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TVE Biomovies Award Winners Announced

Posted by Christopher Neglia Tuesday, January 17, 2017 0 comments

By Christopher Neglia

The IFAD-sponsored tve biomovies competition finished at the end of 2016 and the winners have been announced. In the Family Farming category, the winning entry is 28 year old Hongwei from China.

Hongwei’s short documentary profiles the vulnerabilities and difficulties of female farmers coping with natural disasters brought on by climate change. The film was shot in Luoci County, Yunnan Province. This village in the Southwest of China is heavily dependent on agriculture, where small family-owned farms make up the mainstay of the rural economy.

Through field trips and interviews with local farmers, Hongwei shed light on the physical, and mental fights women go through to provide for their families. She also notes that mining and upstream industrial activities are impacting the community’s drinking water, and decreasing crop yields.

After releasing  a short-list, the tve biomovies jurors invited finalists to submit a one-minute film based on their proposals. Hongwei came out on top with more than 5,000 views on Youtube. IFAD partnered with the 2016 tve biomovies competition, which encourages young people from the developing world to produce short films that show their perspectives on issues such as international development and climate change. You can watch Hongwei’s winning documentary below. 


Back to the roots: Latin America and Africa share cooking experiences

Posted by Steven Jonckheere Thursday, January 5, 2017 0 comments

Many people of African origin arrived in the Americas with the Spanish and Portuguese in the 15th and 16th centuries. Those who were directly from West Africa mostly arrived in Latin America as part of the Atlantic slave trade, as agricultural, domestic, and menial labourers and as mineworkers. The connection between Africans in the Americas and the Africans that were scattered abroad during the slave trade is ever evident in the underlying cultures and traditions that were passed down from generation to generation in the form of music, dance and fashion, but most noticeably in cuisine. Derivatives of African cuisine have been preserved, yet modified due to the conditions of slavery. Often the leftover/waste foods from the plantation were forced upon slaves, causing them to make do with the ingredients at hand. However, during this Diaspora, what remained whole were the techniques, methods and many of the spices and ingredients used in African cooking.

The Colombian Ministry of Culture acknowledges the cultural, social, economic and environmental importance of traditional cuisine in its Traditional Cuisines Public Policy. With support from IFAD and the ACUA Foundation, the Ministry therefore organised a learning event to exchange knowledge and experiences related to traditional cuisine between Colombia and West and Central Africa in Buenaventura, Colombia, from 26 to 30 October 2016. The aim of the event was to promote identity-based  territorial development. The event brought together a number of diverse participants:

  • Representatives from Colombian and international institutions (Ministry of Culture, ACUA Foundation, local government and IFAD)
  • Representatives from Colombian community-based organisations
  • Beneficiaries from IFAD-supported projects in West Africa and the representative of Self Help Africa, an African NGO

In the two years running up to the event, research was carried out on local ancestral know-how and traditions from various communities in the regions of Quibdó, Guapi, Buenaventura and Tumaco, in Southern Colombia. This resulted in the publication of two books and a documentary, which were presented at the annual book fair of Bogotá and the during meetings on local food and cooking practices in Quibdó, Guapi, Buenaventura and Tumaco.

The event offered numerous opportunities for the participants to share knowledge and experiences: presentations, live cooking performances, a cocktail workshop with local drinks from the pacific region,  cooking experience with the women working at the Buenaventura market place, a visit to the village “La Gloria” where women are running a collective farm, an exhibition of traditional cooking utensils and tools and cultural and musical nights.

The three beneficiaries from IFAD-supported projects in West Africa were Ms Aissatou Cissé and Ms Ndeye Marie Seydi from Senegal and Ms Blandine Montcho from Benin. Ms Aissatou Cissé is a beneficiary of the Agricultural Value Chains Support Project in Senegal. Local ingredients are the secret to success in her restaurant business. She received training and support in restaurant management and food processing through the Project. Today, in her restaurant, she offer Senegalese and European dishes made of locally-grown products and earns a good living.

Ms Ndeye Marie Seydi is a beneficiary of the Support to Agricultural Development and Rural Entrepreneurship Programme in Senegal. She is a young entrepreneur and runs an agricultural and processing company in the Kolda region and has been focusing, although not exclusively, on fonio, the oldest cereal in West Africa. It is a kind of millet that has a nutty flavor – a cross between couscous and quinoa in both appearance and texture. Fonio has been cultivated in West Africa for thousands of years, and is a favorite in salads, stews, porridges and even ground into flour. It’s gluten-free and nutritious because of two amino acids, cystine and methionine, which make it a favorite to be baked into bread for diabetics, those who are gluten intolerant or have celiac disease. Until recently, the fact that processing operations were small- scale, time-consuming and difficult meant that there was no future for the crop. However, with support from the Project, Ms Ndeye Marie Seydi is now applying new producing and processing technologies  operations and modernizing drying, which has sparked s renewed interest in fonio and new export chains are developing around innovative products. She is currently leading a network of 150 women that are producing and processing fonio.

Ms Blandine Montcho is a beneficiary of the Rural Economic Growth Support Project in Benin. She is the owner of small processing enterprise that turns tropical fruit into organic juices. Although she focuses mainly on pineapple, her company also makes organic tamarind, baobab fruit and ginger juices.

Overall, the event showed that when products are used that have been grown organically and/or responsibly, traditional cuisine allows local communities to have access to the required nutrients for a healthy life. Traditional cuisine can also contribute to preserving biodiversity and the environment.  for environmental and biodiversity protection projects. Furthermore, it can be used for nutrition education to facilitate voluntary adoption of food choices and other food- and nutrition-related behaviours conducive to health and well-being. Finally, traditional cuisine is of great economic and social value as it can help to create employment in rural communities and help to build networks, especially between women.



by Ricci Symons



At the high-level ministerial roundtables and plenaries in the weekend preceding the official start of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), ministers of tourism, forestry, fishery and agriculture, all met to discuss the key questions; how to mainstream biodiversity protection and how to reach the Aichi targets.

At the offset, with only 4 years remaining to still achieve 70% of the Aichi targets before 2020, it seemed to be a bleak outlook. All parties were vocal about the shortcomings that have led us to this point, and whilst there was also excitement and innovation around new practices, technologies and policies, meeting the Aichi targets seemed like a pipe dream.

The above-mentioned ministers have never been involved in the biodiversity exchanges before. This signals a change in thinking, where the general consensus is that biodiversity is something all sectors of government should strive to protect. It also highlights that we are aware of the negative impacts these sectors, mainly agriculture and tourism, are having on biodiversity loss.

Biodiversity is about more than plants, animals, and micro-organisms and their ecosystems – the conference recognises that it is also very much about people and their need for food security, medicines, fresh air, shelter, and a clean and healthy environment.

Biodiversity conservation is central to achieving global commitments for sustainable development under “Agenda 2030”, adopted by the United Nations in 2015. IFAD recognizes that losing biodiversity means losing opportunities for coping with future challenges, such as those posed by climate change and food insecurity.

Many smallholders with whom IFAD works are already reporting climate change impacts on their ecosystems and biodiversity that sustain agricultural production and rural livelihoods.

Biodiversity and food security is at the heart of what IFAD does. As IFAD's Director of Environment and Climate, Margarita Astralaga explained in Cancun, smallholders’ assets are part of their ecosystems. They depend on biodiversity to provide plants for medicine, seeds and hunting.

What helps them and us is to see the full potential of these ecosystems,” said Astralaga, “Different crops and indigenous crops are important - we have lost nearly all genetic variations of corn and wheat, 50 per cent of the world is eating the same species."

"We must diversify - when small farmers do that, they can protect themselves against climate shocks. When farmers grow nuts, cocoa, coffee, cassava as well as corn, when a drought strikes and the corn yield is low or non-existent they have other crops to fall back on."

As the COP draws to an end, with the Cancun Declaration ratified and published, people are taking stock of what has been achieved in the last two weeks, and what the next steps are. The CBD convention adopted 37 decisions, whilst the Cartagena Protocol adopted 19, and the Nagoya Protocol adopted 14 decisions. A full break down of the decisions and discussion topics can be found here.

COP13 marked an international move towards the Aichi Biodiversity Targets and implementation of the Strategic Plan. This will happen through the mainstreaming of biodiversity into many of the productive sectors: tourism, fisheries, forests and agriculture. The COP13 also highlighted that moving forward will mean to take into consideration emerging technologies, such as gene drives, synthetic biology and other genetic resources, to provide functioning ecosystem and the provision of ecosystem services essential for human well-being.

Por Annibale Ferrini

Los sistemas de Seguimiento y Evaluación (S&E) siguen representando uno de los problemas que más afectan los proyectos de desarrollo rural apoyados por el FIDA en América Latina, en términos de dificultades para registrar, medir y comunicar los resultados e impactos de sus intervenciones. Por otra parte, el nuevo énfasis del FIDA en la medición de resultados, pone en el centro la necesidad de mejorar estos sistemas, las herramientas y capacidades de los equipos para gestionarlos.

A partir de esta toma de consciencia la coordinación FIDA de la Subregión Andina en colaboración con PROCASUR y AGRORURAL, institución del Ministerio de Agricultura y Riego del Perú, han organizado a principio de Diciembre en Lima el taller “Fortalecimiento de los Sistemas de Seguimiento y Evaluación y de Gestión de Conocimiento en programas de inversión pública rural”.

El taller fue precedido por una visita de campo al Proyecto Sierra y Selva Alta el día 30 de noviembre que sirvió para conocer de cerca el enfoque, logros y retos del proyecto y visualizar la problemática de la medición y comunicación de resultados.


Un momento de la visita al Proyecto Sierra y Selva Alta. Foto: FIDA

Los dos días de actividades del taller, realizado en el marco del Programa Interregional “Fortaleciendo capacidades y herramientas para el escalamiento y la diseminación de innovaciones”, apoyado por el FIDA e implementado por PROCASUR entre América Latina y África, han visto la participación de más de 46 personas entre miembros de los equipos técnicos, directores y encargados de S&E de los proyectos de la cartera FIDA en Bolivia (Proyectos Plan Vida, ACCESOS, Pro-camélidos, y el Programa Fortalecimiento de Complejos Productivos de Granos Andinos y Frutos Amazónicos en Comercialización y Transformación, que no es parte de la cartera FIDA); en Colombia (Proyecto de Construcción de Capacidades Empresariales Rurales: Confianza y Oportunidad -TOP); en Ecuador (Programa Buen Vivir Rural e Ibarra - San Lorenzo); Perú (Proyecto Sierra y Selva Alta) y Venezuela (PROSALAFA y PROSANESU) además del equipo FIDA LAC, miembros del equipo PROCASUR y expertos de la Subregión, para mejorar sistemas de S&E ineficientes o desvinculados de los objetivos de los proyectos.

Las intervenciones de Jesús Quintana, coordinador del FIDA para la Subregión Andina, Cecilia Leiva, presidenta de PROCASUR, y Margarita Mateu, directora de Desarrollo Agrícola de AGRORURAL, inauguraron el evento cuyos trabajos empezaron con la presentación de los resultados del diagnóstico realizado por PROCASUR.

Seis de los siete proyectos encuestados consideran que sus sistemas de S&E no son funcionales para las organizaciones involucradas. El primer obstáculo se encuentra en la recopilación de información: los recursos humanos son escasos, falta capacitación de los técnicos y los formatos son incompletos o excesivos. Respecto a la sistematización digital de la información, los sistemas son implementados a medio camino, no integran toda la historia de datos del proyecto, y no incorporan todas variables claves. Además, el diseño de proyectos con múltiples componentes, cada uno con su set de indicadores, suma complejidad e incomprensión, o no son coherentes con las capacidades de implementación de los equipos, o con las lógicas y los procedimientos institucionales de cada país.

Por otra parte, los sistemas de S&E de los proyectos no están interconectados con los sistemas de gestión de gobierno, hay formatos diferentes en cada institución. La comunicación hacia los usuarios es asimétrica, poco estructurada o ausente. En los estudios de base y evaluación de impacto, la ausencia de líneas de base que arrojen información de la situación de las comunidades antes del proyecto es la principal complicación de los estudios de evaluación (no se tiene base de comparación).

Grupos de trabajo integrados por los diversos equipos de proyectos FIDA de la subregión y expertos, para presentar propuestas de soluciones, en el intento de empezar a tomar nuevos caminos más prácticos y funcionales, trazando líneas bien marcadas entre una abundancia de herramientas y metodologías que en muchos casos no responden a las necesidades específicas de S&E de los proyectos de desarrollo rural, a la complejidad de sus territorios de operación, la diversidad de su población objetivo y las capacidades de sus equipos.

Caroline Bidault, gerente de los programas del FIDA para Venezuela y Ecuador, durante un momento del taller.
Foto: FIDA

Entre las soluciones propuestas destacan:
  • mejorar el diseño del sistema de S&E desde el principio , vinculándolo al marco lógico del proyecto y adaptándolo al contexto específico de la región y de las poblaciones involucradas, seleccionando los indicadores más relevantes; 
  • crear sinergias con los sistemas existentes a nivel nacional y entre los entes ejecutores; 
  • capacitar a todos los actores involucrados, desde la unidad de gestión del proyecto hasta los técnicos de campo y las organizaciones de base, incluyendo metodologías participativas; 
  • asegurar que las tareas relacionadas con S&E (que incluyen recolección de datos, análisis, generación de aprendizajes y relativa toma de decisiones) sean, formalmente, una función transversal de todos quienes trabajan y participan en el proyecto, con tiempos y recursos asignados; 
  • diseñar e implementar estrategias de comunicación y campañas dedicadas a la difusión de los aprendizajes más relevantes, de los logros del proyecto y de los elementos que contribuyen al diálogo político sobre desarrollo rural.

Todas las propuestas indicadas han sido sistematizadas en el informe final según los temas de los grupos de trabajo.

Particular atención ha sido dedicada a la importancia de la Gestión del Conocimiento en su estrecha relación con el S&E:

  • en el diseño del proyecto, en que se identifican los portadores de interés involucrados, sus intereses en el proyecto y las soluciones ya desarrolladas en base a conocimientos locales; 
  • en la puesta en valor de las experiencias vinculadas a los saberes locales, y su integración en procesos de aprendizaje e intercambio para su replicación; 
  • tras la finalización del proyecto, se hace seguimiento a los resultados del aprendizaje y su adaptación para el escalamiento, en la perspectiva de un impacto del proyecto mayor y de mejor calidad.
Tres fases en las que la Gestión del Conocimiento tiene que acompañar constantemente el proceso de S&E para garantizar su coherencia con el contexto cultural, socio-económico y de gobernanza de los territorios de intervención, y de capacidad de actuar de los protagonistas de los proyectos.

Generar sistemas de S&E que permitan pasar de la información al “aprendizaje” y a la “mejora continua” es un imperativo para fortalecer la Gestión de Conocimiento al interior de los proyectos, incluyendo la capitalización de experiencias y la difusión de innovaciones a nivel de proyecto, país y subregión.

“La Gestión del Conocimiento es algo intrínseco al sistema de S&E – dijo Cecilia Leiva en la inauguración de los trabajos –, no los podemos hacer de forma separada. Tienes que caminar juntos desde el diseño de proyectos hasta la difusión de los resultados y del conocimiento generado, en términos de éxitos y de fracasos, para el escalamiento de las buenas prácticas. Ésta es la visión del FIDA a nivel de Subregión Andina, que nosotros compartimos, y este encuentro representa el primer paso hacia el nuevo camino”.


El taller fue seguido con sumo interés por los participantes. Foto: FIDA

El evento ha representado también una oportunidad única para tener todos los jefes de proyectos y parte de sus equipos de la Subregión Andina reunidos compartiendo experiencias, perspectivas y propuestas a futuro.

“En el nuevo marco del FIDA para la eficacia del desarrollo –
señaló Jesús Quintana – es fundamental el proceso de fortalecimiento de la descentralización así como el trabajo en estrecha coordinación con los socios y en dialogo con las políticas de inversión pública. Este primer encuentro a nivel de sub-región nos permite abrir un espacio de interacción permanente enfocado hacia los resultados, hacia su medición y visibilización, hacia una siempre mayor eficacia y mejor impacto de los proyectos”.
  1. Como resultados del taller cada proyecto se ha comprometido en llevar adelante algunas primeras acciones y participar en una plataforma de colaboración e intercambio presentada por el equipo FIDA de la subregión Andina como parte de los siguientes compromisos:
  2. Crear una plataforma accesible a todos los proyectos para compartir y promover guías, metodologías, herramientas y experiencias sobre S&E+ (seguimiento y evaluación, gestión del conocimiento y comunicación); incluyendo guías actualizadas sobre Sistema de Gestión de Resultados e Impacto (RIMS, por sus siglas en inglés), aplicación del marco lógico, elaboración del plan de trabajo anual, metodología de cierre, implementación de los proyectos; 
  3. Crear una plataforma de gestión del conocimiento sobre desarrollo rural para compartir aprendizajes e información sobre innovaciones; 
  4. Realizar un ejercicio de sistematización de herramientas y buenas prácticas en la sub-región Andina; 
  5. Planificar e implementar un programa de capacitación de los proyectos en S&E+ (a través de la iniciativa CLEAR – Centros Regionales para el Aprendizaje sobre la Evaluación y los Resultados); 
  6. Establecer lineamientos mínimos comunes de FIDA en S&E+ (con flexibilidad para su adecuación en los países). 
  7. Facilitar la coordinación entre los consultores del FIDA en S&E para armonizar los enfoques y el conocimiento de las herramientas actualizadas; 
  8. Proveer asistencia técnica.
Los participantes en el taller de Lima. Foto: FIDA

Promoting collective action for rural transformation in Tonga

Posted by Francesca Aloisio Tuesday, December 20, 2016 0 comments

By Soane Patolo, Monica Romano and Sakiusa Tubuna

©IFAD

In October 2016, the Tongan Government officially launched the newly formulated Community Development Plans (CDPs) prepared by communities living in Niuas, Vava’u, Ha’apai, ‘Eua and Tongatapu islands. The CDPs are a simple but effective mechanism to mobilize communities not only to identify their own development priorities, but also to mobilize support and assistance to improve rural people’s livelihoods.

The community plans were formulated adopting the successful approach tested under the IFAD-funded regional grant for the Mainstreaming of Rural Development Innovations (MORDI) and scaled up under the ongoing Tonga Rural Innovation Project – TRIP and by the Tongan Ministry of Internal Affairs (MIA). The 136 CDPs were presented by the District Officers and Town Officers to the Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Tonga, Honourable Samuela ‘Akilisi Pohiva, on 4 October 2016 in Nuku’alofa.

In his keynote speech, the Prime Minister emphasized the importance of establishing transparent and accountable governance mechanisms to keep people informed and to formulate appropriate policies.

The Prime Minister said that in order to be able to change we must begin by fixing our governance system to become more informed, more transparent and more accountable. To enlighten and to empower our people by obtaining the right information, giving people the opportunity to make an informed decision about their lives. But, most importantly in order to strengthen government to make the right policies, to set the right priorities, provide the right support, to be able to defend and protect the lives of our people, and ultimately to support the right development.

Among the communities involved in the CDP formulation, 60 communities are targeted under IFAD-supported TRIP, implemented by the Mordi Tonga Trust (MTT). 76 CDPs were formulated with financial assistance of the Government of Tonga through MIA, UN Women, and the Pacific Risk Resilience Programme (PRRP) supported by the Australian Government and implemented by UNDP and Live & Learn Environmental Education (LLEE), under the facilitation of TRIP project staff.

During the launch, IFAD stressed that MIA’s adoption of the community planning approach is a first example of scaling-up of an IFAD project by a Government in the Pacific. IFAD’s experience shows that community-driven development processes such as the formulation of CDPs are powerful mechanisms to promote collective action that results in empowering rural people and in making them lead and drive their own development pathway.

The community planning approach was first tested under the IFAD regional MORDI grant, which was implemented in Fiji, Kiribati, and Tonga in two phases from 2004 and 2012. It aimed to establish sustainable processes that enable remote rural communities to link with policy and planning processes. The CDPs have been effective in empowering very remote rural people to have a voice in decisions that affect their lives. This institutional model was successfully scaled up in selected communities in all regions of Tonga by TRIP, which is currently implemented in partnership with the Government of Tonga and MORDI Tonga Trust, with an IFAD financing of USD 3 million.

Target communities of TRIP include 53 communities located in the Outer Islands and 7 in the Tongatapu. TRIP promotes an integrated approach towards community development aiming to build the capacity of communities to identify their own development priorities, formulate their own CDPs, and optimize the allocation of financial resources from public and private sectors, development and donor agencies, and non- government organizations.

By Mia Madsen

IFAD-supported projects in Sudan organised a Learning Route on Natural Resource Management and Agricultural Productivity, from 24 October to 2 November 2016. The Learning Route was the first of its kind to be organised in Sudan, building on  the knowledge of project staff and the IFAD Sudan Country Office.

In early November the first ever Learning Route (LR) on Natural Resources Management (NRM) and Agricultural Productivity was concluded in Sudan. Participants described the knowledge-sharing event as a ground-breaking tool for knowledge sharing among peers. IFAD-funded projects in Sudan, the Central Coordination Unit for IFAD-funded projects, the Sudan Country Office and Procasur all contributed to the planning and implementation of the route.

The main objective was to share best practices from NRM and increased agricultural productivity in Sudan, while highlighting the importance of strong linkages between agriculture and sustainable NRM. IFAD project staff have shown great interest in the methodology developed by Procasur, having participated actively in LRs abroad over the last few years and made use of  the knowledge acquired in their daily work.

As part of increased knowledge management efforts within the Sudan portfolio, a Knowledge Management core group was set up in early 2016 with the task of coordinating knowledge sharing between the projects. Group discussions led to the idea of organising an internal LR in Sudan, which would at the same time develop the capacity of IFAD projects to use the LR as a knowledge sharing and policy tool. In September 2016 project staff got ready to implement their first LR in Sudan after having participated in a workshop  by Procasur. Read more about it here.

The LR methodology is a peer-to-peer knowledge-sharing tool which seeks to inform development practice and enhance project implementation. It is structured as a learning journey where participants visit communities.  They share their knowledge of what works, why, and above all, how. This is the connecting dimension of the process which includes the exchange of challenges, experiences, good practices and results. Following the field visits, participants develop Action Plans where they seek to articulate and apply some of the lessons learned to their own context and projects. The Action Plans are closely monitored and followed up by host communities and other LR participants to ensure the new knowledge is used in an effective way for enhanced project delivery and effectiveness.

The first Sudanese Learning Route
The first Sudanese Learning Route took its
participants on a 2,000-kilometre-long journey
The Sudanese Learning Route on Natural Resource Management and Agricultural Productivity can be described as a highly dynamic and immersive road trip where 35 people working with IFAD-supported projects, the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry, Ministry of Animal Resources and the Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning visited three IFAD supported projects, namely BIRDP[1], SUSTAIN[2] and WSRMP[3]. During the 10-day journey, a convoy of 11 vehicles drove through several states, covering about 2,000 kilometres. The participants joined actively in the field visits, sharing their perspectives on different innovations for strengthening land tenure security and NRM governance, and highlighting the concomitant link to agricultural productivity.

It started with an official opening session in Khartoum where participants and other development partners were provided with the conceptual framework and methodology. The three host projects delivered short presentations on their respective cases. This was followed by a panel discussion where Sudanese experts highlighted challenges related to sustainable NRM in Sudan and their impact on agricultural productivity. Before the participants embarked on their 10-day field journey, an experience fair was organised where each host project had the opportunity to brief others about the specifics of their case.
Part of the field visits included vivid presentations from host communities on progress made. ©Mohammad Makki Hanafi

Community networking for NRM in the Butana region
The first field visit was to the BIRDP project area in the Butana region where participants learned about community networking for NRM, and more specifically about how six communities have established the At Tasab Network as a way to join hands to protect their natural resources and livelihoods. The participants visited range pastures of the At Tasab Network and interacted with women, youth and elders . The six communities have organised themselves, protected their rangelands against foreign stakeholders through patrolling, raised a common voice about the challenges they face, and also come together to ensure certain basic services in the area, such as veterinary services and telecommunications. It highlighted the importance of networks for social mobilization and empowerment, and especially for addressing a sense of isolation which many communities experience; thereby enabling them to deal with key land and NRM governance challenges, including those linked to large-scale land acquisitions by foreign and domestic investors.

Sinnar state: Linking improved agriculture with NRM
Learning Route participants learn about
SUSTAIN’s technical package during a field visit
to Sinja, Sinnar State.
©Mia Madsen
After learning about the importance of community networking for NRM, the participants continued their journey to the SUSTAIN project area in Sinnar state to learn about its integrated package for improved crop farming and  impact on NRM and agricultural production in the area. The participants visited farmers who practice traditional farming as well as farms under improved agriculture, and learned that agricultural productivity was enhanced thanks to the use of chisel ploughing, crop rotation and drought-tolerant seeds. The case study analysis indicated the need for an integrated approach to agriculture and livestock farming so to avoid increased pressure on land and the project  is working on this by encouraging farmers to use crop residue as fodder for livestock, which eases the pressure on rangeland.

Stock routes and conflict resolution mechanism in North Kordofan
After the SUSTAIN field visits, the  participants continued with an 8-hour drive to North Kordofan and the WSRMP. The project presented their experiences in conflict resolution between crop and livestock farmers, and in the demarcation and co-management of livestock routes. The participants visited a Conflict Resolution Centre (CRC) in El Rahad, which was established to solve disputes related to NRM in the Kordofan region. Some of the disputes handled at the CRC are conflicts between settlers and nomads, and have been referred to the CRC by the formal courts. After the visit to the CRC, the routeros visited a stock route demarcated by the WSRMP, met with Mobile Extension Teams who have been established to reach out to pastoralists in the area, and learned about the co-management mechanism of stock routes, piloted by the project.
“In addition to the cases presented by the other projects, I have learned how to organize a Learning Route, especially the roles of the Methodological Coordinator and the Technical coordinator, and how to select and write a Learning Route case and present it to others”. Aida Osman, Gender and Community Development Officer, BIRDP
Peer-to-peer learning
The lessons and innovations presented during the LR were well received by the different projects. As part of the peer learning, each project identified particular challenges and received advice from others on how to address these challenges: BIRDP received guidance especially from SUSTAIN on how to strengthen adoption and uptake by other communities, and on how to strengthen inter-state coordination from WSRMP. SUSTAIN drew lessons on networking as a vehicle for adoption of their “improved farming practices” and BIRDP provided inputs on strengthening the integration of crop and livestock farming systems, and WSRMP on securing stock routes. WSRMP, which is close to completion, received advice on how to institutionalize the good practices developed during its exit strategy – including linking up with the new Livestock Resilience and Marketing Programme. The Programme learned from all other projects and aims at incorporating their good practices. Each project developed an Action Plan to integrate the lessons learned into their operations, which they presented during the wrap-up meeting in Khartoum. Participants were encouraged to continue seeking advice from each other and sharing lessons in the implementation of their Action Plans.

The participants gather for a group photo in North Kordofan ©Mohammad Makki Hanafi

Next steps
At the closing session in Khartoum each project team presented their Action Plans. BIRDP was inspired by the improved agriculture package promoted by SUSTAIN, while the SUSTAIN team planned to integrate community networking for NRM in their project activities. The LRMP team committed to building on the experiences of the co-management mechanism and the conflict resolution centres from WSRMP. The Action Plan developed by the WSRMP team includes the draft of a road map on the way forward for the co-management of stock routes, inspired by the community networking displayed during the BIRDP visits. During the closing session the Methodological Coordinator Dr Omer Egemi, and IFAD Lead Land Tenure Specialist Harold Liversage provided insights from the LR and ideas for future engagement in NRM in Sudan. The closing session in Khartoum was attended by the Minister for Agriculture of Khartoum State.

“I'm convinced that the Learning Route is a powerful learning tool which enables participants to share their experience, analyze their challenges and arrive to a reasonable solution on how to address present challenges. The challenge for us now is to see how we can continue sharing knowledge in other areas such as microfinance for example”. Isam Altahir, M&E Officer, SUSTAIN
As a way forward, it has been suggested for the Sudan Country Office and projects involved to continue using LRs as a tool for strengthening multi-stakeholder dialogue and policy engagement on land and NRM governance and other thematic areas. The IFAD-funded projects are already planning similar knowledge sharing events in the future, including a LR on NRM where Sudanese policy makers could be invited, as well as a LR on microfinance and the ABSUMI[4] model to be developed together with the Agricultural Bank of Sudan.






[1] Butana Integrated Rural Development Project
[2] Supporting Small-scale  Rainfed Producers in Sinnar State Project
[3] Western Sudan Resources Management Programme
[4] Agricultural Bank of Sudan Microfinance Initiative

Ecological Intensification and Ecosystem Services

Posted by Ricci Symons Wednesday, December 14, 2016 0 comments

Forests play an important role in the production of food, fuel, fibre and the provisions of other goods and services critical for human well-being. The quality and quantity of biodiversity, that underpins production systems, also benefits from forests.

IFAD’s Oliver Page, speaking at The Rio Pavilion at CBD COP13, said that every year large areas of forests are lost. The majority of crop and livestock production systems are, unfortunately, still among the most significant drivers of global deforestation.

Page was facilitating a session in the Forest and Agriculture Day on Ecological Intensification and Ecosystem Services. The event was co-organised by UNEP, The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity (TEEB) and the International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD).

TEEB’s Salman Hussain opened the session with a keynote address on ‘Recognizing the value of agro-forestry systems to global production‘.

Hussain said that TEEB AgriFood commissions feeder studies on forestry, investigating the co-benefits of carbon mitigation as it is not just about sequestration.

TEEB are trying to avoid just giving a value to agroforests as policy makers prefer to have an analysis of the status quo vs different inputs. In this way, they can highlight the value added using various valuation methods.

Oliver Page rounded off the presentation by saying how this study provides the hard evidence which allows us to take this beyond the walls of the already converted and influence policy.


He spoke of a new FAO publication linking mainstreaming ecosystems services and biodiversity. But why the focus on ecosystems and biodiversity?

Mba said that sustainable agricultural production systems can reduce carbon footprints. However, agricultural and food systems have significant social and biological constraints. Agriculture at the farm level can be regenerating, but solutions need to be targeted as ‘one size fits all’ does not work.
Bernardo Strassburg, Executive Director, IISD, gave an illuminating presentation on ’Agricultural intensification as a key to achieving climate commitments in Brazil while reducing pressure on biodiversity in the Cerrado’.

Achieving climate change commitments in Brazil will require a mix of policy, science and practice. The biggest challenge of the 21st century is how to feed the world, produce enough food and at the same time protect land.

He gave an in-depth review of the IISD hypothesis that Brazil already has enough suitable land to intensify farming with no more deforestation needed and actually with some restoration of existing agricultural land.

In this hypothesis, meat production would increase with more efficient land use, meaning higher carrying capacities. Carrying capacity is the number of livestock units a certain area of land can support - relative to a 100 per cent efficient pasture. When pastureland is well managed and efficient, its carrying capacity increases. Ideally there would be an increase to just 49 per cent carrying capacity in 30 years. It is currently producing between 32-34 per cent of what it could.

“By 2040 we could go from 32 per cent to 49 per cent carrying capacity which would still only equal the production of Mexico. If we could get to 70 per cent by 2040 it would liberate 36 million hectares of land.”

There have been extremely good results with this hypothesis and it is ready to be up-scaled. Failure to do so could see catastrophic loss of biodiversity in the Cerrado, equalling if not exceeding that of recent global extinctions.

He said that they have done studies as to why this intensification coupled with land restoration/liberation hasn’t been taken up sooner - mainly the high cost of intensification and the limited access to finance. One surprising obstacle was the lack of access to qualified labour. Strassburg believed this was one of the most significant barricades and needed to be rectified with trainings.

Overall it was a fascinating and engaging session, prompting many questions and encouraging audience participation.


Oliver Page rounded off the session saying that with all the information and techniques currently available we have a duty to upscale sustainable action and push forward at all levels.