WA planning Feb2014

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West Africa review and planning meeting 2014
3-4 February 2014
Azalai Grand Hotel
[edit | edit source]

See pictures from the workshop (more upcoming)


  • Review progress and results from 2013 activities
  • Develop researchable activities and integrate research activities
  • Refine work plans for 2014


Monday 3 Feb
08:00 Registration
08:30 Welcome by:

- Farid Waliyar (ICRISAT)
- Robert Asiedu (IITA)
- Jerry Glover (USAID)

08:45 Introduction of the workshop objectives and agenda (Ewen Le Borgne)
08:50 General review and update (presentation by Irmgard Hoeschle-Zeledon) - See presentation
09:00 Review of progress - Research Output 1

- Baseline surveys Ghana and Mali (presentation by Beliyou Haile) - See presentation
- Farming systems analysis Ghana and Mali (presentation by Jeroen Groot) - See presentation
- Questions and answers

10:00 Break
10:30 Review of progress - Research Output 2

- Cereal-legume-vegetable cropping systems Ghana - Presentation by Saka Buah / Asamoah Larbi 30' - See presentation
- Discussion 15'
- Cereal-legume-vegetable cropping systems Mali - Presentation by van Tom van Mourik et al. 30' - See presentation
- Discussion 15'

12:00 Africa RISING and CGIAR Research Programs:

- Humidtropics (presentation by Kwesi Attah-Krah) - See presentation
- Dryland systems (presentation by Birhanu Zemadim) - See presentation
- Discussion

12:45 Lunch
14:00 Overview of 2014 plans: Gather feedback on integration...

- Ghana (Upper West, North, Upper East) - Presentation by Asamoah Larbi - See presentation
- Mali (Bougouni / Yanfolila & Koutiala districts) - Presentation by Tom van Mourik - See presentation (upcoming)
- Feedback about the plans (as above)

15:30 Break
16:00 Suggestions for scaling out outputs from intervention communities

- Experiences from IFPRI (Presentation by Jawoo Koo) 15' - See presentation
- Experiences from IITA (Presentation by Alabi) 15' - See presentation
- Conversation 15'

16:45 Africa RISING Communication refresher (Ewen Le Borgne) - See presentation
17:00 Closing
19:00 Cocktails

Tuesday 4 Feb
The West Africa project steering committee will be having a meeting in parallel in the morning.
08:00 Steering committee meeting starting in parallel
08:30 Introduction to the Planning exercise + review groups (and possibly spending time reviewing each other's work plans and giving feedback)
08:45 Group work on plans for 2014 in 2 country groups (Ghana / Mali)
10:30 Break
12:30 Lunch
13:30 Group work (continued)
15:00 Break
15:30 Stock-taking and presentations of plan
17:00 Closing

Wednesday 5 Feb
Participants' departure
09:00 Small group discussion on potential outreach of Africa RISING outputs (Asamoah Larbi, Mateete Bekunda, Regis Chikowo, Jerry Glover, Eric Witte, Jawoo Koo, Irmgard Hoeschle-Zeledon, Eva Weltzien, Alabi, Birhanu,....).

Background materials


Meeting notes

Discussion of RO1 discussions (baseline survey and farming systems analysis)[edit | edit source]

See presentation by Beliyou Haile on ME and baseline surveys
See presentation by Jeroen Groot on Farming Systems Analysis

Q: Shouldn't the control sites not have the same characteristics as the action sites for the comparison?

  • A: They do have. They are in the same development domain as the ones earlier. We have some overlaps between our sites and theirs...

Q: Over the field trip, we looked at nutrient cycling etc. but there may be other off-farm issues (e.g. woodlands and wood products) - are there grey areas in the farm to input in the model?

  • A: We can include a lot of things but we have to know the productivity e.g. leguminous trees how effective they are for soil fertility etc.
- Comment: Thank you for showing how we can integrate separate components. I encourage tightening relationships with WUR to ensure it makes sense as a whole. WUR has a project on macro-ecological intensification with objectives that are very similar to AR and we have made sure that the sites coincide with AR's. I encourage you to learn from that project since they're a step ahead.

Q: Have you validated your results to ensure they are right? Livestock numbers are intriguing. Are they livestock owned or managed by the households?

  • A: I would have to check this. If I'm correct it is owned livestock. We have to double check this. Livestock issues are always difficult.
- Because it would be more interesting to look at livestock managed by HHs.

(RO2) Ghana review 2013: Discussion[edit | edit source]

See presentation by Asamoah Larbi on progress in 2013 Q: Stunting -

  • A: Based on the information on the ground, we look at height x age, weight x age. I don't know how it works in details. Based on number of HHs and results, for now malnutrition.
- It would have been useful to use samples and analysis during the survey. Mycotoxins have contributed to malnutrition.
- We tried to link nutrition activities for Ghana & Mali.

Q: Why are girls less well nourished than boys?

- It's not clear.
- In some communities females don't eat meat until they're married.

Q: Poultry: is the innovation about feeding or improved feeding?

  • A: (not captured)

Q: Characterization - what are options for this year? What stage are you at? There are a lot of diagnostics etc. but what are the results of field trials with inoculation, fertilizers...

- A: There were too many things to present. We had so many trials about different varieties (maize, cow peas etc.) and I wanted to present sthg that hadn't been presented

Q: Can you give us a perspective of how your partnerships are working in general? Is there any need for more capacity development to support this. What skillset do you have in the program? In this systemic work, who can be your benefactors... Perhaps you need sociologists. Is it difficult to get these specialists...

  • A: We have some partnership problems affecting delivery, institutional relations etc. If we talk about integration on the ground and we have institutes or partners who want to come on the field and don't deliver reports when they are due it is difficult. We need to discuss partnership development. Capacity building has started in the first year with some colleagues in the research institutes for data analysis etc. and we offered to help with that etc. A week ago we discussed the issues of working in isolation and now having the skills.

Q: You mentioned mechanization quickly - can you elaborate on this?

  • A: We are considering some machines that could be introduced. Milk processing is another area...
  • Q: You presented different livestock options and constraints, divided by regions. What interventions might be used to target different types of farms, gender issues etc.

A: This is a summary but we have big reports where we are ranking e.g. male/female etc. On livestock we have characterized the regions etc. which reflect regional activities.

  • Q: Private sector and scaling up/out? What are ideas about this?

A: With time constraints we have to be limited but we use community organizations to involve input dealers, the Ghana seed producer association etc. Some communities prioritize these linkages and in some we don't. Sometimes the district pulls the region.

  • Q: The challenges are quite broad - do you already have a system for prioritizing and choosing most effective parts to influence the development process?

A: Some challenges are more livestock- or more crop-related... For now some of the information will be

(RO3) Mali 2013 review: Discussion[edit | edit source]

See presentation by Tom van Mourik on progress in Mali 2013
Q: You presented mostly your legumes but what is the potential for these crops for this part of the world (looking at yield gaps and problems with fertilizers)? How far can we go?

  • A: This season was a very difficult rainy season as it started very late and there was late drought so it's very difficult in those conditions to show effects of treatment, unless you have early varieties. Mechanized micro-dosing helped in early establishment but my hunch is that the non-effects are due to the season.

Q: Economic analysis done?

  • A: We don't have enough time to do proper economic analysis but we need some idea before planning for next seasons. We've done participatory full budget analysis but it's a very slow process so at the moment we look at differences between treatment and what are marginal benefits. We have information for cereals and we want to collect info for legumes for basic requirements. In our office we can do full analysis

Q: You mentioned you changed ... you had your options tested and ready for farmers? Did you train them?

  • A: We can't say we trained them by showing videos but we raised their awareness and stimulated them to experiment thanks to these

Q: Sheep experiment: was it one animal / treatment / farmer and what was the sex of the animal. The weight of the feeds were different, why?

  • A: A given farmer has 3 male sheeps So the farmer is considered a repetition. We have 10 farmers in each village. For feeds, farmers choose groundnut or cowpea. But in the farm it's the same feed source.

Q: Preliminary impact assessment - what impact did you have?

  • A: Impact studies were a Mali-wide effort but I just showed the results about Africa RISING areas. With partners and farmer groups that had viewed the videos etc. One of the things that was starting to be experimented with was composting. E.g. the technology on cow pea storage, it had been tried out. Farmers tried pepper powder and used it for ground nuts. We don't have any quantitative information.

- Comment: The late season, drought etc. Even during the 5 years we could use opportunities to document and look at adaptive strategies of farmers - it's excellent information for us as intervention scenarios etc.
- Thank you for those remarks - it's absolutely key we relate our results to e.g. rainfall distribution. We have to devise a scheme to collect/analyse data and take a multi-year approach to explain those results.

  • On participatory land use approach, I wanted to compliment you on that because once you bring participatory approaches it brings a lot of dynamism in the landscape. You can groundtruth yourself through these participatory approaches. Think beyond other aspects within the landscape, off-farm, that could impact HH productivity

- We found this very useful as it informed our sample etc. It was not just about the physical approach but also for the grazing, burning and cutting practices etc. It helped us understand the environmental picture. Particularly in Bougouni we have to enforce protection of some areas.

Q: Do you have district assemblies present in the platforms?

  • A: It's in the planning.
- Women's use of land was also a concern in this.

Q: About integration: We all use 'integration' but why is it important, how to do it and when do you know that you've done it.

  • A: Very good questions. It's important because at the moment farm systems are very inefficient and yield gaps are related to inefficient cycling and use of inputs. It's also important to integrate different scales e.g. hh nutrition, village/grazing scale. Otherwise there will be conflicts. 2) How to do it: there are people better equipped to do that. Collect the right data, parameterise the model and go with it. Don't do it physically. We use integration to learn and inform discussions. We can do artificially or using a model. 3) ...

Farmers are integrated...
The issue is intensification and resource use efficiency. It's about efficiency of the system e.g. inputs / outputs...

- Just floating the idea that intensification may require segregation not integration
- It's important to integrate research because farmers do integrate. The other important question to answer is how do we communicate that integration in the research project? It still look

Q: You mentioned cowpea storage - have you considered alternatives? On soybean you mentioned processing - what do you have to enhance adoption of technology?

  • A: The storage video is on storage and the ... ... we haven't tested storage pesticides. For soy beans, it's a new crop in Bougouni so they find it easier to crop than cow peas but don't know how to process it. We just need to respond to that with training on processing and marketing it. In Koutiala, we have recipes for soybeans...

Discussion on CGIAR Research Program (CRP) presentations[edit | edit source]

See presentation by Birhanu Zemadim on Dryland Systems
See presentation by Kwesi Atta-Krah on Humidtropics

Q: On a scale of 1-10 on farming systems, how well are we doing?

  • A: I can't judge. There's a lot of progress and a lot of work to be done e.g. around the need for great integration...

Q: Where is the joint learning? How do we learn together on this through this process? Can we share research and process drivers? Should we use the platforms etc.?

  • A:
- Comment: We are talking about systems analysis but the challenge is always the influence of external factors e.g. where cotton is going etc. The prices of cotton is influencing farmer strategies - we need to take this into account.

  • C: We know that CRPs and AR are evolving all the time. In September we had a program learning event and I am eager to hear about how the learning event has impacted us and is factored in the plans?

  • C: Why do we have these 2 presentations? We want to show the context of these higher initiatives and we are expected to contribute to these initiatives. Kwesi mentioned that our trial areas don't really fall in the Humidtropics program but our research approach and strategic objectives coalesce. In Drylands it is not as clear yet but ICRISAT is reporting results to Drylands systems and we (IITA) occasionally report to Humidtropics.

  • (Farid) I would have liked to have a presentation that is similar to Kwesi's. In this region we report to Dryland Systems. But for a good reason this project reports mostly to HT. We report to you. I hope there will be some discussion about the roles of the 2 CRPs. Tim is the contact on both CRPs.

Ghana 2014 plans: Discussion[edit | edit source]

See the presentation by Asamoah Larbi on Ghana 2014 plans.

Comments on how to improve this:

  • WP3 activities: 3.1 and 3.2 are at landscape level, not at farm level but they should all be at the same scale or be as standalone;
  • Not enough integration of activities within the WP;
  • Vegetable production: how does that link with crop production?
  • Mechanization shouldn't be standalone: the production aspects should go under 3 and the post-harvest ones should go under nutrition and market WP.
  • WP6 (nutrition): activities are not adequate. Processing should go under another WP.
  • WP1: Is it aligned with Humidtropics?
  • Ex-ante assessment of an intervention to think about...
  • Link with land health issues and see this graph...

Mali 2014 plans: Discussion[edit | edit source]

See the presentation by Tom van Mourik on Mali 2014 plans.

Strong points

  • Encouraging exchange with stakeholders
  • Encouraging linkages with work packages
  • There are opportunities in marketing and scaling
  • Strong involvement of WUR (Wageningen University)


  • Vegetable production not yet in store
  • Issues around market and resource management
  • Animal damage which will require fencing on farms
  • Multi institutional integration needs to be harmonized and streamlined

Discussion on the Scaling up presentations
See the presentation by Alabi on IITA scaling up experiences. See the presentation by Jawoo Koo on IFPRI scaling up experiences.

Q: This has been familiar for some time. How much has been validated now?

  • A: Better late than never. We need to look at data gaps and where we need data to do scaling up. Intervention sites have been selected so we can't change that but we can look at common characteristics.
- C: I'm worried about development domains because there are deserts and high ag potential areas but some of the latter include also very humid areas where our interventions may not be relevant - we need to narrow down that. For USAID's objectives we should focus on the zones of influence so that the scaling up efforts are targeted at these. And hopefully these will be well represented.

Q: One of the things that could be a big driver for those systems is what we capture. What are options to include community perceptions, cultural representations etc. because that alone can influence the use of water in the dry season etc. In addition, looking at dev't domains, is it possible to capture areas that don't have the same characteristics as our intervention areas and then look at intervention areas - can we extrapolate to other areas with different characterization? What are other factors?

  • A: I think it is possible because you can look at other scenarios looking at what we're looking for...
- C: We should have built scaling from the beginning but in some areas we were not sure about primary constraints/strategies but if we can build better strategies for scaling we should look back at the process we've gone through. E.g. on the scaling.
- In HT we've been using a similar framework (ILRI) so have a look at what they have done for potential orientation domains etc.
- On the issue of scaling up, one of the important things is partnerships. That creates a different dynamics. If you think about scaling out you're talking about different partnerships. You work on this from the start, when you work on your impact pathway and identify who needs to be influenced... Those need to be part of your joint activities, platforms etc...

C: In one of the ICRISAT studies from years ago there was attention to cultural and linguistic aspects.

  • Q: We look at lesser ag potential areas etc. - a number of criteria are useed for dev' domains e.g. market access but shouldn't these criteria be defined by the project objectives and goals? E.g. intensification looks at market access and institutional issues...
- A: Without knowing the technologies etc. ??? The 3 criteria mentioned in my presentation are not limiting other criteria.
- C: Augustine talks about appropriate criteria but we can work with regression on these factors eg. identifying which criteria should be factored in.
- C: You have to be very careful about your data quality especially related to market access... You need to ground truth.
- First question was about validation. First criteria were bigger (more national./ regional) but for validation we could choose some of these domains and validate the findings with ???

Communication presentation[edit | edit source]

See presentation by Ewen Le Borgne on communication in Africa RISING

  • Branding: Contact the comms team for this and follow branding guidelines.
  • Some of the work we do has a much wider scope than for this project... Some leaflets are not specifically for AR. E.g. Stryga campaign videos could be promoted/shared... It is something to keep in mind. If the activities are not specific to Africa RISING, use whatever
  • Who takes care of technical quality checks for publications etc.? We need to go to our own institution to sort this out and perhaps find budget to subcontract this. Program Comms staff take care of layout and general branding quality checks.
  • Agathe may not be approached for any AR comms activity as she needs to have some time in her work plan for this. However all other comms persons mentioned in the presentation can be approached by research teams for additional support.

Comments on the final Mali presentation[edit | edit source]

Q: The platforms are nested at different levels (village, district, national) - where should we focus our efforts?

  • A: We are looking at setting up platforms at communal level. We don't have resources for national platform but we can organise 2 meetings / year. We will set up platforms at communal and district level. We want them to be based in AR villages – at the level of communes (10-12 villages).

Q: Availability of appropriate manpower for your nutrition WP - is there no scope to extend to the national system, Ministry of Health etc.?

  • A: We can hire a consultant to lead this WP but I’m not too keen on it.

Q: Value chain analysis is left aside, it's not directly related to Africa RISING - I'd like to challenge that. For scaling up value chains and market demands are key elements and incentives for farmers to participate... ?

  • A: There's no value chain analysis done. I agree it motivates farmers to participate but we're not supposed to create market access with the platforms. System value chains are wider than commodity VCs and we may want to look at this. We work with cooperatives which are accessing VCs as such. Our partners are participant.

Q: Nutrition comments: It's not easy to define as a separate WP with dedicated resources... Perhaps you can embed nutrition in all WPs?

  • A: Not a bad idea. It will take a lot of work and will probably increase WP4 which is already big.

Q: Last slide mentioned the mapping of grazing itineraries. In Ghana we were not sure about having the capacity to do it. Perhaps cross-country integration on this? Participatory mapping should be a cross-cutting activity...

  • A: Yes, sthg to consider...
- Comment: Some other initiatives have looked at value chains but didn't limit them to these. In your impact pathways. Dev't partners in the platforms need to take up the research and scale it up... The researchers don't have to do the work themselves. In a lot of places, the terms objectives/activities were confused so think through what an objective / what is an activity... The visual helps a lot.

Comments on the final Ghana presentation[edit | edit source]

Comment: You have too many WPs - is it alright? Perhaps you can decrease that and integrate further

A: We adapted this to look at similarity. In the WPs we looked at cross-cutting linkages etc. so we are actually looking at 5 WPs

  • Q: Nutrition: Everyone is making the same observation - you focus on women, why not add activity for the men?

A: Absolutely!

  • Q: Aflatoxin - at crop level? Which crops?

A: Crop level

- Comment: Nutrition is better defined - can we link up with the Mali team?

A: Sure but there is no nutritionist... Perhaps check with University of Ghana.

  • Q: Small ruminants: Can we define the pathways to scaling in a better way?

A: There's a linkage with Jawoo's work. Pathway is linked to VC analysis to bring different actors... Nutrient cycle is not linked to VC.

  • Q: Water management mentioned in different components - at what scale?

A: Investigate at multiple scales from point to patch to field to small watershed. First point of calling is runoff harvesting etc. There's more need for supplementary irrigation.

  • Q: R4D platform - I didn't see how these activities are happening? Do these platforms already exist? If not what is the process?

A: They exist in each of the 25 communities. We have FBOs (farmer-based orgs). We have district level platforms and then inter-regional ones.

  • Q: Last 2 slides on the conceptual framework - drivers (land pressure / tenure) seem to have been chosen among many other potential drivers

A: We'll improve on this and compare it with the Mali one. The idea is to develop a conceptual framework of integration.

- Comment: Too many PhDs - but they work together etc. You seem them on all packages but they contribute to various things.
- Comments Jerry: Short vs. long term season tradeoffs - look at complementarity. Funding has been scarce in certain ways. More funding is coming in. We had to focus the research on the specific crops and commodities e.g. livestock in Ghana is not part of USAID focus so we don't need to focus on it in that country for scaling up but you might want to work a bit on it to see how those outputs might be scaled. Resources can be increased through making our work more attractive. Experimental design is lacking detail but in the work plans we need to describe this (e.g. mother-baby trials) - what does that look like on the ground?
- Comment: IPs and mechanization were not included.

Concluding remarks[edit | edit source]

Asamoah Larbi
Thank you all for coming. It's a learning process for all. We had time limitations last year but this time let's go by it. We need to follow deadlines. This has been very helpful. Let's stay together. Colleagues from Ghana and Mali, when we started, I tried to copy messages to everybody and still we are expecting feedback and critical feedback on e.g. experimental design... In the 2 weeks' time we hope to have the revised WP plans by 15 February... For Ghana we will have to merge some of the WPs.

Jerry Glover
Thank you very much. We were in Bamako in November 2011 to launch this effort. It's been a long journey with all these partners etc. so I want to thank everyone. We've seen tremendous success and we're now seeing tremendous interest from our missions, on the trajectory of where AR is going and that will allow us to do a lot more with other projects and development partners... But those constrained resources have been a real strain on team work over time - resources spread thin across partners. It's been an enduring contest among partners, resulting perhaps in less emphasis on AR from some of these partners, related accountability issues but accountability is a large issue. I'm very appreciative for sticking in there but as we move forward, hopefully with more resources, we will have to tighten up the ship in terms of requirements and accountability. We have to be much more responsive to the needs of the missions and other donors. Meeting deadlines is critical to delivering on the expectations. I want to emphasize that the Mali project evolved on its own for some while for some obvious reasons and we're very grateful for their work. We can put more attention on Mali now, not to say it's critical attention but we can include it better with the overall program. The more we're aligned in Mali, Ghana, Ethiopia and other countries the more we can do. Maintaining our program perspective vs. a country/project perspective will help a lot. There's a big issue we're facing right now: research and development agendas have to fit together with limited resources. We had to emphasize research and identifying scaling up strategies. We're in that phase now and we have to amplify that opportunity. Research is a very small portion of development aid from USAID. Research must lead to scaling objectives of the mission. We have to recognize the focal areas of the missions. In terms of research on systems we've been very inclusive but the Missions' objectives are much more focused - so how can we focus on the Missions' objectives (e.g. sorghum-millet productivity improvements). How can we package those in a more objective manner. Visualization of farming systems: what farms look like and what will they look like where we want them to be? What does it mean in terms of conserving soil, capturing more water etc. We need to translate this vision for people who don't understand this technical research very well. Womens and mens' roles etc. We may need multiple images but we have to show how SI hangs together.

Thank you the ICRISAT team for organizing this event. It's not easy to bring such a crowd here with logistical support, finding a convenient venue. Thank you Ewen for facilitation. I try to come over more often to Mali. We want the Mali team to be fully integrated.

Tom van Mourik
Thank you Birhanu, Marc, Rachida and the team to have organized this. I can't take credit for this because he has led the team to organize this event. I didn't anyone complain about this. I appreciated all the partners from Mali and Ghana for providing inputs. It may seem a bit all over the place but we have lots of good inputs to improve our work plans. Mali has gone through a very difficult period. There have been times that none of the scientist could travel to the sites (in preparation of the 2013 planting season). It was very difficult, we started late but despite all that with our team in Mali we were able to implement a good number of activities and have good concrete results in the field which we could show during the exchange visit... Even in this meeting I feel there is a lot more understanding, even within the team. This will help us better integrate even though we can't project it as a well understandable scheme. We will get a better view at how these elements are interacting. Really the interaction and work atmosphere have very much improved, that will help the team and the project to go further. I will be leaving ICRISAT and thus step out of the project as coordinator of the Mali team and of WP4. Birhanu will be the new coordinator for Mali (coordinating WP3 and temporarily WP4). I would like to excuse myself if I've caused any inconvenience. Sometimes I'm a bit confrontational. I wish you good luck in the future endeavors. I hope you had a nice stay in Mali and I wish you a good trip back and good luck with the project. THANK YOU VERY MUCH.

List of Particpants[edit | edit source]

File:Attendance lists Mali.docx