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    By Susan Beccio

     A coastline household in Kurumpanai village, Tamil Nadu, India. This village was hit hard by the tsunami in 2004. ©IFAD/Susan Beccio

    This week I visited some of the coastal areas of Tamil Nadu, India that were heavily effected by the tsunami ten years ago. Although the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) is not a relief organisation, through it's work in investing in poor rural communities, the fund provides plenty of relief to poor households. The Post-Tsunami Sustainable Livelihoods Programme for the Coastal Communities of Tamil Nadu (PTSLP) is no exception. The project has been working with people living along the coast and surrounding areas to enhance their livelihoods since 2007.  

    Leaders of the Kurumpanai fishermen’s group talk about the tsunami at the fishing society headquarters in Kurumpanai village, Tamil Nadu, India.  ©IFAD/Susan Beccio

    Though the people from this area had never experienced a tsunami before they "knew something different was happening with the sea, so they ran to the mountains", said the leaders of the Kurumpanai fishermen's group in unison. Many fishermen in the village lost their nets and boats and none of the fishermen in the area were able to work for the next five months.

    Fishermen repair their nets in Kanyakumari village, Tamil Nadu, India. ©IFAD/Susan Beccio

    The project provided loans to fishing groups to buy improved boats and fishermen received fishing nets, ice boxes and cutting knives. Boatyards, landing docks and wholesale fish markets were also built, and cement reefs were installed offshore to act as a buffer and protect the shoreline from erratic sea levels.

    The new wholesale fish market building is near completion in Kurumpanai village, Tamil Nadu, India. 

    ©IFAD/Susan Beccio

    Traditionally, fishermen arrive with their catch and sell it to retail buyers right on the beach. The fishing groups have installed a more orderly and transparent practise of auctioning fish on the landing dock. Women retailers play an active part in bidding for fish and estimating their profits for the day. 

    Auctioneer hawks fish to retail buyers in Kanyakumari village, Tamil Nadu, India. ©IFAD/Susan Beccio

    Women, who buy fish wholesale and sell in the local market, received training on fish handling - though not all of the practises have been easily adopted.  Maria Roni, 56, secretary of the Kayakumari fish society explains that though “the women know better, they mix the fresh fish with sand because then people think it is fresh, if they put ice, people think the fish is frozen."

    Women sell fish at the Erulapapuram market, 3 kilometers from the coastline. Nagercoil, Tamil Nadu, India. ©IFAD/Susan Beccio

    Beyond fish and fishing, the project also helped the most vulnerable members of the coastal communities develop skills and start small businesses to generate household income. In the next photo blogpost, I will share some of these stories. 

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    By Jessica Morgan 

    IFAD has initiated a programme to develop a monitoring and early warning system to combat the increasing salinity levels of the Mekong Delta.

    At the mouth of the Mekong, salty seawater rushes inland to mingle with the fresh water. This balance between fresh and saltwater is crucial to the ecosystems that inhabit the area, however with increasing water extraction of freshwater upstream and rising sea levels downstream the careful balance is tipping. Saltwater is now moving further up the Mekong estuary with devastating effects.
    Natural ecosystems and human activities are dependent on the salinity balance within the delta. As freshwater is becoming scarce, management of the delta system is focused on protecting freshwater sources through heavy infrastructure. However, this is largely unsustainable and IFAD is attempting to move to an adaptation strategy. Examples include adjusting cropping calendars and introducing saline tolerant rice.

    However, the basis for creating a successful adaptation system is reliable knowledge. Farmers need access to accurate information systems to determine when the water will be at its most saline or at its freshest. Also people, such as irrigation system managers, need to know when to open and close floodgates and where and when new infrastructure investments are required. This knowledge is essential to accommodate adaptation needs.

    However to put this into practice is quite a challenge. Monitoring salinity is not an easy task in an estuary. The Mekong Delta consists of a variety of different rivers, irrigation systems, drainage canals, dikes and floodgates. Consequently water flow is varied resulting in a patchy distribution of salinity levels. The tidal nature of the delta also increases high variation in readings making interpretation of data extremely difficult.

    To make matters worse, there is currently no shared base of knowledge for the various stakeholders. This can lead to a lack of knowledge among  people such as smallholder farmers, who usually are the individuals most affected by the increasing salinity.

    The Adaptation in the Mekong Delta (AMD) project will develop a joint and open access salinity monitoring and early warning system aimed at all user levels of the Delta. It will be installed in two provinces: Ben Tre and Tra Vinh, with the intention of scaling up to the entire mouth of the Mekong in the future.

    The system will make near-real-time information available through a web platform, as well as through a text messaging service (SMS) for farmers. It will use manual data from individual farmers at field-level and automated data from monitoring stations to produce the most accurate results. This system will be fully open access, meaning that everyone can can access the data at no charge. Though the main focus is on salinity information, selected automated stations will also monitor water quality variables to enable improved environmental management.

    Achieving consistent, reliable and timely information to relevant stakeholders is the primary objective of the system. The secondary objective is the building up of historical data which can allow researchers to detect trends and make long-term forecasts, which will subsequently feed into the planning process. This data when linked with an upstream river information system can in the future enable real-time short-term (hours to a few days) forecasting.

    The key to this operation working successfully is co-operation and communication between the different stakeholders. Therefore they will all be closely involved with the development of the system and their comments and input will be included within the programme design.

    Read more about IFAD's Adaptation for Smallholder Agriculture Programme.

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    by Gretchen Robleto

    El Presidente del FIDA explica la
    importancia de un almacenamiento y elaboración
     adecuados para aumentar el valor de mercado
     de la producción en Nicaragua.

    Kanayo F. Nwanze, Presidente del Fondo Internacional de Desarrollo Agrícola (FIDA), viajó  a la República de Nicaragua,  entre el 13 y 16 de julio para visitar emprendimientos rurales basados en cultivo y comercialización de hortalizas, cooperativas de granja porcina, café y aceite de coco, este último en Laguna de Perlas, Región Autónoma del Atlántico Sur de Nicaragua (RAAS). 

    En Nicaragua, Nwanze  constató los progresos realizados en la esfera del desarrollo rural y reducción de la pobreza. Durante su visita  a la zona norte y la Costa Caribe, el Presidente del FIDA se reunió con emprendedores rurales, la mayoría mujeres, a quienes el FIDA ha apoyado mediante proyectos de desarrollo productivo, como estrategia para luchar contra la pobreza. En la visita también participó Josefina Stubbs, Directora del FIDA para  América Latina y el Caribe.

    El Presidente del FIDA fue acompañado por el Vicecanciller de Nicaragua, Valdrack Jaentschke; la Ministra de Economía Familiar, Comunitaria, Cooperativa y Asociativa, María Antonieta Machado y el  Ministro Agropecuario, Edward Centeno.

     “Lo he visto en distintas comunidades rurales de todo el mundo, tanto de  América Latina como de África y Asia:  si queremos  comunidades que prosperen, debemos invertir en las mujeres rurales, porque una vez que la mujer rural está empoderada económica y financieramente, hay una inversión en la comunidad y la comunidad se transforma. Las mujeres rurales son mejores administradoras de recursos, tanto financieros  como ambientales;  ellas reinvierten en sus familias, en la educación de sus hijos y la nutrición. Sus hijos pueden ir  a la escuela y su desempeño mejora y la comunidad se desarrolla”, destacó el Presidente del FIDA durante una reunión con mujeres miembros de la cooperativa “Amor y Esperanza”, compuesta  por 116 mujeres de Terrabona y Ciudad Darío y la Cooperativa Leila López, formada por 158 mujeres de Sébaco y San Isidro (norte de Nicaragua).

    Consuelo Velásquez, Presidenta de la cooperativa “Amor y Esperanza”, dijo a Nwanze: “Antes éramos productoras, ahora decimos que somos empresarias”. Durante un recorrido por la granja porcina de la cooperativa, Velásquez explicó a los medios de comunicación que “el principio de la cooperativa es ser solidarias  entre las mujeres, nadie quiere hacerse rico, pero sí salir de la pobreza y ayudar al crecimiento del país”.

    Velásquez es madre de 3 hijos. “Mi hija no podía estudiar porque no había  posibilidades, los ingresos (los  que le generan la granja porcina) me ayudan a que mi hija pueda seguir sus estudios, me beneficia porque estos ingresos ayudan a ser libres,  son  parte del enfoque de género porque me ayudan a liberarme, no es sólo estar en la casa. Muchas mujeres dicen que no trabajan pero en realidad hacen un montón de trabajo en la casa”, explicó la Presidenta de la cooperativa Amor y Esperanza. 
    Por su parte, el Presidente del FIDA manifestó: “Estoy muy complacido de ver que el FIDA participa en este proyecto de desarrollo rural, porque creemos que el desarrollo rural es central para el desarrollo  y la seguridad nacionales. Queremos que los jóvenes vuelvan al espacio rural y no solamente que emigren a Managua, sino que puedan contribuir al desarrollo de su espacio rural. Pero para que esto suceda el Gobierno debe invertir en infraestructuras, caminos, electricidad, escuelas, servicios de salud, servicios sociales y  agua (de modo que ustedes encuentren las condiciones adecuadas para invertir en sus empresas).  Eso es lo que la población rural quiere”.

    Durante su viaje por el norte de Nicaragua, el Presidente del FIDA visitó una planta procesadora de hortalizas en Sébaco, Matagalpa, donde miembros de la cooperativa COOPRAHORT compartieron sus experiencias. Años atrás sufrían pérdidas económicas debido a  la  falta de infraestructura adecuada por lo que, al tener urgencia de vender su producción,  el intermediario les compraba su producción a precio muy bajo y se quedaba con la mayor parte de la ganancia de la venta.  Ahora, en cambio, mediante el equipamiento con el que cuentan los productores, la producción de cebolla tiene 4 meses más de vida útil, y por lo tanto no hay urgencia por vender. Sus ganancias se han incrementado en más del 100%.  La cooperativa integra a productores de Terrabona, Ciudad Darío y Sébaco, 251 mujeres y 90 hombres.

    “Nada da más satisfacción, señor alcalde,  que poder observar experiencias exitosas que están siendo apoyadas por el FIDA”, manifestó el Presidente del FIDA al alcalde de Matagalpa, Sadrach Zeledón.

    La misión del FIDA y la delegación gubernamental también visitaron la Cooperativa Solidaridad R.L, en Matagalpa, donde se acopia el café de los socios, quienes cultivan el grano a 1,300 de metros de altura sobre el nivel del mar.  Dicha cooperativa produce café gourmet para exportación.

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    Written by the Gansu PPMO team

    Plastic mulching is an agricultural technology used to retain soil moisture, reduce weeds and raise soil temperatures. Plastic is stretched over raised vegetable beds and holes are punched into the plastic sheeting to make room for seeds or seedlings. In Guanghe County, located between the Loess and the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau in Gansu Province, plastic mulching has been extensively adopted in upland crop farming. 
    Lan Cuiren, 71, is a farmer in Huinin County, Gansu Province, China. In this area, plastic mulching has not been used. ©IFAD/Qilai Shen

    The area suffers from limited rainfall and low temperatures during the spring planting season and plastic mulching has proved beneficial. In 2013, plastic mulching was used to cultivate over 356,000 mu (approximately 23,730 hectares) for 300,000 mu of corn and 56,000 mu of potato crops. According to the provincial agriculture department, the average yield of fully mulched corn reached 834.3 kg/mu, which is 36% higher than a half mulched cornfield, and the average yield of fully mulched potato registered 3085.3 kg/mu, an increase of 51.5% than growing potatoes in an open field. As a result of the widespread use of plastic mulching, the per capita income of farmers was increased on average by 1,272.7 CNY (approximately US$207) in 2013.
    The increase in crop yield and farmers’ incomes also means farmers’ increased use of plastic sheeting – which is a source of environmental pollution. The Guanghe County Agriculture Bureau estimated that over 2,000 tons of plastic sheeting is used each year and this figure is increasing. Large amounts of plastic were discarded at the end of each harvest and this plastic was severely polluting the rural environment and the farming landscape. A substantial amount of plastic scraps were left in the soil, causing soil compaction and the resulting reduced land productivity. Some farmers even burned the used plastic, causing secondary pollution to the atmosphere. In 2011 there was no effective way of recycling the used plastic sheeting.

    Landscape view of terraced hillside where plastic mulching is used, Guanghe County, Gansu Province, China. 
    ©Gansu PPMO

    The pollution caused by discarded plastic sheets became know as “white pollution” and it had become a big headache for farmers and local government officials. In 2011, the implementation of the IFAD/GEF project: Integrated Ecosystem Management Approach to the Conservation of Biodiversity in Dryland Ecosystems brought some light to the tunnel. Guanghe County, as one of the two counties that the project is working in, has been actively involved in public awareness building and policy studies to enhance ecosystems and environment protection of the project area. Leaders of the county government and the agriculture bureau who have participated in training and public awareness campaigns implemented through the project have been inspired by the integrated approach to ecosystem and environmental conservation.
    With repeated debate and consultation, the county government issued a policy measure in late 2011 that included some county financing to support the collection of used plastics throughout the countryside. At the same time, a large-scale awareness campaign was launched to motivate farmers to participate in the program. Since then, the county has invested over 5 million CNY (approximately US$814,000) for the collection and recycling of 3,700 tons of used plastics, including 750 tons collected in 2011, 850 tons in 2012, 1,000 tons in 2013 and 1,700 tons in 2014. The collection rate of used plastics has increased from 46.9% in 2011 to 85% in 2014.
    In this respect, the county government and its agriculture bureau adopted the following three measures. The first measure was awareness building and advocacy among farmers. Agricultural extension agents and county and township officials took every opportunity to educate farmers on the harmful effects that discarded plastic sheeting can have on the environment. Farmers are encouraged to participate in the program in an interest to develop sound, environment smart farming practices. 

    The second measure was to establish plastic collection stations that also provided a small reimbursement for the plastic collected. Each village in the county now has one functioning collection station and each township has a larger collection station. After detailed analysis, the county government decided on a standard buy-back price of 1.2 CNY/kg (Approximately US$ .20 per kilo) for the used plastic sheeting. The price was set high enough to motivate farmers to recycle their plastic sheeting without placing too high a financial burden on the county budget. 

    The third measure included a government-initiated negotiation process with private enterprises to establish a process to recycle used plastics. Lanzhou Golden Land Plastic Products Company Ltd. was identified and invited to enter into a partnership with farmers and the county government. The recycling process requires that at the main collection center soil is removed from the sheets, the material is pressed into bales and transported directly to the company and traded in for new sheeting. The company recycles the used plastics to produce sheeting and other products for agricultural use, significantly increasing the effective use rate of plastics while preserving the soil and landscape.
    Guanghe County can now boast a significant reduction in white pollution with over 95% of collectible plastics now being recycled. Today, it is hard to spot scraps of white plastic mixed into the soil or blowing about in the trees and countryside. Plastic mulching, a farming technology that greatly increases yields while conserving soil and water, is no longer harmful to the environment in the long term.

    Edited by: Bo Zheng, Liu Ke and Susan Beccio

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    By Vivienne Likhanga

    After eight exciting days in field, the  Learning Route: Innovative ideas and approaches to integrate Rural Youth in Agriculture the progress in Kenya came to a close on the 18th of August in Nairobi, Kenya. The Learning Route brought together 22 "ruteros”(route participants), with over one half of them being women, from various IFAD-supported projects, implementing partners and civil society organizations working in different capacities at the local and national governments and non-governmental organizations involved in improving rural livelihoods.We had representations from Haiti, Madagascar, Malawi, Nigeria, Swaziland, Mozambique, South Sudan, Kenya and France. The aim of including participants from all over Africa and part of Latin America and the Caribbean, is to foster south to south cooperation and to share the learning as widely as possible and to facilitate relationships between those working in rural youth and gender related projects.

    “I’m here to acquire knowledge and skills on how to actively involve the youth in the projects that we are currently implementing and on how to make them enterprise owners. I am very excited as well to see firsthand the Kenyan experience on innovative strategies and approaches to engage rural youth in agriculture, increase employment and reduce poverty” said Linda Magombo-Munthali from the IFAD funded Rural Livelihoods and Economic Enhancement Programme (RLEEP) in Malawi.

    Addressing the needs of rural youth is gathering attention with international development agencies, donors and private companies supporting new initiatives by governmental and non-governmental organizations in many parts of the world and in Africa in particular. Issues surrounding rural youths such as limited access to educational services, dependency on mainly unpaid labour in family farms and working in the informal sector as well as the considerable impact of migration on their livelihoods - especially affecting young women- have been widely recognized as significant. There is overall agreement that if youth issues are not addressed high rates of youth unemployment and under-employment will persist and overall development in African countries could be negatively affected.
    In this context and in line with its 2011 – 2015 Strategic Framework, the Procasur Corporation in collaboration with the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), organized an eight day Learning Route : Innovative ideas and approaches to integrate Rural Youth in Agriculture. The progress in Kenya., between the 11th to the 18th of August 2014.

    “Traditionally agriculture in Africa has been associated with the older generation. We have to find a nice way to package agriculture and make it appealing to the youth by using simple but effective technology and introducing products with a short cycle so that the youth have a quick return on their investments.  Getting youths interested in and knowledgeable about farming, while helping them seeing the value of it, will be of great importance for our future food security.” said Ms. Anne Laure Roy the Youth Focal Point, IFAD - Policy and Technical Advisory Division (PTA)in the opening session of the Learning Route.

    A Learning Route is a capacity building tool with a proven track record of successfully integrating and promoting local rural development knowledge and experiences that positively includes learning among project staff, grass root organizations, private sector and local champions from the field, on best practices that have scaling-up potential. This will continue after the end of the journey itself, allowing projects to develop the methods and tools to adapt and expand innovations and best solutions for the rural poor communities. The end goal is for the local participants to become more effective and strategic in their own context. The Learning Route encourages each participant to come up with a concrete innovation plan for actions.

    Mr. Stephen Jalenga, Directorate of Youth from the Ministry of Devolution and Planning in Kenya stressed on the importance of having such kinds of knowledge sharing forums: “I am quite impressed with the idea of innovation and especially the idea of youth coming together from all over the region, particularly the south to south cooperation, to share and learn from successful experiences and go back to try the same with their families and organizations back at their home countries. This can lead to quite a great change in agriculture globally by revolutionizing the youth’s attitude to it and in turn reducing poverty. I do hope that the Learning Route is replicated throughout the country and the world at large so that participants will be able to get good experiences and new perspectives and solutions to address poverty while improving efficiency and impact of all our projects”.

    Participants all geared up and ready to hit the
    road on the Learning Route bus to visit the four cases
    that hosted the Learning Route
    Everyone was eager to learn more and more about each other’s experiences! Procasur in collaboration with IFAD selected the relevant cases and supported the participants to prepare appropriately, organizing the logistical aspects as well as securing the relevant discussants for the thematic panels. This enabled the participants to get an opportunity to learn from the enriching group discussions and analyses of the host case studies. During those sessions the technical team made sure to facilitate the discussions around each visited case, highlighting the main challenges, opportunities each model presented with a final session on recommendation and feedback to provide to the local champions that have been hosting the Route.

    One of the four host cases discovered during the Learning Route was the Strengthening Rural Youth Development through Enterprise (STRYDE), TechnoServe. STRYDE is a four year regional youth Enterprise development program implemented in partnership with the MasterCard Foundation. It is designed to enable rural youth aged between 18 and 30 years to have a more successful transition to economically independent adulthood. They do this by increasing their opportunity, ability, and motivation to engage in income generating activities; more particularly in agri-business.

    A youth group with impressive farming plans is not something you stumble upon every day, especially when young people are more interested in jobs in the city, than staying on the family farm. But the members of the STRYDE Technoserve in Central Kenya are shaking up their community as they conform to make a livelihood through the unconventional while empowering other young people in the area to embrace a bright future as farmers.

    Meet Denis Kinyua, a 24 year old local
    champion from Cohort 4 of the STRYDE Technoserve
    host case study that has successfully used his investments in
    Agriculture to further his education and feed his family.
    Denis Kinyua is a 24 year old local champion from Cohort 4 of the STRYDE Technoserve host case study. Denis, a "bodaboda" driver (a form of local transportation in Kenya that uses a motor bike),  had dropped out of school before he joined the STRYDE Programme. Through the lessons from the Programme he was encouraged to go back to school to reinforce his knowledge and abilities in agriculture. He went back to Secondary School in January. Denis has also learnt to invest his income from his bodaboda business which he has used to buy cows, farm arrow roots, potatoes, pumpkins and breeds rabbits to supplement his income from the bodaboda business. Once he finishes his Secondary school he wants to go to the university to do Economic studies through his investments in agriculture!

    The participants have so many lessons to take home with them from the Learning Route. Top on the list is the realization that the youth have the energy and potential to create and expand enterprises through agribusiness. Indeed with proper guidance this energy can be utilized to alleviate poverty and improve livelihoods through new income generation activities!

    During the learning route the participants developed their ideas into a concrete Action Plan, which will outline how they intend to bring new products, services or processes into their projects and organizations and how they can include the youth and address their needs within their activities and strategic framework. Each Action Plan was framed within these on-going projects or programmes, and followed one basic question: how can these projects make use of the lessons learnt and effectively promote the social and economic inclusion of rural youth? They all have a clear objective: as mentioned by the regional Gender and Youth Coordinator, Elizabeth Ssendiwalla: "If we cannot get more people to come to a Learning Route, then we need to be sure we use the lessons learnt in the best way".

    Participants of the Learning Route together with the champions
    of the Kenya Y2Y fund an entrepreneurship development organization
    which aims to provide youth led organizations with both funding
    and capacity building, thereby enabling them to move from being
    passive recipients and become active participants in the
    promotion and creation of youth employment.
    Each document starts by stating its goal: what the participant of the Learning Route wants to achieve during the coming months. For example, two of the participants from Swaziland, Lucky Dube and Vuyisile Ndzimandze, drafted a plan to fight rural unemployment and at the same time help eradicate criminal behaviour, by promoting agribusinesses among youth. New enterprises are also to help reduce unemployment in Malawi, as proposed by Alfred Tsitsi, while simultaneously contributing to food security: his proposal aims to encourage young farmers to promote good agricultural practices (GAPs).
    The best three Action Plans will be prized with a starting capital of USD 2500.

    To follow more details on the learning route: Visit our website and our Facebook pages dedicated  to sharing our experiences, stories and photos from the learning route

    IFAD is funding Learning Routes across Africa, Asia and Latin America through the international knowledge-broker Procasur.  A global catalyst for change and knowledge sharing, Procasur's work positively impacts the lives and livelihoods for rural talents across the globe.

    For further information, please feel free to contact:
    Ariel Halpern:, phone: +56-02-3416367
    ValentinaSauve:, phone: +254 (0) 706046742
    Vivienne Likhanga:, phone: +254(020) 2716036

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    by John McIntire, Associate Vice-President, Programme Management Department

    A farmer weighing turnips
    in El-Ferech, Tunisia
    ©IFAD/ Susan Beccio 
    In recognition of the International Year of Family Farming (IYFF) in 2014, IFAD is dedicating the International Day of Rural Women on 15 October to the millions of rural women worldwide who live and work on family farms.

    It is estimated that smallholder family farms are responsible for up to four fifths of food production in the developing world – thus making a significant contribution to global food security. They are also custodians of vital natural resources and biodiversity, and central to climate change adaptation.

    Women carry out a substantial and growing part of the work on family farms and represent 43 per cent of the global agricultural workforce. Indeed, in many parts of the world, women are more likely to work in agriculture than in any other sector. Much of this work is unrecorded, undervalued and unpaid. In addition, the challenges that are common to all family farmers are often exacerbated for rural women, impeding their ability to improve their own livelihoods and those of their families.

    For example, despite their crucial role, lack of land rights remains a serious challenge for women farmers. The percentage of farm holdings headed by women worldwide is less than 20 per cent. Control over productive assets and income also continue to be unequal. Rural women typically have less access than men to financial services, new technology and information, and improved agricultural inputs, including such basics as good seed.

    Women in smallholder family farms also have greater overall burdens of labour, working an average 13 hours a week more than men. Women of all ages manage household responsibilities, care of children and the elderly, and combine these duties with farming and non-farm activities. Customary norms restrict their activities inside and outside the home, limiting their freedom to make decisions and to take advantage of opportunities. In some developing countries, surveys show that women have no say in how their earnings are spent.

    Innovative work at household level
    Pacifique Musabyimane stands in front of
    her home in Kirehe district, Rwanda
    ©IFAD/Chris Neglia 
    In recognition of the complexity and significance of rural women’s roles, IFAD has developed innovative approaches to engage with all members of poor rural families. Using so-called ‘household methodologies’, trained mentors work with women and men to help them determine common priorities. This includes making joint decisions about what is best for the family and the family business, and redistributing the workload.

    Household methodologies produce important changes in family life. All members of the household can begin planning together, working towards family goals and holding each other accountable. The benefits include increased productivity, food security and incomes, together with greater happiness and greater resilience to external shocks.

    The approach is being widely applied in Malawi, Nigeria, Rwanda, Sierra Leone and Uganda, where about 50,000 people are participating. IFAD is leading the drive to scale up household mentoring as a methodology and it has been included in the design of new projects in Ghana, Lao People’s Democratic Republic and Mozambique.

    The road to Beijing+20
    For IFAD, the International Day of Rural Women 2014 is also the starting point for a year-long process to prepare for the 20th anniversary of the adoption of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action (Beijing+20). This was a landmark agreement and policy framework for gender equality and women’s empowerment.

    Ndoumbe Mbaye (left), 20, and Faton Fiop, 22, attending
    a literacy class in Thiourour village, Koki zone, Senegal
    ©IFAD/ Susan Beccio  
    The status of rural women has been on the international agenda since the first World Conference on Women in Mexico in 1975 and their rights are enshrined in international treaties such as the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW). Despite this, it is a shocking fact that rural women still generally fare worse than rural men, and worse than urban women and men, on all development indicators.

    Beijing+20 provides a significant opportunity to focus on the elimination of discrimination against rural women. This must include narrowing the gaps that still exist, in particular with regard to access to education, health care and services, infrastructure, productive resources and assets.

    IFAD is planning a series of events at global, national and local level to highlight the importance of economic empowerment for rural women and to showcase the results achieved by IFAD-supported programmes and projects. These events will lead up to the Global Leaders’ Commitment Forum on Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment, which will take place in September 2015 in conjunction with the United Nations General Assembly.

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    Written by IFAD gender team

    The United Nations declaration of 2014 as the International Year of Family Farming (IYFF) has done much to publicize the role of small family farmers in global food supply. These are people working in any area of agriculture who derive a significant portion of their income from farming, involve members of the family in managing the farm and rely mostly on family labour. Smallholder family farmers are responsible for as much as four fifths of the food produced in the developing world and are major contributors to global food security.

    What may be less well known is the key role women play in family farming. Today’s message from IFAD’s Associate Vice-President and Gender Champion underscores their vital contribution.

    15 October, marks the International Day of Rural Women, a day that highlights the role of rural women in enhancing agricultural and rural development, improving food security and eradicating rural poverty, and throws a spotlight on the many challenges that they face.

    A family traveling along the 2-km werabadiyawa road in Galgamuwa, Sri Lanka.
    This road was constructed with the help of IFAD's Smallholder Plantations
    Entrepreneurship Development Programme.

    ©IFAD/G.M.B. Akash

    The challenges for rural women

    Women provide a substantial part of the work on family farms. They have greater overall workloads than men, combining household responsibilities (cooking, cleaning, collecting fuelwood and water), care of children and the elderly, farming and non-farm activities. Moreover, rural women have limited access to productive resources, customary norms restrict their role in households and public life, which limit their ability to make decisions and seize opportunities. In many parts of the world, rural women have little decision-making power at the household level, including on the use of their own earnings.

    Investment projects and other programmes are needed to enhance women’s economic and social empowerment, and to support them in ensuring their families’ food security and diversifying income sources.

    Household methodologies – working with women and men

    IFAD is developing methodologies for supporting family members in developing their household livelihood strategies. The goal is to work with both women and men to determine common priorities and make joint decisions about what is best for the family and the family business, including the distribution of workloads. Addressing gender inequalities is often part of households’ solutions to these issues. Household methodologies produce critical changes in gender relations within households. These include the ability of household members to make their own decisions regarding use of available resources to improve their livelihoods, planning together as a family, working towards family goals and holding each other accountable, as well as increased farm productivity along with food security and incomes. As a result, families using household methodologies report that their livelihoods are more sustainable and resilient.

    In Malawi, household mentoring has been piloted at three irrigation schemes under the IFAD/World Bank-supported Irrigation, Rural Livelihoods and Agricultural Development Project. The methodology was introduced to enable households to identify and address gender inequality and HIV/AIDS-related issues at household level. The approach has had a big impact on participating households, including men:

    “I have seen big changes in our household – given our past and current life. We have big things happening! I am a happy man. Initially, I was wasting money but with this programme I am clearer. Now we plan, budget together and implement our vision and goals. I am a changed man, I share care work with my wife such as drawing water and taking care of our children.” (Hamton Mdala, male head of household)

    Gladys Casafranca, is the chairman of "Las Ovejitas", a women's group in
    Occepata, Chincheros, Peru. As a result of the IFAD-supported Marenass project,
     Gladys has an improved stove, buys and sells animals  with her husband, and cultivates sweet peas.
    ©IFAD/Pablo Corral Vega 

    Supporting women’s groups

    Women’s groups, including cooperatives, producers’ organizations and self-help groups have proven to be another effective way of addressing some of the challenges faced by women farmers. These groups can facilitate access to markets and financial services for women, and self-help groups can build women’s confidence, voice and bargaining power.

    Kamalbai is a woman farmer who joined a self-help group supported by IFAD’s Tejaswini Rural Women’s Empowerment Programme. Through the self-help group, she obtained access to loans and started activities such as growing vegetables for sale in local markets, livestock raising and kitchen gardening. This increased her income and provided her family with better food. Her participation in the self-help group also revealed Kamalbai’s natural leadership skills. Encouraged by her community, she won elections to become Sarpanch (head of village): “From being extremely shy in even talking to men in my own family, today I have no apprehensions in talking to anyone, from State officials to bank staff or even the Chief Minister.”

    The groups also provide a safe environment for women to learn new skills, discuss and design their own solutions, implement joint actions, obtain access to productive resources, and process and market products. In addition, the women’s groups provide a platform where social issues and attitudes at the household level can be addressed and changed, including domestic abuse, alcoholism and malnutrition.

    The innovative Shaurya Dals deal with
    violence against women at the village level
    The Tejaswini programme has also initiated the innovative Shaurya Dals (“Courage Brigades”) to deal with violence against women at the village level. A Shaurya Dal is a small village group consisting of 10 members, with five women from self-help groups, and the remaining five persons from the village (including two male members) who are aware and sensitive to gender issues and have required social acceptance. The objective of these groups is to sensitize the village population regarding issues of violence and sexual harassment against women and girls, and to address and resolve these issues through community-based solutions.

    In line with IFAD’s Policy on Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment and the commitment to place family farmers at the forefront of agricultural transformation and sustainable development, IFAD-supported projects and programmes are increasingly addressing women’s role in family farming. Through the use of household methodologies and by involving women farmers in women’s groups, the aim is to strengthen their decision-making power and increase their income earning opportunities for the benefit of the entire family.

    Addressing gender inequalities and empowering women are vital to meeting the challenge of improving food and nutrition security, and enabling poor rural people to overcome poverty. (IFAD’s Policy on Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment)

    Read more:

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    by Kanayo F Nwanze

    Every night, 842 million women, children and men go to bed hungry. Every day 8,000 children die needlessly from conditions linked to under-nutrition. Globally, 2 billion people suffer from micronutrient malnutrition.

    These statistics are well known, but they bear repeating. The burden of under-nutrition is incalculable, and the ramifications for children are particularly severe. When a child is deprived of essential nutrients in the womb and during the first two years of life, the resulting damage to physical and mental development can lead to a lifetime of health problems and unrealised potential.

    There is not only a moral and social imperative to address under-nutrition, but an economic one. It is estimated that childhood malnutrition will cost the global economy some $125 billion in lost GDP growth by 2030.

    It is one of life’s cruel paradoxes that many smallholder farmers, who do so much to help feed their nations, are too often hungry and malnourished. It is estimated that three-quarters of the world’s hungry people live in rural areas. Investing in nutrition through smallholder agriculture is more than a social good. It is sound development policy and good economics.

    For years, many in the agricultural sector thought that under-nutrition could be solved by a simple equation: increase agricultural production and incomes, and better nutrition would automatically follow. After all, if you grow more food and earn more money, you can consume more food and nutrients. We now know that income growth alone does not guarantee good nutrition. Despite better yields, higher revenues and greater access to markets, the rates of under-nutrition and micronutrient deficiency remain unacceptably high in many rural regions.

    Over the last few decades, we have learned important lessons that have helped us ensure that agriculture – the biggest employer in most of the regions where IFAD works -- contributes to better nutrition. First, there is compelling evidence that women’s education, health, nutritional status and decision-making power have a significant impact on the health and nutritional status of children. Women are the primary care givers in rural households, and when women earn money, they are more likely than men to spend it on food for the family. More than half of the reduction in malnutrition between 1970 and 1995 is attributable to improvements in women’s status and education. Empowering and educating women must be a principal goal of agricultural development.

    We put this knowledge to work in Bangladesh, where we partnered with the government and WorldFish to introduce nutrient-dense small fish to poor communities. As part of the project, families were educated on the importance of nutrition, particularly for pregnant women and young mothers. As a result, malnutrition and stunting have been reduced significantly.

    Second, we need to address issues of wastage and post-harvest losses so that farmers can make the most from what they grow and reduce the amount of extra food they need to grow. Today, there is no shortage of food globally — the world grows enough. But in sub-Saharan Africa, between 20 and 40 per cent of crop production is lost because of poor processing and storage. We see similar problems in poor rural communities in every region where we work: Asia, Latin America, North Africa and Central and Eastern Europe.

    Investing in modern storage facilities means that farmers can keep their produce safe during harvest seasons so that it can be eaten or sold at a later date. We have seen this in Timor-Leste where two-thirds of the population is considered food insecure. More than 60 per cent of the children where we work are chronically undernourished. Low crop productivity has long been a problem in Timor-Leste, but when farmers were first offered high-yield maize seeds, they hesitated. They were already losing 30 per cent of their stored maize every year to pests.

    IFAD joined forces with the Timor-Leste Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries and the Australian government to provide better storage and better seeds, which we expect will increase food availability by 70 per cent. The secure storage also creates an incentive for farmers to adopt higher yielding varieties and should allow them to wait for the off-season when prices are higher. Secure storage also creates an opportunity for farmers to climb the value ladder, moving into alternative income activities, such as producing food for livestock. As this example shows, low production and waste are two parts of a complex, dynamic equilibrium that locks rural people into cycles of poverty. Such complex problems demand systematic solutions and strong partnerships.

    Thirdly, we must ensure that knowledge and science serve agriculture. Scientific advances can improve the nutritional value of what we grow. We have seen innovations such as quality protein maize, which offers 90 per cent of the nutritional value of skimmed milk, or the bio-fortification of key crops to address micronutrient deficiencies — such as vitamin A in sweet potato. These are already making a difference to food and security but more needs to be done to help farmers grow and sell a more diverse range of foods. There are more than 50,000 edible plants in the world, but studies show that rice, maize and wheat provide 60 per cent of the world’s energy intake. Several indigenous crops are known to be more nutritious than the ones we eat today, while fruits and vegetables provide micronutrients that are vital for good health. Through science, we can improve the quality of available food, and through education, we can ensure that this translates into better nutrition.

    In order to improve dietary quality for people of all ages in a community, behavioural change is necessary. That means there has to be a convergence of efforts and inclusive partnerships so that people have the nutritional knowledge as well as the resources to satisfy it. On a community level, diversified crops, more nutritious varieties and higher incomes may only amount to better harvests in the barn and money in the bank, not better meals on the table and food in children's stomachs. As we have seen, by taking spectrum of actions and increasing knowledge of care and feeding practices, household diets, and the preparation and storage of food, we can turn mere growth into real gain.

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    Innovation in the agricultural sector was the topic of a side event held last Wednesday during the Committee on World Food Security (CFS 41) at the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) building in Rome. Moderated by IFAD’s Gernot Laganda, panellists Richard Choularton (World Food Programme [WFP]), Andrea Cattaneo (FAO) and Santiago del Solar (Consorcios Regionales de Experimentacion Agricola [CREA]) contributed their perspectives on how innovation is generated, and how it is eventually adopted and used in the field.

    In his initial remarks, Choularton proposed that innovation has a lot to do with failure. According to Choularton, previous donor investments secured incremental gains for small farmers, which every few years were wiped away by natural disasters such as droughts or floods. Perceiving the recurrence of these events, WFP developed a micro insurance scheme specifically tailored to improve the climate risk management of people with very few assets. The product is proving to be attractive to small farmers since they have the option to pay for premiums with their own labour. In Senegal and Ethiopia where this programme is active, insured farmers have been able to save more than twice the sum compared to those without any insurance, and they invest more in productive inputs.

    However, innovation does not arise unswervingly. The long-term sustainability of the programme is not assured since, as Choularton conceded, about 80 percent of the cost of premiums is subsidized. And while small farmers enjoy the current work-for-insurance modality, it is unlikely private insurance companies would operate on the basis of in kind transfers. Nevertheless, it does not mean that this undoubtedly innovative financial mechanism cannot evolve in the context where the service is being provided, and actually facilitate a market for cash paying farmers. Indeed, the growth of farmers’ mutual insurance was a gradual process in Europe and North America.  

    Andrea Cattaneo described the persistence of bottlenecks that can hinder innovation from taking hold. This can occur when, for example, policies are implemented unevenly, or establish perverse incentives, creating what he called ‘binding constraints’. Cattaneo also emphasized that innovation should be addressed in a broader system – through socioeconomic and climate  perspectives and trying to link the tailored solutions to specific National Agricultural Investment Plans.

    Santiago del Solar representing the World Farmers Organizations through CREA (Consorcios Regionales de Experimentacion Agricola), an Argentine organization of  farmers dedicated to improving each farming enterprise, also offered edifying examples of how innovation can take hold in the most inhospitable of circumstances. Years ago, his group noticed that erosion and soil degradation were destroying agricultural land. The innovation they came up with was no-till technology, which at the time was not used in the Argentine countryside. Del Solar explained that when he first practised no-till, he made many mistakes. His own father criticized him because he would not use a plough like other farmers. But a generation later – 95 percent of Argentine farmers are using no-till farming methods. Nothing short of a revolution. In his words, innovation in the field occurs  because “farmers believe other farmers”.

    What became salient to me during this session, was that innovation does not always occur within the timescales we prescribe. New behaviour and technologies are rarely inculcated within the span of a project. But, as Gernot Laganda offered in his summary, we should work to support innovation by identifying and addressing the financial drivers, institutional pathways and policy spaces that both define and negate agricultural paradigms. By training our efforts on change in these areas we can overcome the binding constraints that limit farmers’ abilities to realize their full potentials. 

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    This week end the annual regional steering committee of the Farmers Organisations MTCP2 program is starting in Hanoi, bringing together 50 participants from 15 countries of Asia Pacific Region (representing 900 FOs and 13 million farmers).
    The event is divided in 4 phases: field visits with VNFU (Vietnam Farmers Federation Union (, conclusions of the Supervision and Implementation Support Mission and agreed actions, FOs and partners progress presentations on Tuesday and Steering Committee conclusions on Wednesday. We will bring you daily updates !
    Follow us on MTCP2 facebook: .
    Benoit THIERRY, MTCP2 manager, in Hanoi.

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  • 10/21/14--03:04: Illegal logging in Peru
  • Written by Jess Morgan

    Deaths of Campaigners brings illegal logging to light

    A quadruple homicide in Peru’s Amazon Ucayali region has brought to light illegal logging activities and speculation regarding the safety of indigenous peoples.

    Four Asheninka natives' bodies were found on 1st September while on their way to Apiwtxa, an Ashéninka community across the border in Brazil. They included a prominent anti-logging campaigner, Edwin Chota, who was the leader of Alto Tamaya-Saweto, a community near the Peruvian frontier with Brazil in the upper reaches of Alto Tamaya River. Chota had been leading campaigns for over 10 years striving to gain his people legal titles to their land and to expel illegal loggers from the area.

    'Starting in 2002, he delivered over one hundred letters to as many governmental officials as he could demanding birth certificates, a better school, and adequate health facilities for his community. His life project encompassed every aspect needed to build thriving borderland communities'.

    Chota's goal was to aid and better his community whilst conserving natural ecosystems and live sustainably. The Huffington Post wrote that 'Chota dreamed of a borderless Amazonian forest with indigenous peoples thriving alongside the region's biodiversity. He envisioned a new generation of indigenous families living in peace while teaching others how to protect and use the forest. In Chota's dream, Saweto would become a model indigenous community leading the way towards a more sustainable Amazon.'

    However the land his community lives on is home to mahogany and cedar, both of which are in high demand globally. states that 80 percent of Peru's total timber exports are illegal and the money that can be earned is a tempting prospect for many: 'Traffickers can earn US$1,700 for every high-quality mahogany tree sold on the black market, and about US$1,000 for a cedar tree' . However as the illegal timber trade has flourished it has attracted smugglers of other illegal goods such as opium and coca paste.

    A question of protection

    “It was widely known that Edwin Chota and other leaders from the Alto Tamaya-Saweto community were asking for protection from the Peruvian authorities because they were receiving death threats from the illegal loggers operating in their area,” said Julia Urrunaga, director for the Environmental Investigation Agency in Peru, an international conservation group.

    In an area where the law is an undefined grey area, the loggers ignore any rights the indigenous peoples may have, be it ownership or humanitarian and work to remove any opposition against their illegal operations.

    Without legal protection people such as Chota are in a dangerous position which not only puts their lives, but their environment and communities' livelihoods at risk.

    We must support indigenous peoples in gaining rights to their lands. By doing so, we will protect a large share of the world's most biodiverse areas and genetic resources which are found in areas where indigenous peoples live, and where they have been sustainably maintained for millennia. There is a strong need today for global recognition of the critical role that indigenous peoples play in conserving biodiversity.

    We need to build and strengthen the capacities of indigenous peoples to protect their land and resource rights. Not only does this hinder illegal loggers, but also promotes food security and sustainable livelihoods. For information about sustainable timber production in South America and what IFAD is doing to help look here.

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    In Hanoi, the steering committee of MTCP2, in support to farmers organisations of Asia and Pacific region, will triple the 2015 annual workplan and budget based on the good results of the Project Year1 and with the support of IFAD, Swiss Development Cooperation and European Commission.

     Specific sub regional programs are being design to adapt to the dynamics of each region and participant countries. Three components are being implemented : 1/ strenghtening FOs capacities and networks, 2/ policy dialogue at national and regional level, 3/ increasing economic services to FO members.


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    Audrey Nepveu and Alain Vidal
    In May 2012, IFAD awarded the CGIAR Challenge Program on Water and Food (CPWF) a two-year grant to contribute to improving the food security and livelihoods of poor rural communities. The IFAD grant was an opportunity to test out CPWF’s emerging technical and institutional innovations. CPWF would influence and collaborate with key change agents—including IFAD field staff—in order to scale up a number of its research innovations and findings.

    From 28-29 October members of the CPWF team will gather at IFAD headquarters to share the results and findings of their work, including tools and approaches for improving the food security and livelihoods of poor rural communities. Ahead of the event, we sat down with IFAD technical advisor Audrey Nepveu (ANV) and former CPWF Director Alain Vidal (AV) to chat about challenges and opportunities for the research and development nexus.

    Tell us a little about the grant as it was originally conceived. In your view, what was the goal of giving this grant to CPWF?

    ANV: The idea of the grant came about when the last reform of the CGIAR system was launched, because it signaled that the third phase of the CGIAR Challenge Programs was not likely to happen. The Challenge Programs were structured around three phases: the first one of creativity (2003-2008), the second one focusing (2009-2013) and the third one capitalizing (2014-2018). What was then at stake was to capitalize the results achieved by CPWF, one of the successful Challenge Programs, within the compressed timeframe of the second, and now, final, phase.

    In those days, it was the beginning of the second phase of CPWF. Hence, the idea of the grant was to work on the existing, validated results generated by the first phase of CPWF, and capitalize them for development practitioners to use.

    AV: The words you have used for the three phases of CPWF are interesting from a development institution’s perspective. I am not sure I would qualify the third phase as capitalizing: we always saw it as a phase where development partners would test, adapt and scale up our institutional and technical innovations. It would have been more a ‘handing over’ phase. But whatsoever you are perfectly right that because that phase became embedded in the next round of CGIAR reform, the CGIAR Research Programs (CRPs), we needed a mechanism to engage with IFAD early enough to ensure those innovations would not remain on a shelf.

    ANV: Yes, and CPWF had also demonstrated its capacity to bring different people together to develop successful and practical innovations. So another dimension of the grant to CPWF was to create the space to explore what it takes for developers and researchers to work together.

    In what capacity was IFAD working with CPWF, and research institutions in general, at the time?

    ANV: Since 2005, IFAD had worked with CPWF as a donor – even if a minor one in financial terms. However, beginning with the preparation of phase 2, I believe IFAD and CPWF became real partners in the water sector, focusing efforts on the issues that will hit practitioners in the near future; on food security at global, basin and local levels, on the consequences for the rural poor…

    AV: What facilitated this engagement were our shared common values of focusing on people, contributing to alleviating poverty and diverse partnerships. We already possessed a common language and approach to rural poverty that could help us pass the usual barriers that partners from different horizons face when engaging with each other.

    The actual implementation of the grant varied quite a bit from what was first envisioned. Can you talk about what changed and why?

    ANV: I do not completely agree with this statement. What happened was that we achieved a great level of flexibility in implementation through close coordination, and activities were adapted to explore more ways for developers/implementers to interact with researchers and their results. And I think this was highly interesting, in particular what we found did not work. For example, the format of events for researchers did not work so well for developers, and efforts were undertaken to propose meetings and events with content of direct use for developers. In a similar way, developers also had to make efforts to slow down and listen to the new ideas and tools proposed by researchers.

    AV: Yes, I think on both sides, the challenge was to bring both developers and researchers outside of their comfort zones, away from their normal technical solutions and science, so as to jointly start thinking ‘out of the box’ and figure out how innovations could make sense and be scaled up in a given—and often different—context.

    ANV: Where CPWF really surprised me though was when they decided to modify their whole working modality to build on the learnings from this grant: for all CPWF activities, developers and politicians were included in the action-research process, thus speeding up and facilitating the uptake of the results generated!

    AV: Indeed, but what also changed was our initial focus on CPWF Phase 1 results, as we progressively took on board the results from Phase 2. We have really learnt together what research-for-development means.

    What do you see as the biggest takeaways from this collaborative effort?

    ANV: The biggest takeaway I see is in the setup proposed by CPWF to undertake action research. This setup was demonstrated to be of interest to donors because it delivers practical results, useful tools and knowledge. It was a pleasure to attend CPWF fora organized every three years and have the opportunity to meet enthusiastic yet practical, committed researchers from a vast array of competencies. They were happy to work together and used their critical minds to push for optimum solutions. I would like this to be taken up by the latest CGIAR reform cycle with the CGIAR Research Programs.

    AV: The three CPWF international fora on water and food also provided an opportunity for a broad ‘water and food’ research-for-development community—including not only researchers but also development practitioners, decision makers and politicians—to mingle, interact, and brainstorm ideas way beyond the classical format of a scientific conference. It also contributed to consolidating the institutional values CPWF aimed to develop within these communities, which are now incorporated in the principles that the CGIAR Consortium tries to apply to its strategic partnerships and capacity development.

    ANV: Another takeaway that is not mentioned so much can be found in the ‘basin development challenges’. In each of the six basins where CPWF worked between 2009-2014, between one and two basin development challenges were identified through a six-month consultative processes. However, the funding that CPWF managed to raise in the wake of the 2008 food crisis was only sufficient to support work on one basin development challenge for each basin. There is still a second research question to tackle in each basin. That could be looked into as some of these development challenges may have become more critical in the last five years.

    In what ways do you think IFAD’s programming can benefit from tapping into research? How would IFAD staff and research institutions have to change to strengthen the potential for future collaborations?

    AV: I see a huge potential for IFAD and its programming to benefit from a better understanding of and engagement with CGIAR research-for-development in general, since IFAD and CGIAR share a lot of their values and objectives, and IFAD, unlike other lending or granting development agencies, still has a broad set of in-house technical skills. But instead of an ad hoc mechanism where CGIAR researchers or programs are brought on board a bit like consultants, we could probably try to develop a mechanism where the CGIAR pool of expertise could be brought in more systematically, especially in countries where both institutions are focusing their efforts. I think this is what this IFAD grant has also tried to explore, but there is still a long way to go.

    ANV: Thanks to the grant to CPWF, we did explore what would work for IFAD to interact with the CGIAR Research Program on Water, Land and Ecosystems. The Lao experience will be presented during the event. However, it takes quite some time for IFAD and WLE to understand each other, and call on the other at the appropriate moment in the project lifetime. I think that there will be a need for more sharing events, and also for displaying the tools and approaches generated by action research.

    Hear more about the approaches CPWF piloted for uniting research and development for poverty alleviation. Visit the event pageand attend the event on 28-29 October.

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    By: Elisa Distefano

    Photo 1: Programme areas

    A recently completed GEF project, “Integrated Ecological Planning and Sustainable Land Management in Coastal Ecosystems in the Comoros” supported  long-term ecological restoration through the development and implementation of Integrated Ecosystem Management (IEM) plans in the three islands of Gran Comore, Anjouan and Moheli.
    The grant was fully integrated into the IFAD National Sustainable Human Development Programme  (PNDHD), and has contributed to  reducing current  land degradation trends by putting 1,052 ha of land under sustainable land management practices, replanting 384 ha of degraded forest and 4.5 ha of mangroves in coastal areas.

    ”Both the environmental awareness raising and the implementation of 6 IEM plans, which included 43 villages, are in the  national interest and have had positive environmental and socio-economic impacts. Without the GEF intervention and the restoration of ecosystem services, the IFAD loan objectives would have been less sustainable,” saidMr Anllaouddine Abou Houmadi, GEF project Coordinator.

    The GEF grant was also instrumental in commissioning a series of cartographic and feasibility studies for the creation of protected areas, to name a few:

    The “Feasibility study for starting a locally managed marine Area (Anjouan)” provides a detailed ecological, socio-economic characterization of the  Sima/Bimbini peninsula, the identification of conservation targets and the delineation of  areas with potential alternative land use  options .The study alsopresents the benefits  and challenges  of  locally managing protected areas.  Key  recommendations include creating a legal framework that would  allow villagesto act as managers ofprotected areas, along with  reinforcing  local organizations’ competencies. This exercise  was complemented by the “Ecological and Cartographic Study for the protection of the Bimbini peninsula” which not only proposes the  legislation and regulation of protected areas, but also presents a detailed environmental health and biodiversity status of the barrier reef, mangroves and sea grasses.

    Photos 2,3:Current Marine reserve zoning and proposed PA zoning 

    The “Delimitation, zoning and ecological characterization of the Kathala Forest (Grande Comore)” study presents a description of the floristic richness of the area, the altitudinal succession of plant associations, an ethnobotanic investigation, as well as an inventory of the most exploited species. The study concludes with a demarcation of  potential conservation zones, according to the IUCN protected area  categories.


    Photos 4,5:Changes in forest cover across 1969-2010   Distribution of some endemic plants in the proposed PA

    Similarly, the Ecological and Cartographic Study for the protection of the forest of La Grille (Gran Comore)” has carried out a socio-economic survey of neighboring villages, investigated the abundance and distribution of the most exploited tree species, and the taxonomic fauna and floristic richness. It is a useful tool to refine a protected area co-management plan for the area.

    Photo 6:PA zoning

    These studies will help UNDP to continue this important work in protected area development through the implementation of a new GEF project currently being launched[1].

    [1]Development of a National Network of Terrestrial and Marine Protected Areas Representative of the Comoros Unique Natural Heritage and Co-managed with Local Village Communities

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    Written by Harold Liversage, Senior Technical Specialist: Land Tenure, IFAD, and Francesca Carpano, Land Tenure Consultant, Policy and Technical Advisory Division, IFAD

    On 13th October 2014 IFAD's East and Southern Africa Division and Policy and Technical Advisory Division organised a seminar on "Indigenous plant products industry in Africa – the experience of PhytoTrade Africa", which  was attended by many colleagues from various divisions. The event was webcast and followed by around 30 participants. The seminar provided PhytoTrade Africa– IFAD grant recipient – the possibility to share with us its experience and explore options for further collaboration.

    PhytoTrade Africa 

    Phytotrade Africa is a non-profit, membership-based trade association established in 2001 for the indigenous plant products industry in Africa, with a current focus on southern Africa. It represents private-sector, NGOs and individuals working in Botswana, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Swaziland, Zambia and Zimbabwe. It has about 70 members and a core staff of about 15. Its purpose is to alleviate poverty and protect biodiversity by developing an industry that is economically successful, ethical and sustainable. It aims to generate additional sources of cash income for poor rural households mainly living in less accessible semi-arid and arid areas, through the commercialization of the natural resources to which they have preferential access.

    Over the past 14 years Phytotrade Africa  has made great strides in sustainably developing and marketing indigenous plant products to the pharmaceutical, cosmetic and food industries. Currently it supports at least 14,300 harvesters, of which about 9,500 (66%) are women. Gross annual revenues are about USD2.3 million with the cash income for primary producers/harvesters being about USD940,000 p.a. Phytotrade Africa  members have added about USD1.47 million of value to the raw materials bought from primary producers/harvesters.

    Phytotrade Africa developed a Charter that binds members to sustainable use, equitable benefit sharing, compliance to national and international legislation, fair trade, free, prior and informed consent and respect of existing land and natural resource tenure. It has adopted the Nagoya Protocol on Access to Genetic Resources and the Fair and Equitable Sharing of Benefits Arising from their Utilization (ABS) to the Convention on Biological Diversity which was adopted in 2010 in Nagoya, Japan and is a supplementary international agreement to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD).

    Since 2010 it has focused more on business and financial aspects and on broadening market access, adopting a strategy based on the provision of services to members. Through this strategy it intends to broaden the distribution network and localize quality control for the cosmetic ingredients to gain more control and value addition over product positioning, pricing and sales. It is targeting the development of key species that will generate large demand volumes; it aims to increase the inclusion of new harvesters into the supply chain and to focus on the financial capacity and structure of its members to grow to the market demand.

    Following requests from SMEs and other stakeholders in the sector, PhytoTrade Africa is preparing to extend this approach to other African countries, such as Madagascar, Kenya, Tanzania, Cameroun and Senegal.

    PhytoTrade Africa and its partnership with IFAD

    IFAD has been a key partner from the outset and has provided almost USD5.4 million to Phytotrade Africa since 2001 through 6 grants. Currently IFAD is providing a large grant of USD1.5 million for the “Programme for Alleviating Poverty and Protecting Biodiversity through BioTrade” which is co-financed by AFD and FFEM. The programme is expected to run for three years from 2012 – 15 and is comprised of five main components: (i) supply chain development; (ii) community biodiversity training; (iii) development of the mafura sector in Mozambique; (iv) market expansion; and (v) increased access to financing. By the end of 2015, it is expected that the programme will: increase sales of members from USD1.34 million to more than USD10 million; increase the number of rural harvesters from 10,700 to 26,500; and increase incomes of participating rural harvesters from US$0.58 million to more than US$2 million .

    The long term support provided by IFAD raised the issue of how better document and share the impacts that the grants provided to PhytoTrade Africa have produced over the years on the Fund's target group. In the discussions held during and after the seminar, it was also highlighted the need to better and further link PhytoTrade interventions with IFAD programmes and projects in the field (e.g. on pastoralism or financing mechanisms) and concrete options were explored, as a possible participation of PhytoTrade in the next project design in Cameroon.  Some challenges were posed in relation to, for example, the measurement of impact and the anecdotal evidence of such impact (e.g. the impact on the local baobab market in Malawi), the possible tensions between private sector and communities, the endorsement by the states and the implementation of the existing safeguards to avoid abuses and the protection of intellectual property (e.g. the Nagoya Protocol).

    These discussions need to linked to a broader reflection that the Fund should have on how IFAD would deal with ethical biotrade and what should or could be its contributions to the development of this sector that, in many cases, is an additional source of income for the poor rural people, with a potential specific role as adaptation measure.  PhytoTrade area of interventions has also a strong gender component, demonstrated by the fact that 66% of its harvesters are women and that some activities (e.g. shea butter) are a specific women domain, which may be of relevance for IFAD's interventions in this field.

    For further information:

    Presentation by Mr Arthur Stevens, IFAD Project Manager and PhytoTrade Supply Chain Manager

    Presentation by Ms Audrey Rousson, AFD/FFEM and PhytoTrade Project Manager

    [1]In addition to the support being provided by IFAD, AFD and FFEM, Phytotrade Africa has over the years been supported financially or worked with: the Centre for Development of Enterprise (CDE), Comic Relief, Doen Foundation, Ford Foundation, GIZ, HIVOS, ICRAF, IFC, IUCN, MCA, Swiss Economic Cooperation and Development (SECO), UNCTAD and USAID. SECO is presently the largest funder, with IFAD being the second largest and providing about 25% of all funding

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    The best part of my job is when I get to visit the countries and the people who we work with and serve. This time round, I was fortunate enough to visit my first upper-middle-income country: Azerbaijan.

    The World Bank estimates that 86 middle-income countries in the world account for just under half of the world’s population. and they are home to one-third of poor people in the world.

    As an upper-middle-income country, Azerbaijan boosts excellent infrastructure, which made my 270 kilometre travel to the IFAD-funded Integrated Rural Development Project in Yevlakh a pleasant “stroll”.

    Mehbara Davudova attending to her crop
    Photo credit: IFAD/R.Samii
    IFAD-funded interventions in Azerbaijan which are closely aligned to the country’s agriculture and rural development strategies have helped develop the agriculture sector as a dominant force in the rural economy and improve food security by providing rural communities with access to assets and services for the sustainable management of natural resources, including improved irrigation and rangeland management. This has resulted in improved living conditions of disadvantaged rural communities.

    The Integrated Rural Development Project is assisting rural people to use available natural resources effectively and efficiently allowing them to increase crop and livestock productivity.  Furthermore, it is providing smallholder farmers access to credit so that they can improve the existing irrigation infrastructure.

    Before heading off to visit the project site, Samir Nabiyer, the regional coordinator told me that “working together with the Government the project is rehabilitating and reconstructing  irrigation canals covering 70,000 hectares.”

    “Our goal is for the smallholder farmers to rehabilitate all the irrigation infrastructure, own their equipment, establish water-user associations and embrace good husbandry practices”.

    As part of its agriculture and rural development strategy, the government has put in place measures to improve the living conditions of rural people. One of these, was the rehabilitation of the green houses which is a reminiscence from the Soviet era.

    Mehbara Davudova, a well-established smallholder lady farmer, is running a thriving farming business on her 0.15 hectare land thanks to an initial credit of 4000 manat (US$5000).

    “Thanks to the loan which I was able to repay in two years, I was able to setup five green-houses, where i plant vegetables 12 months a year”, says Davudova.

    Davudova’s farming business provides her a secure income of approximately 1500 manat per month. This has allowed her to rehabilitate two irrigation systems on the farm, build a house and send her 16 year daughter and 8 year old son to school.

    “I am hoping that with the profit of the next harvest season, I’ll be able to build another house”, says Davudova with a smile.

     In the neighbouring farm, Sultekin and Arastun Mammadov are also running a flourishing farming business and are engaged in husbandry and livestock.

    Visiting their greenhouse, the Mammadovs told me “In winter, just to make sure that cold weather does not damage the crop, we use heaters”.

    When I asked them if they had any fire safety and security  measures in place, they did not seem too impressed by my question…..

    They were however, intrigued by the proposition of exploiting their livestock further and putting in place biogas digesters to heat the greenhouse. I committed to put the various parties in touch with our colleagues working on the portable biogas project in Kenya.

    Who knows, maybe if I get lucky again and have the fortune of visiting them, they will be running highly efficient biogas digesters, providing not only heating for the greenhouse, but also electricity and gas for the kitchen!
    Mahir Aliyeb
    Photo credit: IFAD/R.Samii

    Building the livestock sector
    Before heading back to Baku, we visited Mahir Aliyeb, a herder. Aliyeb was able to buy 40 heads of livestock thanks to a loan of 10,000 manat. He probably is a precursor to the future project beneficiaries of IFAD-funded activities.

    Aliyeb renting the land neighbouring his property for grazing purposes. “I pay 2 manat per hectare every year for this grazing land, allowing the cattle to graze on alfa-alfa”, explains Aliyeb.

    As an acute businessman, Aliyeb has diversified his source of income. He is making good profit with his daily 25 litres of milk and gets additional income by selling sheep wool and animals to the local abattoirs.

    “I know that the people I sell the milk to, make motar cheese and they sell it for 10 manat”, says Aliyeb. “I want to learn how to do this myself, so that I can set up a local business and no longer go through the middleman.”

    “I also want to learn how to better take care of my animals, so that they do not get sick and they stay strong. This will allow me to sell not only the animals at higher price, but also to make better and varied dairy products.”

    Mahir Aliyeb's cattle heading off to the grazing area
    Photo credit: IFAD/R.Samii
    The future holds bright prospects for Aliyeb and his fellow herders, as the next generation of IFAD-funded programmes and projects in Azerbaijan will focus on developing and strengthening value chains with a focus on the livestock sector and more specifically on improving traditional husbandry practices,  putting in place traceability mechanism, as well as enhancing quality and hygiene standards while helping to access new markets.

    Hopefully soon, Aliyeb will be able to package his dairy products and not only sell them in supermarkets in Baku and other cities in Azerbaijan, but also start exporting them to neighbouring countries.

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    Written by Jessica Morgan

    Small farmers are often at the forefront of climate change impacts, since their means of production are provided largely by nature, such as healthy soils, adequate rainfall and many others. To combat  the degradation of agricultural lands and resources, they require 'accurate and consistent information' on the status of their environment. Earth Observation is a tool that organisations such as IFAD are adopting to  'support strategic planning and [to] deliver quality solutions' (Elwyn Grainger-Jones, Director, Environment and Climate Division, IFAD )

    IFAD and the European Space Agency (ESA) have just launched a report discussing the use of Earth Observation technology (EO) facilitating project design and increased detail in mapping information to aid people experiencing climate challenges.

    Earth Observation Support for the International Fund for Agricultural Development highlights the 'first results of the European Space Agency's funded pilot projects with IFAD, which demonstrate how Earth Observation (EO) technology can be put to use in the context of IFAD programmes and projects'.

    Projects, Results and the Future

    The report looks at five projects where this technology has been used and expounds on  the advantages of having specific detailed geospatial information for these IFAD project areas. Not only does it provide a simple picture from above, it also offers useful insights and specific information for IFAD's work with rural communities'.

    IFAD's Adaptation for Smallholder Agriculture Programme (ASAP), the largest climate change adaptation programme for smallholder farmers globally, has benefited considerably from the use of EO information. Especially when used as an input layer for further spatial analysis in a Geographic Information Systems (GIS). This information has helped IFAD 'better understand and monitor landscape use in a changing environment' which in turn informs IFAD's understanding of project design and analysis to create more suitable and sustainable initiatives.

    The five projects have demonstrated how reliable EO used with GIS can augment IFAD activities, not just with more incisive programming but also within individual operating countries. It is part of a  system to train operatives locally so the information generated can be used to its greatest potential.
    We look forward to a continued partnership with the ESA in developing usage of satellite technology 'across an increased number of IFAD projects to eradicate hunger and poverty in rural areas of developing countries', said Elwyn Grainger-Jones, Director, Environment and Climate Division, IFAD.

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    Written by: Clare Bishop-Sambrook, Lead Technical Specialist, Gender and Social Inclusion, Policy and Technical Advisory Division, IFAD, Rome

    Labour-saving devices have been available for decades – so why are women still working 12 hours a week more than men? This topic formed the main theme for a keynote address by Clare Bishop-Sambrook at the InnovationSharefair in Nairobi on International Rural Women’s Day on 15 October.

    The daily burden of rural living – particularly for women – is a major constraint to small farmers’ ability to increase agricultural productivity, achieve food security, and improve general well-being. The sheer hard labour will continue to drive young people away from agriculture and rural communities.

    Ensuring rural women’s access to relevant and affordable technologies is central to the International Year of Family Farming and the African Union’s 2014 push for agricultural productivity and food security. This is coupled with addressing workload distribution at the household level.

    This topic also resonates with one of the proposed targets for the Sustainable Development Goals. Under SDG5 on “Attaining gender equality, empower women and girls everywhere” one target states: by 2030 recognize, reduce and redistribute unpaid care and domestic work through shared responsibility by states, private sector, communities, families, men and women, within the family and the provision of appropriate public services.

    Women’s need for access to technologies

    Rural women desperately need the benefits of labour-saving technologies and practices to reduce their workload. This is essential to enable them to take advantage of opportunities for livelihoods development and improve their quality of life, including attending to their health needs and enjoying leisure time.

    What is the evidence of women’s onerous workload? Data from a World Bank study[1]found that in Malawi, for example, in the busiest month of the year women worked for a total of 48 hours per week on productive and household duties, in comparison to men’s 36 hours (Figure 1).

    Both sexes spent around 23-24 hours per week working in agriculture. Women spent a further 13 hours on cooking, washing, etc, six hours collecting water and another two hours collecting firewood.

    These domestic tasks barely featured in men’s workload, accounting for just over 2 hours of their workload per week. Instead, men spent nine hours of non-agricultural time in income-generating activities.

    Even in the quietest month of the year, women worked 39 hours per week and men only 27 hours. This pattern was repeated among girls (15 hours per week) and boys (11 hours) at the busiest time of the year. The data confirm that women are overburdened by many labour-intensive and repetitive tasks, which earn them no money, and have little seasonal variation.

    There is also a marked division of labour between women and men within farming activities. For example, in a rainfed farming system in Zambia where the land is cultivated by hoe, men do the bulk of the digging, whereas women are busier with weeding, harvesting and post-harvest activities (Figure 2).

    The question arises as to whether a typical smallholder farming family has sufficient labour to meet all the peak labour demands in a timely manner. The reality is, that with around 80 per cent of the cultivated land in sub-Saharan Africa prepared using a hand hoe, many smallholder families struggle to keep pace with the seasonal farming calendar. This results in reduced productivity and an inability to adopt improved farm inputs and practices which require additional inputs of farm power.

    And the picture is exacerbated if family labour is withdrawn from agriculture – for example, if family members migrate, children attend school full-time or if women have to walk further in the dry season to collect water.

    What are the opportunities for agricultural growth?

    Labour-saving technologies and practices can ease the burden of work by making existing farming systems more efficient. The use of draught animals or tractors (two-wheel or four-wheel) can reduce the labour requirements for land preparation. But when this results in an expansion in the area under cultivation, this effectively shifts the labour burden from the man to the woman because she will now have a much larger area to weed and harvest, largely by hand.

    New practices can change the labour requirements for crop production. For example, both men and women benefit from minimum tillage and the planting cover crops. Alternatively, services may be hired in – be it labour, draught animals or machines. But even here, women are disadvantaged. Recent work by the World Bank and others[2]found that the returns to hired labour are lower when the labourers are hired by women than when hired by men. Various reasons are cited: women may not be able to afford to pay as much as men  for effective farm workers; cultural norms may mean that labourers work harder for a male supervisor; and women may not have enough time to supervise their labourers well.

    Gender transformative agenda

    Because of the burden of domestic work, we can’t talk about improving agricultural productivity without reducing the domestic workload, especially if women are to realise their productive potential.

    We need to bring reliable, safe water supplies closer to the home; we need energy-efficient cooking methods (fuel efficient stoves, woodlots and low-cost biogas systems); we need hand-operated or motorised food processing equipment; and we need affordable driers and storage systems to reduce post-harvest losses.

    But many will observe, correctly, that these technologies have been available for at least a couple of decades. Efforts have been made to ensure that gender considerations have been mainstreamed into design and delivery: they are relevant to women, communicated to them through appropriate channels, available locally, affordable (with micro-finance, if necessary) and women are trained in their use.

    So why we are still talking about the need for low-cost labour-saving technologies and practices for rural women in 21st century?

    Because making machines available is like addressing the symptom, but not the cause. We need gender transformative approaches to tackle the underlying causes of gender inequalities. Gender mainstreaming is necessary, but not sufficient. We must address the cultural norms that restrict women’s access to technologies and strengthen women’s voice to influence household expenditure patterns to include technologies that would reduce their domestic workload.

    Men need to appreciate the extent of workload imbalance between household members and its adverse impact on household productivity. They need to commit to do something about it, and that includes taking on more responsibility for domestic tasks.

    This topic needs more visibility in policy dialogue to promote public infrastructure investments that reduce rural workloads. We need to make greater use of proven methodologies that are available to create a supportive environment for positive behaviour change and equitable workload balance, such as community conversations, community listeners’ clubs and household methodologies.

    In conclusion, there are two key messages for improving agricultural productivity on smallholder family farms.
    • First, we must address labour constraints across the whole livelihoods system at household level, including those in the domestic sphere, rather than just looking to reduce the agricultural workloads.
    • Second, we must break down the gender division of labour and achieve equitable workload balance in farming and household tasks. This means we need to go beyond gender mainstreaming and use gender transformative approaches to achieve sustainable changes at the household level for the benefit of all.

    Read more about the Nairobi Share Fair 2014 on rural women's technologies:

    [1] Blacken M and Wodon Q (Editors) (2006) Gender, Time Use, and Poverty in Sub-Saharan Africa, World Bank Working Paper no 73

    [2] World Bank (2014) Levelling the Field, Improving opportunities for women farmers in Africa

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    Farmer organizations implementing the Medium Term Cooperation Program Phase Two (MTCP2) in Asia and the Pacific gather at the Saigon Hotel in Hanoi, Vietnam on October 20-22 to celebrate gains in the first year of implementation of a trailblazing program to strengthen their capacities to engage in policy dialogues and deliver services to their members, discuss some issues and prepare future plans of action.

    Such gains, reflected in project reports and noted by a supervisory mission in several countries, include greater involvement by farmers and farmer organizations at all levels in agricultural development programs by government and development agencies through expansion and more inclusiveness of farmers’ platforms established at national, regional and international levels.
    The first Regional Steering Committee meeting of MTCP2 is being hosted by the Viet Nam Farmer Union (VNFU), which is also the program’s national implementing agency in the country.
    Around 50 delegates from 12 out of 15 countries participating in MTCP2 are expected to arrive, including Indonesia, Philippines, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Vietnam and China in Southeast and East Asia; India, Nepal, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka in South Asia; and Fiji and Samoa in the Pacific.
    MTCP2, which is being implemented in 2013-2018, as well as the first phase of MTCP that preceded it in 2009-2013, are among the concrete gains of the series of dialogue and sharing among FOs initiated by IFAD through the Global Farmer’s Forum since 2006 in Rome in recognition of the key role of farmers and farmer organizations in producing food for the world’s population.
    MTCP2 involves 895 FOs in 15 countries with an estimated membership of 15 million individual farmers. It includes regional farmer organizations such as the Asian Farmers’ Association (AFA) and La Via Campesina, which have joined in a consortium to be the regional implementing agency of the program as well as sub-regional implementing agency in Southeast Asia; the All Nepal Peasant Federations Association (ANPFa) which is the sub-regional implementing agency in South Asia; and the Pacific Island Farmers Organization Network (PIFON), which is the sub-regional implementing agency in the Pacific.
    Also coming to the meeting are international development agencies and partners such as the United Nation’s International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC), Agricord, Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and the European Union (EU).
    “IFAD is pleased to see tremendous progress in FO strengthening during the first year of MTCP2 implementation. We are confident that family farming will continue developing in Asia and the Pacific and feeding the people and exporting good quality products. With IFAD investments, Swiss and European Union support, we hope new development partners will join this effort in favor of 300 million small farmers” said Thierry Benoit, IFAD Country Manager for Philippines and Cambodia and Task Manager for MTCP2.
    The meeting of famer organizations in Hanoi comes at the heels of the 41st Committee on Food Security meeting of the UN on October 13-18 and the celebration of World Food Day on October 16. In both of these events, smallholder family farmers are recognized as playing key roles in ensuring food security and nutrition and poverty eradication in the world.
    The meeting also comes a few weeks before the global closing of the 2014 International Year of Family Farming (IYFF) in November. The IYFF celebration this year aims to raise the profile of family farmers and lead to concrete gains in terms of favorable policies and programs from governments.
    More than 80 per cent of the food produced in the Asia-Pacific region comes from smallholder and family farms. Ironically, they are also the poorest and most food insecure, as a result of centuries of neglect and lack of access to basic resources of production, support services and participation in decision making on agricultural policies affecting them.
    The 2014 Food Insecurity Report of FAO places the number of hungry people in Southeast Asia and China at around 208.4 million or 8.7% to 21.8 % of the population. For South Asia, the number of hungry people is 225.7 million or 13% to 24 % of the population. And in the Pacific, the number of hungry is under 0.2 million people or under 12.5%.  
    “In the face of growing threat from agribusiness companies espousing biotechnologies such as GMOs that lead to the vanishing of local seeds, as well as large scale commercial farming which is a huge contributor to climate change, there is a big challenge for FOs in MTCP2 to strengthen themselves and to struggle for peasant rights, food sovereignty and family-based agro-ecology that is both health and environment-friendly,” said Zainal Fuat, MTCP2 coordinator for La Via Campesina.
    The meeting in Hanoi was preceded by a field visit to the tea cooperative in Bac Son commune and the organic vegetable cooperative in Thanh Xuan commune, Soc Son District.
    The delegates also paid a courtesy visit to the Chairperson of VNFU, where the visiting farmer leaders had a chance to exchange views and share experiences with Vietnamese farmer leaders.
    As an implementing agency of MTCP, based on the first phase of MTCP, VNFU has actively carried out activities in the second phase of MTCP to help farmers in production, market access and participation in policy formulation.

    VNFU actively develops projects and programs to cooperate with government agencies, IFAD country program and FAO in realizing development programs in rural areas. 

    Market Fair: presentations of farmers videos, newspaper, publications, ...Prize was a travel for 2 farmers representatives to visit one MTCP2 country and their farmers organisations. Laos won the prize with the backpack publications kit.

    New website launched :

    New name for the project adopted: by voting among 08 other proposals ; MTCP2/Asia Pacific Farmers Organisations Forum .

    Press coverage:

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    UN Agencies – IFAD, FAO and WFP, led by the UN Women and with the support of the African Union (AU), last week (October 15 – 17, 2014) co-hosted a Sharefair for Rural Women’s Technologies in Nairobi, Kenya, the first of its kind in Eastern and Southern Africa.    The objective of the Sharefair was to showcase agricultural innovations that enhance women’s access to labour-saving technologies, as the main players in ensuring family nutrition and household food security.  The event was organized to coincide with the International Day of Rural Women marked yearly on 15 October, with this year’s theme, Rural Women and Agriculture; and World Food Day, on 16 October on the theme of Gender, Food and Nutrition Security.

    More than 400 policymakers, academics, food producers, investors, rural women, representatives of UN agencies and non-governmental organizations, including 155 exhibitors of technologies took part in the event. 

    African can feed itself
    Rhoda Peace Tumusiime, the AU Commissioner for Rural Economy and Agriculture, officially opened the Sharefair on the first day, urging Africans to harness the continents’ full agricultural potential in order to achieve food security. Christine Musisi, the Regional Director, UN Women, ESA stated, "When women lose, we all lose,” adding “women are the heart and soul of agriculture in the developing world.”  Other guests present at the opening ceremony were the UN Office in Nairobi Director General Sahle-Work Zewde, and Government of Kenya Principal Secretary, Ministry of Devolution and Planning, Eng. Peter Mangiti.

    IFAD’s Senior Technical Adviser, Gender, Empowerment and Social Inclusion Claire Bishop-Sambrook delivered the key note address during the first Round Table Dialogue (RTD) on Women’s access to technologies: where are we and what are the opportunities for agricultural growth?  Some issues raised by Bishop and other panelists were: the need for involving community leaders and other decision makers as an enabling factor for enhancing women's access to labour-saving technologies; supporting women to share on the challenges facing them and provide solutions; involvement of the private sector in supporting technologies that enhance rural women’s productivity; andensuring mechanization is done at all levels of the farm labour profile, and not just during land preparation.  A repeated call throughout the Sharefair was ‘The Hoe Must Go!”, a call to modernize agriculture with affordable, labour and time saving technologies that support women and that attract the youth to agriculture.

    Women’s voices must be heard

    Dr. Wanjiru Kamau-Rutenberg, Director African Women in Agriculture Research and Development (AWARD) presented the Key Note address during the second RTD on Looking to a food secure and prosperous Africa: what will it take? Dr. Wanjiru’s address focused on the role of women in decision making and getting their voices heard in matters nutrition, mechanization and access to finance.  “Women must take center stage in agriculture conversations…all of us need to build the pipeline of young women who sit at the decision-making table,” she urged.  The second speaker, FAO Country Representative in Kenya Luca Alinovi, emphasized the role of family farming and the importance of investing in youth as agents of change in agricultural development, and poverty alleviation in general. 

    Other panelists in this session were Julianne Friedrich (IFAD PTA - Nutrition), and Mubarak Mabuya and Jasper Mwesigwa of IGAD who highlighted IGAD’s efforts to address women’s vulnerabilities to shocks and support for community-based climate services to achieve food security and build resilience in the Horn of Africa. 

    Put farmers first in research

    The last RTD dwelt on farmer-research linkages with an appeal to researchers to involve smallholder women farmers in research processes as the chief custodians of indigenous knowledge.

    Besides, the policy-level round tables, the Sharefair also organized parallel technical sessions such as: Knowledge management and networking in the innovation cycles by IFAD’s Silvia Sperandini, Intellectual Property as an assest in the business and Innovative Practices: Women’s Voice from Community to Policy and Back, among others. 

    Recognizing youth potential in agriculture
    Kenya Gospel Music Rapper Juliani performing at the Young Innovators Award ceremony on October 16.  Juliani is the Amiran Poverty Eradication Ambassador and has been leading a campaign to spark a youth driven agribusiness revolution in Kenya 

    Another component of the Sharefairwas the Young Innovators Awardwhich sought to recognize promising students who are designing technologies that take into consideration the unique gender dimensions of rural agriculture, food security and nutrition. The award targeted students from agricultural learning institutions, social science, and IT departments within universities and polytechnics in the Eastern and Southern Africa region. The categories that won awards were: -
    • Innovations and technologies benefiting women smallholder farmers– The winner in this category was Wacoco, Paul and Ocheng, Matthew from Makerere University, Uganda for the Portable Electro-Chemical Aflatoxin Testing Kit.  The second prize was awarded to Pauline Wanjuki Njeru from Egerton University, Kenya, for the innovative mushroom growing using affordable, readily available materials. 
    • Communication technologies which promote the dissemination of agricultural innovations– Gladys Mwanga, a student at Nelson Mandela African Institution of Science and Technology, Tanzania took the award for the Mobile Application for Livestock Production
    • Technologies developed in research and/or learning institutions– The winners were Rose P Funja, Grace S Makanyaga, Dickson Msack, and Deogratius Mushi, all students at the University of Bagamoyo, Tanzania.  Their technology was the Farmland Ownership Mapping Software. 
    The Portable Electro-Chemical Aflatoxin Testing Kit helps in the  analysis of aflatoxin contamination in cassava and facilitate demonstration of compliance to trade and regulatory requirements of safety, thus enabling women in Uganda to access markets.  
    In concluding the
    Sharefair, the main messages in moving forward the agenda for rural women technologies were: -
    • The need for upscaling of existing technologies so that they are accessible (& affordable) by the rural women
    • The need to look across the labour demands across the whole livelihoods system at household level, including at the domestic sphere
    • Recognizing that farmers are part and parcel of research – putting farmers first in research
    • Efforts to have women’s voices heard at all levels (at the household level, communities including farmer organizations, boardrooms, national mechanisms)
    • Need for a Transformative Agendain order to break down the gender division of labour in farming and household tasks as a critical first step towards improving agricultural productivity
    • Taking advantage of policy environment such as the Declaration by African Union of the Year of Women’s Empowerment - 2015

    More about Sharefair2014:

    Sharefair on Social media:
    Sharefair Photos:
    Sharefair videos:

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