SIMLEZA - Africa RISING meeting, 28-29 May 2013

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28-29 May, 2013
Capital Sunbird Hotel, Lilongwe, Malawi
[edit | edit source]

Agenda[edit | edit source]

Background materials[edit | edit source]

Participants[edit | edit source]

  • Irmgard Hoeschle-Zeledon (IITA/Africa RISING)
  • Mateete Bekunda (IITA/Africa RISING)
  • Ainsley Charles (IFPRI/Africa RISING)
  • Stephen Lyimo (SELIAN Tanzania/Africa RISING)
  • Lotte Klapwijk (Wageningen/Africa RISING)
  • Brian Martaluss (USAID Zambia)
  • Tracy Powell (USAID Washington)
  • Patrick Okori (ICRISAT/Africa RISING)
  • Regis Chikowo (MSU/Africa RISING)
  • Canon Mukuma (IITA/SIMLEZA)
  • Mulundu Mwila (ZARI/SIMLEZA)
  • Munyaradzi Mutenje (CIMMYT/ SIMLEZA)
  • Christian Thierfelder (CIMMYT/SIMLEZA)
  • Peter Setimela (CIMMYT/SIMLEZA)
  • Halimu Malumo(TLC/SIMLEZA)
  • John Chisui (TLC/SIMLEZA)
  • Beliyou Haile (IFPRI/Africa RISING)

Notes and Presentations[edit | edit source]


Introductory Comments[edit | edit source]

The Africa RISING Coordinator welcomed the participants and provided the background of the meeting.

From the beginning, USAID has also taken Zambia into consideration for Africa RISING interventions because of potential synergies with SIMLEZA, which is also a USAID funded program, and both projects focus on maize-legume farming systems. She informed that it is USAID‘s policy to strongly link centrally funded projects with mission funded investments and also to complement development oriented projects, often implemented by NGOs in the countries, with research activities. Africa RISING has this linkage with development projects in Tanzania where we co-located activities at the same sites. Africa RISING is currently formalizing collaboration with USAID funded development projects in Tanzania and Malawi through MoUs with the project implementers.

For some time already talks have taking place within USAID about SIMLEZA and Africa RISING collaboration. Dr. Ngoma (USAID Zambia) has participated in some of the Africa RISING meetings in Tanzania and always showed interest in Africa RISING coming to Zambia. The March field visit to SIMLEZA project sites in Eastern Province was meant to get an understanding of what SIMLEZA is about and to enter into dialog with the SIMLEZA implementers. On the last day, it was decided that the SIMLEZA and Africa RISING teams should meet in May to further explore opportunities for collaboration focussing on learning from each other and complementing each other.

The Africa RISING team returned from the field visit with very positive impressions.

  • both projects work in maize-legume systems
  • they share similar objectives and have similar strategies
  • AR seems to cover slightly different agro-ecological and socio-economic environments
  • these three points offer opportunities for cross-project learning, gathering information about these production systems across a greater area in the region, and broaden each project’s impact, have more value for money

During the next two days, the meeting should explore in detail the areas of cooperation and the comparative advantages f each project team. No final decisions have to be taken yet.

USAID would like to meet the two taems again in September in continuation of the Africa RISING annual review and planning meeting.

The task of the meeting was to come up with a relatively clear picture of what could be done together which could then be translated into a concrete research plan at the September meeting so that field activities could be implemented timely in the next cropping season. The available funds of both projects should be taken into consideration. Africa RISING receives funds on an annual basis but the level of funding for each region is quite well known. At the meeting in Chipata it was mentioned that future funding level for SIMLEZA would be known only by end of July.

Brain Martalus from the USAID mission informed the house about the declining FtF budget in Zambia and requested that despite this situation the good work of SIMLEZA should continue. Ways should be explored how this could be achieved through a collaboration with Africa RISING if the reaserch agendas would allow.

Presentation: Africa RISING research goals/design/approach in ESA Presentation by Mateete Bekunda

  • Africa RISING is a sustainable intensification research program. The program is aligned with USAID country missions, and provides a research backstop for FtF investments;

the program also aligns with CRP1.1 and 1.2 (HumidTropics, etc.) but through bilateral support rather than central funding windows. Like HumidTropics, the program focuses on farm-level issues and integrates multiple stakeholders.

  • Program purpose:

Identify pathways out of poverty (research rather than development) for smallholders through SI farming systems. Focus on productivity, income, and food/nutrition security

  • Summary of objectives & outcomes (for both research and development); development objectives rely on partnerships to disseminate/scale integrated innovations for SI beyond the AR action research site
  • Research design: rests on 5 hypotheses (integration, sequencing, adoption, tradeoffs, scalability)
  • Research framework schematic diagram
  • RO1: situation analysis & program-wide synthesis; characterize & stratify communities to effectively target interventions
  • RO2: Integrated systems improvement, focus on existing technologies (endogenous/exogenous)
  • RO3: Scaling & delivery. Test/compare scaling approaches.
  • ESA project implementation, provides an R4D Platform at the regional level
  • Review of planning process/ planning meetings

Presentation: Africa RISING implementation and experience in Kongwa/Kiteto -- “ Intensification of maize-legume based systems in the semi-arid areas of TZ to increase farm productivity and improve farming natural resource base. Presentation by Patrick Okori

  • Locations (Kongwa, Kiteto),
  • Partners include government extension; CG centers; NARS; farmers; development agency programs such as NAFAKA
  • Context of interventions: main constraints & opportunities
  • Summary of progress:
  • Benchmarking: identifying options for piloting and scaling up into intensification model, such as new varieties, seed systems – test community-based approach for pigeon pea & groundnuts, production environments)
  • Strategic partnerships: all direct/contracted implementers and associate (noncontractual and critical) partners and community leadership on board, with roles designed & defined around 7 work packages
  • Work Packages:
  • WP1: On-farm evaluation of improved legume & cereal varieties (varietal performance, technology dissemination of seeds & knowledge, integrated production systems)
  • WP2: ISFM. Identify soil limitations, improve fertilizer usage, intercropping strategies, cost-benefit analysis of different soil nutrient strategies (experiments to generate good local recommendations)
  • WP3: Land/water Management (soil & water conservation). ID best-bet moisture/erosion technologies, strategies to improve soils and water mgmt., cost-benefit analysis of different approaches.
  • WP4: Post-harvest processing, utilization, & nutrition and safety. Explore pigeon pea as diet diversification crop (not just for cash; this topic driven by demand from development partners for technical input), Compare technologies to reduce Aflatoxin contamination of various crops (ongoing); raise awareness of aflatoxin among partners; profile value chain for Aflatoxin contamination points; in year 2, working to develop & validate AFL diagnostic platform, build capacity of NARs in this food safety area)
  • WP5: Crop livestock & poultry integration for productivity enhancement. How to standardize integration of manure into cropping systems? How to integrate indigenous pasture management or alternative practices into livestock management system to minimize land degradation?
  • WP6: Site characterization. Baseline ongoing
  • Lessons learnt regarding partnerships, benchmarking, identifying “champions for change” in the beneficiary community in order to make any headway (i.e. treatment randomization not practical)

DISCUSSION:[edit | edit source]

Q1: (Munyaradzi): Targeting “champions for change” is important, but how to explore scaling to other farmers who aren’t innovators? Is sampling designed to measure impact beyond “champions for change” to make sure you’re not introducing technology gaps?

A (Patrick): “champions” determined by risk tolerance, not resources, so this approach doesn’t necessarily just benefit well-endowed innovators. In first year, pressed by short timeline & need to achieve impact quickly à building on existing group dynamics as much as possible to support tech scaling.
A (Mateete): different partners have different visions of what works for scaling; we should be determining which models/approaches work – randomization, targeting of innovators, etc.
A (Stephen ): agrees that alternative crops to maize may be better, both for political reasons and for agroecological niches. Also, regarding “champions” – doesn’t necessarily nullify sampling techniques/randomization or invalidate experimental approaches. In any community you always have to identify willing participants who act as advocates & influencers
Q2: (Christian): WP3 package emphasizes ridging systems they’re trying to do away with in SIMLEZA/CIMMYT in favor of flat farming for reduced labor. Why include these technologies?

A: current work plan emphasizes in situ systems; need cost-benefit analysis of different approaches to quantify tradeoffs between labor, soil structure, erosion, livestock (i.e. once crops harvested, systems all becomes pastureland à possibly different system, w/ different constraints to mulching, etc.)

A: area for collaboration, compare approaches, offer advice. Room for integration of cereal crops beyond maize (i.e. sorghum & millet, as in northern Ghana and Mali)
Q4: (Ainsley): Regarding the projected targets for the activities – how did you arrive at strong impacts in this system, given the limited initial data?
A: (Patrick): Projections are based on conversations with researchers/partners who have been working in area; limited experimentation so far indicates these projections are reasonable. The projections based on intrinsic potential of improved varieties are good, then combine with environmental suitability for new varieties under best management practices (taking management gaps into account); build on NAFAKA and other partners’ data, but the actual data capture system is currently quite weak when it comes to justifying these assessments. RO1 will hopefully strengthen this process.

Presentation: Africa RISING Implementation and experience in sub-humid Babati TZ.

Presentation by Mateete Bekunda[edit | edit source]

  • Core RO2 team for Babati developed research plan that emphasizes participatory research with farmers, integration of research sites across partners/disciplines/technologies, partnership with local farmers/administrators/extension supervisors built around a mother-baby demonstration/research approach.
  1. due to short timeframe, a harmonized, multipartner proposal was not developed in time for the growing season, so many field activities performed without central coordination.
  2. Research team has grown to include broader variety of disciplines, collaborating institutions
  3. Mycotoxin group (IITA) grew to cross-cutting activity across all TZ activities, may also expand to Malawi

  • Lessons Learned:
  1. different start-up times for different research packages made it challenging to manage partnerships
  2. without strong central coordination, fragmented implementation by different partners meant most implementation guidelines were executed at work-package level rather than project level; to address this in the future, all proposals must be developed at the annual review and planning meeting – partners shouldn’t develop work plans on their own
  3. partner institutions pre-funded activities even when AR funds arrived late – a good indication of how much they valued the partnership

  • Activity Examples
  1. bean demonstration trial sites under different fertilizer regimes. Introduction of new bean varieties (case study).
  2. During trials, noted new challenges at different sites, such as nutrient deficiencies, aphid infestations, stakes too weak to support climbing beans, erosion, moisture stress, soil fertility, halo blight, low-quality manure (new challenges to be addressed)
  3. To address challenges, potentially bring in new partners for integrated research

DISCUSSION:[edit | edit source]

Discussion of partnership opportunities: partners don’t always have to be local; advantage of AR program spanning multiple regions = can draw upon broad pool of expertise
Q : how to prioritize challenges, so that we focus on rate-limiting problems rather than drowning in the many challenges?
A (Patrick): First year of data will help guide project focus, help select solutions (e.g. in bean example above, could control aphids by changing management practices).

Presentation: Africa RISING implementation and experience in Ntcheu and Dedza Malawi Presentation by Regis Chikowo

  • Partner summary slide
  • Cultural context: risk-averse farmers prioritize subsistence food needs, sub-optimal practices limit farm productivity.
  • Intensification strategy: produce surplus food in favorable seasons, but challenges include inappropriate packaging of technologies, farmer failure to relate well with technologies (inappropriate learning platforms, rigidly packaged technologies stifle local innovation)
  • Summary of research questions; in particular, what are key ingredients for co-learning, technology adaptation, scaling & delivery to farmers in heterogeneous farming systems? (HH typologies, etc.)
  • Action research:
  • approach built on intervention/counterfactual site pairs chosen in Dedza district, emphasizes mother/baby trial design (mother trial = conventional, researcher-managed; baby trials translated into farmer co-managed trials on farm, allows them to select subset of technologies and introduce their own innovations)
  • example of mother trial treatment structure (maize, fertilizer, legume intercrop treatment combinations; rationale for treatments)
  • Example of baby trial formulation and management (established farmer action groups who participated in mother trial, established their own baby trials within certain rules)
  • Emphasis on diversification, e.g. doubled-up legume system with complementary legumes
  • Participatory yield analysis with farmers & researchers on mother & baby plots.
  • Postharvest research issues: aflatoxin and food storage issues

DISCUSSION:[edit | edit source]

Q: (Christian): In many places, everyone applies fertilizer without the K, leads to K deficiencies. Will project address potassium depletion? Also, clarification of mother trial treatments – N level should be 69, not 70.

A (Regis): at least in Ntcheu, no response to K, so at the moment 20kg application of potassium doesn’t make sense (may become necessary later on); got good yield responses with nitrogen/phosphorus without potassium

Q (Regis): Ridge spacing aimed at maize, which is not optimal for legumes, but ridge system very traditional & challenging to overhaul. But could demonstrating potential yield increases for groundnut with closer spacing, flat cultivation be powerful tool to convince farmers?
A (Patrick): In theory, yes, but in practice tobacco is the priority crop, then maize, then groundnut; priority list tells you a lot about constraints to mgmt. practices e.g. for ridges – he’s been finding that it is most successful to adapt existing system (e.g. double rows). True constraints sometimes hidden, can’t be overcome simply by data/demonstration/productivity gains. Second challenge: not all varieties amendable to flat growth, so must think about variety-by-system interactions (e.g. Spanish groundnut varieties don’t work so well, Virginia varieties work OK on flat systems).
A (Christian): can save 25 labor-days per hectare by omitting ridges, herbicides further reduce labor à still opportunities to change even deeply ingrained practices, despite enforced ridging practices in the past.

Q (Irmgard): How much scope to introduce newly developed varieties, versus scaling up access to established variety?
A (Patrick): both are relevant – involving farmers in variety release/development to address particular constraints, but also making best-performing varieties more widely available.

Presentation: SIMLEZA goals, research, design, and approach in Eastern Province, implementation experience -- “ Sustainable Intensification of Maize-Legume Systems for the Eastern Provice of Zambia SIMLEZA Presentation by Peter Setimela

  • Implementing partners & key stakeholders, summary of program’s vital stats
  • Purpose/Goals: increase productivity of maize-legume systems through agronomy and seed systems; Nutrition focus, especially soya processing & utilization; capacity building of NARS, NGOs, seed companies, and farmers
  • Main objectives summary:
  1. Enhance technology targeting (typologies) & delivery of input and output markets through value chains (led by CIMMYT/IITA). Sample/key activities completed: baseline; characterize farming system based on biophysical factors; draft report of seed/fertilizer/output value chain actors for legumes & maize; monitoring survey developed for new technology adoption; performance monitoring indicators ID’d; training partners to do economic analysis of on-farm trials.

  1. Cropping Systems Agronomy: facilitate adoption/adaptation of productive, resilient, sustainable agronomic practices (Conservation Agriculture, CA), led by CIMMYT (where sustainable intensification comes in). Sample/key activities completed: implementation & evaluation of CA validation and other trials (dibble sticks, hand hoe planter to be introduced 2013/2014, animal traction, ridging, weed management strategies) on-farm in 7 camps and on research station, facilitated formation of Innovation Platforms

  1. Improve diet diversification through soybean use at the household level (IITA-led; not much info available on these activities due to IITA’s absence at meeting)

  1. Iincrease # of maize/legume varieties adapted to small-scale farm conditions, including newly released varieties from other projects such as DTMA, soils for Africa project, etc. (not a breeding objective; focus on identification & availability of improved varieties). Activities include seed delivery pathway analyses; participatory on-station variety trials for evaluation, variety release, seed production, and promotion/demo activities; on-station & on-farm multiplication of legume & maize varieties

  1. Enhance capacity of national partners, e.g. 2 masters students currently working on CA systems; also training extension workers/technicians on pre-season, harvest, and maize technical tasks. Broader activities include out-scaling activities such as farmer-to-farmer exchanges, field tours, field days, radio/TV/newspaper & other media outreach.
  • Project sites: on-farm “sites” in three districts; also on-station activities
  • Planning & evaluation meeting to be held August 12-15, 2013 in Chipata, Protea Hotel

Presentation: SIMLEZA site selection characterization and ME Plan 'Presentation by Munyaradzi 'Mutenje

  • Eastern Zambia:
- national breadbasket, with a significant national share of maize, groundnut, cotton, and sunflower production;
- distinct biophysical & socioeconomic context (market access, population density);
- data tables comparing characteristics, e.g. yields & market characteristics in various SIMLEZA action districts

  • Household Typologies based on: HOH age, household size, average farm size, livestock (all animals) ownership. Education, and farming-as-occupation exert a particularly strong influence on HH typology.
  • M&E Plan: follows FtF indicators, baseline data already collected and impact assessment planned for year 4, includes efforts to capture adoption spillovers within community (but outside immediate USG beneficiaries)

Presentation: Africa RISING site characterization for Eastern Province of Zambia Presentation by Beliyou Haile

  • Objectives: understand spatial patterns and heterogeneity; choose appropriate data layers for site stratification to conform with site selection procedures across the Africa RISING program. Ultimately, want to help target interventions, identify appropriate action/control sites, guide scaling up/out efforts within, across, and beyond Africa RISING program sites.
  • received data from Naomi and Walter on 225 farmers (7 camps); Africa RISING’s map less populated than the similar map produced by the Zambia team (Zambia map includes not only action villages, but also non-intervention survey villages)
  • Review of spatial biophysical/SEC data layers, in which candidate data layers were mapped to visualize their spatial distribution, final layers were aggregated by classes. Disclaimer: Results tentative; will still need refining! Summary table of data sources & characteristics they drew on.
  • Review of Africa RISING site characterization data by SIMLEZA researchers, based on their familiarity with the sites and with SIMLEZA’s (proprietary) characterization:
  • compared to SIMLEZA’s analysis, AR’s saw little variation in population density across the region based on available dataset – hopes to access the different source data on which SIMLEZA based their analysis (as a program, SIMLEZA also chose to work in higher-density population areas than Africa RISING in order to maximize farmer extension targets)
  • Market access (defined as minutes to market): little heterogeneity in AR's analysis (SIMLEZA’s map shows much larger differences in market access; AR should get access to their dataset)
  • Little variation in slope based on this dataset (Chipata should be mountainous, but more northern sites are very flat), so these data should also have more heterogeneity (Mateete’s Q: given that highest slope is 15%, could outliers distort?)
  • Little heterogeneity in length of growth period (# of days that maize can grow, determines whether you can plant long- or short-season varieties). SIMLEZA's tentative feedback suggests that data are unexpected, & that Chipata should have longer growing season than the northern sites, but map shows the opposite. Bottom line: not currently considering this as a strong data layer for stratification
  • Elevation: some differentiation between sites, data generally look fine to SIMLEZA contingent
  • Rainfall analysis captures rainfall gradient (SIMLEZA tried to capture this as well; map is good demonstration)
  • Temperature shows spatial heterogeneity – useful for stratification; SIMLEZA concurs
  • propose to use rainfall & elevation to stratify SIMLEZA districts; yields 9 classes (low, med, high for rainfall and altitude)
  • Conclusions/caveats: established candidate layers and maps, unfortunately the layers for stratification are based on coarse resolution metadata that are more suitable for global analysis; IFPRI would prefer to access data from national data stations, and/or get SIMLEZA’s feedback on preliminary analyses, data sources.

DISCUSSION[edit | edit source]

Comment: (Christian): haven’t accounted for soil type which are quite different at the sites, could also be an important stratifier

Data sharing/communication challenge:
Africa RISING had to reinvent all of CIMMYT’s maps because CIMMYT data is subject to confidentiality restrictions that limit sharing with “outside” partners. Solutions? (could CIMMYT do the analysis themselves? Opportunity for a formal data-sharing agreement? Once the projects join, some of these confidentiality issues may no longer apply, but IFPRI in a bind in the meantime)

Next steps:
Update maps based on feedback from Zambia team, come up with a way to share better data between projects -- particularly raw data for all farmers. Once everyone’s comfortable with data layers for stratification, identify a subset of SIMLEZA’s current target and control sites that meet Africa RISING’s site selection requirements, then initiate any necessary data collection efforts

  • Africa RISING/IFPRI needs to review SIMLEZA's existing data and baseline survey tool to see how it compares to Africa RISING’s data requirements, identify additional data needs; so far have only seen the final report but not the actual survey instrument or data
  • 2 major surveys have been done in eastern Zambia: a national survey led by MSU (2011), and the SIMLEZA-commissioned survey (collected at almost the same time). Christian doesn’t think sharing the instrument should be a problem, but can’t speak for the SEC activities director (Olaf Erenstein [sp?])

Q (Christian): is AR’s interest only to work with SIMLEZA? What about other ag research activities funded by the Zambia mission, such as the orange-fleshed sweet potato, i-Finite groundnut project, and/or aflatoxin work?
A (Irmgard): AR’s agenda not too restrictive; aflatoxin could be a natural area for overlap, and aflatoxin biocontrol efforts in Zambia are possibly even more advanced than in TZ; sweet potato seems a less obvious overlap unless it’s a relevant crop within the production system à Good for tomorrow’s discussion of what our research priorities are and who could implement them

Presentation: Africa RISING Farming Systems Analysis Presentation by Lotte Klapwijk

Collection for ESA started in April; IITA contracted different Wageningen groups in East and West Africa to conduct farming systems analysis.

  • Objectives and rationale: Diagnose current whole-farm performance; explore tradeoffs & synergies among objectives; interactive re-design of farming systems by targeting innovations using tech innovation platforms; inclusive project and stakeholder approach. Approach builds on household surveys, characterizations and previous engagements with farmers to inform model-supported analysis that informs adaptation and learning cycles conducted with farmers and other stakeholders. Farm-level approach emphasized.
  • approach based on the DEED cycle (figure)
  • Steps in the project, timeline: Conducted surveys in April to do rapid characterization (process went incredibly quickly), currently cleaning data to do analyses. Will follow up with more detailed description using 10% subset of farmers; detailed data will allow exploration of innovations and tradeoffs (e.g. figure – tradeoffs between natural resources & gross margins)
  • adapting Farm DESIGN model for use in Africa (previously validated for Europe and India); model can be used to explain, validate, & explore outcomes of descriptive data entered from surveys
  • Plans: Site selection, sample size for Tanzania, Malawi [Ghana, Mali data being collected by other team in April/May 2013; ESA team may use some of these data, but focusing on ESA countries].
  • Milesones, products briefly summarized
  • detailed timeline available if interested
  • Overview of teams and roles
  • First results: in Tanzania 96 surveys in Babati and 80 in Kongwa & Kiketo; in Malawi, 40 surveys in Dedza and 40 in Ntcheu.
  • Details of sampling design and survey tool: 2-3 hours, 8 main sheets: (people, fields, crops, animals, manures, imports, tools, buildings) provide data for nutrient flux analysis, farm design model
  • preliminary data on household size, farm size; will have complete data by September
  • Plans for 2013 summarized

DISCUSSION:[edit | edit source]

Q (Irmgard): Does SIMLEZA have anything similar planned? A (Christian): CIMMYT has a farming systems person now, and is likely planning similar activities à important to coordinate to avoid duplication, particularly for resource-intensive data collection. Comment: Better coordination necessary moving forward; Africa RISING had invited CIMMYT folks to attend enumeration training, but the purpose was not clearly communicated;

Q (Munyaradzi): what would the farm design program be used for? A (Lotte): Calibrate the existing model to work for local farms. Model used to analyze scenarios to determine what the outcome of a particular outcome be for a particular typology, then use to target innovations, decision support. Caution: hazard of focusing too much on modeling for modeling’s sake; need to focus on recommendations that are more adoptable. Comment (Christian): adding a socioeconomic component to address constraints to adoption would help predict adoptability, improve outcomes

Africa RISING partnerships[edit | edit source]

Presented by Irmgard Hoeschle-Zeledon

  • ILRI and IITA chosen by USAID as lead implementers in the three regional projects. Within the ESA project, IITA assembled partnerships by very different approaches in Malawi & Tanzania:
- In Malawi, drew on longtime MSU experience in the country and their existing knowledge/identification of best-bet technologies and key constraints. Existing partners are few in number, therefore partnerships relatively easy to manage. However, tradeoff = less scope for new technologies, crop-livestock integration,new roles, new interactions; needs to be corrected in future
- In Tanzania, identified key constraints at sites during planning meeting, then asked national & CG centers to form teams within agroecologies & develop plans. As a result, parntnership & planning was somewhat slower and more difficult to manage, but as a tradeoff, this approach empowered new partners to take ownership in the project.
  • Looking ahead to partnering with SIMLEZA – will require a different model, as AR has no established partnerships in Zambia.
- One possibility: SIMLEZA= core research team, might have to expand their existing partnerships in order to accommodate AR’s additional programmatic requirements.

DISCUSSION[edit | edit source]

Comment: don’t want to have two parallel programs (nobody wants that!), happy to take on some interest areas so long as it’s within the general scope of their program. Model = mutual accommodation while maintaining general focus of both programs.

Comment: Potential partner suggestion: TLC = SIMLEZA’s scaleout partner in Malawi; could we use them? Is there interest/room to use TLC to achieve streamlined impact in both countries – either directly, or by bringing AR partners (i.e. MSU) into the fold of SIMLEZA/TLC/et al’s broader regional strategy, especially with respect to CA? Response (Irmgard): Africa RISING not really funding scaleout activities directly, which makes TLC a less likely partner

WEDNESDAY, MAY 29[edit | edit source]

Presentation: SIMLEZA Innovation Platform concept – “ Multiple Stakeholder Approaches in the SIMLEZA Project a process review Presentation by Christian Thierfelder (presenting on behalf of IITA-SIMLEZA)

  • Innovation Platform centered on farmer experimentation w/ a variety of supporting activities in a network, rather than traditional “pipeline” R&D model; emphasis on bringing partners together in 3 phases (engaging stakeholders; planning, learning & assessing; and ensuring sustainability)
- stakeholder innovation market = model of innovation system, with different stakeholders @ different scales;
- table of stakeholders for SIMLEZA in Chipata;
- history of SIMLEZA’s approach & activities

  • Overview of process: assumptions, emphasis on extension as facilitation rather than teaching; example from Chanje
- Phase 1: engagement & social mobilization; multiple steps, each with own issues, challenges, & opportunies
- Phase 2: Community level action planning (problem prioritization; search for solutions; mandate local institutions; action planning; implementation/experimentation; share experiences; end-of-season evaluation; process review; plan for next learning ycle) Examples include community ranking activities, participatory mother/baby/granddaughter trials, budget for participatory activities; etc.
- Phase 3: Ensure sustainability (ensure ownership, provide backstop as required, set place for new innovation)

DISCUSSION[edit | edit source]

Q (Lotte): how many learning cycles so far?
A(Christian): Currently in second learning cycle, but institution (IITA) originally leading this activity currently has no staff, so nobody’s driving the activity.

Q (Mateete): difference between innovation process vs. platform – are the members of a platform static, or fluid?
A (Christian): not a static construct with fixed membership; it’s a fluid, active process, therefore membership includes whoever contributes to development of technology, and the system arises from the common interests of its members.

Comment: R4D platform vs. innovation system -- both emphasize participatory process, communication between actors; both depart from more traditional, linear approaches to research/extension

Africa RISING R4D Platform Concept[edit | edit source]

Presented by Mateete Bekunda[edit | edit source]

  • See p. 8 of the Africa RISING program document, “R4D platforms for cooperation and co-learning”
  • Value chain emphasis (potentially worrisome… what about farmers who are disconnected from commercial systems?)
  • Note: Distinction between R4D vs. innovation platforms made in the AR program document doesn’t seem relevant w/ respect to Christian’s definition, as his “innovation platform” is also dynamic & responsive to emerging challenges and opportunities
  • p. 14 “Establishment of R4D platforms." Some comments and concerns:
- where possible, will build on established “partnership platforms”, usually at the district level
- Who prioritizes which issues get addressed, when innovation platforms, Wageningen and IFPRI are all using different tools to identify challenges/opportunities?
- Expects an AR4D expert to arrive in September and advise on R4D platform formation

DISCUSSION[edit | edit source]

Scale of intervention:
(Stephen): ASARECA has also established these platforms (many programs/projects have); various value chain component innovations eventually link up at a higher scale in the innovation platform, but at a certain scale the system becomes too large. Must identify where/when/at what scale the learning interaction takes place.

(Regis): all comes down to committees at local level. In Malawi, each mother trial is managed by a committee that influences the research process; described examples of where farmers discussed & modified experimental plans based on their own innovations.

(Peter): Regis’s example is not a platform (too small-scale, too local; more like training); IP requires broader array of partners, more complex.

(Regis): The platform is active at multiple levels; this example is just at a basic, ground-level scale.

(Christian): Discussion highlights need to specify scale @ which we want to work, need to identify a driver/broker/change agent to advance the process – whether a scientist, farmer, or other entity.

Models and definitions:
(Patrick): private-sector vs. public-sector definitions of “innovation” or “value chain” slightly different, but ultimately the same concept. For SIMLEZA, concept very developed, research activities combined with scaling; in contrast, AR includes a broader variety of value chains, therefore integration of multiple, dynamic platforms w/ partners, integration becomes more complex. In both systems, need facilitators at each level (a challenge for both systems).

Opportunities for alignment
Irmgard – w/ respect to future collaboration, SIMLEZA’s more advanced efforts in ZAMBIA are very complementary, and AR could build upon these established efforts.
Christian – in principle, sounds great; CIMMYT hired systems innovation specialist (Jens Anderson) who could contribute to SIMLEZA w/ a bit more funding)

Q (Irmgard): Who is facilitating this whole process for SIMLEZA?
A (Christian): IITA leading, so not 100% informed. Walter (CIMMYT) & Daniel (IITA)did many of the community meetings/evaluation workshops, etc.. Walterstill involved despite competing commitments, but Daniel has moved on.

(Irmgard): David Watson, manager of the maize CRP, recently presented on CIMMYT’s commissioned evaluationof innovation platforms to KIT in the Netherlands (to include SIMLEZA and CSISA). (Christian): KIT is working closely w/ Jens Anderson on this. (Irmgard): What about other projects active in the same geographic area, e.g. ADB program on maize/cassava/rice? Opportunities to interact w/ them on a practical level, e.g. leverage/merge innovation platforms?

Group Work: Commonalities, differences, opportunities for synergy

Discussion: Funding scenarios and potential levels of investment

SIMLEZA Funding:

  • 2012: At start of project, SIMLEZA received ~$1.5 million ($700K to IITA, $800K to CIMMYT)
  • 2013: This year, SIMLEZA dropped to ~$1 million ($4??K to IITA, $560K to CIMMYT)
  • 2014: Next year’s budget will decline – how much depends on Zambia’s FtF budget scenario

USAID Zambia FtF Funding:

  • 2012: $15M annual total spread across 8 major agriculture programs (of which SIMLEZA is one)
  • 2013: Total annual agriculture budget dropped to ~$6 million
  • 2014: Budget projected to drop by an additional 50-75% overall (how this cut will be distributed across the various ag programs is uncertain). USAID Zambia should know by the end of June what the budget will be.

Africa RISING Funding:

  • 2013-2014 Estimated $350-400K allocation for activities in Zambia
  • Total AR ESA budget unconfirmed but more certain than Zambia’s; expect final confirmation around Sept.

Given USAID Zambia’s financial uncertainties, it is difficult to choose a plausible range of budget scenarios to plan for – even on a hypothetical basis. So what product should we attempt to generate at this meeting?

  • A list of sites at which the two programs can conduct joint activities
  • A list of priority research topics to be undertaken
  • Possibly annotate the list with some indication of priority/ranking, to help adapt the list of activities to different budget scenarios that might arise? [ß ultimately dropped]

Group Work: Potential Joint SIMLEZA/Africa RISING Activities

  • Participants decided it was too difficult to prioritize research activities without further guidance on budget scenarios, so the table lists a range of possibilities. These possibilities will inform subsequent work plan development.

Discussion: Next Steps/Action Items:

Select Sites:

  • IFPRI will work with SIMLEZA to complete its AEZ analysis (and the two groups will coordinate whatever data-sharing arrangements or collaborations are necessary to achieve this)
  • Based on IFPRI’s analysis, Africa RISING and SIMLEZA will choose 3 of the current SIMLEZA sites (most likely within 3 districts) to conduct joint activities

Develop Work Plans:

  • once USAID Zambia clarifies the funding situation (further news anticipated by July), SIMLEZA will develop a proposal for joint Africa RISING/SIMLEZA activities based on the table generated in plenary today
  • SIMLEZA will organize a meeting to develop the proposal in August, and will invite Mateete Bekunda to attend


  • August 12-15: annual SIMLEZA planning meeting, joint work plan drafted
  • September 1: SIMLEZA submits draft proposal to Irmgard, who will disseminate to Africa RISING colleagues and Steering Committee for review/approval
  • September 6-7: meeting to discuss joint work plan and strategy, after Africa RISING’s East & Southern Africa project Review & Planning Meeting, to which SIMLEZA has already been invited