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.


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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.

 

African youth go digital to keep climate-smart farming alive

By Mantoe Phakathi in Bonn | Published on 13/11/2017 | 3:34 PM |http://www.climatechangenews.com/ping.js


Mobile applications and online forums help young Africans make a living from farming amid changing weather, delegates hear on the sidelines of climate talks in Bonn

African campaigners are promoting digital tools to keep young people involved in farming and prevent migration, delegates heard on the sidelines of climate talks in Bonn, Germany.

Youth unemployment averages 10.8% across sub-Saharan Africa, while nearly seven out of 10 young people earn less than $3.10 a day. Climate change impacts like drought and flooding are making it harder for farmers to get by, with large numbers making a risky journey to seek better opportunities in Europe.

In response to this challenge, the Climate Smart Agriculture Youth Network (CSAYN) is bringing young people together through digital and conventional means to share knowledge about climate-smart agriculture.

According to Amanda Namayi from CSAYN Kenya, the internet has helped the youth form alliances across 28 countries to promote sustainable farming. “This initiative started in Africa but it is now spreading to other parts of the world,” she said.

CSAYN is promoting activities associated with farming such as marketing, accounting and manufacturing to help the youth realise that agriculture can also be done by those with university qualifications.

“The youth is more engaged in social media and they’re into technology, which are the tools they’re using to get involved in farming,” said Catherine Mwangi, a researcher from Kenya.

That includes creating mobile applications to inform farmers about weather patterns and help them make decisions on what to plant and when.

Young people are also using online forums to share experiences and educate one another, Mwangi said. “We need to rethink the way we engage the youth in farming… The online forums have given us an insight into what challenges the youth faces and the solutions.”

Analysis: For Africans, America’s pledge is about more than pollution

The other problem that African youth in agriculture face is a lack of land rights. This, according to the African Union Commission (AUC) advisor in climate change and agriculture, Ayalneh Bogale, is caused by the complexity of land tenure systems in African countries.

“The AUC is helping African governments to come up with policies to make land more accessible to those who want to use it for farming,” he said.

He also encouraged the youth to engage in rehabilitating damaged land, which may be eligible for climate finance.

Climate Home News’ reporting at Cop23 is supported in part by the European Climate Foundation.


Article Disclaimer: This article originally appeared on Climate Home News and was retrieved on 01/17/2018 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.


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


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


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.


 

Better farmer access to machinery eases crop residue burning in India

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“Super SMS” fitted combine harvester and “Happy Seeder” can be used for simultaneously harvesting rice and seeding wheat. Photo: H.S. Sidhu/CIMMYT


November 14, 2017

EL BATAN, Mexico (CIMMYT) — In conjunction with recent state regulations outlawing the use of fire to destroy field crop waste in northwest India, some farmers are benefitting from technological innovations that can help prevent damaging smog levels in the capital Delhi and other areas, according to scientists.

Currently, the majority of farmers in northwest India burn leftover vegetation residue to prepare fields for planting in cyclical rice-wheat crop rotations, leading to negative consequences for soil quality, the environment, animal and human health. Rice-wheat crop rotations make up 84 percent of burned crops, a key source of atmospheric pollution.

“Farmers need access to appropriate machinery and training to implement change to discourage burning,” said M.L. Jat, a systems agronomist who works in New Delhi with the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT). “Using crop residue in a sustainable and eco-friendly manner could benefit all stakeholders.”

Many farmers keep costs low by burning residue on the farm, rather than paying for its removal for other uses, which could include animal feed, biofuel,  incorporating it into the soil or retaining it in the field as mulch, according to a research paper titled “Burning issues of paddy residue management in northwest fields of India.” Fire is also used to eliminate weeds, pests, disease and remaining field stubble after harvest.

Ash left on the fields after residue burning increases the availability of some nutrients, while depleting others and negatively affecting soil health in the long term. During burning, soil temperature increases, bacteria and fungi are killed off, regenerating in a matter of days. Residue burning can damage plants and trees on field edges with negative implications for the overall ecosystem.

Residues can be used as a renewable energy source to improve air, soil quality, climate change and reduce global warming, provided these are economically viable options for farmers. Incentives could also help encourage farmers to leave residues on their fields for use as fertilizer.

If residue is mulched into the soil, nutrient levels improve and carbon sequestration capacity increases, lowering the release of greenhouse gases into the environment. Additionally, residue retention reduces evaporation and increases soil moisture by as much as 10 percent during the wheat-growing season.

Farmers can benefit from the Happy Seeder, a machine that can plant wheat seed directly into the soil by boring through crop residue. The Straw Management System (SMS) machine spreads straw residue thinly on the soil surface allowing seeding.

“Residues are also of great economic value as livestock feed, fuel and industrial raw materials, but of the total rice residues produced in northwestern India, only around 15 percent can potentially be used for these purposes and the rest must be managed with in-situ (on site) management technologies,” said Jat, who conducted the research in collaboration with the CGIAR research programs on maize (CRP Maize), wheat(CRP Wheat) and climate change, agriculture and food security (CCAFS).

“Although farmers are aware of the adverse affects of crop burning, they rely on it due to the lack of economically viable and acceptable machinery and alternatives to dispose of residue.”

However, deploying advanced technology, including the concurrent use of straw management systems, fitted combine harvesters and Happy Seeders for direct drilling is a viable solution to eliminate burning, he added.

With these advancements and aggressive campaigns, within a period of a couple of months in Punjab state alone, over 1,000 combine owners have launched a “Super SMS.”

Additionally, nearly 2,000 happy seeders are being manufactured, which will lead to large-scale adoption of conservation agriculture techniques in the upcoming wheat season, Jat said.


Article Disclaimer: This article was published by the CIMMYT and retrieved on 11/24/2017 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.


 

Climate insurance for farmers: a shield that boosts innovation

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Index insurance is one of the top 10 innovations for climate-proof farming. Photo: P. Lowe/ CIMMYT


November 7, 2017

New insurance products geared towards smallholder farmers can help them recover their losses, and even encourage investment in climate-resilient innovations.

What stands between a smallholder farmer and a bag of climate-adapted seeds? In many cases, it’s the hesitation to take a risk. Farmers may want to use improved varieties, invest in new tools, or diversify what they grow, but they need reassurance that their investments and hard work will not be squandered.

Climate change already threatens crops and livestock; one unfortunately-timed dry spell or flash flood can mean losing everything. Today, innovative insurance products are tipping the balance in farmers’ favor. That’s why insurance is featured as one of 10 innovations for climate action in agriculturein a new report released ahead of next week’s UN Climate Talks. These innovations are drawn from decades of agricultural research for development by CGIAR and its partners and showcase an array of integrated solutions that can transform the food system.

Index insurance is making a difference to farmers at the frontlines of climate change. It is an essential building block for adapting our global food system and helping farmers thrive in a changing climate. Taken together with other innovations like stress-tolerant crop varietiesclimate-informed advisories for farmers, and creative business and financial models, index insurance shows tremendous promise.

The concept is simple. To start with, farmers who are covered can recoup their losses if (for example) rainfall or average yield falls above or below a pre-specified threshold or ‘index’. This is a leap forward compared to the costly and slow process of manually verifying the damage and loss in each farmer’s field. In India, scientists from the International Water Management Institute (IWMI) and the Indian Council of Agricultural Research(ICAR), have worked out the water level thresholds that could spell disaster for rice farmers if exceeded. Combining 35 years of observed rainfall and other data, with high-resolution satellite images of actual flooding, scientists and insurers can accurately gauge the extent of flooding and crop loss to quickly determine who gets payouts.

The core feature of index insurance is to offer a lifeline to farmers, so they can shield themselves from the very worst effects of climate change. But that’s not all. Together with my team, we’re investigating how insurance can help farmers adopt new and improved varieties. Scientists are very good at developing technologies but farmers are not always willing to make the leap. This is one of the most important challenges that we grapple with. What we’ve found has amazed us: buying insurance can help farmers overcome uncertainty and give them the confidence to invest in new innovations and approaches. This is critical for climate change adaptation. We’re also finding that creditors are more willing to lend to insured farmers and that insurance can stimulate entrepreneurship and innovation. Ultimately, insurance can help break poverty traps, by encouraging a transformation in farming.

Insurers at the cutting edge are making it easy for farmers to get coverage. In Kenya, insurance is being bundled into bags of maize seeds, in a scheme led by ACRE Africa. Farmers pay a small premium when buying the seeds and each bag contains a scratch card with a code, which farmers text to ACRE at the time of planting. This initiates coverage against drought for the next 21 days; participating farms are monitored using satellite imagery. If there are enough days without rain, a farmer gets paid instantly via their mobile phone.

Insurance-graphic

ACRE makes it easy for Kenyan farmers to get insurance. Source

Farmers everywhere are business people who seek to increase yields and profits while minimizing risk and losses. As such, insurance has widespread appeal. We’ve seen successful initiatives grow rapidly in India, China, Zambia, Kenya and Mexico, which points to significant potential in other countries and contexts. The farmers most likely to benefit from index insurance are emergent and commercial farmers, as they are more likely than subsistence smallholder farmers to purchase insurance on a continual basis.

It’s time for more investment in index insurance and other innovations that can help farmers adapt to climate change. Countries have overwhelmingly prioritized climate actions in the agriculture sector, and sustained support is now needed to help them meet the goals set out in the Paris Climate Agreement.

Jon Hellin leads the project on weather index-based agricultural insurance as part of the CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS). This work is done in collaboration with the International Research Institute for Climate and Society (IRI) at Columbia University, and the CGIAR Research Programs on MAIZE and WHEAT.


Article Disclaimer: This article was published by CIMMYT and retrieved on 11/10/2017 and posted here for information and educational purposes only. The views and contents of the article remain those of the original authors and publisher. We will not be held accountable for the reliability, accuracy, and validity of the published materials. If you need additional information about the contents and materials of the article, please contact the original authors and publisher. INDESEEM is an emerging nonprofit, research and development organization which seeks to enhance development partnerships in developing countries to achieve the sustainable development goals by 2030 and beyond. Please cite article accordingly. Thank You.


 

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