SII Arusha2014

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Sustainable Intensification Indicators meeting
Arusha, Tanzania
10 and 14 November 2014
[edit | edit source]

10 November Participants[edit | edit source]

  • Jerry Glover (USAID) - JGl
  • Ken Dashiell (IITA) - KD
  • Vanaprasad ??? (KSU) - V
  • Peter Thorne (ILRI) - PT
  • Siboniso Moyo (ILRI) - SM
  • Fred Kizito (CIAT) - FK
  • Beliyou Haile (IFPRI) - BH
  • Asamoah Larbi (IITA) - AL
  • Mateete Bekunda (IITA) - MB
  • Jeroen Groot (WUR) - JGr
  • Mark Musumba (Bio Science project) - MM
  • Gordon Conway (Imperial College in London) - GC
  • Irmgard Hoeschle-Zeledon (IITA) - IHZ
  • Carlo Azzari (IFPRI) - CA
  • Ewen Le Borgne / Tsehay Gashaw (ILRI)

File:November 10 SI Meeting Agenda.docx
Which scales do/don’t we want to cover. What themes haven’t we covered, what gaps do we see and therefore what partners do we need to bring in.

This meeting relates to another meeting on Friday.

In July 2013 we had an SI meeting organized by FARA, ACIAR, USAID, CGIAR. That was the starting point. In the program learning event last year we also had some discussion about sustainable intensification and we agree we shouldn’t compromise resources for future generations. We have to come up with indicators that help us assess progress in that direction.

We’re not talking only about relative sustainability. Can we look at integrating models to assess the likely impact of sustainable intensification? What tradeoffs do we have to consider?

We have to come up with SMART indicators in a pragmatic way.

What definition do we have for SI? Intensification is pretty clear for us but sustainability is not very straightforward.

J. Groot: technology-oriented or labour-oriented perspectives to (sustainable) intensification bring about different ways to assess SI. Some of the technologies on the pie chart are not adopted much. What level of adaptability do these technologies show? Trajectories to SI (see related graph): The sustainability of the outcomes is what we are talking about. This graph shows the different steps that SI takes. And it is about capturing change over time…

What do we mean by sustainability? What we are talking about really is damage limitation, really, as we are focusing on upcoming shocks, increasing global population… We are not going to build a really sustainable future.

(J.Gr) We need a threshold indicator to indicate the sustainability of a system – but that is not what Africa RISING has to address.

(PT) When our outcomes are driven by intensification desires, we are into a situation of tradeoffs…

(AL) Which systems are we talking about? Crops? Crop-livestock? In West Africa we have integrated crop-livestock systems. We need to define the system.

(PT) Time measurements are critical. We could think of using different time measurement methods to assess the ‘output’ (crop yield and livestock output).

(MB) Our baseline has taken very long to come up. If we are looking at SI, should we be realistic and go for agronomic measurements?

(JGl) If we go for a phase 2, we’ll not be constrained. This is also why we are linking up with Vital Signs.

Vital Signs (Mark Musumba)[edit | edit source]

Vital Signs (see this presentation about the Vital Signs Program’s M&E approach) focuses on landscapes in TZ, GH and UG. We are focusing on the landscape scale and region scale (250 000 stakeholders). We do measurements for biophysical and other indicators. We have co-located variables (biophysical and socio-economic). Scales considered: global, region, landscape, plot, household. For Ghana, we are collecting biophysical data for plots, households and landscapes. In Tanzania, we are doing sampling over 6 ‘clusters’ and we have done household surveys in 4 of them. We are working with ‘threads’ to assess what is needed for each indicator. We have observation data complemented with existing surveys and other data. We go from measurement (consistent metrics gathered) to analysis (mathematical models applied) to a decision-support dashboard with a small set of indicators for smart agricultural investment. Also VitalSigns is having discussions on what we present re: sustainable agricultural intensification (one of the indicators that VS is looking into). Another indicator is on inclusive wealth and resilience. Tradeoffs are coming from other indicators e.g. climate, biodiversity, water, ag intensification, food security and nutrient threads. Q (V): Are you tracking data over time?

  • A : Yes, we are planning to do the surveys every 3 years. In phase 2 we’ll have some of that data to track progress.

Q (MB): Who are the consumers of this project’s outputs?

  • A: Right now, they have been policy makers. We are working on scaling things down to farmers. Do we engage farmers with the information we have? We are trying to.

Q (JGl): How directly are you working with IFPRI? Direct data exchange, going to IFPRI literature?

  • A: Jawoo has been working on this and he will present crop simulations from Malawi where he’s looking at different systems in different locations. He will present on targeted and control villages in Malawi. Crop stats have also been shared with Vital Signs on the special layers we have. Finally, the household panel measurement data of Vital Signs are the same as the ones we’re using in Africa RISING. On specific locations we couldn’t partner with VS but we are in Ghana. Africa RISING will be moving into some of the VS areas in Tanzania also in the next 1-2 years.

Q (JGl): How can we, as a group here working on a plot-field-farm scale, work with this framework to improve our targeted measuring of sustainable intensification? – Question to be pondered by us all. Q (JGl): How can the data measured by Africa RISING feed into Vital Signs? It’d be nice to see our information feeding into your effort. Similarly, your satellite imagery data would benefit Africa RISING greatly.

  • A: We try to minimize the costs we have with our data so we measure only the minimum. If we assess what Africa RISING needs we can look into what we can provide extra.

Q (MB): How do you separate soil health from sustainable agricultural intensification? They shouldn’t be separated

  • A: The top 4 (water security, food security, sustainable ag intensification, inclusive wealth and resilience) are top indicators and they are integrated. E.g. for the food security thread, there are measurement inputs coming from e.g. poverty thread.
-Comment (JGr): You have ‘wood fuel’ as one of your indices. There’s an ongoing debate about biomass etc. and using wood for fuel is very detrimental for the health of people and also for your ecosystems services. Some of the tradeoffs are not really tradeoffs as there are genuine alternatives – we’d be better off looking at alternatives than using wood for fuel.

Q: in Africa RISING, when we want to measure SI, we want to measure livestock productivity, soil health etc. So we want to consider 5 indicators that help us define/measure sustainable intensification. In VS, what is your single measurement approach for ‘Sustainable Ag. Intensification’.

  • A: We are working on this.
- Comment: Resilience is also missing, because it’s one essential element of sustainable intensification. Resilience cuts across the 5 indicators we are trying to get at. We are not considering static indicators but dynamic ones, over time…

Q (JGl): How can we consider nested scales of SI? Q (FK): You do additional measurements after 2-3 years. If you consider issues about microbial diversity etc. they are very dynamic in the system, so do you have proxy indicators? 3 years is enormous in that sense. You don’t seem to have much on this…

  • A: Yes we don’t have much on this but we are working with proxy indicators, not all identified (e.g. for soil health we don’t know yet).

Perhaps work on the complementarity with Africa RISING…

Gordon Conway[edit | edit source]

(Imperial College of London) There have been data about sustainability showing that only in the past 5 years we are seeing real issues around the sustainability of the environment. We have to meet the food security goal by 2050 in a way that meets sustainability with productivity, stability, equity and resilience. There are tradeoffs. The radar graph is a good one but add resilience under this - and add equity under 'human'.

What does SI mean at a national level?
In Mali and Cote d'Ivoire, despite troubles, the farming systems persisted because the farmers kept on, womens' cooperatives kept on, youths wanted to eat, local decision-makers wanted to continue etc. there was widespread support and collaboration. That is the key to sustainability: You need to have many stakeholders.

Resilience is the key to sustainability. One part of it is greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. We define SI by producing more (crop, income, nutrition) on the same (or less) amount of land and water, minimizing use of inputs to exactly what is needed and not more, limiting labour to the minimum too and keeping GHGs at bay, including carbon sequestration and building resilience. It is incredibly challenging. This is much more difficult than the Green Revolution by Norman Borlaug etc.

Equity is also crucial to this. Access is the critical point here and why household surveys are important. Every 2-3 years in Rwanda they conduct surveys and these reveal which households are sustainable or not.

Soil organic carbon is really important. There is a threshold there: if soc is above a certain threshold you have a sustainable system, below it collapses. 30% of arable land in Africa is seriously degraded. We need to re-build up that soil organic carbon.

Ecology, genetics and socio-economics.

  • Ecology: Conservation Agriculture, intercropping, soil cover etc. If you have soil cover you can get soil organic carbon.
  • Genetics: You can build resilient seeds that allow a plant to recover from a drought. There's a South African 'resurrection plant' that reacts in that way. Building resistance to steer away from pesticides is important.
  • Socio-economics: Building societies of farmers that make them resilient. Co-ops are a bad word but they are extremely important, as is the case in The Netherlands. Land rights are also critical here. Farmers want to invest and SI means they need to invest labour but they want to make sure they get benefits. CAADP is important also. Africa imports 40 bn USD on food. Education also critical: kids who want to be (modern) farmers, want to get involved in precision agriculture, in machinery etc. Small mechanization with e.g. cassavas in Africa can make a huge difference.

We are now setting up a website on SI where we'll put examples of SI (positive and negative ones). e.g. micro-dosing as an entry point seems very interesting but it has some implications to examine.

I'm not suggesting we should work on national level but we should keep that in mind.

(JGl) The SI innovation lab is looking into mechanization.
In the zones where we work, can we develop a SI index to rank communities/regions etc. based on this higher level information.

  • Q: How many of the 8 points of Gordon are covered by our information systems?
  • A: For each of these 8 points we cover 2-3 issues.
  • Point #8 is not just about education but also about extension systems.

There is a weekly newsletter about small mechanization.
'Act for Impact' is our newsletter.

Parts of SI are about sustainable livelihoods - farming alone is not enough to achieve these sustainable livelihoods.
(PT) Adaptability is not something we seem to have been measuring --> (JGl) Sieg Snapp has some work on this with ecologically sound and productive systems that are too complicated to be adapted and thus not desirable.
(PT) We are looking at moving targets: environmental unpredictability etc. we need to have flexible assessment protocols because the situation will be very different in 15 years.
(FK) We haven't explicitly captured the purpose of the indicators. E.g. optimization of farm practices, regional level decision-making etc. force us to focus more but it needs to be more generic about policies, implementation agencies. Maybe we need to think about the stakeholders and why we want these indicators. They could be a good decision-support tool indicating whether sthg is working or not.
(JGl) The largest scale we want to work with is the regions.
(FK) The merit of a landscape approach is how actors interact around on-site and off-site benefits.

... We could focus on development domain level monitoring (these domains are similar to districts) and it would be interesting to see if these development domains have a higher SI index as compared with the control sites...

The sustainable intensification innovation lab[edit | edit source]

Focus on Senegal, Burkina Faso, Tanzania (working with CIAT), Bangladesh (with CIMMYT) and in the second phase Ethiopia and ?? We work on appropriate scales of mechanization. We will issue a call for proposals very soon.

How do we move forward?[edit | edit source]

(FK) It would be great if we could compare data from 2000-2005 and later...
(JG) What to do on Friday?

And show the different radar graphs for the different action sites - if we could prepare sthg for each of the AR countries it would be great as we could show multiple layers inside the same geography.