Archive for category Agriculture

From Informing To Engaging: What Users of CGIAR Research Information Are Asking

Ask A Question Dialogue Box

As you know, the CGIAR Research Map (http://ongoing-research.cgiar.org/) provides information about research projects that are carried out by the 15 CGIAR Centers in order to enhance information and knowledge sharing while significantly reducing the time taken to search for project information across the various Centers.

Through the ‘Ask a Question’ dialogue box found at the bottom of each project fact sheet in the Research Map, the Map has moved beyond informing users of agriculture information of what is happening ‘where, when and with whom’ to engaging them.  Users can send messages to project scientists and make comments about the research projects through this dialogue box.

This new feature in the Research Map, designed to increase the level of interaction and collaboration among users of agriculture information has seen over 50 inquiries being sent to various projects. From technical support, project reports, internship opportunities for students, various scientists details requests to conversations leading to developing new partnerships, the ‘Ask a Question’ box has vast advantages and shows the enthusiasm of CGIAR scientists to share their information and knowledge, collaborate and even learn from others partners.

Below are some of the inquiries and the various responses by the scientists

Project Title:Promotion of Exports of Organic Bananas in Ethiopia and Sudan (Bioversity) 
Qn: We are a tissue culture firm based in India, and have been approached several times from private buyers in Sudan for tissue culture banana varieties of elite clones such as Grand Naine and Robista. We would like information on the banana market, import regulation and the growers in Sudan. Is it possible for CGIAR to share information with us?

Ans: The project in Sudan is being implemented with the Horticulture Sector Administration of the Federal Ministry of Agriculture in Khartoum and I am copying this reply to the National Project Manager, Dr. Salah Bakhiet (salba54@yahoo.com). Please follow up with him for more specific information, but I can inform you that this project has previously purchased tissue culture plants from Du Roi in South Africa and the import process is relatively straightforward. The local market is dominated by Dwarf Cavendish, produced on relatively small holdings, by traditional means, but there are a number of investors interested in expanding banana plantations for export, so I think there is growing demand for good quality planting material. I understand that there are also some start-up tissue culture labs in the country looking to produce seedlings; it is possible that they would be interested in collaborating with you.

Michael Bolton (m.bolton@cgiar.org)

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Frequently Asked Questions on Food-Feed Crops

Collective Action supported a Food-Feed Crops in Eastern and Southern Africa proposal development workshop held on the 24-25 of February. This workshop was attended by various scientists from different CGIAR Centers including: CIP, ICRISAT, ILRI, CIMMYT who shared their interest, experiences and perspective in food-feed crop.

The below Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) gives an overview on these important crops.

1. What are food-feed crops?
Food-feed crops are crops that provide grain for human nutrition and fodder for livestock from the crop residues such as the straws, stover and haulms. A name often used synonymously is dual-purpose crops.

2. What is the importance of the crops in agriculture?
Food-feed/dual purpose crops play a key role in small holder crop-livestock systems since they provide food for humans and fodder for livestock at the same time. So no additional land and water are required for fodder production since these needed to be allocated anyhow for the primary product, the grains. Food-feed/dual purpose crops are therefore highly resource use efficient. Crop residues provide the major feed resources for small holders.

3. Who can grow these crops?
Essentially every farmer but they are particularly important for resource poor small holders

4. Who are the potential beneficiaries of these crops?
Basically everybody starting from the farmer and livestock producer to fodder traders and feed processors

5. Examples of food-feed crops?
Maize, rice, wheat, sorghum, millets, groundnut, cowpea etc.

6. Where can I find more information and research about food-feed crops?
For more information on food-feed crops and the workshop as well, contact Michael Blummel (m.blummel@CGIAR.ORG) a scientist at ILRI.

A food-feed crops search in Ongoing Research, the CGIAR Research Map will list some of the projects working on this area of agriculture.

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What Kind of CGIAR Research is in Northern Africa?

International Center for Agricultural Research in the Dry Areas, ICARDA recently updated the Research Map with 52 research projects in the Ongoing Research. ICARDA is one of the 15 CG Centers whose main areas of research is North Africa (CWANA) region, with research in countries like Libya, Tunisia, Egypt, Morocco as well as areas in Central and West Asia including Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan and others.

ICARDA has a global mandate for the improvement of barley, lentil and faba bean and serves the non-tropical dry areas for the improvement of on-farm water-use efficiency, rangeland and small-ruminant production (http://www.icarda.cgiar.org/Mission.htm).

Among the research areas that the projects work in include, Agrobiodivesity, Water Management, Policy & Institutions, Crops, Climate Change and others. Search projects by ICARDA from the custom map below to find out more information about this Centers work and also what other CGIAR Centers are doing in similar regions in the Ongoing Research.

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Agriculture and Rural Development Day at the Cancún Climate Change Conference

Agriculture and Rural Development Day (ARDD) was held for the second time during the Sixteenth Conference of the Parties (COP16) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) which took place earlier this month at Cancún, Mexico. The day-long event, which drew hundreds of participants including policy makers, farmers, scientists and journalists, aimed to put agriculture on this year’s climate change agenda. In her opening speech, Inger Andersen, CGIAR Fund Council Chair and Vice President of Sustainable development, World Bank talked about the intersection of agricultural development, food security and climate. She proposed agriculture as a solution that was a triple win of increased food security, resilience and reduction of emissions. The success of the World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF) in promoting the spread of Evergreen Agriculture in Africa was cited as an example of a climate-smart agricultural technique that can both increase crop yields and help to reduce carbon emissions.

In support of such initiatives, the organizers of ARDD 2010 called for much more local action to help the rural poor adapt to climate change impacts and the use of climate finance to realize agriculture’s substantial potential for capturing carbon and reducing greenhouse gas emissions. In presenting the official summary of the day, Lindiwe Sibanda, Chief Executive Officer of the Food, Agriculture and Natural Resources Policy Analysis Network, appealed to climate change negotiators to recognize explicitly the critical links between agriculture and forestry and to create an agricultural work program under the Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice (SBSTA) as a first step toward meaningful inclusion of food security in any post-2012 agreement.

By the end of COP16, the collective push for including agriculture in a climate change deal had achieved small but important successes. The Cancún Agreements recognize agriculture and food security as areas deserving priority consideration in a footnote to the ‘Outcome of the Work of the Ad Hoc Working Group on Long-term Cooperative Action under the Convention’. Unfortunately there was no decision on a work program on agriculture on the SBSTA, proving correct fears that it would be held hostage by the uncertain state of broader negotiations and by a number of small technicalities at the 11th hour.
The Cancún Agreements did, however, call for a SBSTA work program on REDD+ (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation) that addresses drivers and methodologies, as well as exploration of REDD+ financing options under the Ad hoc Working Group on Long-term Cooperative Action. The links between agriculture and deforestation are such that this decision ensures some support for continued work on agriculture in the climate change context. Indeed, participants at Forest Day 4 (FD4), proposed several options to increase agricultural intensification whilst reducing net annual rates of deforestation including: increasing production efficiencies; promoting multifunctional landscapes; directing REDD+ financing to increase efficiencies in agronomic practices; and shifting extensive production systems to low carbon landscapes.

The thorny issue of agricultural intensification and its effect on deforestation was addressed at an official COP16 side event held jointly by the organizers of ARDD 2010 together with those of FD4. It was concluded that efforts to produce more food from less land must form part of an integrated package of interventions (including practices such as conservation agriculture, agroforestry and integrated pest management) aimed at achieving multiple benefits in rural landscapes. To pursue such an approach in spirit and in practice, it was suggested that the forestry and agriculture sectors should perhaps organize a ‘Landscape Weekend’ rather than two separate events at COP17 in South Africa.

For more details of ARDD 2010, see http://www.agricultureday.org/

For more details of Forest Day 4, see http://www.forestsclimatechange.org

For details of the first Agriculture and Rural Development Day (ARDD 2009) held at COP15, see http://bit.ly/hAon9J

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Rwanda launches Irrigation Master Plan – September Collective Action News

Rwanda’s economy mainly depends on the agricultural sector, particularly food crop production. Poverty reduction therefore largely depends on efforts made on the modernisation of this sector.

Although Rwanda possesses considerable water resources, they are not evenly distributed. For example, while water is abundant in the marshlands, facilities for storing it elsewhere for irrigation purposes are lacking. Farming during dry seasons is thus limited in most parts of Rwanda. Agriculture and livestock in the eastern parts of Rwanda, where rainfall is lowest, are especially affected. This situation created a need for a full, efficient and sustainable exploitation of water resources that can help to ensure the sustainable production of food, cash, export and industrial crops.

One of the best options of achieving food security and improving people’s living conditions is through the use of modern irrigation technologies. It is from this recognition that the government of Rwanda commissioned Ebony Enterprises Limited, an Israeli firm, for the development of an Irrigation Master Plan (IMP) to facilitate the management of water resources, promote irrigation and improve food security. Ebony subsequently partnered with the World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF) to undertake this task in collaboration with Ministry of Agriculture and Animal Resources (MINAGRI) and Rwanda Agricultural Development Authority (RADA). The aim of Rwanda’s IMP is to develop and manage water resources to promote intensive and sustainable irrigated agriculture and improve food security in Rwanda. Specifically, the objective of the IMP is to provide Rwanda with a planning tool for rational exploitation of its soil and water resources as represented by the respective domains (see Figure 1) at both national and district levels. This tool is intended to lead to an increase in crop production for local consumption, as well as to promote production of high-value crops.

In order to produce the IMP, ICRAF developed a flow chart matrix that identifies potential irrigation areas and water sources by mapping biophysical and socioeconomic parameters. Details of this work are provided in the IMP document which was launched on the 17th September 2010 in a ceremony graced by the Right Honourable Prime Minister of the Republic of Rwanda and the Honourable Minister for Agriculture and Animal Resources, Dr. Agnes Kalibata. In her remarks, Hon. Kalibata, commended ICRAF and Ebony for a job well done. A number of organizations from diplomatic missions, international research institutions, local NGOs and the community were represented during the launch of the IMP.

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Developing Africa’s Agricultural Markets – June Collective Action News

In May 2009, 150 of the world’s leading market experts gathered in Nairobi, Kenya to consider how governments, donors and other stakeholders could improve Africa’s national and regional agricultural markets. Their goal was to identify and recommend priority actions for achieving more efficient and effective markets that would contribute to poverty reduction and economic development throughout the continent.

The Conference, organized by the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa, (AGRA) and the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), comprised a wide range of representatives from the African agricultural value chain.

Participants considered interventions that have improved African markets as well as actions and policies that have undermined them. Overall, the experts concurred that no single institution or group of special interest stakeholders could resolve the array of problems afflicting Africa’s agricultural markets. Participants called for a range of efforts that would dramatically scale up proven interventions and test new ideas and approaches that would unleash the capacity of African agriculture to improve livelihoods and drive economic growth.

Among the many recommendations made for priority action was the need to encourage innovations that improve market efficiency and more fully integrate small-scale agro-entrepreneurs into marketing processes. Another recommendation was to support the provision of financial services to small-scale agro-enterprises and smallholder farmers – especially women – and the channeling of “smart subsidies” for farmers and small agro-businesses through private sector input suppliers in order to create market demand.

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Ongoing Research Map & the Cali, Columbia knowledge share fair May 2010

Huber 1991, notes that many organizations do not know what they know because they have weak systems for locating and distributing their knowledge.

The CGIAR is making great efforts to conquer this, one way is by the use of CGMap Ongoing Research in Africa, a map of projects being carried out by the CGIAR.
The map was selected as an entry for the Knowledge Share Fair in Cali that is currently taking place, one of the objectives of the share fair is to encourage sharing and learning from each others’ good practices.

In part, this is why this innovation was selected.

What knowledge sharing tools and methods did you use in your project or initiative, and how?

The system was upgraded from the initial desktop application to an interactive web database (February 2009), allowing for multiple users from across the globe to input and access research information.

The software used to design the Map (Linux, MySQL and Sympony) and agile software development allowed for iterative development to incorporate new changes coming from user feedbacks throughout the development phase while at the same time providing a cost efficient method. This choice of software also created a platform that allows for co-ownership of information among various information contributors where each was given rights to update, edit project information and invite other contributors. Further with the option for users to send messages to project scientists directly from the system, the door to online collaboration has been much widened.

Finally, newsletters, seminars, email messaging and social media tools like blogs were utilised to reach different audiences.

What were the main challenges and issues (what worked and what didn’t work) and how these were addressed? If you worked in collaboration with other organizations, please provide your reflections on this aspect as well.

Big numbers of disparate information management system in the CG with little or no integration between them resulted in centers working independently for a long time. Trying to build a system that can accommodate the varying differences and standardizing this information was the greatest challenge. By involving different key people and users in the centers in the development of the tool and distributing user roles, tremendous steps have been made to overcome this challenge.

Through collaboration with the ICT-KM Program of the CGIAR we have been able to apply the latest technology to build the system and apply a wide range of expertise support bringing in a rich and wide exchange of ideas which facilitated the speedy delivery of the system.

With the tremendous development and growth of ICTs and their use in knowledge sharing it is important that we have mechanisms that can be able to re-use this information, aggregate it and provide opportunities for synergy in agriculture development. As opposed to have 15 CGIAR websites providing similar information, Ongoing Research Map provides all this information in just one website  http:\\ongoing-research.cgiar.org

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