From africa-rising-wiki
Jump to: navigation, search

Interactions between select Global and Regional Initiatives and the SI-MFS Initiative
13 October 2021
Virtual on MS TEAMS
16:00 - 18:00 East Africa Time
[edit | edit source]


  1. share and explain scope of work of each initiative, including countries and sites
  2. identify demand for outputs from the SI-MFS initiative by the other Global initiatives and the RIIs
  3. identify demand for outputs from other Global Initiatives and the RIIs initiatives by the SI-MFS initiative  
  4. identify opportunities to strengthen and formalize collaboration between the SI-MFS Initiative and others through for example (i) potential co-location of sites, (ii) joint use of tools for systems analysis, design,…(iii) joint partnerships with research and scaling partners,


  • 16:00 Brief participant intros
  • 16:10 Objective of meeting and context - B. Vanlauwe
  • 16:20 Opening remarks - J. Glover
  • 16:25 Feedback/ Reactions/Clarifications in response to the opening statements
  • 16:30 Overview of the SI-MFS Initiative) - I. Hoeschle-Zeledon/ S. Lopez
  • 16:40 Feedback/ Reactions/Clarifications
  • 16:45 Presentations by Global and Regional Initiatives [5 mins. presentations]
  • 17:25 Discussions and way forward - led by B. Vanlauwe
  • 18:00 End of meeting

Confirmed participants
(1) Isabelle Baltenweck, ILRI (2) Madonna Casimero,IRRI (3) Prasanna Boddupalli, CIMMYT (4) Jerry Glover, USAID (5)Zach Stewart, USAID (6)Santiago López, CIMMYT (7)Monica Carvajal, Alliance Bioversity-CIAT (8)Inga Jacobs-Mata, IWMI (9)Evan Girvetz, Alliance Bioversity-CIAT (10)Jan Achilles Helsen, AfricaRice (11)Regina Kapinga, IITA (12)Polly Ericksen, ILRI (13)Timothy Krupnik, CIMMYT (14)Purnima Menon, IFPRI (15) Mangi Lal Jat, CIMMYT (16)Siboniso Moyo,ILRI (17)Peter Thorne, ILRI (18)Carlo Azzarri, IFPRI (19) Jonathan Odhong, IITA (20)Bernard Vanlauwe, IITA (21)Irmgard Hoeschle-Zeledon, IITA (22) Fred Kizito, Alliance Bioversity-CIAT

MEETING NOTES[edit | edit source]

Objective of meeting and context - B. Vanlauwe

  • Africa RISING is a systems program, that started almost before or around the time that systems research work became prominent again in the CGIAR via the CRP at that time. It has a number of key operational principles which I think are still very relevant for the One CGIAR. As I said it is about sustainable intensification, multidisciplinary teams to address key bottlenecks in farming systems towards the delivery of the impact areas which are very similar to what the CGIAR is proposing, and it is also about putting research in development. If you look at those dimensions, they are still very relevant for the One CGIAR and all the discussions happening in that context. So, I believe that is one of the reasons why we are here.
  • We know that One CGIAR initiative development process is aiming to advance progress made, good and relevant research that makes sense and that is in line with the research and delivery strategy of the one CGIAR. I think that is what has happened over the past 2 years. So, Africa RISING as I said, started as a project dealing with sustainable intensification of farming systems is very much aligned to the new One CGIAR initiatives – SI-MFS.
  • Today’s discussion is really about looking at what been done in Africa RISING and how do we move that into the SI-MFS initiative and more importantly, how do other initiatives link to the SI-MFS. I am leading one of the initiatives on agronomy (EiA; a thematic global initiative), we were tasked like other initiatives to explore opportunities for collaborations with other initiatives. And while that (collaboration) is extremely important for EiA and other initiatives, it is very crucial for the farming systems initiatives which are almost like the intermediary between the thematic ones and the regionally integrated initiatives.
  • One could actually argue that this sustainable intensification initiative needs to build tangible relationships with others both downward (towards the thematic initiatives) and upwards (towards the regional initiatives).
  • This meeting is very much about starting that discussion in an organized way, and in a way that we are all part of the global discussions and then also informing the proposal development phase for the SI-MFS. I understand the SI-MFS proposal is due for submission on 23 November 2021. In essence the initiatives that were in the first batch didn’t (at least in the case of EiA, we didn’t have a lot of quality time to put in much thought into the interactions with other initiatives because of the very tight deadlines. Today’s discussion could probably reinforce those discussions to bring out tangible and practical interactions than what the first batch of initiatives were probably able to do. But I am talking generally about the EiA because I am not sure how far the others went.
  • So let us listen to what the SI-MFS is about, listen to what the other initiatives are about, and I think Jonathan has suggested several bullets that all of us should cover and then look at where those different initiatives can link in to form a more integrated and efficient research agenda on the priority farming systems that are targeted by the SI-MFS. It is better to define a limited number of actions that you will actually do than to identify a long list of actions that may not happen after all.

Opening remarks - J. Glover

  • Thanks, Bernard, for setting the context for our discussions and thanks to the Africa RISING leadership over the last nearly 10 years. It has come a long way in a lot of different ways, and I am grateful for that.
  • USAID launched Africa RISING back then to focus in on a few key production systems where there were great opportunities to move the needle on poverty and malnutrition through agricultural productivity growth. And we still maintain that focus on key production systems and of course the element of Africa RISING is so nicely added is the integration of multiple disciplines – livestock, crops, horticulture, natural resource management, mechanization etc. So quite a few different elements there that have been woven into a quite rich program.
  • We are really excited now though with the opportunity to see that rich program be integrated into a larger effort with more support, more donors, potentially more/ a greater number of key production systems. So, we see a lot of opportunity.
  • I have been keeping an eye on the different initiatives, from the thematic to the regional initiatives, and there is a lot of great things there. Lots of great ideas too and there is not a lot to disagree with except for kind of one big remaining element – the linkages, the integration, the coordination, the alignment between the different initiatives. Particularly talking within the RAFS action area where it is going to be critical, we believe, that all these initiatives aren’t trying to do their own thing. Because agronomy alone isn’t going to do what can be achieved working together with other efforts on livestock, horticulture, natural resource management etc. And that has been clearly shown in Africa RISING as with other similar systems programs.
  • We would like that to continue, but it remains a little bit of an unknown about how all these initiatives are going to come together. So hopefully, this discussion will at least begin that process and at some point, we at USAID are hoping that there will be a more formal “gluing process” where these different initiatives are woven together. But this is really a systematic framework to hang the different RAFS initiatives on so that they can come together and be mutually reinforcing.
  • Naturally, that is one of our big areas of concern, but also, we see that as a big opportunity. Of course, Africa RISING isn’t USAID’s only flagship systems program, we have others and so how to get the strings out of all these and somehow come together with other is of interest.

Feedback/ Reactions/Clarifications in response to the opening statements

  • Santiago López: I understand very well the need for having the interlinkages between the different initiatives and it seems that USAID understands that the real potential of the component-based innovations is best realized when you put them together. So, my question is about the team participating in this meeting. Why were the specific initiatives here invited? Knowing what you are gluing together is important for picking the best glue to use.
  • Bernard Vanlauwe: This is not an exclusive group rather it was one that was most logically linked to the current content of Africa RISING for several reasons. So, if there are others that would have been good to have in this discussion with tangible inputs/additions then that it would be good to include them. To expand your logic, then we may need to talk to all 33 initiatives, but that doesn’t make sense because we of course need to start from somewhere.
  • Irmgard Hoeschle-Zeledon: I think we also said that we would like to first focus on selected RAFS initiatives, and if I am not completely mistaken then agroecology is in the Systems Transformation.
  • Santiago López: Normally in meetings people will say, you can have these technologies, and everything will work okay, but if you don’t look at markets and value chains, this isn’t going to work.
  • Timothy Krupnik: I think there is still a little bit of confusion where the line between RAFS and Systems Transformation is drawn. And some of the work like the agroecology initiative is working at a farm, field and landscape levels as well. In TAFSSA we actually did talk to over 25 other initiatives, just to get a sense of who is doing what and where and how to intersect. Doing a meeting like this is a great economy of scale way to get a good start on that. But, I would echo that there is some amount of relevance in MITIGATE+, Agroecology, NEXUS Gains and a range of other initiatives that would have natural resource management issues that would be brought up.
  • Jerry Glover: You know this is a little different than the stakeholder meetings that the initiatives have been holding because in a sense this is an Africa RISING event where we are looking at how best to wind down the program and get its outputs and outcomes into the other initiatives. So, certainly the participation may not be comprehensive in terms of covering all the 33 initiatives por looking into how those are going to launch off. But in a way winding down Africa RISING and ensuring somehow we maintain some of the momentum, and the partnerships. How can we maintain the good things about Africa RISING and keep that going within the initiatives? Probably there are others beyond this group here that would be interested in the outcomes and outputs. That was the thinking. Africa RISING now has a time horizon beyond which it will kind of cease to exist as it has been. So what will it look like then and with whom?

Overview of the SI-MFS Initiative - I. Hoeschle-Zeledon/ S. Lopez)

Feedback/ Reactions/Clarifications

  • Christian Thierfelder: You have shown very nicely the interlinkages with other global initiatives, but not so elaborated with the regional initiatives. Was that deliberate or just an oversight?
  • Santiago López: You are right. This is a start, but I believe we will have to build this integration together to have clear context, demand, and the on-ground support needs and even the spill-over countries. I think Inga’s comment is very fortunate; that understanding the idea that we may be working there, but the idea is to be able, so we are not going to forget that Malawi has the lowest livestock density in the region and that we need to integrate all the aspects. At the regional level we are working based on a system, so for us, the work package 1, the focus is tp study the maize mixed systems of East and southern Africa. So, we will need to take the whole region and its farming systems into account. Indeed, we can provide selected approaches, methodology, and tools. What we need is to have a coherent way of selecting and adapting these tools to specific needs of the region. But then supporting in the co-design and scaling and the capacity development parts.
  • Irmgard Hoeschle-Zeledon: We had some interactions with U2 Initiative and what we said is that whatever the SI-MFS does, develops or tests in Malawi, the outcomes will be taken up by the regional initiatives to be applied in other countries in that region with the same farming systems. So we do a deep dive in Malawi, and then through the scaling hubs in the U2 initiative, these can be taken to the other countries with those farming systems in the region.
  • Inga Jacobs-Mata: I have two points to make:
  • In the early discussions with Santiago and Irmgard, the idea was that we would try to see what methodological frameworks tools that are developed under the SI-MFS initiative can be scaled through the Regional Integrated Initiatives (RIIs). We have been talking in the RIIs a little bit more about the specifics - which methodological tools/ frameworks (the details) and how we will do that.
  • With regards to the countries, I have also heard reservations from some about why for example you are working in Malawi when the RII isn’t there (at least in phase I). I am not too concerned about that to be honest because Malawi is part of our focus countries. It may not be a phase I, but definitely it is among our phase II countries. If we look at this kind of pathway to scaling, we are going to need sometime. So, I am sort of comfortable with it. I am curious to hear what the other think about this?
  • Jan Achilles Helsen: I have 2 points that I picked and feel they are key for the RII in West and Central Africa. They are: (i) context, demand, and on-ground support for the SI-MFS, and (ii) support for cross-cutting spillover as explained by Irmgard. That is the potential we have to ensure that some of the SI-MFS interventions can find their way into those countries where the initiative is currently not involved. The RIIs are more about scaling than science for development (to take science for development to scale). If I got it right, then your scaling (is embedded in work package 4), we have a work package 5 that looks at the science of scaling, readiness of use and impact at scale. I think that is where we can put our heads together to see how some of the innovations that have proven to be ready for use can be taken to scale under efforts for systems intensification.
  • Santiago López: The idea of having the RIIs supporting the SI-MFS in scaling innovations is key. I think the important thing will be to also do some part of the scaling work within the work packages, but a lot more on how do we make scaling for these mixed farming systems which is a real challenge. Usually, scaling for components is usually easier, but when you want to do it at the systems level the scaling will need to be different. So I hope that this science of scaling on our scaling work package (will also focus on science of scaling for mixed farming systems) would offer great synergistic opportunity.
  • Irmgard Hoeschle-Zeledon: Our work package 4 is not so much about scaling particular technologies. It is about creating or enhancing the enabling environment for scaling of mixed farming systems sustainable intensification. Fred Kizito leads this work package.
  • Fred Kizito: Yes, Irmgard you are correct. Work package 4 is more about ensuring that we enhance the connectivity for the enablers for scaling. So this is through contacting scaling partners and ensuring that the tools that we are developing would be rightly embedded for their needs. That level of engagement would then take scaling to the next level. We don’t necessarily/directly do the scaling ourselves, but it is through those strategic partnerships.
  • Inga Jacobs-Mata: I was curious about the work package 1 of the SI-MFS initiative which is about the regional and global status/trends. It looks like the trend analysis of SI-MFS is regional (if I understood Santiago correctly) and I think we may just need to discuss what does that mean? Because the RIIs also have a work package on SI as well (diversification) and we will also be doing through our work package 1 some assessments at the regional level. So I think, maybe that is something that we need to flag and discuss a little bit so that we don’t have overlaps/duplications
  • Santiago López: I agree. We have this idea of, like the map I showed in the research challenge, done by the SLP on the global trends and regional trends. I think that would be an good entry point to reinforce these systems at a larger and regional level. I didn’t go much into specifics, but I think that is our next exercise today.

Way forward - led by B. Vanlauwe

  • Bernard Vanlauwe: There is one slide deck for the Livestock, Climate Change and Resilience (LCCR) Initiative that we did not get to see, but I suggest that it is shared on the Africa RISING wiki page for the event. We were meant to have a discussion now, but my next meeting started 2 minutes ago. So just a few reflections from my sides and a few suggestions on the way forward.
  • There is a lot of scope for collaboration. This is obviously based on the many activities that have been suggested in the presentations from different initiative work packages. That is not abnormal, if you know that most of these initiatives were developed quite independently.
  • It is also good to see that there have already been some discussion about how to collaborate. Some of them quite detailed already, and this is good to see. The challenge is how to make those ideas presented into something tangible. As Jerry was saying, ideally we would have a RAFs/One CGIAR framework, which doesn’t exist yet, but we cannot wait for that and in the interest of this initiatives we need to advance our discussions and hope that eventually something bigger is set up in the One CGIAR.
  • Let’s focus on priorities. There is a lot of points here. If you assemble all the bullet points in each of the presentations, you will end up with a list of up to 40 bullet points. That is still a lot! All these initiatives will be judged in 2024, there will be stage-gating, assessment of how good we’ve been doing, interactions between initiatives will be part of that. We therefore need to select those absolute priorities which result in mutual benefits for both initiatives. If you really talk about collaboration, a suggestion for the next steps is that we will talk internally within the Africa RISING PCT, reflect a little bit on what was presented today. And I think if you talk about cooperation/collaboration, there is probably 2 critical dimensions – (i) what is it that we are going to do together, which can have several dimensions. For example, in some of the presentations we already observed some potential duplications between initiatives. So a discussion on how to avoid those duplications, how do we ensure that even across the initiatives some of those activities are organized at the higher level, maybe by the One CGIAR units/sub-units that are being developed. A lot of initiatives talked about data tools and regional/local technology related data. (ii) information and learning exchanges. These initiatives will develop some solutions, make them available, and checking whether there would be scope for more intense cooperation. (iii) Identify those activities where we could jointly invest. So, I think these are the ones that we absolutely need to look at and focus on. These are also the sort of activities that need to be highlighted when we talk about the theory of change and some joint development of outcomes and impacts. There is a bit of emphasis on developing joint outcomes and outputs and then highlighting those in the ToC.
  • The second question – how – is usually very complex. For example, how are we going to operationalize that cooperation. We know that there is a number of questions related to the dimension, we have talked about co-location, co-investment, joint teams etc. So we need to be absolutely clear about the how.
  • These are some of the questions that I have noted. But I think we have to take those next steps probably before the SI-MFS proposal submission deadline.
  • Irmgard Hoeschle-Zeledon: I would like to suggest that after we have answered these questions - the what and the how – then those initiatives which still haven’t submitted, then we should also find some common language that we put into our proposals. This will help to show the reviewers the intended collaboration.
  • Peter Thorne: My challenge to us is that there must be some sort of mechanism, some sort of institution in place to allow us to do that and I don’t know whether that is going to come from the top down? But I don’t think we should assume it.
  • Carlo Azzarri: I keep hearing about data management and impact assessment and evaluations, I understand that we can’t deep dive in this time that we have, but it would be good to reflect about what this actually means in practice for the initiatives.
  • Bernard Vanlauwe: Thank you very much colleagues for your time!