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Africa RISING ESA Project Partners Meeting
4 February 2021
Virtual via Ms TEAMS
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  1. A. Kimaro, ICRAF
  2. B. Zemadim, ICRISAT
  3. C. Azzarri, IFPRI
  4. C. Thierfelder, CIMMYT
  5. D. Mgalla, IITA
  6. E. Swai, TARI-Hombolo
  7. F. Kizito, IITA
  8. F. Muthoni, IITA
  9. G. Fischer, IITA
  10. I. Dominick, WorldVeg
  11. I. Hoeschle-Zeledon, IITA
  12. J. Groot, WUR
  13. J. Kihara, Bioversity-CIAT
  14. J. Manda, IITA
  15. J. Odhong, IITA
  16. L. Claessens, IITA
  17. M. Bekunda, IITA
  18. M. Mutenje, IITA (consultant)
  19. P. Okori, ICRISAT
  20. R. Chikowo, MSU


  • Welcome & Introduction of meeting purpose
  • Communication from the project management
  • Reactions to the communication
  • Experience and progress from PIs
  • WA Perspective & Experience
  • General observations
  • Way forward
  • Close

Welcome & Introduction of meeting purpose – M. Bekunda, IITA, Chief Scientist

  • Greetings everybody, good afternoon. Nice to have you on board.
  • We were expecting Birhanu from the AR West Africa project to join us.
  • We haven't met physically for a long time. Hopefully, when the COVID-19 pandemic is over, we will do so. However, I hope we can still keep engaging. (and staying in touch) through the virtual meetings.
  • This meeting was mainly for the principal investigators (PIs) of various activities. And the main objective is for us to give each other brief updates about our activities' status and make early plans for the year. Also, there are a few updates from the project management.

Communication from the project management – I. Hoeschle-Zeledon, IITA, Project Manager

  • During 2020, many activities suffered from the travel and meeting restrictions, and these restrictions continue. I am not sure to which extent traveling between countries in the ESA region is now possible, but, in any case, nobody should neglect the safety measures required by the governments and by our institutions when doing our jobs.
  • Not everything went well during 2020/21 Work plan development and approval. For whatever reasons, workplans took unusually long this time in most cases. There is still one work plan that needs revisions. This means that contract amendments and fund disbursement are also very much delayed. Four contacts have not yet been signed. We are in the middle of the cropping season. I wonder how field activities, if planned for, are progressing with no funds. Non-disbursement of funds to partners by IITA at this fiscal year is also reflected in IITA's financial reports to USAID. When these reports still show a considerable amount of funds not used, the donor may wonder if new funds are needed and reduce the next allocation.
  • I expected that after my and Willemien's and Jonathan's huge time investment last year to edit and format the workplans, preparing the workplans would be an easy job this time for partners. We requested to use the previous year's workplans and just overwrite if something changed. Unfortunately, this did not happen. We again had to spend hours on each work plan to edit and format the documents. You should know that these workplans are part of the contracts and part of the joint ESA work plan published on CG space. Therefore, they become public. Hence, they should fulfill some basic quality standards.
  • The Africa RISING-NAFAKA project in Tanzania ended in September 2020. With this project, a significant portion of our scaling activities has stopped. The project's completion also marked the end of the contracts of two colleagues, Haroon and Christopher, who was in charge of the post-harvest activities in Africa RISING ESA and Africa RISING-NAFAKA.
  • The official project end of the Africa RISING program in September this year. However, the donor indicated that chances are high for a one-year extension until September 2022. For me, the reasons for such an extension are several:
    • since 2017, we received our funding every year several months delayed, and the donor is interested in studies and analyses across the Africa RISING program (all three projects), which we have not yet embarked on
    • USAID is awaiting the final shape of the new CGIAR research agenda. There will be five significant research areas, and donors are expected to invest in these. Ongoing projects will be embedded in these areas. To which extent USAID will still support stand-alone projects is not yet clear.
  • Confirmation of the one-year extension of Africa RISING is still to come. In any case, we must prepare for winding down the Program, not only the ESA project. We have started this process in 2019 and continued in 2020 by scaling downfield research, not creating new field research, and focusing on areas in our logframe that had been neglected in phase 2. These are mainly:
    1. Outcome 4: Functionality of input ad output markets and other institutions to deliver demand-driven Sustainable intensification research products improved, and
    2. Outcome 5: Partnerships for scaling of sustainable intensification research products and innovations operationalized
  • We will achieve the project objectives only if we have produced all planned Outcomes. We are now on the right way. An extension of one year would allow us to close any gaps and consolidate our results in these areas.
  • Because of the CGIAR reform and the approaching end of Africa RISING, the Program Coordination Team and the chief scientists held a virtual workshop in early November 2020. The objectives were:
    1. To review and agree on existing and yet-to-be-produced legacy products of Africa RISING.
    2. To reflect on the future of Africa RISING beyond September 2021.
    3. To reflect on lessons and principles to help guide future programs on SI & systems research
  • On this last objective, we are convinced that new investments of donors in agricultural research should target sustainable intensification and our Assessment Framework (SIAF) provides a useful guide. We are also interested that systems research as attempted by Africa RISING deserves continuation in the new CGIAR research programs. Two PCT members are working on a publication on our achievements through systems research and the SIAF.
  • Another topic addressed in the workshop was assessing where we stand with answering our project and program research questions, which we have asked in our proposals for phase 2. It became clear that we still have a good deal of work done by analyzing existing data, which would allow us to answer these questions.
  • In terms of some of the legacy products we would like to leave behind for future use by others, in addition to the scientific publications and the handbook, we identified:
    1. the capacity-building aspect within AR,
    2. our experiences with:
    3. cross CGIAR center and national institutions collaboration
    4. a long-term research program
    5. a program that was premised on a package of innovations rather than a single one like most other projects
    6. a program that acted as an integrator mobilizing and coordinating complex partnerships to contribute to unifying efforts
    7. different approaches to scaling and their successes; a publication by the chief scientists is in progress.

All these experiences have to be documented, which will keep us busy during the remaining project life.

  • The workshop also reflected on the aspects our final report to the donor should address. This includes the extent of use and adoption of our research products by direct and indirect beneficiaries. I expect that to determine this will surely take up a lot of our time and financial resources in the project's remaining lifetime. Returns on investment are also of high interest to the donor, i.e., how much has been achieved in each SI domain for each dollar invested in Africa RISING? We should not only look at gains in productivity but also in all other domains.


  • M. Bekunda: Thank you for the summary, Irmgard. Is it possible to have the written-up version of your comments circulate to colleagues who did not participate in this call?
    • I. Hoeschle-Zeledon: Sure. I will send you a note to share with colleagues.
  • C. Thierfelder: Thank you for the continued efforts you put up to support us over the whole period and continuing to do so. We were able to pre-finance most of the CIMMYT activities, so we managed to continue somehow. I also have one outcome (from AR) that I would like to share with colleagues; I am implementing a larger EU-funded project in Zambia. The outcome of this will be a range of sustainable intensification technologies. To evaluate those technologies, I proposed the SIAF framework, and it seems that they have bought into it. So, we will be using that framework to evaluate those technologies. I think this is a good outcome because we will bring this into the broader consideration by donors and other decision-makers (outside of USAID) in the future.
    • I. Hoeschle-Zeledon: thank you for that update, Christian! It is very much appreciated and is precisely the intention of the developers of SIAF. The goal was to develop a framework that could be used beyond Africa RISING and other USAID-funded projects. We will report this to USAID.

Progress updates from PIs

C. Azzarri, IFPRI

  • We are committed to reporting on AR direct and scaling beneficiaries. The direct beneficiaries through the BTTT and the scaling beneficiaries through the scaling tool.
  • We also continue to manage all AR research data through Dataverse and the ongoing FtF indicators monitoring. Reports for the previous fiscal year were submitted in November/December and continue to monitor the same for the current fiscal year.
  • The BTTT for Malawi was completed in September 2020, while Tanzania is still in progress. Zambia has started/is ongoing.
  • Regarding planned M&E activities, we are monitoring scaling up partnerships. We'll be collaborating soon with the communications team to put together some of the knowledge products mentioned by I. Hoeschle-Zeledon in her opening comments.
  • On the evaluations side, we completed the Malawi follow-up data in summer 2019 and are currently processing the data, constructing the variables, and are now doing before and after comparisons without the AR project to see the impact. We are also organizing the follow-up survey in Tanzania. We scheduled it originally for March 2021, but the start may be delayed a bit. However, we intend to finish it by the end of summer still. We'll cover about 800 households in the three districts covered in the ARBES 2014 (panel data set).
  • In terms of assessment of adoption, we are doing something on the program-wide synthesis on the linkage between agriculture and market integration, production, livelihoods, poverty, and food security.
  • The other synthesis focuses on the linkages between on-farm production and dietary diversity. We are currently doing these syntheses for Malawi and will proceed to the other AR ESA countries along the lines of what we have done in West Africa in Ghana and Mali.
  • We are also planning for a cross-country study on scaling approaches and achievements for the legacy product with the support of the communication team and the chief Scientists. We are having regular meetings to discuss this.
  • We are also collaborating with J. Manda, S. Feleke, and B. Kotu on a study to assess "Welfare impacts of smallholder farmers’ participation in multiple output markets: Empirical evidence from Tanzania”
  • Our activities, especially field-based ones, are hampered by the COVID travel restrictions, but D. Mgalla plans to implement some activities in-country.

R. Chikowo, MSU

  • We managed to develop six work packages; these are sub-activities that we are implementing. The first sub-activity is biophysical, and it is on it that all the other five sub-activities are anchored upon.
  • We are maintaining 15 sites; 12 of them are long term sites with various SI technologies. Of course, this is less compared to the 50 - 60 sites that we maintain each year. Each of these sites is at least five years old.
  • The second sub-activity is focused on the bean value chain (led by CIAT), but we have had many inputs from the IITA economist (J. Manda). We also have some work focused on resilience in the southern district of Machinga, mostly concentrated on water-nutrient management. Our objective is to look at perennial problems farmers face with droughts, but we don't see the uptake of water management technologies spreading. So, we want to understand why farmers would not naturally implement these water-saving practices.
  • We are also implementing joint case studies with CIMMYT. These are looking at the Africa RISING signature – what is happening beyond the farmers, we are working with directly? So, these go beyond the mother trials and baby farmers.
  • We have designed a case study across six sites; 3 sites are managed by MSU (Linthipe, Golomoti, and Kandeu) and the other driven by CIMMYT (Songani, Lemwe, and Matandika). Our objective is to look at farm scale issues – what are farmers doing beyond the mother and baby trials? The team has started implementing module 1 of the case study, which is farm characterization. We will follow that up at harvest to visit each of the fields to look at yields and what practices have been done (module 2). CIMMYT will implement module 3 in July/August; C. Thierfelder will explain more about that in his updates.
  • Very soon, CIAT will begin implementing work on the market penetration of biofortified beans to evaluate our impact on the penetration of nutrient-dense varieties of beans.
  • Our workplans were a bit delayed because we tried to figure out the new format of presenting workplans.

L. Claessens, IITA

  • Greetings from Nairobi, where I am taking refuge after my work/residence permit in Tanzania expired. I have left my family behind in Arusha.
  • The two main activities we are working on are the two farming system case studies in Tanzania and Malawi. A lot of work has been hindered by restrictions on-field activities. However, we are still making progress by using the available data that had already been collected and shared with us by colleagues, for example, the post-harvest survey data collected last year and the data from Malawi collected by R. Chikowo.
  • We are also collaborating with J. Groot and the Wageningen team. We have already recruited two very enthusiastic MSc students who have written a proposal and are ready to collaborate with us on these farm case studies.

G. Fischer, IITA

  • My most significant activity is on a more extensive consultancy in Malawi and Tanzania, which relates to outcome 5. The activity focuses on decision-making in households regarding choices around technology experimentation and adoption—a pilot study on how decision making can be shifted to become more equitable and more joint. The idea is that households use specific tools and then with these tools. They develop a vision of cooperating, implementing a technology jointly, and deciding how to use the benefits from implementing the technologies. This is a joint activity where we will have a lead consultant – Kathy Farnworth – who is very experienced in these methodologies. We will implement this jointly with E. Swai and R. Chikowo on SWC technologies in Tanzania and Malawi.
  • So far, we have developed a schedule. A ToR for the consultancy held some preliminary meetings with R. Chikowo and E. Swai and selected more social scientists to join the Malawi and Tanzania team. We hope that somehow, we can at least do the desk work of this study within the next few weeks and, after that, see how the COVID travel protocols in Malawi and Tanzania develop to plan the fieldwork.
  • I will also be working with C. Mutungi and J. Manda on the post-harvest study data collected in 2020.
  • I will also be working with E. Swai on some SWC studies in Kongwa and Kiteto districts. We already have a draft manuscript that we have produced together with some young scientists who were part of the research team. We will complement the document with data from a separate survey by J. Manda also on SWC.

J. Groot, WUR

  • Carl Timler finalized his PhD thesis, and one output from that is a paper about farmer perspectives in sustainable intensification. We hope to submit it this month to a journal. So, it is a bit of a legacy product.
  • We also have the FARMATCH activities that are ongoing. This activity looks at nuanced technology targeting farmers. This work has been ongoing since the second half of 2020, and we currently have a draft paper that is now under revision by the co-authors.
  • We have an activity on resilience assessment looking at the Africa RISING technology packages' potential positive effect in Tanzania. We have involved a student since around March 2020, but most of the work was interrupted by COVID restrictions. So, this is still an ongoing activity.
  • The other update about our work concerning the farming system analysis has been reported in the update by L. Claessens.

J. Kihara, Bioversity-CIAT

  • We started our activities even before we got our contracts ready because we had some crop-based trials to implement. Most were a continuation of mbili mbili. My assistant is traveling to Tanzania next week, and we have a field-based person who helps to monitor these activities.
  • We are planning two surveys to follow up on 120 farmers that we started with eight years ago. The aim is to check what has changed since we have been working with them? We will also assess what is happening within the villages and compare Africa RISING and non-Africa RISING farmers to gain community-level understanding in terms of ISFM implementation in Babati. We are doing this collaboratively with J. Manda.
  • Another study in Kongwa Kiteto with E. Swai will help us understand the benefits derived from ISFM across agro-ecologies and ecozones.
  • I am grateful for the support we have in funding that has allowed us to do some synthesis – I am working on one about nutrient flows and hope to finalize within the year. I am also still leading the synthesis on ISFM across AR sites in Tanzania.
  • COVID is on the rise in Babati, and we are aware of this as we plan activities. A sad update is that our Field Assistant, Inot Ibrahim, lost her father.

A. Kimaro, ICRAF

  • We have a work plan that is primarily focused on completing publications linked to data collected so far. We are working on four publications:
    1. Looking at soil fertility and plant nutrition to understand the dynamics under a drought resistance trial. This builds upon a publication that we produced from the same site looking at productivity and water dynamics.
    2. Adoption and socio-economic aspects of agroforestry. For this activity, we will be using the data we collected from a survey we did in September 2020 and the farmer demonstrations that we had been running last year.
    3. Predicting biomass production from intercropping and other niches where gliricidia has been planted in the field and pigeon pea. This is a follow-up on the publication about efficient and comparative use of gliricidia biomass published in 2020 to show the extent to which it compares with the native and how integration with efficient stoves can minimize consumption and meet the household demand. This will be complemented by a survey on the use of wood in farmer fields.
    4. The profitability of agroforestry technologies. This is part of a PhD student's work (Martha Swamila) who uses the data from our sites and has also been involved from the past in this project.
  • Those are the main activities in our workplan, but we have data to contribute to other studies colleagues in the project.

J. Manda, IITA

  • A couple of activities were implemented during this period. Two of them are based on survey data we collected last year. These are:
    1. a SWC study and post-harvest research. We've cleaned the data for the SWC study, done some analysis, and yesterday completed the manuscript for a journal article that I hope to share in the next week with the relevant co-authors. We hope to submit it to a journal in the second week of March.
    2. For the post-harvest data, we are also cleaning the data and have also done some fundamental analysis. Earlier this week, we had a meeting with L. Claessens, J. Groot, and the students, where we discussed how we could contribute to the publication. We actually shared the data for one of the students, and I don't think this should be a problem, but probably the other student working on-farm case studies in Malawi hasn't yet received the data.
  • I am also working with a PhD student (mentioned by A. Kimaro), giving feedback to her about the draft paper she is developing, and she promised that she is going to work on the comments that I gave her.
  • I have also been involved with the NAFAKA project CoP (Jim Flock) to make early arrangements for an impact study looking at the AR-NAFAKA project's investments over the past couple of years. We'd like to establish the returns on investments (RoI) and the impact on some of the higher-level indicators like income, poverty, and nutrition. Due to the COVID-19 challenges, we intend to do phone-based surveys because NAFAKA is not keen to send staff to the field right now. This will hopefully happen in April/May 2021.
  • I attended a training in Malawi in December 2020 about survey solutions software. I intend to use this on some of the willingness to pay studies that I will be implementing. I have programmed one of the questionnaires that we want to use for one of the studies on willingness to pay for certified maize and bean seed.
  • Most of my activities are field-based, but with the reality of COVID-19, we will keep assessing how everything is going before venturing into the field.

D. Mgalla, IITA

  • With regards to Feed the Future (FtF) reporting and data upload, 2020 was great. All researchers submitted their FtF indicator data. This was also the case for dataverse upload/submissions. However, there were still a few misses; for example, Shitindi's data for weather, but he submitted for other trials. Overall a total of 35 submissions were made to data verse in 2020.
  • USAID expects us to make submissions on research (luckup?) data since last year. However, most of our researchers didn't submit this as requested. For the whole ESA region, we only submitted ten datasets. They expect us to upload all the necessary data this year for all the technologies we are working on.
  • According to our submissions, there are a total of 58 technologies being validated by the project at various stages. These can be aggregated as follows: 19 technologies underplant and animal improvement, 31 in production system research, and 8 in social science research. We are therefore expected to submit the data for all 58 technologies this year. So, I will be reaching out to all of you starting this February to begin compiling all relevant information needed. The target is to complete this by October 2021.
  • Among the 5 FtF indicators we're required to report on, it was noted that we underreported on two. So, we need to do better this year.
  • There is also an ex-ante analysis of AR technologies that IFPRI plans. We had a meeting last week with the team, and we need all researchers to prioritize the technologies that will be used for this analysis. Considering the three research questions that will be looked at in this study, we will require …..

F. Muthoni, IITA

  • We are continuing on mapping domains for conservation agriculture and working on this with C. Thierfelder. We are checking various aspects to look at things like the yield variability for the past 16 years. We are running different models and studying the spatial variability of both grain and stover biomass. We will engage a consultant from Wageningen to assist with this work.
  • We are also finalizing a study to use remote sensing data to check on land degradation within Kongwa and Kiteto, and the manuscript is ready for submission. This is being done with a team from Bonn University.
  • We did a paper last year on targeting vegetable technologies, for which we prepared a conference paper that we presented. The conference was organized by the World Veg 2 weeks ago in Arusha, and I made a presentation there. I am currently working on the manuscript to bring that conference paper into a full journal article.
  • We continue to share spatial data on the weather with the different teams who have requested.
  • Finally, I am also working with J. Odhong' on producing some maps for the technology briefs.


  • I have four updates:
    • Seed from Malawi to Tanzania was done successfully in December. The materials are currently in Kongwa and Kiteto. However, the main challenge is that we planted the on-station ones. Also, the mother trials and a few baby trials were planted. The focus of this activity was really to contribute towards outcomes 4 and 5. One of the challenges we are facing already is the fact that the rain seems to be unstable. So, some farmers got the kits and have planted while others have not. So, we are still observing the situation. Our other experiment that is related to this one in Malawi was successfully planted.
    • Regarding the nutrition work, we had an objective that was not implemented because the student was sick. That situation is still precarious. However, we have some excellent news; two of our students working on nutrition graduated in December 2020; there are draft papers at reasonably advanced stages coming out of both students' work. So, we hope to finish those as had been planned.
    • The value chain analysis work: J. Manda has been in contact with James Mwololo, and this work is expected to start in May 2021. We hope that there is a let-up in COVID-19 restrictions so that the plans are unhindered.
    • We have also been working behind the scenes with J. Odhong' on the medicine label technology briefs.

I. Dominick, WorldVeg

  • Our workplan had two main activities: Assessment of the benefits of management technologies on performance of improved vegetable varieties and Assess the impact of nutritional messaging on farmers’ nutritional knowledge, attitude and practices and household nutrition status, in partnership with Islands of Peace in Karatu Distict of Tanzania.
  • Some of the significant activities implemented under activity one includes:
    • Capacity building on sustainable vegetable production for Islands of Peace technical staff and farmer trainers to scale up the best technologies 8 first generation villages and 10 new/second generation villages.
    • We have also worked with farmers to establish demo trials within the villages.
    • We have also collected data, which is being cleaned right now, and expect a publication this year.
  • We also conducted farmer field days to share experiences about the new technologies we have introduced to them and learn from each other.
  • We have not yet done some activity planned to assess nutrition messages' impact on farmers' nutritional knowledge, attitudes, and practices at the household level. This activity is being implemented in partnership with Islands of Peace. Due to COVID-19 restrictions, we have not been able to conduct TOT training on nutritional messages in new villages and assessment of impact of nutrition messages in 1st generation villages, but we hope to conduct the training at some point later this year.
  • We plan to carry out some impact studies for the technologies introduced to farmers in 8 PY! villages and assess the impact of nutritional messages on farmers and kiosk owners.
  • This year we will also provide technical backstopping for two villages, which we have designated as model villages for vegetable production technologies. This activity was supposed to occur in 2020, but we couldn't manage to implement it due to COVID-19 restrictions.
  • Based on the data we have, the scaling of vegetable production technologies has reached about 850 farmers, 14 farmer groups in in 8 first-generation villages and more than 500 farmers in new in 10 villages with 17 groups.

E. Swai, TARI-Hombolo

  • My activities are on outcomes 2, 4, and 5: Our activity on outcome two has been pre-financed to ensure that we stay with the rainy season—activities on the use of rain-out shelter to reduce water stress for assessing the efficacy of in situ rainwater harvesting. The trials were set up between December 2020 – January 2021.
  • Under outcome 4, we have an activity already mentioned by J. Kihara, where we hope will be implemented in April 2021.
  • We have also pre-financed an activity on partnerships because it is an ongoing activity. In October/November 2020, we had meetings with farmers to initiate the Fanya juu/chini technologies roll out. So far, this activity is progressing well. We trained 100 extension officers across the Dodoma Region on Fanya juu/chini technology.
  • The Lead Foundation, one of Africa RISING partners, successfully initiated Fanya juu/technology implementation in Arusha at the end of 2020.

C. Thierfelder, CIMMYT

  • Our Program has been impressive this year because, through Mateete's help, we shortened our long workplans into three primary activities:
    • The first activity is in long-term CA trials that have been ongoing for many years, and we have been trying to fill in some research data on the domains that we didn't have enough data on.
    • The second one is the case studies that R. Chikowo partially mentioned.
    • The third one is supporting the scaling through partnerships with development partners in the public and private sectors.
  • I was fortunate to see the Zambia sites recently, and unlike our colleagues in Uganda and other places, we have probably one of our best cropping seasons so far in the last 15 years. The rains have been excellent and regular. Our crops will have yields of 7-8 tons/ha; in some cases, we may have a lot of problems to defend why we are doing drought mitigation and resilience building!
  • I could not go to Malawi sites, but my partners, who I am working with for many years there are quite capable and have informed me that all is going according to plan.
  • We have sampled soils for carbon in Malawi and have developed a plan to do the same in Zambia.
  • We have outlined several surveys in the human and social domains, and fortunately, we could continue the work with M. Mutenje, who is now a consultant with IITA, to bring these studies to the right end.
  • In the case studies, we were involved in the design, and we are glad that the survey is running and both the biophysical and the social scientists are in the field collaborating on it. These are different modules that we are implementing.
  • I am planning a trip to Malawi in March 2021, depending on the travel clearances and authorizations.
  • We have also contributed to one publication, already mentioned by F. Muthoni, and are in the process of developing four others on different aspects of our work.

M. Mutenje, IITA

  • Our work is going as planned, as already reported by C. Thierfelder and R. Chikowo. We were focusing mainly on the case study farmers. We now have the student on the field, and I am in contact with her; this will be her 3rd day in the area. All is under control.
  • We have also managed to give the partners we work with all the necessary documentation required for M&E data, like the beneficiary lists and the protocols. So, we are hoping that by April/May/June 2021, things will be better so that we can go to the field.

WA Perspective & Experience

B. Zemadim, ICRISAT, AR Mali Coordinator

  • Thank you very much for inviting us to be a part of this meeting. It has been interesting to follow the progress update reports!
  • In West Africa, we probably have some lessons to learn from you regarding how you have collected data for publications. I have noted that most of the presentations had a scientific paper reported to be in the pipeline. We will have to do this in West Africa because we have a lot of data, some of which are still yet to be analyzed.
  • I am also quite impressed by the very deliberate effort to engage with scaling partners to ensure validated technologies reach more farmers.
  • Hearing about your progress with the technologies handbook is also quite impressive because we are a bit further behind in West Africa.
  • From the reported activities, It is also clear that the socioeconomics colleagues are exceptionally well integrated with the biophysical scientists, which we are still working on in West Africa.

F. Kizito, IITA, AR WA Chief Scientist

  • I have a few anecdotes to share in light of the extended PCT meeting that was held towards the end of 2020:
    • There is a lot of interest in RoI, impact studies as well as ex-ante analysis. I thought that maybe C. Azzari, J. Manda, and Bekele Kotu from West Africa could find a way of getting together to ensure that whatever level of analysis can benefit both project regions.
    • I also take note of the work reported on resilience studies around southern Malawi. I am very eager to listen more closely about what emerges from there because we also have a similar work in West Africa where we are looking at how technologies impact resilience within farming systems and communities' adaptive capacities to cope with shocks.
    • R. Chikowo mentioned using the survey stack as a tool, and I was curious whether it is free and accessible? J. Manda also said survey solutions that the World Bank uses, and if these tools are available, I would be glad if the team can share these with us.
    • I see an opportunity to link up J. Kihara with a postdoc in WA who is implementing an activity similar to his agronomy activity in Babati. There is a lot he can learn from you. His training focuses on going to the field and documenting some of the practices and technologies they (farmers) have picked recently and the enabling factors/hindrances to the adoption.
    • In response to the planned phone surveys mentioned by J. Manda, I would just like to say that a few years back, we did phone surveys in the context of AR-NAFAKA. We sampled 1,300 farmers in the southern highlands, and it worked out very well. A gentleman at NAFAKA called Japhet Masigo, who led that, and I could put you in touch with him.
    • With regards to F. Muthoni's presentation about providing weather data for colleagues, I was curious if, at some point, an activity focused on validating data from our weather stations would be something we would want to do and see how it compares with the grided data from CHIRPS.
    • Thank you once again for inviting us to this meeting. It has been very beneficial.

General observations

M. Bekunda, IITA

  • Thank you very much for those observations' colleagues from the West Africa project. I admire most from your side because you have always been good at implementing the SIAF analysis. That is something we need to get better at doing here in the ESA project.
  • The external peer review team has now reviewed all chapters of the ESA technologies handbook. Four chapters are ready to go; I hope to get the rest into acceptable shape soon. So please, colleagues, spare time, and focus on this too.
  • I am impressed that most of the work is progressing well despite the COVID-19 restrictions.
  • We are not happy with the speed and rate of fund disbursements; it also concerns to see a lot of pre-financing.
  • We are doing some work on outcomes 4 & 5, it is not much, but we are also approaching the end of the project. We developed the log frame, and maybe in hindsight, we should never have proposed outcomes that we couldn't effectively handle.
  • I am impressed by D. Mgalla saying that our uploads to dataverse have been great. Please, let's keep doing that.
  • I haven't heard about the minor thing that everyone promised to publish this year, but there were a few exemptions to the reporting that didn't have updates in this regard.

J. Odhong, IITA

  • The program communications and knowledge management (CKM) team met a week ago and prepared workplans for 2021. As indicated by all colleagues, COVID-19 travel/movement restrictions are also a challenge to us. We, however, plan to double up efforts to continue providing communications support virtually remotely. Therefore, please keep updating the communications team about planned activities and events to offer support.
  • There have been lots of presentations by colleagues about surveys, studies, etc. I would like to request that at the end of these studies, the final reports should be shared with the CKM team to ensure they are edited and published on the correct platforms.
  • During our previous meeting on 29 September 2020, I circulated a google form where colleagues were supposed to fill in and nominate success stories from their work. However, the response was not so good. I would therefore like to resend that form so that you can fill in your nominations. The communications team will follow up separately with each of you to develop the stories into publishable outputs.
  • We are finalizing the medicine label technology briefs. I will be sharing the near-final versions for approval by the scientists who authored them before we publish the materials.

J. Manda, IITA

  • A quick response to the great point raised by F. Kizito about collaboration with IFPRI: I would just like to mention that we are doing that, and we have a meeting planned for Monday 8 February. The intention is definitely to come up with cross-regional studies and consistent methodologies across the Program. Bekele Kotu is already involved from the West Africa side.

R. Chikowo, MSU

  • Regarding survey stack: We are very fortunate that the creator has had a very close working relationship with MSU. So, I will contact him, and he is very good at giving tutorials online.

Way forward

  1. Virtual ESA partners meetings should be regularized and held monthly. During subsequent meetings, at least two partners to make presentations about planned publications.
  2. R. Chikowo volunteered to present a draft paper about farm-scale analysis across various Malawi farmer groups at the next meeting.

Closing remarks – I. Hoeschle-Zeledon

  • Thank you very much for attending and sharing insights into your work.
  • Let us continue with the excellent spirit and stay motivated. As we approach the end of the project, we will all be proud of our work.
  • Those who haven't got their contracts signed shouldn't be afraid that we will not send the funds through. I hope next time we will do it much better.