Tag: CGIAR

What’s in store for Asian smallholder farmers in the Big Data hype?

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By Camille Anne Mendizabal (World Agroforestry Centre) | December 29, 2017


Exploring how Big Data’s potentials can be used to enhance Asian farmers’ climate resiliency.

 

Smart tractors, agribots, survey drones, texting cows—these may seem like agriculture buzzwords, but with Big Data accelerating agricultural digitalization, these may soon come into fruition and be seen in farms in Asia.

What caused the hype?

The information age we are in now provided four technological milestones which paved the way for the digitalization of agriculture through Big Data.

First among these milestones is the improvement of peoples’ access to smartphones and data services. This provided opportunities for them to access agriculture information that could guide them in making farm-related decisions.

Secondly, the increased availability of cheaper smart agriculture sensors also helped farmers in monitoring their farms and adapting their practices to changing climatic conditions and environmental factors.

Another milestone that hastened the digitalization of agriculture is the improvement of the quality of satellite information and satellite images which led to better and more updated climate forecasts. Lastly, in our enhanced ability to analyse and interpret data provides better for support climate-smart agriculture (CSA) research and development efforts.

What is Big Data’s niche in CSA?

If the CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS) succeeds in utilizing Big Data, its biggest impacts can be seen in improving the following stages in the market-value chain: planning, selecting quality inputs, on-farm production, storage, and access to markets.

In the planning stage, Big Data is deemed most useful in helping farmers decide what to plant and when to plant it. It can also be used to guide farmers in selecting high-quality inputs. During production stage, applied data can potentially improve precision and adaptability of farming interventions.

Digitally warehouse receipts and digitally-enabled harvest loans may help reduce postharvest losses while they are stored. Moreover, the improved climate forecasts can also provide farmers with timely reminders and alerts on climate-related risks which are useful in monitoring farm operations and preventing yield loss.

Harnessing Big Data’s potential also enables the combination of climate forecasts with micro-insurance systems to further enhance farmers’ resilience to climate risks.

Big Data can also be sourced from social media. Through this, we can make the most out of the farmers’ groups established through social media platforms, Facebook posts and tweets by using them to build information database.

During the Joint CCAFS SEA-SA CSA Workshop in Hanoi, a special panel discussion tackled the potential of using Big Data to increase agricultural productivity, and at the same time manage climate-related risks. Photo: Duong Minh Tuan/ICRAF

Can smallholder farmers benefit from Big Data?

Despite the rosy picture that Big Data presents, it cannot be denied that we still have a long way to go before we can reap the benefits from it and before these benefits trickle down to smallholder farmers. As Andrew Jarvis, one of the Flagship Leaders of CCAFS said:

Big Data provides huge promise, but a handful of success stories for smallholder farmers.”

Dr. Leocadio Sebastian, CCAFS Southeast Asia programme leader, raised concerns about how using big data can be used further widen the digital divide. As of now, only commercial farms have access to technologies which can make sense of big data.

Unfortunately, 76% of the farmers in Asia are smallholder farmers, the majority of which do not have access to these technologies. Hence, the challenge now is for CCAFS to help make it work for this 76%.

Social differentiation in access and illiteracy in using these technologies also pose a challenge in this digitalization. Thus, CCAFS should work on downscaling information from forecasts to something more comprehensible and more relevant to farmers’ context.

How can CCAFS make Big Data work for smallholder farmers?

As of now, there is an insufficient publicly available data on agriculture which can be used to build a sustainable data ecosystem that scientists, extension workers and farmers can access. Building an information ecosystem on CSA that is more accessible to people and resolving data privacy issues could help address such problems.

Moreover, building the capacity of a new generation of agricultural scientists and field agronomists to enhance their skills not only in analyzing, and interpreting data, but more importantly in providing farmers with comprehensible, personalized, and actionable information should now be prioritized.

Creating an enabling environment for establishing public-private partnerships can also help resolve privacy issues in utilizing big data and can help maximize available technologies owned by public and private sectors to further develop information services for farmers.

If these abovementioned challenges are resolved, the rosy picture of modernized, climate-smart agriculture that now seems as a hype can finally be turned into reality.

Camille Anne Mendizabal is the junior communications specialist for the World Agroforestry Centre Philippines. She is also a communication consultant with the CCAFS SEA program.


Article Disclaimer: This article was published by the CCAFS-CGIAR and retrieved on 01/06/2018 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.


Is digital agriculture the key to revolutionize future farming in Africa?

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By Emebet Tita and Dawit Solomon (CCAFS)|Dec 8, 2017|Low Emissions Development


Stakeholders discuss opportunities and challenges of digital agriculture in Africa.

Digital technology has significantly transformed all sectors of economic development. It has changed our way of living to the extent that it is difficult to imagine life without it. In developed countries, digital technologies and analytics are already transforming agriculture, making farm operations more insight-driven and efficient. However, agricultural productivity in developing countries, especially on the African continent, remains very low and the application of digital technologies still very limited.

Source: Digital Agriculture: Pathway to Prosperity | ICRISAT

In October 2017, the CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security in East Africa (CCAFS EA) in collaboration with the University of Copenhagen (UCPH), the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Centre (CIMMYT) Ethiopia, and Ethiopian Agricultural Research Center’s (EIAR) Climate and Geospatial Research Program brought together stakeholders from the private sector, government organizations and universities in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia to explore digital agriculture and its potential to transform farming on the continent.

Stakeholders discussed the opportunities that digital agriculture presents and the existing challenges on the ground that need to be taken into consideration in order to successfully embrace and implement digital agriculture in Africa.

In his opening remarks, Dr. Dawit Solomon (CCAFS’s East Africa Regional Program Leader) highlighted that precision agriculture, internet-of-things, unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) technology, crop and soil sensing, weed sensing, disease sensing, new breeding technologies, biologicals, biochips, and new breeding technologies are all innovations that once seemed farfetched but are now becoming an accessible and affordable reality, already in use in some corners of our world.  So how can African countries adopt and deploy these technologies? Can Africa learn from the developed world? Or as Dr. Campbell, Director of CCAFS, puts it, “can Africa leapfrog into a new world in agriculture similar to mobile banking?”

Dr. Svend Christensen, Professor, and Head of Department of Plant and Environmental Sciences at the University of Copenhagen in Denmark, emphasized that at the center of it all is data, and how we obtain and use it.

However, most participants highlighted, gathering data, standardizing the collection process and data storage are major challenges. Data collection is scattered and stored in different data silos, in different formats, by different organizations. It is difficult to determine how such data can be integrated and used to make reliable comparisons. Thus, it is evident that collaboration between different stakeholders involved in agriculture is key to obtain and use data efficiently, as well as to reduce the cost of obtaining data.

Dr. Mandefro Nigussie, Senior Advisor with Digital Green, also added the starting point should be establishing a clear understanding of the existing framework of digital agriculture in the different countries, which include the policies, data infrastructure and the stakeholders in play. This can serve as a basis to identify the gaps and leveraging points, in order to commission initiatives that can drive targeted solutions.

Finally, participants also noted that while the potential for digital agriculture in Africa is real, any successful solution should involve the farmer in the design process, focus on the farmer’s real-world needs and devise a two-way flow of information to and from the farmer. It is also necessary that governments create and implement policies conducive to the changing needs of the digital age we live in.

On the following day, selected participants attended the Global Green Growth Week Public-Private Sector roundtable discussion on Transforming African Agriculture organized by CCAFS in collaboration with the Global Green Growth Institute (GGGI) and the Green Climate Fund (GCF). As a result of the discussions, CCAFS East Africa is now leading the formation of a Public Private Partnership project that is aimed at tackling the challenges related to agriculture data infrastructure. The project is expected to create a digital platform and application, expected to reach over 50,000 smallholder farmers, which will serve as a tool to gather data, communicate and receive intelligence specific to climate, agro-metrology, and market information.

Following the meeting, CCAFS, UCPH, CIMMYT and the EIAR organized site visits for selected participants to the wheat research site at Kulumsa Agricultural Research Centre (KARC) and the Eteya-Huruta wheat belt in Oromia region located over 175 km outside Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

At KARC, participants observed the wheat nursery, test fields, and pilot farmers’ fields. KARC is working on breeding high yield, stem and yellow rust resistant wheat varieties to be distributed to farmers. Farmers are also trained on farm management good practices and provided with mechanization tools for rent.

Test fields from Eteya-Huruta wheat belt in Ethiopia’s Oromia region. Photo: Dawit Solomon (CCAFS)

Driving back to Addis Ababa, away from the fields, much like the one pictured above, one cannot help but imagine that soon the farmer on the field will be using his mobile phone to switch on and off a harvester, a drone is flying over-head conducting soil and field analysis and a satellite somewhere in space is connected to both, storing and exchanging the data in a cloud database, and connecting the different users in the ecosystem.

 

Article Disclaimer: This article was published by the CGIAR-CCAFS 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 accordingly.


 

 

 

Moving closer to achieving climate-smart future for Southeast Asia

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Written by Nguyen Thu Hang (Viet Nam News) on Dec 6, 2017


Fostering learning and sharing knowledge and experiences across Climate-Smart Villages and projects in Southeast Asia.

Based on the CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS)’ Southeast Asia’s vision, by 2025, the Southeast Asian region has achieved a stable food supply, and communities, especially those in the most vulnerable areas, have already improved their climate change resilience through the adoption of climate-smart technologies and practices.

By this time, institutional, public, and private sector’s capacities to implement measures to cope with climate change are already strong, and climate change adaptation and mitigation measures are fully integrated into both regional and national development plans. These goals guided the implementation of its flagship projects (FP) under the program.

 

On its third annual meeting, CCAFS SEA looked at the four flagship projects’ progress in terms of achieving the goals abovementioned since the second phase of the program started. The annual meeting was held on the 20th of November in Hanoi, Vietnam.

The beginnings of CCAFS

The regional agenda and research portfolio of CCAFS SEA are put into four flagships (FPs), FP1 – priorities, and policies for climate-smart agriculture, FP2-climate-smart technologies, and practices, FP3–low emission development ad FP4–climate services and safety nets.

The Climate-Smart Village (CSV) project serves as the convergence point of the flagship projects. These are implemented to improve farming communities’ resilience to challenges brought about by climate change which are expected to be worsened by the region’s rapid economic growth.

At present, the projects of CCAFS SEA are mostly located in three countries of Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia because they are among the most vulnerable countries to climate change in the region. However, there are also other projects implemented in the Philippines and Indonesia.

CCAFS flagship leaders Dr. Phil Thornton and Dr. Andy Jarvis, together with CCAFS SEA regional program leader Dr. Leocadio Sebastian, facilitated a special session on the future projects’ focus. Photo by Duong Minh Tuan/ICRAF

CSV achievements

During the review conducted during the event, participants discussed the successes and challenges faced by the flagship projects and looked at how much of the desired outputs and outcomes have already been achieved. The key emerging outcomes from CSV sites in Vietnam, Philippines, and Laos, have also been highlighted in the workshop.

For instance, in the first stage of the CSV project in Guinayangan Village in the Philippines’ Quezon Province, the implementers had successfully engaged with local governments. In addition, the incorporation of climate-smart agriculture into the local government’s agriculture extension services is expected to have benefitted from 5,000 farmers in Guinayangan Village. Guinayangan is also recognized as a learning site that influenced the implementation and rolls out of the Philippines’ Adaptation and Mitigation Initiative in Agriculture (AMIA) program.

As for the project of CSVs in the Mekong Basin, initial outcomes include eight climate-smart agriculture practices and technologies have been implemented with the engagement of 100 local households. For example, in Vietnam’s Ky Son Commune, implementers have successfully coordinated with local governments, same with Guinyangan. They have also helped 2,000 farmers in achieving stable incomes and two neighboring villages in selecting 3 CSAs as priorities for scale-out: stress-tolerant rice varieties, dry season water storage, and pest smart practices for adoption during the first year of the project’s second phase.

Meanwhile, Rohal Suong CSV in Cambodia is now poised to be selected as a demonstration site under IFAD-funded ASPIRE project (worth about USD 50 million).

A special poster session was held to showcase the significant outputs and emerging outcomes of the various CCAFS SEA’s regional projects. Photo by Duong Minh Tuan/ICRAF

Points for improvement

Despite the successes of CCAFS SEA in the first phase and the first year of its second phase, several challenges are still needed to be addressed in the remaining years in the second phase.

The biggest concern to be addressed now pertains to the mobilization of funding for the projects because the total budget left is not enough to run all the projects while most of them will end next year.

Aside from this, Dr. Andy Jarvis, one of the Flagship Leader of CCAFS stated that there is a need to re-design the projects to make it fit with the situation. To address this concern, Dr. Godefroy Grosjean, an expert from the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT), suggested three ways they can improve mobilization of financial resources for the projects in the region.

According to him, the first step that CCAFS should do is to recruit a joint position with the Food and Agriculture Organization for a climate finance expert. Second, it is advised to develop new agenda on climate finance, including fiscal reform, evaluation of business models, and carbon pricing. The third step is taking new methodology such as behavioral economics, he said.

Dr. Leocadio Sebastian, the Regional Program Leader at CCAFS SEA, also pointed out the gaps between discussions and the reality in the field where the projects were implemented. He called for all stakeholders to suggest solutions in order to cope with these challenges so that the projects would be smoothly run in the coming years.

Nguyen Thu Hang is a reporter for the Viet Nam News.


Article Disclaimer: This article was published by the CGIAR and retrieved on 12/07/2017 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.


 

Agricultural scientists urge new global crop alliance to secure future food supply

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Farmer Gashu Lema’s son harvests improved variety “Kubsa” wheat


EL BATAN, Mexico (CIMMYT) – At a time when weather patterns are becoming less predictable and population pressures on food supply are increasing, a group of crop scientists are laying the groundwork for an international crop network to systematically tackle threats to global food security.

Research focused on specific crops achieves progressive genetic gains, but scientists need to adopt a more internationally oriented and integrated approach to leverage technology, expertise and infrastructure with greater efficiency and purpose, said Matthew Reynolds, a distinguished scientist and wheat breeder at the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT) in an opinion piece published this week in the journal Science.

Already 795 million poor people do not get enough food to eat, according to the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). By 2030, the number of people living in poverty could increase between 35 and 122 million in large measure because of the impact of climate change on the agricultural sector, the FAO reports.

“We understand how to make crops more resilient to heat and drought, but we’re at a point where we need to accelerate our work.” said Reynolds, backed by a team of co-authors from the scientific community. “Since these problems are transnational in nature, a more global network could accelerate our efforts while increasing efficiency and helping to avoid duplication.”

Scientists plan to deploy the new Global Crop Improvement Network (GCIN) to take comparative approaches across all major crops and environments to enhance such traits as root access to water using remote sensing, which often requires costly mobile, airborne or satellite technology.

Through successful wheat-specific collaboration, since the early 1960s, the International Wheat Improvement Network (IWIN), part of the CGIAR-affiliated group of agricultural researchers, has made economically efficient and environmentally sound impacts in crop improvement, which serve as a template for the projected success of GCIN.

Scientists within IWIN undertake breeding efforts aimed at 12 different wheat mega-environments, testing new wheat genotypes at 700 field sites in more than 90 countries. Each year they produce some 1,000 high-yielding, disease-resistant wheat lines, which are delivered as international public goods.

A recent study on wheat improvement shows that CGIAR varieties cover about half of the world’s wheat growing area, through IWIN, delivering an economic punch of from $2.2 billion to more than $3 billion a year for resource-poor farmers and consumers.

“The benefit cost ratio of the investment is 100 to 1, even without taking into account the avoided cost of disease pandemics and the land saved from cultivation due to increased yields; economic analysis indicate at least 20 million hectares of natural ecosystem have been spared the plough,” Reynolds said.

“High transaction costs and instability of crop funding have hamstrung urgently needed research,” he added. “This is senseless in light of the extraordinary return on investment to IWIN which could be transferred to GCIN.”

Through a crop-wide collaboration, international scientists can boost benefits from practical work with national agricultural research systems, improving the value of “in kind contributions,” he said.

Aims include standardizing data and phenotyping techniques to best practises, ensuring that information can be shared and understood worldwide.

This approach will also encourage upstream researchers to venture from working exclusively in controlled facilities to realistic field environments, bringing cutting edge technologies with them, Reynolds said.

Data sharing could lead to more accurate descriptions of environments and experimental treatments. Currently, data is often only available selectively and a network would promote it through open access programs.

The benefits of integrated research through the CGIAR group of agricultural researchers and the FAO are well established, but the network under discussion could enhance and improve information sharing transnationally.

Experimental fields – or field laboratories – which are essential for translating scientific breakthroughs to improved crop yields, could at times benefit from more strategic relocation. Often they are in certain areas due to historical, financial or political reasons, not because of current practical needs, Reynolds explained.

Climate change is expected to lead to overall warmer temperatures and increase the intensity of droughts, floods and storms, negatively affecting food security and livelihoods. Climate modelling indicates that sea levels will rise and patterns of flooding and drought will change due to glacial melt at high altitudes.

Higher temperatures will affect crop yields and erratic rainfall could affect both yields and quality. For poor people spending most of their income on food, related price hikes could make it much more difficult to cope.

“A more globally oriented, problem-solving research effort will increase the efficiency of global investment in agriculture and help ensure food security,” Reynolds said, adding that public-private partnerships could be harnessed to drive globally coordinated research.


Article Disclaimer: This article was published by the CGIAR and retrieved on 07/28/2017 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 accordingly.


 

Forests, people and data

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Landscape features, land use, and land cover can be identified using participatory mapping through focus group discussion such as this one in Papua, Indonesia. Photo by: Manuel Boissière/CIFOR


By KATE EVANS PUBLISHED ON JUNE 30, 2017


Participatory monitoring for REDD+ put to the test


Growing up in a village in Indonesia’s Central Java in the 1980s, Dian Ekowati went to the local Posyandu every month.

At the community primary healthcare center, her height and weight were recorded and reported to the government by local healthcare volunteers called kaders. One of those kaders was Ekowati’s mother, who volunteered there for years, receiving only a tiny stipend in exchange for her labor – just enough to pay her bus fare.

The Posyandu program was established in 1984 by then Indonesian President Suharto to promote immunization and nutrition, and to address the high child mortality rate – and it was extraordinarily successful. By 1990, there were 250,000 posts in communities throughout the archipelago, and many still operate today.

Years later, as part of a team of researchers at the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR), Ekowati realized the Posyandu system could provide useful lessons for REDD+. The UN-backed scheme aims to motivate tropical countries like Indonesia to reduce deforestation and forest degradation, as a way to combat climate change.

Protecting forests and child health? The connection may not be obvious. But before communities can be compensated for emissions reductions, it’s necessary to measure, report and verify their activities, a process known as MRV.

With most REDD+ initiatives taking place in remote areas, and limited funding available, it’s been proposed that forest communities themselves participate in this monitoring. It’s likely to be cheaper than sending in outside experts, could increase transparency, and could make communities feel more empowered and engaged in REDD+.

But it is feasible? What are the challenges? What still needs to be worked out?

Those are some of the questions addressed by a series of 12 papers that form a new special collection in the scientific journal PLOS ONE.

Together, the authors assess the feasibility of participatory monitoring (PMRV) for REDD+ from a broad range of perspectives, from social science to governance to remote sensing.

From the technical side, PMRV is definitely doable, says Martin Herold, a CIFOR associate from the University of Wageningen, and a guest editor of the collection.

He says new technologies have made it possible for communities to easily access satellite data on forest change on their mobile phones, check out what’s driving that change on the ground, and feed the information back to authorities.

The studies in the collection suggest adopting PMRV can indeed support the implementation of REDD+, and communities can contribute to monitoring both forest changes and other elements like safeguards and benefit sharing, Herold says. “There is no excuse now not to do it.”

It’s the social aspect of PMRV that still needs more work, says Manuel Boissière, a scientist from CIFOR and CIRAD who coordinated the collection.

As a whole, the studies reveal many important considerations that must be taken into account when setting up a PMRV system.

“This kind of research can help provide information about the conditions that need to be addressed in order to conduct PMRV,” Boissière says.

MOTIVATE ME

One key question is how to motivate individuals to do the work in the first place.

“Why should a community participate in MRV for REDD+?” asks Boissière. “Do they have time? Do they have the capacity, the resources, the willingness and the interest to do so? If they participate, will it threaten their daily livelihoods if their own activities are causing forest degradation?”

“Motivation is key. You cannot expect communities to participate if they don’t clearly see the interest in it for themselves.”

That’s where the Posyandu study comes in. It formed part of a broader project Boissière and his team carried out in three Indonesian provinces – West Kalimantan, Central Java and Papua.

INDONESIA
Lessons for REDD+ Participatory Measurement, Reporting, and Verification from Three Decades of Child Health Participatory Monitoring in Indonesia

“One of the interesting things about the Posyandu reporting system is that it’s happening despite very diverse access to networks,” Boissière says. “In Java, people can SMS the data, and they have 3G networks in the villages so they can send it by email.”

“In Papua, they have to take a small canoe to the capital of the district to provide the information. It’s very diverse – but it works.”

Dian Ekowati and Carola Hofstee focused on what motivated the Posyandu kaders to volunteer.

“It might seem really different, participating in health monitoring compared with environmental monitoring, but going deeper, we can see there are a lot of similarities,” she says. “Even with the Posyandu, the community didn’t get on board straight away.”

They discovered communities were very skeptical about the health centers when they were first introduced. Villagers relied on traditional healers, and didn’t believe that regularly measuring children’s height and weight was important.

It took a major promotional campaign by the government to convince people to value the centers and to volunteer. Ekowati remembers being asked to sing a jingle at school about the Posyandu: Aku Anak Sehat(‘I’m a healthy child’).

“It was all over the radio during my childhood,” she says. “The song was so massive that we even had a parody version.”

The researchers found that kaders volunteered because they felt a responsibility to their community and were convinced they were making a contribution. Some had a personal interest in childcare, or joined because they were asked to by a respected person.

In Central Java, people were motivated by religious values, and in West Kalimantan, some volunteered out of village pride – because they would be ashamed if a neighboring village had a Posyandu and they did not.

Many of those motivations could also be encouraged under a REDD+ PMRV system, Ekowati believes.

“We’re not necessarily sure that PMRV for REDD+ will work in Indonesia – it’s such a diverse country, with different levels of literacy, access to communication and transportation – but the Posyandu success gives us hope. It was just as hard in the 1980s to ask people to measure children as it is now to ask them to measure trees – so it shows that this is not impossible.”

LOCALS AND LIVELIHOODS

In another paper featured in the collection, CIFOR scientist Indah Waty Bong and colleagues set out to analyze local drivers of deforestation and forest degradation, and their relationships to community members’ livelihoods.

COMMUNITY FORESTRY
How Are Local People Driving and Affected by Forest Cover Change? Opportunities for Local Participation in REDD+ Measurement, Reporting and Verification

Remote sensing technologies can show where deforestation is occurring, and how quickly – but local people can give important insights into the reasons why it’s happening.

However, in some cases, the deforestation may be driven by the everyday livelihood activities of those same people – such as harvesting timber, or clearing trees for swidden agriculture.

That means proponents of REDD+ initiatives need to investigate and understand those connections if they are going to ask local people to participate in monitoring, Bong says.

“If you want to address a particular driver of deforestation and the majority of households in that village have it as their main livelihood, then you are talking about something that will have a big opportunity cost – and they may be less willing to be involved in monitoring.”

There is also the potential for conflict, if one group of people are asked to monitor and report on activities carried out by other members of the community. “From a project perspective that’s an ethical issue you need to think about,” Bong says.

A key finding was that the local processes behind forest cover change are dynamic, and vary both between and within communities. A driver – such as logging – might be responsible for a relatively large area of forest degradation, but only provide income for a small proportion of the community.

That means interventions and incentives can be targeted directly at those people, ensuring greater fairness and efficiency, Bong says.

WHO IS ‘THE COMMUNITY?’

Participatory MRV is in part motivated by the need to ensure the interests of local people are fairly represented in REDD+. To ask a community to participate, you need to be clear about who exactly you are talking about, Boissière says.

In another paper in the collection, CIFOR scientist Stibniati Atmadja investigated how researchers have assessed ‘community perceptions’ of REDD+.

“You can’t be everywhere at the same time – you have to sample, and then generalize to a bigger area,” she says. “So research on community perceptions involves fundamental choices about how to represent heterogeneous communities.”

That’s fine, Atmadja says, as long as authors explain what those choices were and why they made them.

“Most academic papers we looked at did not really give readers enough information to answer the simple questions: Who did you sample? What does your sample represent?

REDD+
What Is a “Community Perception” of REDD+? A Systematic Review of How Perceptions of REDD+ Have Been Elicited and Reported in the Literature

The study did not analyze websites, newsletters and advocacy material – which are disseminated more widely than academic research – but these sources are even less likely to provide information about their sampling methods, Atmadja says.

“They say, ‘we went to the field, we met with local people’ – well, which part? The easiest part to get to? Which people – those who were already disenchanted? How much can you really generalize based on those people’s perceptions?”

Both researchers and non-researchers can and should do better, she says. This matters because REDD+ initiatives tend to happen in remote areas, in forests that can be hard to reach.

“The few voices that do come out carry a lot of weight – so it’s important to be mindful of that,” Atmadja says.

NO ONE RECIPE

As a whole, the collection shows the need for embracing diversity when it comes to designing PMRV systems for REDD+.

“Even in one country, there is not one recipe for engaging local communities,” Boissière says. “People don’t have the same activities, they don’t depend in the same way on forest products, or have the same access to roads or infrastructure. You really need to develop something which is adaptive.”

It seems PMRV can work at the local level, he says, but to be successful, the next step is figuring out how to scale it up into a system that works at multiple levels of governance.

“You need to have a consistency in the kind of data that communities collect, and then come up with a way to merge it into a national system.”

Practitioners also need to acknowledge that it may not work everywhere.

“Any project or government program that wants to increase local participation in REDD+ or MRV should conduct a preliminary study looking at why they should engage this community in that place,” Boissière says.

“From there, they can understand whether it’s worth pursuing, and design something to engage with them – or whether it’s better to send a team of experts instead.”

There are many hurdles to overcome – but this comprehensive new body of detailed research lays the foundations for putting participatory MRV into practice.


For more information on this topic, please contact Manuel Boissière at m.boissiere@cgiar.org or Martin Herold at martin.herold@wur.nl or Christopher Martius at c.martius@cgiar.org. This research forms part of the CGIAR Research Program on Forests, Trees, and Agroforestry. This research was supported by USAID, AUSAID, the Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation (Norad), the International Climate Initiative (IKI) of the German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Building and Nuclear Safety (BMUB)


 


Article Disclaimer: This article was published by the Center for International Forestry Research and retrieved on 06/30/2017 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.


 

Fighting Hidden Hunger in Tanzania: Provitamin A Maize Platform is Launched

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PVA Maize. Photo James Gethi (CIMMYT)


By Joyce Maru – Capacity Development & Communication Specialist (BNFB project – CIP)


In Tanzania, Vitamin A deficiency (VAD) is considered a major public health problem requiring appropriate nutrition interventions. The overall magnitude of VAD in Tanzania is 33 percent (Global Nutrition Report; 2014), affecting mostly children in preschool and women of reproductive age.  VAD causes morbidity, nutritional blindness, and even death. Even mild levels of VAD may damage health leading to low school performance in children and poor productivity for adults.
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A farmer prepares maize porridge using Provitamin A maize. Photo: R.Lunduka/CIMMYT

Provitamin A Maize (PVA) maize is a special type of maize that is biofortified and contains high levels of beta-carotene. Beta-Carotene is an organic, strongly-colored red-orange pigment abundant in plants and fruits. Beta-carotene is what gives PVA maize an orange color and is converted to Vitamin A in the body after consumption to provide additional nutritional benefits.   As a staple food, maize is produced and consumed by most people in Tanzania, and can, therefore, be a cheap and sustainable source of Vitamin A especially for the vulnerable rural poor populations.  To address micronutrient malnutrition (hidden hunger); biofortification works to increase the nutritional value of staple food crops by increasing the density of vitamins and minerals in a crop through either conventional plant breeding; agronomic practices or biotechnology. Examples of these vitamins and minerals that can be increased through biofortification include Provitamin A Carotenoids, zinc, and iron.

The PVA maize was recently introduced to Tanzania through collaborative efforts of multiple institutions including the Government of Tanzania, Tanzania Official Seed Certification Institute (TOSCI); Seed companies (Meru Agro-Tours & Consultants Co. Ltd (MATC) and Tanseed International Ltd) and International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT), working as a partnership under the Building Nutritious Food Baskets Project (BNFB). Two Provitamin A maize varieties – Meru VAH517 and Meru VAH519 –were released for commercial production by Meru Agro Tours and Consultants in September 2016.

To catalyze efforts to scale up PVA maize, different actors along the maize value chain launched a PVA maize platform for Tanzania.  The event took place at the Kibo Palace Hotel, Arusha Tanzania on 19 April 2017  international hosted by the BNFB project.

Participants celebrate launch of PVA Maize Platform

Participants included Tanzania Food and Nutrition Centre (TFNC); TOSCI; Seed companies; processors; farmer groups representatives; researchers, policy makers and CIMMYT.

Speaking on behalf of TFNC Dr. Towo Elifatio remarked that in order to effectively and sustainably fight hidden hunger, a platform that brings together key stakeholders is critical and strategic to facilitate the sharing of knowledge and exchange of ideas, innovations, and solutions on production, supply, and utilization of PVA maize. Elifatio noted that all actors along the PVA maize value chain need to be involved in advocating and promoting production and utilization of new technologies such as the PVA maize.

The PVA maize platform will advance the agenda of fighting hidden hunger in Tanzania by linking different stakeholders to relevant authorities on matters relating to PVA maize; as well as provide an opportunity for capacity development for members on critical gaps relating to PVA maize knowledge and biofortification in general. In other words, the platform will become a ‘One stop shop’ for information and knowledge on PVA maize in Tanzania.

Membership of the platform is expected to grow to become multi-sectoral and multi-disciplinary to include actors from the ministry of health, nutrition and education, school feeding programs, academic institutions, national agricultural research systems (NARS) among others. The platform will be led and sustained by the national partners who understand the bottlenecks in the sector and can better drive their own agenInternational

The Potato Center (CIP) is collaborating with a consortium of CGIAR research centers; Governments of Nigeria and Tanzania and national partners on an initiative called BNFB, which is testing a scaling-up model through a multi-crop (food basket) approach to address hidden hunger by catalyzing sustainable investments for the production and utilization of biofortified crops that are ready for scaling up including; Orange-fleshed sweet potato (OFSP); vitamin A (yellow) cassava, vitamin A (orange) maize and high iron/zinc beans. The project mainly targets rural populations, especially young children under the age of five and women of reproductive age, in Nigeria and Tanzania.


Read more on BNFB: BNFB  Click here to watch video on BNFB



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