For more information on eligibility criteria and to download the application, please visit:

Filed under: Award, Capacity Strengthening, ILRI, Scholarship Tagged: Feed the Future, LEAP

Agricultural students East Africa conference in Kenya: November 27–29, 2014

The International Association of Students in Agricultural and Related Sciences (IAAS) holds an East Africa Conference in November 2014.

It provides a unique opportunity for you to get in touch with IAAS, the International Association of Students in Agricultural and related sciences. By actively joining IAAS you can engage yourself on international level, attend local or international events organised by other IAAS members and you can meet many (international) students who study all in the same field and thus share the same interest.

Are you ready to exchange experiences and work together to improve the agriculture of tomorrow ?!

Only with the input of the engagement of you, a motivated student, IAAS can keep offering all the great opportunities we’re offering now to the more than 10.000 members all across the globe.

During this professional conference you will be able to learn from the knowledge of innovative speakers, to learn more about IAAS and finally also to improve your own skills.
We are looking forward to a great conference and hope on your active participation!

Click here to find application form

Facebook event


For coordination and consultation please contact:


For more information visit:

Filed under: Capacity Strengthening, East Africa, Event Tagged: IAAS

Developing capacities to address gender in agricultural projects in Ethiopia

Participants at Africa RISING gender capacity development workshop

Workshop participants

From 18-20 August, the Africa RISING project in Ethiopia joined forces with the CGIAR Research Program on Livestock and Fish to hold a gender training for staff and partners in both projects.

The workshop aimed to introduce workshop participants to:

  • Different concepts of gender and the importance of integrating gender issues in agriculture
  • Basic tools and techniques for conducting gender analysis in agricultural development work
  • Gendered approach to assessing agricultural value chains
  • Different gender energizers that can introduce gender issues
  • Participatory communication strategies that address gender issues

Participants attended from agricultural research institutes at national and regional level, Bureaus of Agriculture (at Woreda level), universities, the Ministry of Agriculture and NGOs.

Pre and post workshop evaluations were very positive. They stressed the excitement and interest in learning practical ways to integrate gender from exercises and tools that were shared in the workshop. They also appreciated the diverse backgrounds of the participants, the ease with which the facilitators shared their knowledge, expertise, and personal experiences, and the fun, interactive ways to engage communities and colleagues in discussing a sensitive topic.

Participants expressed their needs for further support in their daily work, punctuated by further trainings to deepen skills in gender analysis and communication, to exchange ideas and learn from one another, as well as to learn about emerging new ideas and approaches to gender.

Areas to work on included:

  • Greater depth in understanding of gender-related concepts.
  • Elaboration and use of gender indicators.
  • Learning about new gender tools and approaches.
  • Incorporation of participatory approaches.
  • Integrating gender in the project cycle.
  • Need to capacitate teams, rather than individuals.

The workshop was led by Kathy Colversion and Annet Mulema with inputs from ILRI’s capacity development unit

Based on a story by Tigist Endashaw

Filed under: ASSP, Capacity Strengthening, CapDev, CRP12, CRP37, East Africa, Ethiopia, Event, Gender, ILRI, Knowledge and Information, LGI, Women

Eight principles for land and water management in the Nile Basin

The Nile Basin Development Challenge (NBDC) aimed to improve the resilience of rural livelihoods in the Ethiopian highlands through a landscape approach to rainwater management. At the end of the Challenge, the team distilled insights, findings and experiences into eight key messages which, taken together, contribute to  new water and land management paradigm that enables poor smallholder farmers improve their food security, livelihoods and incomes while conserving the natural resource base.

The paradigm is introduced in this digital story:

You can also view each key message as a separate (and different) digital story:

  1. Empower local communities and develop their leadership capacities to achieve long-term benefits and sustainable outcomes.
  2. Integrate and share scientific and local knowledge and encourage innovation through ‘learning by doing’.
  3. Strengthen and transform institutional and human capacities among all stakeholders to achieve the potential benefits of sustainable land management.
  4. Create, align and implement incentives for all parties to successfully implement sustainable innovative programs at scale.
  5. Adapt new models, learning and planning tools and improved learning processes to increase the effectiveness of planning, implementation, and capacity building.
  6. Integrate multiple rainwater management interventions at watershed and basin scales to benefit rainwater management programs.
  7. Attend to downstream and off-site benefits of rainwater management as well as upstream or on-farm benefits and costs.
  8. Improve markets, value chains and multi-stakeholder institutions to enhance the benefits and sustainability of rainwater management investments.

Download the brief with all the messages.

Read the full technical report “A new integrated watershed rainwater management paradigm for Ethiopia: Key messages from the Nile Basin Development Challenge, 2009–2013

Read the Nile Basin summary

The NBDC was implemented by a consortium led by the International Livestock Research Institute and the International Water Management Institute. It was funded by the CGIAR Challenge Program on Water and Food (CPWF).

Filed under: ASSP, Capacity Strengthening, Crop-Livestock, CRP5, East Africa, Environment, Ethiopia, Extension, Farming Systems, ILRI, ILRIComms, Innovation Systems, Livestock-Water, Nile, NRM, Research, Water Tagged: NBDC

Are traditional workshops effective in changing participants’ knowledge, attitudes and behaviours?

Iddo Dror, ILRI’s head of capacity development, reflects on recent workshops and their effectiveness.

Stakeholders involved in Humidtropics platforms from Africa, Asia, and Central America came together for the Humidtropics Capacity Development workshop held between April 29 and May 2, 2014, in Nairobi, Kenya. The workshops covered different approaches to agricultural innovation and were measurably successful in increasing knowledge and changing attitudes.

We’ve blogged before about the workshop here, and you can have a look at the detailed workshop report, watch a short video, and browse some photos from the event.


In this post, I’d like to reflect a bit on the learning that took place during the workshop. I should preface this by saying that the more I attend “traditional” workshops, the more I wonder whether our seemingly natural propensity for holding face-to-face workshops is the best investment of time and money in terms of learning outcomes. I believe we aren’t measuring our “ROI” on this investment rigorously enough, so it is hard to answer this question.

There’s seemingly good logic for this: a typical workshop would cost far less than the cost of running a randomized control trial on different options of delivery. However, take into account the many hundreds (possibly thousands) of such workshops that take place every year across the CGIAR system, and suddenly the picture looks (very) different.

My hypothesis is that a blended learning approach, which would involve as a minimum three core pillars – namely a pre-course e-learning component, followed by (one off or a series of) short face-to-face workshops, and complemented by ongoing mentoring over a 6-18 month period following the training would probably yield a better ROI – by delivering longer lasting impacts and demonstrated higher learning outcomes – sustained changes in knowledge, attitudes and behaviors. I’d love to have a more meaningful discussion around this on occasion. Perhaps this could be a future e-discussion topic for the CGIAR Capacity Development Community of Practice? It would be wonderful to have an evidence-based discussion about this in the not so distant future!

In the interim, when designing the Humidtropics CapDev workshop, we did try to take a quick and affordable stab at tailoring the content to the participants’ needs, and assessing the effectiveness of our training.

How did we go about it? Well, for starters, we set up a training needs assessment (TNA) via a simple survey. You can read more about how different facilitators used this info in shaping / tweaking their respective sections of the course in the full workshop report.

Next, and mainly, we started the workshop with a pre-workshop quiz, and ended the workshop with a nearly identical post-workshop quiz. This provided us with an opportunity to analyze some of the (short-term) learning that took place during the workshop. While there are certainly methodological aspects that can (and should) be looked at for such quick-fire assessments, it did provide us with some interesting aspects.

Have we cracked it? Hardly. Was this a useful exercise? Definitely (at least for me). Will this lead to more debate and exchanges on how we can improve the design and delivery of workshops at the CGIAR? Here’s hoping!

Oh, and in case you’re interested, below are some highlights for each of workshop session / days.

I’d love to know what you think – thanks in advance for letting me know!


[submit a comment at the bottom of this post!]

Day 1: Introduction to complex problems and agricultural innovation [presentation]

Agricultural problems are inherently complex. They have many dimensions, many unpre-dictable factors, and many stakeholders with potentially competing interests. Day 1 of the workshop, led by Marc Schut of WUR / IITA, aimed to stimulate new ways of thinking about agricultural problems and presented innovative strategies for tackling these prob-lems. In particular, this session introduced the Rapid Appraisal of Agricultural Innovation Systems (RAAIS) and included a RAAIS mini-workshop.

Post-workshop surveys indicate that the workshop was successful in increasing knowledge and changing attitudes. There was a shift from a technology-oriented definition of innova-tion to a systems-oriented definition of agricultural innovation. The percentage of re-spondents identifying with the latter approach increased from 33% before the workshop to 56% at the end of the workshop. Particularly notable was the participant enthusiasm for the Rapid Appraisal of Agricultural Innovation Systems (RAAIS) session; working with actu-al tools was engaging for everyone.

Participants were also asked about overall constraints in implementing agricultural inno-vation. Most commonly cited were economic, institutional, or political barriers. Biophysi-cal, technological, and socio-cultural constraints were less significant.

Day 2: Deciphering the DNA of innovation platforms  [presentation]

Innovation platforms connect different stakeholders together in a network in order to achieve common goals. This workshop covered topics such as the innovation platform lifecycle, the benefits of innovation platforms, and how to monitor innovation platforms. These are new concepts for many individuals and organizations involved in Humidtropics, and many related platforms are in the initial stages. This part of the workshop focused on introducing the concepts and on making resources accessible, allowing stakeholders to approach their tasks with confidence. I led this day, with some inputs and co-facilitation from my ILRI colleague Zelalem Lema.

The pre/post quiz for this day covered topics such as the phases of innovation platforms (IP), benefits of IP, constraints in IP, and the pros and cons of existing versus new IPs. As you can see from the figure below, with the exception of the power and representation issues, all areas saw an improvement. The score on the key roles of researchers in IP, for instance, improved from 36% to 52%. On average, participants’ post-workshop quiz score was 29% better than their pre-workshop score.




This improvement, while clear in aggregate, was not shared equally amongst participants.   In fact, about a quarter of participants scored (marginally) lower in the post-workshop quiz!  Luckily, the vast majority did score better in the post-quiz, some scoring several times their initial score.




Day 3: Knowledge, learning and making meaning in innovation platforms  [presentation]

Led by Julia Ekong from ICRA, this session consolidated the information of the first two days and explored innovation platforms further. Four frameworks for facilitators were introduced as illustrations and to capture platform dynamics.

This session faced some challenges because most of the participants were at the initial stages of establishing or implementing platforms, though some participants had significant experience in the area. The heterogeneous composition of the workshop with regards to participants’ levels of expertise meant it was difficult to evaluate what knowledge was being created (beyond technological solutions). This session could not leverage existing knowledge as much as was anticipated. In the future, this type of material would perhaps be more successful if presented to more homogeneous groups.  Some more thought about quantitative metrics for assessing the learning taking place would probably also be useful.

Day 4: Reflexive Monitoring in Action (RMA) [presentation]

This session, led by Marlèn Arkesteijn (Capturing Development) discussed the three dimensions of complex problems—certainty, agreement, and systemic stability—and how reflexive monitoring in action (RMA) can support the learning processes when dealing with complex problems and innovation. The key principles of RMA were introduced, and various aspects of reflexivity were highlighted, such as change of perspective, the re-construction of reality, emergent outcomes, and turning the camera. Working with the timeline was also introduced, and the timeline was used to evaluate the workshop.

The results of the pre/post quiz indicated significantly more RMA confidence after the workshop; whereas in the pre-workshop quiz, ten participants indicated they knew only one RMA principle, that number had fallen to four in the post-workshop evaluation. Post-workshop, fifteen participants indicated on a questionnaire that RMA “really appeals to me;” only one participant felt that RMA “is not what I’m interested in.” Sixteen out of seventeen participants said, “for sure I will use some of the principles and tools.”

Filed under: Capacity Strengthening, CapDev, CRP12, Humid Tropics, ILRI, Knowledge and Information Tagged: facilitation, humidtropics

AWARD women’s leadership and management course 2014

Do you aspire to be a more confident and effective leader? Do you want to learn how to better manage diversity and team dynamics? Do you need to master conflict management techniques? If so, the AWARD Women’s Leadership and Management Course is for you.

More than 800 women scientists and other professionals from around the world have benefited from this career-boosting course. It was developed during two decades of work with emerging leaders from international organizations, including the CGIAR centers, the FAO, as well as numerous national organizations of agricultural research and development.

Course objectives
At the end of this learning event, participants will be able to:

  • apply information gained from skill and style inventories to strengthen their leadership and managerial effectiveness
  • use essential communication skills, feedback, and facilitation to enhance their leadership effectiveness
  • build and sustain effective team performance manage interpersonal conflict constructively
  • develop strategies to influence and build alliances for gender-responsive policies and practices
  • incorporate an increased awareness and understanding of gender implications in personal and professional development
  • draw upon a network of colleagues for personal and professional support, guidance, and assistance
  • adapt course skills, knowledge, and tools to real work challenges

Eligible Participants
Women who work for national, regional, and international organizations of agricultural research and development, including their donors and partners, are eligible, pending approval and financial support from their employers. Staff members from the CGIAR Research Programs are especially encouraged to apply.

This course is most suitable for women with supervisory responsibilities, ranging from those with five years of experience to senior professionals, including board members.

Find out more about the course

Filed under: Capacity Strengthening, Gender, Women Tagged: AWARD

Understanding, facilitating and monitoring agricultural innovation processes: Humidtropics holds capacity development workshop in Nairobi

Workshop participants

From 29 April to 2 May 2014, the Humidtropics CGIAR research program held a capacity development workshop in Nairobi.

Organised by the International Livestock Research Institute ILRI), Wageningen UR, and the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA), it brought together platform facilitators, Action Area Coordinators and other key-players from the research program.

The main topics of discussion were agricultural innovation systems, design and implementation of multi-stakeholder platforms (MSP), capturing knowledge and learning in MSP, and reflexive monitoring of MSPs.

Beyond mutual sharing and reflection, participants broadened their networks and gained a better understanding of the terminology and the current state of Humidtropics.

I am a natural scientist and this has been my first introduction to social sciences and it has really been an eye-opener” – Endalkachew Wolde-Meskel (N2Africa Ethiopia)

The workshop design involved an online training needs assessment, a pre and post workshop quiz, and posters capturing the current state of the various platforms. An analysis of these will enable the organizers to refine materials and consider additional learning and training approaches for future workshops.   Similar workshops are being planned in Central America and the Caribbean and the Central Mekong.

The Humidtropics CGIAR research program aims to reduce rural poverty, increase food security, improve health and nutrition and stimulate sustainable resource management. It focuses on subtropical areas in East and Central Africa, West Africa, Central America and the Caribbean, and the Central Mekong region. It works through an integrative research perspective that targets ‘whole’ farming systems in which multi-stakeholder interaction, collaboration and innovation platforms are key.

See a presentation by Iddo Dror and Zelalem Lema on ‘deciphering the DNA of innovation platforms

More workshop presentations:

Workshop posters:

More on innnovation platforms

This story was contributed by Dieuwke Lamers with inputs from Iddo Dror, Valerie Poire and Peter Ballantyne

Filed under: Capacity Strengthening, CapDev, CRP12, Humid Tropics, ILRI, Innovation Systems Tagged: humidtropics, innovation platforms, MSP

FeedSeed project trains forage seed entrepreneurs in Ethiopia

Trainees learning to plant forage seeds

Millions of poor livestock keepers depend on the availability of forages and fodder to feed their livestock throughout the year. In Ethiopia, and elsewhere, a critical constraint to the wide availability of animal feed or forage is the lack of profitable and sustainable forage seed companies.

The ‘FeedSeed’ project at the International Livestock Research Institute is working with national public and private partners to help create a sustainable forage seed supply system in Ethiopia. The idea is to help local entrepreneurs start up forage seed businesses, mainly by establishing a public business incubator that can provide training and mentoring to the entrepreneurs. Once going, these enterprises will produce and sell quality seeds to the wider farming community, increasing livestock productivity and raising incomes of livestock farmers.

From 7-11 April 2014, the project organized a technical and business skills development training course for potential forage seed entrepreneurs.

Hosted by project partners the Ethiopian Meat and Dairy Industry Development Institute (EMDIDI), the course assisted project business clients (farmers, private companies and cooperatives) to start up or expand forage seed businesses and ensure a good return on investment. The training covered both technical and business skills and also business development topics which were identified by the trainees during the pre-training assessment. Trainees also visited Eden Field Agri Seed Enterprise – another project partner – to better understand the business environment.

The project on ‘piloting climate-adaptive forage seed systems in Ethiopia (FeedSeed)’ is funded by the Deutsche Gesellschaft fuer Intenationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) and the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development.

Filed under: Africa, Animal Feeding, ASSP, Capacity Strengthening, CRP7, East Africa, Ethiopia, Event, Feeds, Forages, ILRI, Seeds Tagged: BMZ, FeedSeed, GIZ

ILRI streamlines modular trainings for graduate fellows

CapDev training module on data management

The Capacity Development unit has produced new training guidelines for graduate fellow researchers at ILRI (photo credit: ILRI/Paul Karaimu).

New training guidelines for graduate fellow researchers at the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) are now in place.

The new guidelines were revised in November 2013 by ILRI’s Capacity Development (CapDev) unit after an assessment of the training needs of ILRI graduate fellows and the need for trainings that continuously enhance the research capacity of fellows.

Through the graduate fellowship program, ILRI has over the years provided opportunities to thousands of young scientists and graduate fellows from National Agricultural Research Organizations (NARS), universities and other institutions in Africa and other parts of the world. These researchers carry out research-for-development (R4D) activities within ILRI projects, have access to ILRI’s cutting-edge research facilities and are mentored by ILRI scientists, while at the same time, the fellows contribute to ILRI’s research for better and more sustainable use of livestock.

The CapDev unit plays a leading role in the training and development of graduate fellows by carrying out training needs assessments, and designing and facilitating crosscutting training programs to continuously enhance the research skills of these fellows.

CapDev has developed a series of modular courses for graduate fellows in collaboration with ILRI’s research methods group, and communication team. These modules include trainings in conducting literature reviews, designing research studies, managing and analysing data, and a module on presentation skills that helps students in effectively sharing their research findings.

The ‘bite-sized’ trainings are shorter, use less printed material and are more memorable. On average, each session is delivered within 3-4 hours and 2 sessions are carried out every month followed by additional one-to-one mentoring and assignments.

A total of 8 such sessions were delivered between September and December 2013.

The benefits of the modular training approach include:

  • Training opportunities at the ILRI campus, which minimise absences from work and give graduate fellows flexibility in choosing courses.
  • Courses are performance-based and are tailored to the real needs of graduate fellows.
  • Use of ILRI staff capacities and internal expertise helps to better integrate theory and practice resulting in better learning. Those trained share their experiences in future modules.
  • The modules are designed creatively with highly interactive and participative sessions and are relatively easy to adapt to different training contexts.
  • Graduate fellows have the opportunity to network with others fellows in different research programs as well as with ILRI colleagues delivering these trainings.

‘When I came to ILRI as a graduate fellow in August 2011, we did not have regular interaction and learning together. It was more like a walk through the jungle called “research”. The modular trainings have improved interaction among fellows and our scientific skills. Bravo CapDev!’– Jerome Wendoh, MSc fellow with Animal Biosciences.

Looking ahead in 2014

‘In 2014, the CapDev unit together with the RMG group and other ILRI units, plans to build on the successes from the 2013 modular trainings. This will include identifying the gaps and training priorities for the year in consultation with fellows, research managers and ILRI mentors,’ said Joyce Maru, a capacity development officer at ILRI.

Future modules may blend modular training, e-learning opportunities, effective mentorship support, and evidence and assessment to further enrich the fellows’ learning experience at ILRI. The blended learning approach will differentiate learning styles and allow flexibility and convenience for fellows to choose when and how they want to learn.

Measuring impact 

The CapDev unit is also looking for ways of evaluating trainings that goes beyond knowing the numbers of those trained.

‘It’s not sufficient to know how many people were trained, how they liked it and what they learned; we want to know if they are applying what they’ve learnt, and the quality of the training and mentorship they receive’ says Maru. ‘Also, we want to know how ILRI projects are improved as a result.’

Towards this end, CapDev will implement the ILRI graduate fellowship monitoring and evaluation policy, which clarifies the rationale for graduate training at ILRI and describes how training outcomes will be assessed across various training programs.

For more information on ILRI graduate fellowships visit

View a CapDev PowerPoint on ‘presentation skills for graduate fellows’:

This article was written by Joyce Maru, a capacity development officer at ILRI.

Filed under: Article, Capacity Strengthening, CapDev, East Africa, Kenya Tagged: Graduate fellowships, Joyce Maru, Modular trainings

Developing capacities through innovation platforms in agricultural research

Innovation platforms are widely used in agricultural research to connect different stakeholders to achieve common goals. To help document recent experiences and insights, the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) recently published a series of short innovation platform ‘practice briefs’ to help guide the design and implementation of innovation platforms in agricultural research for development.

This eighth brief explains the roles of innovation platforms in developing the capacities of their members.

Developing innovation capacity through innovation platforms.

An innovation platform is defined as ‘a space for learning and change. It is a group of individuals (who often represent organizations) with different backgrounds and interests: farmers, traders, food processors, researchers, government officials etc. The members come together to diagnose problems, identify opportunities and find ways to achieve their goals. They may design and implement activities as a platform, or coordinate activities by individual members.’

One of the most important things that innovation platforms do is to build the capacity of their members to innovate. This is a crucial function. Innovation capacity is vital if the innovation platform is to achieve its aims. It is the invisible glue that ties successful innovation platforms together—the ‘capacity to get things done.’

Download the brief See all the briefs More on innovation platforms Related ILRI materials on innovation systems

This brief is authored by Birgit Boogaard (ILRI), Iddo Dror (ILRI), Adewale Adekunle (FARA), Ewen Le Borgne (ILRI), Andre van Rooyen (ICRISAT) and Mark Lundy (CIAT). It is a contribution to the CGIAR Humidtropics research program. The development of the briefs was led by the International Livestock Research Institute; the briefs draw on experiences of the CGIAR Challenge Program on Water and Food, several CGIAR centres and partner organization.The series comprises 12 briefs:

  1. What are innovation platforms?
  2. Innovation platforms to shape national policy
  3. Research and innovation platforms
  4. Power dynamics and representation in innovation platforms
  5. Monitoring innovation platforms
  6. Innovation platforms for agricultural value chain development
  7. Communication in innovation platforms
  8. Developing innovation capacity through innovation platforms
  9. Linking action at different levels through innovation platforms
  10. Facilitating innovation platforms
  11. Innovation platforms to support natural resource management
  12. Impact of innovation platform

Filed under: ASSP, Capacity Strengthening, CapDev, CRP12, ILRI, Innovation Systems, Report, Research Tagged: innovation platforms, practice briefs

Animal genetic resources workshop: Uniting Africa in preserving our future

Workshop participants

A workshop on Animal Genetic Resources in Sub-Saharan Africa was recently held in Gaborone, as an ILRI-SLU capacity building Project in collaboration with the FAO, AU/IBAR and Team Africa. The workshop ran from 26 to 29 November 2013 with the main objectives of catalyzing and enhancing regional collaboration in order to improve training in animal breeding and genetics for sustainable use of Animal Genetic Resources (AnGR), plan and undertake research for development in prioritized areas of AnGR and improve capacity development including outreach activities in the relevant areas among others.

The workshop focused on strengthening national and regional structures for the management of farm animal genetic resources, and attracted participants from the SADC region and is co-hosted and supported by the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), The Swedish University of Agriculture (SLU), the African Union Inter African Bureau for Animal Resources (AU-IBAR) and FAO in partnership with the Tertiary Education for Agriculture Mechanism (TEAM-Africa), (Regional Universities Forum for Capacity Building in Agriculture (RUFORUM), the SADC Secretariat and CCARDESA.

Professor Jan Philipsson, representing The Swedish University of Agriculture (SLU) pointed out that livestock is extremely important, not just in Botswana but also to the rest of the region. “A research was made and it showed that there is a still lot of work that needs to be done in animal genetics in the region” Philipsson said.

The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) Animal Genetic Resource Branch representative Paul Boettcher, stated his delight at the existence of the workshop saying that it signifies great interest in genetic resources, something that could greatly benefit not only Africa, but the rest of the world.

The relevance of the initiative to Botswana was stated by the Deputy Permanent Secretary who said, “Livestock accounts for 80% of the Agriculture GDP, mostly from cattle, and you are all aware of the sophistication it takes to supply the delicate EU markets. Dr. Motsu, the Director of Animal Production, added on to say that the Tswana Breed semen is stored in the local gene bank and is available for research especially for enhancement.

During the workshop it was revealed that there was a need for the design and implementation of an improved conservation and breeding programe which would improve livelihoods and food security in farming communities.

The low input breeding scheme situation analysis showed limited livestock recording and low enrollment, proving that there is potential for regional collaboration and need for proper design of schemes for different species. A need for regional collaboration on herd improvement, growth on on-going initiatives and strengthening the animal production sub-committee was established by the SADC.

The ILRI-SLU general AnGR issues for discussion included among others, the prevention of breeds from being at risk, the use of resources for conservation of inferior breeds and investment in improvement of still promising breeds, conservation of genes or genotypes, controlled cross breeding and globalization in the use of breeding materials. They stated the safest way of conserving a population as to keep developing it, and to include capacity building at all levels. ILRI-SLU stated that in record keeping, feedback from the farmer is very vital and that if the records are not used then it makes the research useless.

FAO stated the need for countries to manage their AnGR as being, Livestock diversity is essential to food and livelihood security; livestock provide meat, milk, eggs, fibres, skins, manure, draught power, and a range of other products and services; livestock contribute to the ecosystems in which they live, providing services such as seed dispersal and nutrient cycling; and genetic diversity underpins the many roles that livestock fulfil and allows people to keep livestock under a wide range of environmental conditions. They mentioned that challenges included limited capacity in animal production and breeding, not enough data on AnGR and lack of effective livestock policies.

Read the full news item

Filed under: Africa, Animal Breeding, Biodiversity, Botswana, Capacity Strengthening, CapDev, CRP37, Event, ILRI, Indigenous Breeds, Southern Africa Tagged: AU-IBAR, CCARDESA, FAO, RUFORUM, SADC, SLU

World Bank announces fellowship program for Africa

The first World Bank Group Fellowship Program in the Africa Region has been launched tol further the Bank’s efforts to attract and build the capacity of local talent and the African Diaspora across the globe.

The program will target highly talented and promising Ph.D. candidates, African or of African descent, and the program will help the World Bank Group, and especially the Africa Region, to aggressively attract and recruit talent, with a special focus on the Diaspora communities.

Selected candidates will be offered a six-month assignment under the mentorship of a senior staff member and would be expected to: (i) gain a comprehensive understanding of the World Bank’s mission and operations; (ii) access quality data for their research work; (iii) interact with seasoned experts in the field of development; (iv) produce a research paper/report; and (v) contribute to the World Bank’s mission.

More information

Filed under: Africa, Agriculture, Award, Capacity Strengthening Tagged: World Bank