Feed aggregator

How much for the local apples?

CRP 2: program news -

Study showed that nearly 75% of consumers in Cusco, Peru were willing to pay at least 10% more for the locally grown fruits. Those ready to pay premium were on average younger, more educated, had higher household incomes, and had more young children.

ILRI vacancy: Post-doctoral Scientist-Plant Sciences and Food Safety (closing date: 18 September 2017)

Jobs -

The International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) seeks to recruit a Post-doctoral Scientist –Plant Sciences and Food Safety to lead the activities in developing improved grass pea (Lathyrus sativus) genotypes for East Africa and coordinate research on other food safety and nutritional security issues.

ILRI works to improve food and nutritional security and reduce poverty in developing countries through research for efficient, safe and sustainable use of livestock. It is the only one of 15 CGIAR research centres dedicated entirely to animal agriculture research for the developing world. Co-hosted by Kenya and Ethiopia, it has regional or country offices and projects in East, South and Southeast Asia as well as Central, East, Southern and West Africa. www.ilri.org

The BecA-ILRI Hub is an initiative developed within the framework of the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD)/African Union’s African Biosciences Initiative. It consists of a Hub based on the ILRI campus in Nairobi, Kenya and a network of regional nodes and other affiliated laboratories and organizations throughout the region. It is a modern, state of the art biosciences facility, a suite of shared platforms established for research, capacity building and research related services in support of African and international agricultural scientists. Its facilities are world class, with a range of advanced molecular biology, immunology, diagnostics, genomics laboratories and bioinformatics platform all equipped with an up-to-date suite of specialized bioscience equipment (e.g. Illumina MiSeq sequencer, ultra-high performance liquid chromatography with mass spectrometer (UHPLC-MS), atomic absorption spectrometry (AAS) and specialized facilities (e.g. biosafety level 3 laboratory, plant growth facilities). The Hub hosts and conducts research in crop, microbe and livestock where new developments in science offer promise to address previously intractable problems constraining Africa’s development. Capacity building is a major goal of all activities; the scope covers agriculture and food security and their intersections with human health and nutrition, and the sustainable use of Africa’s natural resources. Further information is available at http://hub.africabiosciences.org/

Responsibilities:

1. Scientific research

  • Develop resources to enable the rapid improvement of grass pea (Lathyrus sativus)
  • Lead in pre-breeding of improved genotypes of grass pea for East Africa
  • Coordinate and supervise other research projects (e.g. ABCF fellowships) with a focus on nutritional quality and food safety
  • Analyse the nutritional content of grass pea and other plant products including animal feeds
  • Contribute to project reports and publish relevant findings on a timely basis in scientific literature and present at international scientific conferences

2. Capacity building

  • Contribute to capacity building activities at the BecA-ILRI Hub, including improvement of facilities and scientific and transferable skills trainings
  • Assist the NARS partners in developing research platforms in their labs
  • Supervise staff, students and research fellows

3.Resource mobilization

  • Contribute to resource mobilization efforts of the BecA-ILRI Hub
  • Participate in plant and food science professional forums in sub-Saharan Africa
  • Contribute to building collaborations and partnerships with international research institutions

Requirements:

  • Ph.D. degree in plant sciences, genetics and/or a related discipline
  • Strong experience in genetics, nutritional composition analysis and excellent analytical skills
  • Experience communicating scientific findings at conferences and other forums
  • Ability to perform in a multicultural research environment and as part of a multidisciplinary team
  • Proficiency in spoken and written English
  • Strong transferable skills and experience in international research collaboration
  • Strong interest in and commitment to African agricultural research and development

Post location: The position will be based in Nairobi, Kenya

Position level: Post-doctoral level.

Duration: The position is on a 2 years fixed term contract.

Benefits: ILRI offers a competitive salary and benefits package which includes medical insurance, life insurance and allowances for: education, housing, home leave, and annual holiday entitlement of 30 days + public holidays.

Applications:

Applicants should send a cover letter and CV expressing their interest in the position, what they can bring to the role and the names and addresses (including telephone and email) of three referees who are knowledgeable about the candidate’s professional qualifications and work experience to the Director, People and Organizational Development through our recruitment portal http://ilri.simplicant.com/ on or before 18 September 2017. The position title and reference number: PSF/08/2017 should be clearly marked on the subject line of the online application.

We thank all applicants for their interest in working for ILRI. Due to the volume of applications, only shortlisted candidates will be contacted.

ILRI does not charge a fee at any stage of the recruitment process (application, interview meeting, processing or training). ILRI also does not concern itself with information on applicants’ bank accounts.

To find out more about ILRI visit our website at http://www.ilri.org

To find out more about working at ILRI visit our website at http://www.ilri.org/ilricrowd/

ILRI is an equal opportunity employer.


Chicken to the rescue: How farmers in Nyando are managing climate risks

CRP 7 News -

Long experiences of uncertainty about weather patterns has spurred smallholder farmers into looking for ways to address climate change related risks. As the rainy seasons are characterized by late onset, early cessation, uneven geographical distribution, and prolonged and frequent dry spells, keeping higher flocks of village chicken by women farmers is becoming more common in the rural areas.

In the Nyando Climate-Smart Villages (CSVs), most agricultural activities are undertaken by women farmers. The existing community based organizations (CBOs) that are made up of several farmer groups are expanding collective action for agricultural innovations through loaning from Community Innovation Funds. The farmers borrow funds for investing in village chicken farming, which has been prioritized and embraced by women. The CBOs manage the credit system at village level by accepting payment-in-kind as a means of loan repayment.

Indigenous village chicken under free range system

All the households keep a number of indigenous village chickens under traditional free range semi-scavenging systems. The average number of birds are 30 per household. The chickens are generally owned by women and children to generate cash revenue and supply eggs and meat to their personal family’s diet. In addition, village chickens help to provides high quality fertilizer, and act as a form of household savings and insurance.

Indigenous village chickens are preferred because they can thrive despite irregular supply of feed and water and with minimum healthcare. One of the most important positive characters of these village chicken is their hardiness, which is ability to tolerate the harsh environmental condition and unimproved husbandry practices (handling, watering, and feeding) without much loss in production. These chicken are part of balanced crop-livestock farming systems. They have vital roles in the Nyando households as a source of high quality animal protein and emergency cash and play a significant role in the sociocultural life of the community. Although indigenous village chickens are slow growers and layers of small sized eggs, the hens are ideal mothers and good sitters, excellent foragers, and possess natural immunity against common diseases. Chicken generally scavenge around the homestead during day time, where they eat kitchen waste, left over cereal like sorghum, legumes, green grass, insects, and other available feed stuff.

Crossbred chicken under improved management

About 40% of Nyando farmers also keep improved chicken breeds, in addition to the indigenous flock. The popular cross breeds are “Kuroiler”, ”Kenbrew” and “Rainbow” breeds. Farmers get improved chicks from commercial hatcheries, and raise them in improved chicken housing designed to accommodate at least 50 birds. The reasons that make women farmers go for the improved breeds is because they mature faster, have tender meat, and also produce more eggs compared to the indigenous ones.

The potential for egg production and growth is very low under smallholder farmer’s scavenging systems. Whereas the indigenous breeds take 12 months from hatching to attain 2 kg live weight, the improved breeds take 4 months to attain that weight and can be sold for meat. In case the farmers want the improved chicken to lay eggs, they retain the hens for a longer time. These hens start laying eggs from the age of six months for a period of one year before the egg production ability reduces; when they are sold off. Within the egg-laying period of 12 months, the improved hens give an average of 320 eggs which translates to 26 eggs per month, that is about three times higher than eggs produced by indigenous chicken in the same period.

In order to improve levels of production, the farmers undergo training on the following:

  • Construction and maintenance of improved chicken housing
  • Elaborate feeding program that involves formulation of feed from locally available foods
  • Disease control and treatment
  • Record keeping

Farmer Risper Ogogo of Onyuongo village of Kisumu County is an elderly widow with six children and owns 0.6 hectares of land. She has dedicated her time and energy into chicken production. She sells eggs and chicken for meat, enabling her to purchase other kinds of food for her family.

 “I have invested my energy and resources into improved chicken farming for five years now. Before 2012, I could only manage to have a flock of 15 indigenous chicken that was mainly meant for slaughter for my visitors – a habit that most of our people adhere to. Currently, I rear improved birds and my flock size varies from time to time ranging between 75 and 150 birds. I ensure proper chick management, good feeding regime, and disease control and management through routine vaccinations and improved hygiene. Each year, I earn Kenya Shillings 120,000 (USD 1,200) from poultry only,” Risper asserts.

Risper strives to maintain and improve her chicken production by seeking for more knowledge from all sources within her reach. She participates in farmer training workshops, seeks for advice from livestock extension agents working in the community, and even her fellow champion farmers with the same enterprise. To scale up this innovation, knowledge is shared through farmer learning events, farmer exchange visits, and training through agricultural fairs and exhibitions.

Nutrition behavior change communication causes sustained effects on infant and young child nutrition knowledge

CRP 2: program news -

Behavior change communication (BCC) can improve infant and young child nutrition knowledge, practices, and health outcomes. However, few studies have examined whether the improved knowledge persists after BCC activities end. The new paper assesses the effect of nutrition sensitive social protection interventions on IYCN knowledge in rural Bangladesh, both during and after intervention activities.

ILRI vacancy: Instructional Design Specialist – (Re-advertisement) (closing date: 16 September 2017)

Jobs -

The International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) seeks to recruit an Instructional Design Specialist to enhance ILRI’s contribution to the capacity development and learning aspects of several of its projects and CGIAR Research Programs (CRP).

ILRI works to improve food and nutritional security and reduce poverty in developing countries through research for efficient, safe and sustainable use of livestock. It is the only one of 15 CGIAR research centres dedicated entirely to animal agriculture research for the developing world. Co-hosted by Kenya and Ethiopia, it has regional or country offices and projects in East, South and Southeast Asia as well as Central, East, Southern and West Africa. www.ilri.org

The Position:

The assignment involves working closely with ILRI’s Head of Capacity Development, research leaders and our research-for-development partners to promote “better lives through livestock” through a range of capacity development / instructional design activities, including:

  • Contribute to ILRI’s mission and livestock agenda by creating blended learning courses based on Adult Learning Theory and sound Instructional design principles and practices.
  • Review and refine training materials, prepare lesson plans, and produce online/e-learning modules and m-learning content.
  • Create Outlines, Storyboards, Scripts, Job Aids, Activities, Assessments, and other deliverables for a variety of broad range of learning needs.
  • Define technology requirements and process standards for training activities.
  • Contribute to ongoing research on various aspects of instructional design and their application to ILRI’s mandate.
  • Converting research outputs and tools into training media and a strategy to ensure effective dissemination and uptake among our research team and target beneficiaries

Responsibilities

  • Develop blended-learning programs and training materials based on proven adult learning techniques (including ADDIE, Rapid Course Development, and Adult Learning Theory), using appropriate design, content and technologies adapted to the context of actors in developing countries.
  • Help disseminate learning insights gained, as well as tools and methodologies across CRPs and ILRI’s activities.
  • Support the program researchers in conceptualizing and developing capacity development activities.
  • Work with program scientists to develop and apply tools and methods for an ongoing assessment of program capacity development needs, as well as the impact of capacity development interventions on the overall program objectives.
  • Ability and willingness to manage instructional design consultants as needed to expand ability to deliver based on project needs.
  • Any other related task as assigned by the Head of Capacity Development.

Requirements

  • An Advanced degree in Education, Communication, Business Administration, Social Sciences, or other related fields with 5 years relevant experience or a Bachelor’s degree in Education, Communication, Business Administration, Social Sciences, or other related fields with 10 years relevant experience
  • Exposure in the disciplinary area, e.g., instructional design / learning systems / education & training / social science – with experience working in developing countries. Of these, at least three years in one or more of the following areas: (1) online instructional design experience; (2) technical writing experience; (3) working with an LMS
  • Full proficiency in Articulate Storyline, or Adobe Captivate.
  • High level understanding of AICC and SCORM / Tin Can standards, and experience preparing content for LMSs
  • A proven skill-set in the development of learning courses, dissemination of learning products, training and technical assistance materials, needs assessments, and other capacity development products
  • Experience with Adult Learning, Engagement skills, Curriculum Development Competence and e-learning
  • At least a basic familiarity with other relevant software such as HTML5, MS SharePoint, and Java Script Flash/Action Script as well as graphical design tools, such as Photoshop and Illustrator
  • Familiarity with aspects of livestock production, and/or agricultural systems in developing countries a plus
  • Excellent judgment, strategic thinking and the ability to manage risk and competing priorities and meet deadlines
  • Consistently approaches work with energy and a positive, constructive attitude.
  • Demonstrates openness to change and ability to manage complexity
  • Excellent organizational, interpersonal, written, and verbal communication skills. Facilitation, presentation, and/or publication experience a plus

Post location: The position will be based in Nairobi, Kenya.

Position level: The position level is 4C.

Duration: 3 years with the possibility of renewal, contingent upon individual performance and continued funding.

Benefits: ILRI offers a competitive salary and benefits package which includes 15% Pension, Medical insurance, Life insurance and allowances for: Education, Housing, Relocation, Home leave, Annual holiday entitlement of 30 days + public holidays.

How to apply: Applicants should send a cover letter and CV explaining their interest in the position, what they can bring to the job and the names and addresses (including telephone and email) of three referees who are knowledgeable about the candidate’s professional qualifications and work experience to the Director, People and Organizational Development through our recruitment portal http://ilri.simplicant.com/ on or before 16 September 2017. The position title and reference number IDS/08/2017 should be clearly marked on the subject line of the cover letter.

We thank all applicants for their interest in working for ILRI. Due to the volume of applications, only shortlisted candidates will be contacted.

ILRI does not charge a fee at any stage of the recruitment process (application, interview meeting, processing or training). ILRI also does not concern itself with information on applicants’ bank accounts.

To find out more about ILRI visit our websites at http://www.ilri.org

To find out more about working at ILRI visit our website at http://www.ilri.org/ilricrowd/

ILRI is an equal opportunity employer.

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Underground Taming of Floods for Irrigation: gendered impacts of intervention

CRP 7 News -

Underground Taming of Floods for Irrigation (UTFI) is a new technology that is being piloted in Jiwai Jadid village of Ramganga sub-basin in Uttar Pradesh. This new technology involves diverting high water flows from rivers or canals when prone to flood risk and recharging the groundwater via village ponds or small dams that are modified for this purpose. By design the technology is gender neutral and is expected to benefit both men and women by offering them greater convenience, better health and enhanced socio-economic opportunities through improved water facilities. But the extent to which the communities benefit from such interventions and aid in its sustainability remains sensitive to the socio-cultural context and the institutional frameworks under which they are executed.

Impact study

An impact study supported by the CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS) was undertaken by researchers from the Energy and Resources Institute, to analyse the gender response to the UTFI pilot in Uttar Pradesh. For this, qualitative methods were chiefly employed to gather information from various stakeholders. The methods used were as follows:

  1. Focus group discussions (FGDs) with three types of groups: Women, Men and Panchayat members. FGDs were conducted separately with groups of men and women. The aim of the discussion with women’s group was to analyse the impact of the intervention on domestic use of water, whereas with the men’s group it was mainly to assess the impact on agriculture production and productivity.  The discussions with Panchayat members helped to understand other impacts of the technology and issues related to ownership and sustainability.
  2. Semi-structured interviews [Key person interviews (KPIs)]: UTFI caretakers, School teachers and Shop keepers. KPI was conducted to elicit detailed information about the impact of the intervention and to explore specific challenges if any, related to operation, maintenance, ownership and sustainability.
Gendered face of technology

In the otherwise small sleepy village of Jiwai Jadid, the women folk are amused by the introduction of the new ground water recharging technology. Sunita Yadav, a home maker who resides close to the UTFI structures thoughtfully acknowledged that “the hand pumps at my house yield more water especially during winter months”. Pushpa, her neighbour couldn’t agree more. She further added that “now with this new technology in our village, less time and effort is required to fetch water from the hand pump”. Similarly, post UTFI intervention, the farmers in the village experienced increased availability of water especially in the months ranging from July to February, although they did not observe any marked difference in the productivity of agricultural yields. 

The village elders also recounted other benefits like availability of fresh leafy vegetables that are planted along the boundaries of the structures. Ram Prasad, an energetic octogenarian remarked: “the biggest benefit has been the general cleanliness in the area, prior to the intervention the area near the UTFI structures used to be dumping ground for the village garbage”.

The research study which explores the gender and social dimensions of the technology clearly revealed that there is a perceived benefit of the intervention by both men and women in terms of improved water availability for both domestic and agricultural purposes and other benefits that go beyond the prescribed mandate of the technology.  

Factors influencing ownership

The village which exhibited a high degree of social cohesion is still strongly governed by stringent social and cultural norms. Women from the upper castes are not active in the public domain and their participation in local institutions such as panchayats is still not approved by the men in the community.

Hence, despite the perceived benefits of an intervention like UTFI, keeping the interest of the community and especially of the women folk in operating and maintaining the structures becomes a challenge. Sujatha, a home maker from the Thakur community remarked: “to tell you the truth women in our village will not be able to undertake the responsibility of the structures as it will involve maintenance and collection of charges which women are not comfortable doing”. She further added, “technology is the preserve of the male”.

The men also reinforced such stereotypical beliefs that women will not be in a position to maintain the structures. Such perceptions of the community, which is shaped by deeply-held beliefs about gender roles, has only added dynamics to a technology that is designed to tackle the dual challenges of floods and ground water depletion. However, Sujata, an active panchayat member favourably declared that “we are lucky to have this intervention in our village and we will work towards greater participation by all stakeholders including the women in the community to ensure its sustainability”.

Way forward

In order to ensure ownership and sustainability of the initiative, the project team is actively working with the village community to build awareness of the interventions, especially among the women folk. However, given the social structure and cultural barriers, it would be a challenge for the women folk to undertake responsibilities such as operation and maintenance of the system. Hence the project team is working in close coordination with the panchayat for the creation of management committees where some of their existing programs like MGNREGA can be dovetailed with the UTFI interventions.

Read more:

The art of adaptation: Engaging youth with climate-smart solutions

CRP 7 News -

Ten local primary school students presented artwork about local environmental challenges and future agricultural and rural development at a recent climate-smart agriculture (CSA) event in My Loi Climate-Smart Village (CSV), Ha Tinh province of Vietnam. The event is one of the social mobilization activities for the CSVs supported by the CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS) in Southeast Asia.

“Over the past few years we have developed a strong partnership with the Youth Union in Ky Son commune,” said project leader Elisabeth Simelton. This partnership is critical for building up the next-generation farmers and young community members who will live with impacts of climate change, and need to find new smart solutions to adapt.

Youth representatives from My Loi shared their artistic depictions of the challenges facing their community:

“Please protect our forest and environment because many trees have been cut, which caused more flooding and damages to human, said Nguyen Thi Linh Nhi, student of grade 5, Ky Son primary school.

“Wastes from factory and reduction of trees on the forest caused environmental pollution. In this picutre, the areas with darker colour are more polluted, said To Ngoc Le Vinh, grade 3 student of Ky Son primary school.

Nguyen Quoc Anh spoke about the need to develop rural areas while protecting the environment, and stated, Factory production caused pollution in the river and the death of many species living in the river.

Other students highlighted their visions of how agriculture will change in the future. In the eyes of Le Thi Hien Luong, Agriculture in the future will be applied with high technology (machine) insteading of buffalo for ploughing and buffalo will be used for tourism and cultural activities. She added that if solar energy is used for the machine, it will reduce smoke released to the environment.

The main agricultural products of Ky Son commune, including jackfruit, bananas, corn, cassava, peanuts, pepper, onion, pumpkin, dry mandarin peel, and honey were displayed alongside the student artwork and farmer photographs detailing CSA practices and benefits. It is critical for farmers to account for not only the landscape constraints and environmental factors, but also to consider market opportunities associated with various products. This is a particular concern for tree crops, which are a longer-term investment. Some attendees at the event discussed the potential formation of a cooperative in order to facilitate larger-scale and more stable market pathways for certain products. 

The CSA event was organized by the World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF) in collaboration with the Ha Tinh Farmer’s Union, Ky Son People’s Committee and Ky Son Youth Union to create a space of learning, knowledge-sharing and networking.

Agricultural products of Ky Son commune were displayed alongside the student artwork and farmer photographs. These would help farmers see market opportunities for the products. Photo: A. Smith (ICRAF)

Over 160 people gathered to share their experiences and learn about adaptive solutions from each other. Its purpose was to inspire the scaling out of the CSA approach, in particular to raise awareness about climate change impacts and enable farmers to share their experiences with CSA practices. Participants included representatives from IFAD, CIAT, Farmer’s Union, local departments of agriculture and farmers from nine villages in Ky Son commune and Ma CSV in Yen Bai Province.

Officials from the village, commune and district level showed support for scaling CSA practices from government and policy-making leaders. Mr. Thuc, leader of My Loi village, said, “[The event] provided a wide range of information, from the impacts of climate change to the adaptation in agriculture production.”

Read more:

My Loi is one of six CSVs in Southeast Asia supported by CCAFS, which aims to develop climate-smart farming techniques. The CSV approach contributes to food security and climate change mitigation, and increase resiliency to extreme weather events which are likely to intensify as a result of climate change. For more information about the CSV project, click here.

For local media coverage about the event from a Ha Tinh newspaper, click here.

Toyota Prado for sale

Latest ILRI announcements -

Toyota Prado 2009, 108K km, USD$32,000 (duty-free)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • Excellent working order, all parts and electronics
  • 108,000 km
  • 10 seats; manual transmission; diesel engine; holds 180 litres of diesel (2 tanks); 2 spare tires; regularly serviced
  • In Ethiopia since 2011
  • Call 0943 070 134

Jason Sircely, PhD | Ecosystem Ecologist

Empowering farmers with climate information for agricultural decision making in rural Mali

CRP 7 News -

Nowadays, the major challenge faced by smallholder farmers in Mali is the lack of accurate climate information to make better planning and decision to either improve or stabilize productivity.

To improve farmer’s climate risks resilience in West Africa, the CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS) has been implementing the Participatory Integrated Climate Services for Agriculture (PICSA) approach through the CASCAID project, led by the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT).

Due to its objectives in mainstreaming climate change and variability issues in its activities, the Africa RISING program, led by ICRISAT, started a joint venture with CCAFS under their activity “Scaling out climate information services (CIS) use through the Participatory Integrated Climate Services for Agriculture (PICSA) approach to developing Climate-Smart Villages (CSV) in the Africa rising site of Bougouni in Mali” to scale up the PICSA approach in order to help bridge the climate information gap of smallholder farmers.

It is under this collaboration that ICRISAT organized a training to build the capacity of extension workers of the Africa Rising program based in Bougouni, as well as government staff and NGOs with the use of the PICSA approach. This training was technically supported by the CASCAID project.

The PICSA approach, developed by the University of Reading, aims at providing farmers with locally specific climate information, together with diverse locally pertinent options on crops, livestock and other livelihood activities, with the use of participatory tools, to aid their decision making and therefore improve their livelihood. It is important for farmers to integrate climate information when planning their agricultural activities, particularly in this era of climate variability and change.

A set of participatory exercises was a good occasion to bring together 25 participants, including 6 resource persons, from Malian Association for Sustainable Development (AMEDD), ICRISAT, World Vegetable Center (AVRDC), World Agroforestry Center (ICRAF), Mali Météo, The Malian Textile Development Company (CMDT), Ministry of Agriculture, National Federation of Producers of Organic and Fair Farming in Mali (FENABE), Ministry of Water and forestry, among others.

Eight of the trained agents were Africa RISING agents and served as a relay for the dissemination of the approach to small-scale agricultural producers in the Africa RISING’s intervention villages (Madina, Flola, Dieba, Sibirila) with the aim of reaching 200 farmers. The next step is to reach more farmers the coming years, and to scale out the approach to other Africa RISING regions such as Koutiala and Mopti.

Now I understand better why actors in the agricultural sector, particularly farmers, should change their behavior in a context of increasing climate variability and change, this approach would be very beneficial to our famers here in Bougouni," said a participant towards the end of the training.

Participants were very amazed at understanding the difference between climate change and variability explained by the national meteorological agency of Mali (Mali Meteo). 

Thanks to the training I now know the difference between climate variability and climate change which was a confusing concept some days earlier!

The enthusiasm increased when the session dedicated to computing risks of various events happened. A group of participants concluded that, as farmers, they will not decide to sow before the 9th of May in Bougouni as the probability that the rainy season starts before or on that day was very low (approximately 3 years on 8). PICSA, therefore enables farmers to understand the climate of their locality and also to compute risks of diverse climate events happening to mitigate climate related risks, improve their resilience and consequently improve their livelihood. The climate information is provided as time series graphs by Mali Meteo which also uses this opportunity to expand the use of their database.

It was emphasized that farmers are the ones who should make any single decision in their planning activities based on their context and socioeconomic situation. The role of the field agent is to positively influence these decisions by providing them with useful and usable information and helping them integrate the decision in a sustainable manner. This information include locally specific climate information, diverse options on crops, livestock and other livelihoods together with their performance in different climate scenario, and participatory decision-making tools.

Farmers have always relied on ancestral or abstract knowledge to predict the trend of the rainfall season, the hope is that they will couple this knowledge with the scientific one brought through PICSA to improve their productivity.

Farmers have been using endogenous knowledge for centuries to make agricultural decisions, the scientific knowledge through PICSA comes as a complement to improve and enlighten their agricultural related decisions,” said Dr. Bouba Traore, research scientist at ICRISAT.

Female farmers computing climate risks based on historical time series graphs. Photo:  Andree Nenkam (ICRISAT)

Female farmers are most of the times not involved in some rural activities, particularly the collection of rainfall data using rain gauges in local villages, and this is due to the men’s traditional thinking that the task is only for men. However, hard-working women would also like to be involved in such activities as this would also enhance their decision making and resilience against climate variability. A woman of the Flola village, where we held the practical field day, clearly stated this need:

“We would like to be involved in the rainfall data collection using rain gauges the same way men are involved ”

This practical day was done on the fourth day of the training to help participants practice what they had been learning.

Although this fourth day was just a practical day, farmers, including elders, showed high interest in the concept, as well as to the climate risks calculation exercise which even required more concentration and understanding. To immortalize this day, producers wanted to keep the results of the work as a memory for future generations.

It was also amazing to learn that farmers in Bougouni usually plant twice (short maturing crop) during the rainy season, despite the availability of rainfall (1070 mm on average) and the length of the season (152 days on average).

"Most farmers plant twice to reduce risks related to climate variability particularly with the increase in dry spell length at the middle of the season. PICSA will then help them to improve their agricultural management practices to conserve more water in the soil," reported Dicko Mahamadou Moctar (representative of Africa Rising at Bougouni). The fact is that climate information is unknown to most of the farmers in Bougouni. The PICSA approach, then, helps fill this gap in order to reach more farmers and empower them to make better decisions, by providing efficient information, tools and mechanism.

Empowering farmers with climate information for agricultural decision making

CRP 7 News -

Nowadays, the major challenge faced by smallholder farmers in Mali is the lack of accurate climate information to make better planning and decision to either improve or stabilize productivity.

To improve farmer’s climate risks resilience in West Africa, the CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS) has been implementing the Participatory Integrated Climate Services for Agriculture (PICSA) approach through the CASCAID project, led by the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT).

Due to its objectives in mainstreaming climate change and variability issues in its activities, the Africa RISING program, led by ICRISAT, started a joint venture with CCAFS under their activity “Scaling out climate information services (CIS) use through the Participatory Integrated Climate Services for Agriculture (PICSA) approach to developing Climate-Smart Villages (CSV) in the Africa rising site of Bougouni in Mali” to scale up the PICSA approach in order to help bridge the climate information gap of smallholder farmers.

It is under this collaboration that ICRISAT organized a training to build the capacity of extension workers of the Africa Rising program based in Bougouni, as well as government staff and NGOs with the use of the PICSA approach. This training was technically supported by the CASCAID project.

The PICSA approach, developed by the University of Reading, aims at providing farmers with locally specific climate information, together with diverse locally pertinent options on crops, livestock and other livelihood activities, with the use of participatory tools, to aid their decision making and therefore improve their livelihood. It is important for farmers to integrate climate information when planning their agricultural activities, particularly in this era of climate variability and change.

A set of participatory exercises was a good occasion to bring together 25 participants, including 6 resource persons, from Malian Association for Sustainable Development (AMEDD), ICRISAT, World Vegetable Center (AVRDC), The Malian Textile Development Company (CMDT), Ministry of Agriculture, National Federation of Producers of Organic and Fair Farming in Mali (FENABE), Ministry of Water and forestry, among others.

Eight of the trained agents were Africa RISING agents and served as a relay for the dissemination of the approach to small-scale agricultural producers in the Africa RISING’s intervention villages (Madina, Flola, Dieba, Sibirila) with the aim of reaching 200 farmers. The next step is to reach more farmers the coming years, and to scale out the approach to other Africa RISING regions such as Koutiala and Mopti.

Now I understand better why actors in the agricultural sector, particularly farmers, should change their behavior in a context of increasing climate variability and change, this approach would be very beneficial to our famers here in Bougouni," said a participant towards the end of the training.

Participants were very amazed at understanding the difference between climate change and variability explained by the national meteorological agency of Mali (Mali Meteo). 

Thanks to the training I now know the difference between climate variability and climate change which was a confusing concept some days earlier!

The enthusiasm increased when the session dedicated to computing risks of various events happened. A group of participants concluded that, as farmers, they will not decide to sow before the 9th of May in Bougouni as the probability that the rainy season starts before or on that day was very low (approximately 3 years on 8). PICSA, therefore enables farmers to understand the climate of their locality and also to compute risks of diverse climate events happening to mitigate climate related risks, improve their resilience and consequently improve their livelihood. The climate information is provided as time series graphs by Mali Meteo which also uses this opportunity to expand the use of their database.

It was emphasized that farmers are the ones who should make any single decision in their planning activities based on their context and socioeconomic situation. The role of the field agent is to positively influence these decisions by providing them with useful and usable information and helping them integrate the decision in a sustainable manner. This information include locally specific climate information, diverse options on crops, livestock and other livelihoods together with their performance in different climate scenario, and participatory decision-making tools.

Farmers have always relied on ancestral or abstract knowledge to predict the trend of the rainfall season, the hope is that they will couple this knowledge with the scientific one brought through PICSA to improve their productivity.

Farmers have been using endogenous knowledge for centuries to make agricultural decisions, the scientific knowledge through PICSA comes as a complement to improve and enlighten their agricultural related decisions,” said Dr. Bouba Traore, research scientist at ICRISAT.

Female farmers computing climate risks based on historical time series graphs. Photo:  Andree Nenkam (ICRISAT)

Female farmers are most of the times not involved in some rural activities, particularly the collection of rainfall data using rain gauges in local villages, and this is due to the men’s traditional thinking that the task is only for men. However, hard-working women would also like to be involved in such activities as this would also enhance their decision making and resilience against climate variability. A woman of the Flola village, where we held the practical field day, clearly stated this need:

“We would like to be involved in the rainfall data collection using rain gauges the same way men are involved ”

This practical day was done on the fourth day of the training to help participants practice what they had been learning.

Although this fourth day was just a practical day, farmers, including elders, showed high interest in the concept, as well as to the climate risks calculation exercise which even required more concentration and understanding. To immortalize this day, producers wanted to keep the results of the work as a memory for future generations.

It was also amazing to learn that farmers in Bougouni usually plant twice (short maturing crop) during the rainy season, despite the availability of rainfall (1070 mm on average) and the length of the season (152 days on average).

"Most farmers plant twice to reduce risks related to climate variability particularly with the increase in dry spell length at the middle of the season. PICSA will then help them to improve their agricultural management practices to conserve more water in the soil," reported Dicko Mahamadou Moctar (representative of Africa Rising at Bougouni). The fact is that climate information is unknown to most of the farmers in Bougouni. The PICSA approach, then, helps fill this gap in order to reach more farmers and empower them to make better decisions, by providing efficient information, tools and mechanism.

Lifetime performance of West African dwarf goats under different feeding systems

News from ILRI -

West African dwarf goat in Ghana (photo credit: ILRI/Paul Karaimu).

new paper by scientists at in the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) and Wageningen University and Research (WUR) compared the lifetime performance of West African Dwarf goats (WAD) kept under various feeding systems. They conclude that West African smallholders can best enhance their goat production systems by supplementing the diets of their grazing goats with farm-generated feeds.

Comparisons of the lifetime productivity of individual animals raised by farmers using alternative livestock interventions allowed the research team to assess, reliably and over the long term,  the investment opportunities for smallholder farmers.

A dynamic modelling approach was used to explore the effects of different feeding strategies on the lifetime productivity of West African Dwarf goats in southwestern Nigeria. These goats, which are markedly stunted, with typical heights of 30 to 50 cm (12 to 20 in), are more disease resistant than other breeds of domestic goat and are important in the rural village economy of West Africa.

The research team modified the current version of ‘Livestock Simulator’ (LIVSIM), an individual-based livestock production model that simulates animal production (meat, milk, progeny and manure) and maintenance requirements. Different livestock units can be taken into account, each characterized by production objectives, animal species and breeds. The research team used LIVSIM to test the impacts of changes in inputs such as the quality of feed in West African Dwarf goat raising, which confirmed the sensitivity of the modelled weight development and reproductive performance. The values of simulated model outputs corresponded well with observed values for most of the variables, except for the pre-weaning mortality rate in cut-and-carry feeding systems, where a wide discrepancy between simulated (2.1%) and observed (23%) data was found.

A scenario analysis showed that simulated goats raised in a free-grazing system attained sexual maturity and kidded much later than those raised in grazing plus feed supplementation and in cut-and-carry feed systems. The simulated results indicate that supplementing goat feed with protein and energy sources enhances the lifetime productivity of these goats, as seen in their early sexual maturity and higher birth weights. In terms of economic returns based on feed costs alone, the ‘moderately intense’ feed system produced the greatest profits over the lifetime of the goats.

Read the limited-access article: Assessment of lifetime performance of small ruminants under different feeding systems, by Tunde Amole (ILRI), Mink Zijlstra (Wageningen University and Research), Katrien Descheemaeker (Wageningen University and Research), Augustine Ayantunde (ILRI) and Alan Duncan (ILRI), in Animal, 29 Dec 2016.


Beyond the village: Upscaling climate-smart agriculture in Southeast Asia

CRP 7 News -

Making communities climate-smart involves not only just increasing communities’ awareness of climate change. Local leaders and communities should also know the specifics of each practice and how these could help in their own contexts.

The CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security in Southeast Asia (CCAFS SEA) is organizing a third roving workshop for local and farmer leaders from the Climate-Smart Villages (CSVs) in SEA. This is currently being held in Cambodia from 14-18 August 2017.

Aside from enhancing the participants’ knowledge on climate-smart agriculture (CSA), the workshop will also facilitate cross-learning between communities and prepare them for bringing appropriate practices to scale.

In this roving workshop, we are engaging local leaders beyond the CSVs as possible advocates for upscaling. The workshop would expose them to different options for making their communities climate-smart,” says Dr Leocadio Sebastian, regional program leader of CCAFS SEA.

Organizers are expecting 26 local leaders from the CSVs (Ma, My Loi and Tra Hat in Vietnam; Phailom and Ekxang in Laos; Rohal Suong in Cambodia; and Guinayangan in the Philippines), communes and districts where the CSVs are located. Also included are interpreters for the Vietnamese and Laotian participants, and researchers from CCAFS SEA and WorldFish, the lead center for the Cambodian CSV.

Participants will be visiting the Rohal Suong CSV and other project areas for CSA, where they can interact with people from the communities and other implementers of climate-smart practices. After these field visits, the participants will also have synthesis and reflection sessions to process their learnings. Their respective best practices and updates on the outcomes of previous workshops will be shared then.

Two other roving workshops have already been held in the Philippines and Vietnam. Farmers from Southeast Asian CSVs first visited the municipality of Guinayangan, Philippines last 08-17 September 2015. The second workshop was held from 22 to 28 May 2016 in Vietnam.

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