Judging the beans in the Guatemalan heights

By Alexandra Popescu |CCAFS |February 13, 2018 |

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Stepping up participatory practices in the Climate-Smart Village of Olopa. The narrow path to the fields doesn’t cut us any slack. It goes up and up, treacherous at times as last night’s rain bit into the ground.

We pass the coffee bushes bursting with red; sitting on low chairs, a few men handle the leafy branches, looking for the deep, brightly colored cherries. The coffee harvest is on in the La Prensa community, part of Olopa, the Climate-Smart Village (CSV) in eastern Guatemala, close to the Honduran border.

We finally emerge from the shadows into the scorching morning sun. There must be about fifteen women, all brightly dressed, tending to the field under our eyes. We’re here to see the beans. It’s an experimental field, where the CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS) Latin America, together with its partners, has helped farmers grow beans with improved characteristics, so that the community would diversify their diet and become more resilient in the face of climate variability.

The women walk through the rows of plants checking the leaves, as they have done many times before since this initiative started, as part of implementing climate-smart agricultural practices in Olopa, one of the three CSVs in Central America.

Farmers in the La Prensa community of Olopa CSV are evaluating the performance of bean varieties. Photo: Alexandra Popescu (CCAFS)

Armando, the technician that works with the community and Jose Gabriel, from the Tropical Agricultura Research and Higher Education Center (CATIE) give out the evaluation forms that will show how the beans have fared. The participatory element of climate-smart agriculture is critical, as it provides data rooted in local farmers’ perceptions and it increases their understanding and acceptance of new crops and practices.

The forms look at a few basic characteristics for each of the six bean varieties present in the field: plant’s upright position, pests and diseases, with farmers needing to choose from a scale that goes from “very bad” to “very good”. The results are mixed, with some varieties faring better than others. Closing the communication gap between researchers, technicians and the farmers involves reaching a common vocabulary on how we look at plants and their characteristics, and continue to strengthen and build it. Follow-up on plant variety behavior also involves respecting and following the preferences of farmers who interpret the signs of the weather and of the earth based on their experiences.

Where are all the men? I ask. “Con el café”, the women smile at me. This is the time when work splits up the village. So the women take us next on a tour of the practices they are using to build up their food security and self-sufficiency. Under the canopy it’s cool enough to breathe. It’s under this shadow that six or seven logs follow each other in a staircase-like structure to produce a vertical garden. From each log thin sprouts shoot up from the dirt placed inside, announcing a future generation of vegetables.

Vertical garden, a climate-smart agricultural practice used in Olopa CSV, Guatemala. Photo: Alexandra Popescu (CCAFS)

We head up the hill again to the community’s vegetable garden that has been revived and diversified within the CSA project in La Prensa. The water tank fed by rainwater is looking over the sloping garden where the villagers grow yucca, aloe vera, bananas, moringa, rosemary, basil and other herbs. It’s a lush basket of nutritious crops feeding the community and supplying their revenues outside the coffee season. Local farmers have gradually embraced CSA practices that improve their livelihoods and that improve communicating with researchers and experts working locally.

The community garden in La Prensa, Olopa CSV, has been diversified and improved using climate-smart agriculture practices. Photo: Alexandra Popescu (CCAFS)

Building food security in Guatemala, where a combination of poverty, climate variability and extreme weather events undermine food safety nets, is ongoing work. CCAFS and its partners in the region are strengthening the community of Olopa to further create momentum for scaling climate-smart agriculture at regional and national level, while fine tuning practices and knowledge exchanges with the farmers.

Article Disclaimer

This article originally appeared on CGIAR-CCAFS and was retrieved on 02/19/2018 and republished here for information and educational purposes only. The views and contents of the article remain those of the authors. We will not be held accountable for the reliability and accuracy of the materials. If you need additional information on the published contents and materials, please contact the original authors and publisher. Please cite the authors, original source, and INDESEEM INCORPORATED accordingly. If you have any question or concern, please send us an email at info@indeseem.org.


Women are the foundation for change in rural Ethiopia

January 9, 2018 | CIMMYT Feature

The idea that “Educating women/girls is nothing but a loss,” used to be a common sentiment amongst members of rural Ethiopian communities where the Nutritious Maize for Ethiopia (NuME) project works. Now one is more likely to hear “Women are the foundation for change.”

The International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT)-led NuME project is reducing food insecurity in Ethiopia by increasing the country’s capacity to feed itself. The project is improving household food and nutritional security, especially for young children and women, through shifting gender norms and the adoption of Quality Protein Maize (QPM).

QPM refers to a type of maize biofortified with two essential amino acids through traditional breeding to improve the inadequacy of protein quality of the conventional maize grown widely by farmers. Consumption of QPM instead of conventional maize leads to increase in the rate of growth in infants and young children with mild to moderate undernutrition from populations in which maize is the major staple food.

According to the World Bank, women contribute 40-60 percent of the labor in agricultural production in Ethiopia and play an important role in income generation, as well as unpaid household tasks. However, many women face severely restricted access to resources and services and lack control over income, greatly hindering their participation in and benefit from new innovations.

Few programs have specifically considered gender relations when implementing new initiatives in communities, however, when NuME found lower participation of women in the community-based promotion and dissemination of QPM, adapted community conversations were launched in two selected project woredas, or districts – Shebedino and Meskan – for a nine-month pilot in an attempt to raise women’s role in the project.

Community conversation (CC) is a facilitated approach based on the principle that communities have the capacity to identify their societal, economic and political challenges; set priorities; mobilize human, physical and financial resources; plan for action and address their challenges sustainably. It focuses on people’s strengths, resources and how they relate to challenges or problems communities face.

The people benefiting from a CC-driven project set priorities and create a plan of action to mobilize resources to address their challenges sustainably. This helps communities develop a sense of ownership, use local resources and take responsibility to bring about sustainable changes.

Because this approach involves the entire community, it also includes traditionally marginalized groups like women and youth.

When NuME first started community conversations, seating was very rigid due to cultural and religious traditions, but as the sessions continue paving the way for more community awareness on issues around gender norms and stereotypes, the seating has become much more mixed.

A facilitator from Shebedino woreda said, “Participants can’t wait for the bi-monthly conversations and they never want to miss them. These exchanges have helped men and women to get together and discuss their concerns, which was not a common practice before.”

“Women have begun raising their voices during community conversation meetings, while they used to be too shy and afraid to speak and very much reserved about sharing their ideas in public,” a female participant from Meskan woreda reported.

Community conversation participants have started changing the traditional gender stereotypes.

Through debate and the sharing of opinions, and more active participation from women, community conversations have educated participants on gender inequality, its prevalence and harm and have allowed men and women community members to exchange ideas about nutrition more effectively.

The NuME project will continue into 2019. Read more about how CIMMYT is working to equally boost the livelihoods of women, youth and men here.

The NuME Project is funded by Global Affairs Canada with major implementing partners the Ethiopian Ministry of Agriculture and Natural Resources (MoANR), the Ethiopian Institute of Agricultural Research (EIAR), the Ethiopian Public Health Institute (EPHI), the Sasakawa Africa Association (SAA)/Sasakawa Global 2000 (SG2000) and Farm Radio International (FRI).

Article Disclaimer: This article originally appeared on CIMMYT and was retrieved on 01/18/2018 and republished here for information and educational purposes only. The views and contents of the article remain those of the authors. We will not be held accountable for the reliability and accuracy of the materials. If you need additional information on the published contents and materials, please contact the original authors and publisher. Please cite the authors, original source, and INDESEEM INCORPORATED accordingly. If you have any question or concern, please send us an email at info@indeseem.org.

Indigenous communities, biodiversity in focus at Global Landscapes Forum

By Gabrielle Lipton | 20 December 2017

BONN, Germany (Landscapes News) — “We must act now,” said Robert Nasi, director general of the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR), kicking off the Global Landscapes Forum (GLF) conference in Bonn, Germany on Tuesday, with a call to action.

GLF Bonn 2017 is not only the seventh installation of the world’s largest multi-sectoral platform focused on landscapes, which first launched in Warsaw in 2013; but it also marks the start of a new chapter for the forum, following the recent boost of an 11 million euros ($13 million) injection by the German government. GLF is now shoring up activities in anticipation of five more years of addressing landscape issues around the world, conducted in partnership with the World Bank, CIFOR, the U.N. Environment program, and the German government.

This new phase of the movement has ensured the activity can extend beyond the two-days of intense activity at the World Conference Center venue in Bonn on Dec. 19 and 20 in a concerted effort to address and combat landscape and climate change issues.

Also in its new phase, GLF aims to engage more than 1 billion people worldwide. The conference was attended on Tuesday in Bonn by more than 1,000 participants ranging from President of Mauritius Ammenah Gurib Fakim and Former President of Mexico Felipe Calderon to yogi-environmentalist and spiritual guide Sadhguru, as well as scientists, start-up entrepreneurs, leaders from non-governmental organizations, actors in the public and private sectors, and a number of students and youth. Thousands of people around the world tuned in online to watch live-stream videos of various discussions, plenaries, “TED Talk” style Landscape Talks, press conferences, and capacity-building Launchpad sessions.

The myriad items on the day’s agenda revolved around the forum’s stated five themes: landscape restoration, financing sustainable landscapes, rights and equitable development, food and livelihoods, and measuring progress toward climate change and development goals.

Stefan Schmitz, deputy director-general and commissioner of the “One World – No Hunger” Initiative of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), stated in the opening plenary, more than 70 percent of those suffering from poverty and hunger live in rural areas, and environmental degradation is largely confined to their home fronts.

“The Global Landscapes Forum creates space for innovative ideas that can then be implemented on the ground,” said Barbara Hendricks, the Federal Minister of German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Building and Nuclear Safety (BMUB). “The overarching goal is to learn from one another and take action together.”

Native Knowledge

Following on the heels of the U.N. Climate Change Conference in Bonn in November, and French President Emmanuel Macron’s “One Planet” summit earlier this month, GLF has distinguished itself by including indigenous and marginalized communities in the discussion. Ideally, GLF will offer an opportunity for more space and attention in dialogues and decision-making processes to be applied on the local, regional and global levels.

Indigenous communities play a key role in finding holistic solutions to land degradation, reforestation, food security and the future of clean water sources.

“I think that’s one of the biggest contributions that indigenous organizers and young professionals are making, in every field addressing climate change and unsustainable development—that they look at everything as its complete picture,” said Janene Yazzie, co-founder and chief executive of Sixth World Solutions and member of the U.S.’s Navajo Tribal Nation. “We look at what’s affecting our air, our father sky, our mother earth.”

The forum has quickly made evident the importance of investing in indigenous communities—both financially and culturally, as the two are inextricably linked.

Roberto Borerro, programs and communications coordinator of the International Indian Treaty Council, said that indigenous groups should be viewed as partners in a unique position to offer solutions on environmental issues.

“We’re not looking for saviors,” he said. “We can save ourselves if we’re given the right tools and the opportunity to save ourselves.”

Africa in the spotlight

“As we modernize, we must support traditional knowledge systems, which are those linked to sustainable agriculture,” Fakim said.

In a keynote speech, Fakim reiterated the crucial role of indigenous communities in tackling landscape issues. However, she contextualized this specifically in terms of Africa where threats to biodiversity are graver than on any other continent. In Mauritius alone, almost 100 species have become extinct since the 17th century, she said.

Throughout African countries, as temperatures rise, so do costs for tackling ensuing changes to the continent’s ecosystems and landscapes. As such, changes to the landscape are a crucial focus for the conservation community.

Fakim made a call for increased investment in research. She said that basing policies and government agendas on fact-based information are paramount to positive change, not just in Mauritius but everywhere.

Karin Kemper, senior director for the environment and natural resources, global practice at the World Bank, advanced this notion, saying that in order for the World Bank to achieve its twin goals of ending extreme poverty and boosting shared prosperity, a combination of information, innovation and incentives are needed.

Research, technology, and finance mechanisms must be advanced in tandem, and policymaking should be incentivized to be progressive and forward thinking.

Article Disclaimer: This article was published by the Global Landscapes Forum and retrieved on 12/20/2017 and posted here for information and educational purposes only. The views and contents of the article remain those of the authors. We will not be held accountable for the reliability and accuracy of the materials. If you need additional information on the published contents and materials, please contact the original authors and publisher. Please cite the authors, original source, and INDESEEM Inc. accordingly.





Supporting creation of institutional platform of 45 million women for social and economic empowerment in rural India: The National Rural Livelihoods Mission


Source: World Bank’s People, Places, and Deliberation. In Photo – Jasmine cultivation



Source: World Bank’s People, Places, and Deliberation. In Photo – Jasmine cultivation

In the early morning at Dadar station in metropolitan Mumbai, a common sight is unloading of tons of jasmine and marigold flowers packed in jute sacks. Flowers come from Jawhar block located in the district of Palghar in Maharashtra. At the village the flowers are procured from each producer, weighed and packed in jute sacks. These are collected from the village bus stands and transported to Dadar in Mumbai by either bus or train. Floriculture has emerged as an alternative source of livelihood for small and marginal farmers in the region. Collective marketing has allowed small producers to aggregate and sell their flowers. Aggregation has enabled producers to realize better incomes through collective bargaining. About 3,500 women farmers have been mobilized as producer groups, and their annual turnover is expected to be around US $ 1 million in the next season.

Similarly, in four tribal districts (Koraput, Rayagada  Gajapati and Mayurbhanj) of Orissa in the eastern part of India, 6,300 women mango producers have been organized to facilitate creation of a Producers’ Company with annual turnover of US $260,000. They planted high-quality mango trees in their land with the help of Government’s horticulture department. They were provided training on pre-harvest, post-harvest management & market information and price discovery. The producer company was able to do local value addition through grading, sorting, packaging and loading through trucks. The producer company has been able to sell products to wholesale and high value channels like retail outlets and have become aggregators for large food retailers and companies. The producer company has helped the members to realize additional income of US $800 for each household.

Mango value chain: sorting, grading and packaging


Many such enterprise clusters have been catalyzed as part of National Rural Livelihood Mission (NRLM) in 30 states in India. The program so far has mobilized more than 45 million women from deprived and poor households and covers more than 40% of rural India.  Women meet regularly within their self-help groups to save and inter-loan money to each other; represent their self-help groups in the village and cluster-level organizations to work on collective economic action and deliver financial and economic services to members.  Based on their savings and lending track record, the members of self-help groups have become clients of commercial banks and borrow from banks to launch businesses and enterprises of their own. They are also provided extension and skills based training to expand their livelihoods. They have also initiated producer organizations and companies to start higher level economic enterprises.  Over last six years women have formed 3.2 million self-help groups and 145,465 village-level organizations. Collectively they have saved US $1.4 billion and leveraged US $ 20 billion from commercial banks.

Women self-help group meeting


NRLM has emerged as the flagship program for women’s economic empowerment in Government of India.  The World Bank funded National Rural Livelihoods Project (NRLP) has provided support to Ministry of Rural Development, in Government of India to set up professional architecture and systems for implementation of NRLM. The project aims at establishing efficient and effective institutional platforms of the rural poor that enables them to increase household income through sustainable livelihood enhancements and improved access to financial and selected public services.
The project has been a site for rich experimentation and innovation, particularly, in addressing challenges common to other development projects: How, for instance, do we efficiently scale and expand a community-led project? How can we bring in innovation and social enterprises into the work of a large-scale government program? And finally, how do we retain and grow human resources within government organizations?

Some of the key innovations in project implementation and scaling up is harnessing community level social capital from all over the country to develop peer learning and extension networks among communities. Community Resource Persons have been a crucial resource for scaling the project across, low-income states in India. Nearly 20,000 rural women, who have successfully come out of poverty, serve as Community Resource Persons. These “poverty-reduction champions” travel outside their villages and to other states to identify the poorest households, using participatory methods. Community Resource Persons train new self-help groups on various sub sectors like financial inclusion, microcredit, agriculture, horticulture, dairy, poultry, and fishery. Through these programs, new women members learn about potential livelihoods opportunities and pathways to take them out of poverty. They use Information Communication Technology (ICT) for providing extension services to members through creating local content and creation of short videos highlighting both internal and external best practices. Video content typically consists of technical demonstrations customized after local experimentation, discussions, or success stories of best practices. After content generation, the existing social networks are used for dissemination.

Community Resource Person preparing learning video


Through “Innovation Forums”—akin to the World Bank’s Development Marketplace—the project brought together social enterprises, grassroots innovators, private sector players, and the government on a common platform to exchange innovations in health, nutrition, livelihoods, skill development, and energy access. Many of the innovations presented at these forums have gone on to be implemented and scaled through the project. Partnerships between the project, social entrepreneurs and private sector agencies have been an avenue to bring innovation to the government. These private sector agencies have connected rural women to wider domestic markets, and, to larger urban and foreign markets as well.

With the help of the World Bank, in each of the NRLM progressive and agile human resource policies were put in place: from recruiting at India’s leading social science, engineering, development studies and management institutes, providing competitive compensation to staff, to implementing a Young Professionals (YP) program. Through the YP program, over 500 young professionals have been placed in low-income states. Many of these young professionals have gone on to start their own social enterprises, drawing from their experience with the NRLM and with implementing a complex, multi-sectorial community-led program.

In 2017, Government of India is working to expand and deepen the program in two directions.  Firstly, it wants to scale up the current program of social and economic mobilization of rural women from 45 million to 87 million ensuring that very women from a deprived household becomes a member of SHG and the related institutional platform. Secondly, it wants to develop 5,000 local economic development clusters across the country to trigger a women enterprise ecosystem throughout the country, especially in low income states and with bottom of pyramid populations. The lessons from these programs are currently being shared in many countries globally through South to South experience sharing and have generated strong interest. The program has demonstrated that designing and implementing a large scale women’s economic empowerment program requires participating women at the center and needs creation of an institutional platform and an enabling ecosystem.

Authors acknowledge contributions by Varun Singh, Vinay Kumar Vutukuru, Debaraj Behera, Anjani Kumar Singh and Paramveer Singh for the case studies, data and pictures.

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Article Disclaimer: This article was published by the World Bank and retrieved on 06/18/2017 and posted at INDESEEM for information and educational purposes only. The views and contents of the article remain those of the authors. We will not be held accountable for the reliability and accuracy of the materials. If you need additional information on the published contents and materials, please contact the original authors and publisher. Please cite the authors, original source, and INDESEEM accordingly.


Sharing results of a project to increase farmers’ production in Senegal


Photo Credit: Gert-Jan Stads/IFPRI A girl sells mangoes at a roadside stand in Senegal. Participants at recent workshops reviewed the achievements of a pilot program to help Senegalese smallholder farmers boost production with cash transfers and management planning.

Workshops reveal successes, inform agricultural policies

APRIL 17, 2017

Since 2014, IFPRI’s Markets, Trade and Institutions Division has partnered with FONGS, a federation of farmers’ associations in Senegal, and GRET, an international NGO, to test a pilot program that provides smallholder farmers with cash transfers and assistance in preparing farm management plans. Toward the end of the project, FONGS led a series of workshops and village-level meetings in which partners shared results (PDF), developed a deeper understanding of how the project affected local households, and discussed lessons learned with stakeholders at several different levels. The process capitalized on FONGS’ skills, experience, and networks to enable a deeper understanding of the project’s quantitative and qualitative results and to strengthen the project’s impacts on both policy and future interventions.

The process began with three four-day workshops, covering each of the project’s three geographical zones. Each workshop grouped together representatives from IFPRI, FONGS, and GRET, as well as leaders and project facilitators (“animateurs”) from implementing farmers’ associations and some household heads from each of the project’s treatment groups. These workshops provided a platform for partners to discuss results with project implementers and beneficiaries and also prepared animateurs to conduct village-level meetings in each of the 120 project villages.

A pair of animateurs then visited each village to facilitate a meeting with both beneficiary and non-beneficiary households. Animateurs shared the key project results discussed during the initial workshops with meeting attendees, and beneficiary households shared their perceptions of project services. This allowed the project implementers to gain first-hand knowledge of perceived strengths and weaknesses of the project; these perceptions were then passed on to FONGS.

Many households reported that the project helped them to increase their agricultural production through the adoption of new practices, including improved crop planning and storage. Other households suggested that project services could be improved by providing beneficiaries with much-needed information related to climate and market prices, while building the capacity of animateurs so that they would be better able to advise farmers on a wide range of topics. Confirming our empirical results, many households also suggested widening the services provided to include more households across the country.

FONGS reported that these meetings provided an ideal setting for project beneficiaries to shed light on project results and to suggest future actions to help further address their needs. The emphasis on sharing results and discussion at the end of the project also provided an important way to build buy-in from farmers and to lay the groundwork for strong partnerships in the future; beneficiary households expressed appreciation for this involvement and for the opportunity to share their experiences and concerns.

The results-sharing activities culminated with a national workshop in Dakar on January 31, attended by the three partners as well as by representatives from farmers’ associations and numerous governmental and non-governmental stakeholders (including CNCR, ANSD, DAPSA, ANCAR, AFAO/WAWA, and ISRA). This workshop gave IFPRI and FONGS a chance to share results from the project with Senegalese policy actors, as well as to discuss future adaptations and research gaps.

Disseminating results to these national policy actors, who are involved in designing policy in Senegal and are part of West African agricultural networks, will reinforce some of the project’s impacts at the national and regional level. For example, FONGS is one of 28 member organizations of the CNCR (the National Council for Rural Dialogue and Cooperation), a member of the West African agricultural initiative ROPPA. The CNCR will seek to share and scale up lessons learned from this project among their other member organizations in Senegal, as well as in the other 13 country-level organizations across West Africa.

The national workshop was particularly timely, as the CNCR and Senegal’s national Ministry of Agricultural and Rural Equipment (MAER) recently negotiated a national agricultural program called the National Scheme for Local Support of Family-Owned Farms, or SNAAP/EF, a partnership between the government and farmers’ associations. FONGS is a member of the SNAAP/EF national committee, and plans to integrate several recommendations from the project into SNAAP/EF, including improved advisory services and the use and adaptation of several project tools and procedures. The committee will also be proposing a draft ministerial decree to establish SNAAP/EF as a long-term component of Senegal’s agricultural policy.

End-of-project meetings and workshops such as these can play an important role in constructing an enabling environment for future interventions. The meetings and workshop ensured that stakeholders who both make and benefit from agricultural policy in Senegal were informed of our project results; and that beneficiaries could share their voices about ways to alleviate constraints faced by smallholder farmers and to improve agricultural policy in the region.

Anna Vanderkooy is a Project Coordinator with IFPRI’s Markets, Trade, and Institutions Division (MTID) based in Dakar; Kate Ambler is a Research Fellow with MTID; Susan Godlonton is an Assistant Professor of Economics at Williams College; Alan de Brauw is a Senior Research Fellow with MTID.


Article Disclaimer: This article was published by the contributors of the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) and was retrieved on 04/24/2017 and posted at INDESEEM for information and educational purposes only. The views and contents of the article remain those of the authors. Please cite the original source accordingly.


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