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Feed the Future Innovation Lab for Collaborative Research on Sustainable Intensification

In-Country Sustainable Intensification Framework Trainings to Take Place

The SIIL team is working with each focus country to establish indicators and measurements to assess how an innovation or technology is achieving sustainable intensification. The SI assessment framework is a flexible tool that can fit each country individually and help each project assess how a given innovation is helping the farming systems move to sustainable intensification.

 

In-country training

The initial trainings for the SI Assessment framework took place at the annual meeting of SIIL in Manhattan, Kansas with project investigators. A continuation of this training will take place in Cambodia and Senegal with in-country scientist, technicians, and project coordinators. By offering trainings in each focus country we are able to engage with in country partners and specifically operationalize the framework for each project. These trainings support each sub-award towards each of its goals. The goal of the overall SI assessment framework is to provide a common framework that can guide research on sustainable intensification and facilitate cross program learning and assessment.

Since sustainable intensification is inherently interdisciplinary, more than one domain is considered. The five domains of sustainable intensification, each considered and measured within the SI assessment framework, are:

  • Social
  • Economic
  • Human condition
  • Environment
  • Productivity

During these trainings, researchers will have the opportunity to use actual data sets to learn how to fully operationalize the framework categories and perform a multidisciplinary trade-off analysis. Each SIIL subaward is working on new innovations suited for their individual country needs. For example, yoke innovation in Burkina Faso. The framework will help subawards analyze the effectiveness of innovations and how the innovation effects each discipline and domain.

Assessing innovations from every angle

Effective assessment begins by collecting correct data. Data collected related to the most relevant indicators to each respective innovation will most objectively evaluate the innovation in relation to previous practices or the in-country status quo. This assessment enables stakeholders  to objectively evaluate research based on the importance each stakeholder assigned to each indicator.

 

Often, researchers do not have technical backgrounds across multiple domains, but the researcher understands that a given practice may have an effect across these domains. The SI assessment framework is particularly valuable for not only helping researchers select appropriate multidisciplinary indicators to measure across the five domains but also provides detailed methods on how to appropriately collect such data.

 

Next, trade-offs and synergies between the five domains will be visualized in order to fully assess the value of the innovation. Researchers can consider how potential research might positively or negatively affect each domain. This approach really looks at the system as a whole and considers the broader farming and livelihood systems.

These assessments will inform not only scientific literature but also farmers, community members, NGOs, and other stakeholders. The assessments will also enable researchers to anticipate potential synergies and minimize unintended negative consequences through research design. The framework will also be beneficial to monitoring and evaluation efforts.

 

The analysis may consider the effect of a given innovation across four different scales: plot level, farm level, household level, and the landscape level. The landscape level refers to a larger scale level referring to communities, watersheds, districts, provinces, etc. The scale at which the data is collected and analyzed is determined by the goals of a given innovation and project.

 

Taking trade-offs from a conceptual idea to a visual representation empowers small-holder farmers and in-country partners to make decisions regarding innovation adoption. Overall, the SI assessment framework will act as a decision-making support tool in each focus country and help the donor and research community understand how a given technology is helping our farming systems achieve sustainable intensification.

5 Ways Women Make the World Go ‘Round

 

To mark International Women’s Day we have compiled just five of the ways that women in agriculture contribute to the overall success and resilience of society.

1. Providing nutrition

Women provide nutrition in many ways. Two main ways they contribute are through agriculture production and making food choices for their children.

SIIL’s subaward in Senegal works to improve nutritional and socioeconomic status of women and children. 

Women commonly use household income differently than men, and are more likely to pay for good nutrition and health care.

 

2. Promoting child development

Women use most of their income to contribute to children’s education, diet, and healthcare.

 

Along with agricultural work, women in developing countries are also in charge of maintaining the household.

When household and agricultural work are taken into account, women work longer hours than men, 50 minutes more a day in developing countries (UNStats).

 

3. Contributing to agricultural production

Agricultural labor generates income for households and can be increased by sustainable intensification.

Women make up about 43% of agricultural workforce in developing countries (UNWomen).

The WAgN Cambodia project aims to empower women and improve nutrition by promoting women’s participation in sustainable intensification practices for horticultural crops and rice.

If women had the same access to resources as men, yield on their respective farms could increase by 20 or 30% (UNWomen).

To see more specific ways women farmers are being helped by SIIL check out this post. 

4. Delivering health care and providing for household health

Women primarily make decisions about health care and often provide health care for children and members of households.

Improving human health remains a key pillar in the SIIL Polder Project. The subaward provides training and conducts focus groups to emphasize nutrition and health. 

5. Fostering community resilience

The economic, agricultural, health care, and nutrition impacts that women provide directly affect their surrounding communities.

SIIL supports the training and education of female students in Senegal.

 

Women care about different issues than men and care differently about some of the same issues. Engagement of women at multiple levels (i.e. household, farm, education, industry, and policy level, etc.) can increase our understanding of the issues surrounding development. The Feed the Future Lab for Collaborative Research on Sustainable Intensification integrates gender in each of its projects and provides continual capacity building for women and men in each focus country.

 

What are other ways women make the world go ‘round? Comment below!

Collaborate, Learn, Adapt: 2017 SIIL Annual Meeting

Thirty-six researchers and collaborators from 10 countries, and 12 states within the U.S. gathered to learn about the annual progress and discuss future opportunities for the Feed the Future Innovation Lab for Collaborative Research on Sustainable Intensification (SIIL). The theme for the meeting held in Manhattan, KS, was: Collaborate, Learn, Adapt.

Collaborate.

 

Participants started the meeting with a knowledge sharing activity. Scientists from each project shared their progress and future plans via poster and small group discussion. Each table formulated questions and comments regarding their work. This was a great opportunity to foster collaboration between researchers of different expertise. Nutritionists, gender specialists, and farming systems experts were able to offer input and guidance on how to best incorporate these disciplines into their work. Each project was able to consider their work from varying viewpoints, ensuring that each domain of sustainable intensification (SI) was being considered and implemented.

Learn.

Attendees shared how each sub-award is holistically evaluating SI in their research across five domains: productivity, environment, economic, human condition, and social. This knowledge sharing activity culminated with a training on the sustainable intensification assessment framework and how to assess critical trade-offs across these multidisciplinary domains.

Prior to the annual meeting, capacity building sessions were offered to SIIL regional coordinators and graduate students at Kansas State regarding scientific writing, leadership, soil health, communication, and geospatial data collection tools. The capacity building sessions offered a great chance to learn and refine skills.

Adapt.

After learning about the SI assessment framework, participants adapted similar methods to operationalize these indicators into their projects. Use of the sustainable intensification assessment framework will provide consistency across the lab and a multidisciplinary understanding of SI from country to country.

Special appearances were made by several distinguished figures. Dr. April Mason, Provost and Senior Vice President of Kansas State University, came to share Kansas State University’s commitment to international research. “It is great that you’re doing such important work while you’re engaging junior faculty, senior faculty, graduate students, and undergraduate students in that work”

Dr. John Floros, Dean of the College of Agriculture and Director of K-State Research and Extension, spoke about the Global Food Systems Initiative at Kansas State University and its relation to SIIL. He continued by talking about the rich history of interdisciplinary work at Kansas State through K-State Research and Extension. Finally, he addressed the group with an encouraging message regarding their work and the outputs of their projects, “I hope you have the ability and energy to really produce some solutions as we move this project forward because if we don’t succeed we’re all going to lose. If we do succeed, we’re all going to win.”

It was very fortuitous that Dr. Achim Dobermann, Director of Rothamsted Research, was at Kansas State University for the Chuck and Sue Rice International Agronomy Lecture series. He presented the team with results from long-term research related to sustainable intensification.

 

SIIL Coordinator Builds Expertise at Regional Training

Participants in the USAID Global Environmental Management Support Project Training

The USAID Mission in Tanzania sponsored and hosted a five day (6th to 10th of February 2017) training on environmental sensitivity in Morogoro, Tanzania. USAID Mission staff, USAID implementing partners, university representatives, and government officials attended the training. The USAID Global Environmental Management Support Project (GEMS) provided technical and logistic support on environmental safety training, planning, and delivery.

The goal of the training was to strengthen environmentally sound design and management. Participants developed skills in integrating environmental considerations into overall projects through lectures and demonstrations.

Jovin Lwehabura, regional coordinator for the Feed the Future Innovation Lab for Collaborative Research on Sustainable Intensification (SIIL) for the East Africa, was one of the participants attending the training. This training was beneficial for the SIIL’s focus country subaward in Tanzania and the other SIIL subawards across the globe.

Environmental effects are consistently reviewed in the development of sustainably intensified systems, and thus they remain a key consideration in SIIL activities. Additionally, the SIIL maintains a commitment to capacity building in all focus countries.