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    By Laura Arcari

    Participants of Indigenous Peoples' Forum. ©IFAD
    These days as I come to work, my memories go back to my childhood days when as a school girl on United Nations Day I would dress at my whim in either an Italian tarantella dress, Indian sari or Indonesian kebaya and parade around the school grounds carrying a national flag along with all my other schoolmates in various other national costumes.

    IFAD is holding its first global meeting of the Indigenous Peoples Forum on 11-12 February and whilst externally 169 flags are waving at the entrance gates in anticipation of its 36thSession of the Governing Council, internally there is an exciting environment of mixed cultures as we spot a representative from Amazon Ecuador or a Maya from Guatemala along with 34 other representatives from Africa, Asia and the Pacific, and Latin America and the Caribbean mingling with the staff in the corridors and cafeteria.

    Multiculturalism is enrichment for the society as a whole and one of the Forum’s objectives is to put in place mechanisms to share the indigenous people ancestral knowledge in an environmental sustainable manner. One of the messages coming out loud and clear from the forum is the fact that indigenous peoples are not beneficiaries they are strategic partners for creating a better world.

    Today the indigenous peoples are paving the way  towards a successful outcome for the upcoming United Nations World Conference on Indigenous People in 2014 and the post 2015 agenda as well as presentations on how to increase opportunities for indigenous women as key actors and how to strengthen traditional livelihood, communal economy and knowledge.   

    As I observe and listen to the deliberations which are at the heart and core of the representatives, I reflect on IFAD’s mandate and am appreciative how much my childhood role playing has conditioned my choices in adult life. I also reflect how much work has taken place behind the scenes to bring people from all wakes of life together to make such events a success.

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    A participant at work during the first global
    meeting of the Indigenous Peoples' Forum. ©IFAD
    ROME, Italy – The United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, adopted in 2007, mandates UN Member States to treat indigenous peoples in accordance with all international human rights treaties and conventions. For IFAD and its sister agencies and institutions in the UN system, the most relevant parts of that document may be Articles 41 and 42, which call upon them to provide whatever support is needed – including “financial cooperation and technical assistance” – to ensure the “full application” of the declaration’s provisions.

    It was largely on the basis of these two articles that indigenous peoples’ organizations began working with IFAD two years ago to launch an Indigenous Peoples’ Forum. They envisioned the forum as a vehicle for dialogue and collaboration on IFAD-financed operations in their territories.

    After extensive preparations, the first global meeting of the forum has convened at IFAD headquarters in Rome. The meeting began yesterday and will wrap up today – but not before participants have drafted and adopted their own declaration, which they are finalizing at a plenary session this afternoon.

    Rights and aspirations
    The declaration will synthesize the forum’s deliberations and make a series of action-oriented recommendations on strengthening the partnership between IFAD, governments and indigenous peoples. Tomorrow, representatives from the Indigenous Peoples’ Forum will present it to ministers from IFAD Member States at the 2013 session of the Governing Council, the organization’s primary decision-making body.

    The recommendations from the forum are expected to highlight concrete steps that IFAD and its government partners can take to ensure indigenous peoples’ effective participation in the design, implementation and monitoring of rural development initiatives. Among many other objectives, the recommendations will also seek recognition of indigenous peoples’ traditional knowledge and the sustainable practices they have used for thousands of years to protect and manage the land. Indigenous peoples’ organizations themselves will likely use the declaration to reaffirm their commitment to working jointly with IFAD and government ministries.

    At the opening of the Indigenous Peoples’ Forum yesterday, Victoria Tauli-Corpuz of the Tebtenna Foundation in the Philippines said the ultimate goal of the meeting was “self-determined, sustainable development for indigenous peoples.” By articulating their rights and aspirations in the forthcoming declaration and action plan, forum participants are taking an important step in that direction.

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    By Monica Romano

    There must have been a rich and articulated discussion at the plenary session during which the indigenous peoples representatives agreed on the Synthesis of Deliberations, since the following session on opportunities for indigenous women had to start a bit in delay! Certainly, the final outcome of the discussion that will be presented to the IFAD Governing Council will have benefited from the longer time. But this constrained somehow the debate around increasing opportunities for indigenous women as key actors for indigenous peoples’ well-being. Still, the interventions from the three panelists from different developing regions, facilitated by Clare Bishop-Sambrook, IFAD Senior Technical Adviser for Gender and Social Inclusion, were so powerful and inspiring. And hopefully, the debate and follow-up will continue, both in the coming days during the GC and through IFAD-supported interventions in future.  

    What was common to the presentations made by the three indigenous women panelists was that indigenous women often face disproportionate challenges and constraints, compared to the still persistent gender inequalities that “normally” affect “the other half of heaven”. At the same time, indigenous women are the holders of an immense traditional knowledge, are the “trait d’union” between spiritual and economic activities under the natural environments they live in, and – like all women – are the caretakers of the most vulnerable people in the society – namely the children, the youth and the elderly.

    Agnes Leina, from Ll’ laramatak Community Concerns (Africa), described the plight that the Masaai women find themselves in. They have no rights nor own land and livestock neither can buy and sell them. Still, women are those that feed the community. Under the conditions of pressure for the Masaai to change their lifestyles and livelihood development modalities, the rush for getting land to be transformed into wildlife reserves and national parks, and climate change, women are those suffering the most. When men move elsewhere to copy with these challenges, women remain behind, also to look after the children and the elderly. Illiteracy, early marriage and female genital mutilations add to the specific challenges faced by the Masaai women.

    I started feeling discouraged by all that, but fortunately Anima Pushpa Toppo, from Jharkhand Jangal Bachao Andolan (Asia), highlighted some strengths of tribal women in India. Women hold an intimate and special relationship with forests, which are at the basis of the spiritual, cultural and economic life of tribal communities. Forests have always been a source of empowerment of tribal women. Anima also noted that women are also the backbone of traditional knowledge, which is then passed on to younger generations and is an invaluable tool for developing adaptation and NRM strategies in response to environmental shocks and other changes. As a way forward towards tribal women’s empowerment, local institutions (such as Gram Sabha, women groups, youth groups, cultural groups) should be strengthened and community-based resource management should be promoted, while enhancing women’s participation and rights.

    I was proud to hear reference to IFAD’s good practices from IFAD projects in the intervention by Myrna Cunningham, from UNPFII (Latin America and the Caribbean). She referred among others to the valorization of traditional production practices, the focus on women’s organizations, the promotion of inter-generational dialogue, and the development of solidarity networks to facilitate women’s participation. When she talked about the need for gathering information for any intervention so that it is disaggregated by gender and ethnic groups, or when she pointed out that there are huge gender gaps within indigenous communities, I felt this to be an invitation for us at IFAD to do even better in project design.

    The key role that indigenous women play in local institutions is the last, but not least, thing I want to highlight here. I think this is another pressing invitation to us to invest in those institutions and capacitate them, while making them more inclusive, through the participation of women, including those from indigenous and ethnic minority groups.

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    Hats off to Tulio Garcia Morales for making this attention-grabbing admission live online.

    Garcia, Executive Director of Cooperative 4Pinos in Guatemala, was taking part in a panel discussion on Secrets of mutually beneficial and successful partnerships at IFAD’s GC2013 .

    The mistake he was referring to was made by the cooperative when it first became involved with smallholder farmers and linked them up with export markets.

    Garcia explained that before this, women from smallholder farming families were largely in charge of taking produce to local markets and managing the money that they made there. With the cooperative’s intervention, income from exported produce went  to the men.

    “The men used the income for buying horses, pickup trucks, more land, liquor,” Garcia said.

    “That was a huge mistake we made,” he went on “but it has been corrected now.”

    The cooperative now works directly with over 400 women and last year they exported US$2 million worth of produce.

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    El 12 de Febrero 2013 se cerró el Primer Foro del FIDA para los Pueblos Indígenas.                             
    Un evento que reunió a los indígenas del mundo a darse las manos y a agradecer a la madre tierra por la oportunidad de hacer escuchar sus voces. Trayendo historias de anhelos y aspiraciones, que nos abren los ojos a una realidad en estas tierras llenas de tradiciones y cultura.

    A pesar de los grandes retos que quedan por enfrentar, el FIDA constituye para estos pueblos un punto de referencia y de diálogo muy importante y eficaz. La reciprocidad y la confianza también son fundamentales y hoy se ha dejado claro que juntos el FIDA y los Pueblos Indígenas pueden lograr grandes progresos en la lucha contra el hambre y la pobreza.

    En América Latina y el Caribe, el FIDA está desempeñando en el ámbito de los organismos internacionales, un rol de liderazgo y de apoyo a dichos pueblos.

    Los principales objetivos de las actividades en los países interesados son el mejoramiento de las condiciones de vida de las comunidades indígenas en general y de las mujeres en especial (para lograr su mayor participación en el proceso decisional, aspecto que por razones culturales y ancestrales ha sido obstaculizado desde hace muchísimo tiempo) y el acceso de los productos autóctonos a los mercados

    Asimismo, el Foro nos ha dado la oportunidad de conocer de cerca la realidad en la que viven los Pueblos Indígenas de nuestro subcontinente, donde cada familia tiene una historia que contar, una experiencia que compartir y donde podemos aprender muchos aspectos que van más allá del mero romanticismo.

    El Foro nos ha abierto una puerta para ver las realidades y actuar de consecuencia, para que la voz de estos pueblos no quede sin ser escuchada y su propia identidad sea mantenida.

    By Eduardo Vides y Carla Francescutti

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    By Monica Romano

    The surprising announcement that was made two days ago by His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI about his resignation made me feel even more eager to hear the words he prepared to address the IFAD Governing Council. On behalf of the Pope, Archbishop Dominique Mamberti, Secretary for Relations with States of the Holy See, read in French the message.

    In welcoming Msgr. Mamberti, IFAD re-confirmed President, Mr. Kanayo F. Nwanze, defined Pope Benedict as a champion of the fight against poverty and referred to the Holy Father’s encyclical letters, Caritas in Veritate, which was published in 2009. As detailed in the sub-title to the letter, which builds on the well-known Populorum Progressio by Pope Paul VI and the following Sollicitudo Rei Socialis by Pope John Paul II, the Caritas in Veritate deals with “integral human development in charity and truth”. It states that feeding the hungry is an “ethical imperative” and the elimination of world hunger is “a requirement for safeguarding the peace and stability of the planet”.

    While expressing appreciation for the achievements made by IFAD under the leadership of President Nwanze and the continuous support to IFAD by the Holy See , Msgr. Mamberti highlighted some of the most successful approaches implemented by the Fund. On them, he noted harmonization and convergence with the  vision of the Holy See: the prioritization of the group and solidarity dimensions;  the focus on food security combined with the creation of decent employment opportunities; the empowerment of smallholder farmers not only economically but also in decision-making; the valorization of traditional knowledge of rural communities, which is key to protecting biodiversity; and the targeting of indigenous peoples. What I found particularly meaningful were the remarks that “a culture of gift can find a place within economic activities”; that the IFAD’s modus operandi through partnerships with Civil Society Organizations is close to the principle of “subsidiarity”, which is a pillar of the Church’s social doctrine (that is to say that if something can be done at the local/smaller level then we should go for it); that the family is at the heart of the social order; and that only love can define the better methods to support the poor.

    I think that other important elements of convergence that were noted in our common efforts towards rural poverty reduction are the centrality of land-based activities and agriculture; and the support to  farmers’ associations, cooperatives and small family businesses, as a means to make farmers protagonists of their own development and that of their communities. I was surprised when I heard the Archbishop getting into a more specific technical area, when he referred to the need to provide farmers with solid training and technical assistance so that they can move from “an archaic modality of agricultural production to modern techniques” that need to be applied with prudence based on the local context. 

    I have heard about and seen many success stories about rural poverty reduction. I believe that all of them have something important to do with family, solidarity and subsidiarity.

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    By Bernadette Mukonyora

    IFAD's 36th session of the Governing Council was opened today by eminent guests and speakers who stressed the importance of IFADs role, particularly in the current context of the global food and economic crisis. The session was chaired by Minister Jesee Jacobs of Luxembourg, who stressed that the challenge of trying to do more with less. Minister Jacobs echoed the Rio+20 discussion in her opening remarks - the future that we want is one which enables us to free men and women from poverty in an environmentally sustainable manner.  Speaker after speaker commended the institution’s unwavering commitment and dedication to a very unique and specific mandate. The centrality of the agriculture sector for economic growth was reiterated throughout the segment.  

    Archbishop Dominique Marbeti, Secretary for Relations with States of the Holy See shared an inspiring statement from the Pope. The message from the Holy Sea focused on the importance of agriculture in economic growth and the coherence between IFADs approach and the church doctrine. The importance of social order, collectivism, new technology (with the required prudence) to boost production and productivity are among the mutually shared principles.

    Food is the source of survival for mankind. Agriculture is the foundation of economic growth, said Vice Premier of the People’s Republic of China, His Excellency Hui Liangyu. He also shared lessons learnt by the country in its journey towards reducing massive numbers of poor (250 million over 3 decades); i) keep agriculture and poverty reduction at the top of the development agenda, ii) provide active support to farmers households, iii) persistently improve agriculture production systems, iv) step up efforts to support and protect agriculture through appropriate policies, v) consider the wellbeing of the rural poor. His message to developing countries was to ensure strategies, policies and fiscal support for agriculture.

    The delegates were reminded by the Italian Minister of Economic Planning, His Excellency Vittorio Grilli,that the (food and economic) crises are not over - much more needs to be done. To mitigate the challenges, agriculture has a role to play. Food production must double to meet the global food needs of a rising population ( expected to reach 9 billion by 2050). Large scale and smallholder agriculture are part of the solution. Both the private and the public sectors have a role. Government leadership is crucial to create an enabling environment and social protection and moving from ‘aid dependent to business minded farmers’.

    More partnership means more impact. In his keynote address, the President of IFAD Kanayo Nwanze, highlighted the key achievements of the organization during the IFAD 8, among them an increased programme of work (by 50 percent), reaching an estimated 40 million people, expanded field presence (38 country offices in 2012) and direct supervision by IFAD. Up to 93 percent of projects are directly supervised by IFAD. In the context of these positive results, he also spoke of the increased level of co-financing of IFAD projects with other development partners, which demonstrates the Power of Partnerships.

    President Nwanze acknowledged that the challenges for  development today have since changed and we need to gear up to the new realities. The SKM Department was developed to ensure adequate country and global policy dialogue and strengthen learning systems in IFAD. Innovations in the Budget Unit and human resources functions would help to increase efficiency. The treasury services would also manage the Fund's overall assets and liabilities to ensure the institution is well protected.  

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    by Bernadette Mukonyora and Marzia Perilli at the side event of the 36th GC - Measuring impact: Understanding pathways to rural transformation

    Aid effectiveness – a high priority. In his opening remarks of the pre-Governing Council seminar on Measuring Impact –Understanding Pathways to Rural Transformation,  Carlos Sere, Chief Development Strategist of IFAD underlined the increased attention by the international community to measuring and reporting on the results of development interventions. IFAD is not the only organization giving itself measurable targets. Similar to IFAD’s 9th Replenishment commitment to lift 80 million people out of poverty, the European Union has set a goal of 2025, to reduce the number of children who are malnourished by 7 million while the New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition aims to raise 50 million people out of poverty over the next 10 years through sustained and inclusive agricultural growth.

    Projects in IFAD have always been evaluated. What’s new? A lot has been done on impact evaluation both within IFAD and outside but a lot more still needs to be done. Alessandra Garbero,  Econometrician in SSD, outlined the challenges for evaluating impact on poverty in IFAD, particularly the lack of adequate baseline data and the complexity in the nature of IFAD projects. The novelty for IFAD will the design of impact evaluations into the project designs; theory-based impact evaluations with clearly mapped out causal chains; the use of credible counterfactuals; and, finally the use of panel structure to track beneficiaries over time in order to clearly attribute impact. In two word: more rigour.

    Are rigorous impact evaluations worth it? Philip Davies, Head 3ie presented 8 reasons why we should measure impact, i) effectiveness, ii) attribution, iii) efficiency, iv) successful implementation, v) service orientation, vi) adaptation, vii) accountability, viii) democracy. Ultimately, rigorous impact evaluations help institutions  understand the following: do their interventions work?, how to ensure implementation effectiveness?, identifying diversity of effectiveness i.e for whom are interventions effective? And when are they effective? It also helps to understand experiential effectiveness  and resource effectiveness.

    A toolbox of instruments exists for IFAD to tap into for rigorous impact evaluations. The Living Standards Measurement Study (LSMS) is another tool which offers many opportunities to inform IFAD’s theory of change agenda, said Gero Carletto, Lead Economist in the Development Economics Research Group at the World Bank.

    The journey towards institutionalizing a learning agenda for IFAD does NOT begin at the end of the project. It was stressed that monitoring and evaluation methods should be included at the design stage, suggesting the need to harmonize operational and evaluation functions in IFAD. Jerry Clavesillas, IFAD Project Director in the Philippines, spoke about the importance of partnerships and coordination between the evaluation function and the operations and the ensuing success. 

    Partnerships are vital, IFAD cannot do it alone. Thomas Elhaut, Director of the Statistics and Studies for Development division pointed out the importance of donor harmonization. IFAD is working in partnership with a number of institutions, such as the USAID, DFID, BMGF, 3ie, WB, DANIDA, IFPRI, and many others, on a joint learning agenda which has the ultimate objective of harmonizing the results monitoring and impact evaluations efforts across institutions.   

    The other key factors for success… Ambassador of Mexico, Miguel Ruiz Cabañas Izquierdo left food for thought on the ‘other issues’ that need to be factored into the discussion. What do the beneficiaries think? Determine the viability and the commitment of stakeholders and adopt a ‘phased approach’ to interventions with short, mid and long term goals. Projects should also be evaluated independent of the implementers. Another issue is the second phase to successfully undertaking the impact evaluation i.e. what to do with the results? Institutions should also evaluate how good they are at ‘up taking’ the lessons learnt.

    IFAD will require significant resources and identify partnerships to take this forward. Significant efforts towards partnerships would go a long way in ensuring the necessary coordination. A key challenge is that many development partners and governments are implementing different monitoring and evaluation systems which makes it difficult to harmonize results and ensure measurability.

    What next? It is imperative that we learn fast as this is a challenge in the world today. To do so, diversity of approaches appears to be the way as well as partnerships and coordinated efforts. We need to invest in the public good of information in a coordinated manner. Finally, Carlos Sere also stressed the importance of this being the “beginning of a conversation” and encouraged the over 100 participants to engage with the “team” with ideas and approaches to further develop our action plan…all hands on deck to contribute to this huge challenge.  

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    How can IFAD improve its strategy and commitment to the IFAD 9 agenda of impact assessments? International experts participated in the panel discussion on 12 February 2013 to discuss how awareness and support among stakeholders can be built around the IFAD 9 impact evaluation agenda to validate IFAD’s approach and enhance partnerships. It has generally been recognised that measuring impact is vital to better plan interventions for increasing aid effectiveness and to support poor people to move out of poverty.
    Mr Philip Davies, Head of 3ie, London, has stressed the importance of sector harmonisation and the strengthening of partnerships to develop better local evaluation systems. Ms Alessandra Garbero, Econometrician, Statistics and Studies for Development Division, IFAD, has pointed out that more efforts need to be made to improve impact data. Gero Carletto, Lead Economist in the Development Research Group of the World Bank, has presented to the audience the potential use of the Living Standards Measurement Study (LSMS). He also said that learning across organisations and the harmonisation of methodologies is required to overcome the “donor-centric” approach in measuring impact.

    Mr Jerry Clavesillas, Project Director, Rural Microenterprise Promotion Programme, Philippines, has emphasised the importance of inclusion of evaluation and impact measurement at the project design stage and the commitment of the Government to support the process. Positive experiences with effective impact measurement in the Philippines has been recognised by the Government and is now perceived as an empowering tool for better investment planning.

     His Excellency Mr Miguel Ruiz Cabañas Izquierdo, Ambassador of the United Mexican States to Italy, provided evidence on how important it is to involve the beneficiaries, local and national Governments in the impact assessment process to avoid investment failures. Mr Carlos Sere, Chief Development Strategist, Statistics and Studies for Development Division, IFAD, considers this discussion as the beginning of a dialogue to build up partnerships to work together on the agenda for better measuring results.

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    On 14 February 2013,  the Vietnamese delegation, which included His Excellency Truong Chi Trung, Vice Minister of Finance, met with Kevin Cleaver, IFAD's Associate Vice-President Programmes, Hoonae Kim, Director Asia and Pacific Division (APR), other IFADcolleagues.

    This bilateral meeting was an opportunity for the Vietnamese delegation to honour the work of Ms Atsuko Toda,  the former  Vietnam Country Program Manager, by awarding her with a friendship medal.

    The Vietnamese delegation congratulated Kanayo Nwanze  for his re-election as President of IFAD.  They also expressed their gratitude to IFAD for the support the organisation has given them through the many years.

    Kevin Cleaver underscored the great partnership between the Government of Viet Nam and IFAD, reconfirming IFAD’s support to the country for the coming years.  

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    by Rima Alcadi

    The event, held in IFAD’s Plenary Hall on the 13th of February 2013, epitomised the title which was given to it. It was powerful. And it was an enormous partnership among several different people, from different sectors and different nations – all interested in sustainable rural development. David Nabarro, Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary-General for Food Security and Nutrition, was an excellent moderator and the two hours whizzed by, perhaps as fast as the bubbling stream of tweets on the twitter wall.

    Our chief guest

    We were all very much inspired by our chief guest, James Mwangi, CEO and Managing Director of Equity Bank, Kenya. Mr. Mwangi was named Forbes African Person of the Year 2012 and has won numerous international accolades, including an award shared with Nobel laureate Professor Muhammad Yunus for their efforts to improve the livelihoods of the poor through microfinance. Mr. Mwangi has come a long way. He is the CEO and Managing Director of Equity Bank, Kenya – with more that 8 million accounts opened mostly by people that other banks would label as “unbankable.”

    James Mwangi and David Nabarro
    picture: B. Gravelli
    What made him become who he is today? He comes from a very disadvantaged and humble background – and perhaps thanks to this, he started learning about the importance of access to credit and of partnerships from a tender age, when his community pooled together resources to provide him with an education. He saw he was given an amazing opportunity and he thought “I can also help provide other millions of disadvantaged people the same great opportunity that was given to me.” He says that there was a lot of pressure for Equity Bank to focus on the “mainstream” customers – and avoid serving the rural poor. They of course fought this pressure, highlighting that the other banks were servicing a “niche” clientele by focusing on the top of the pyramid only, and that in fact the rural poor (i.e., the bottom of the pyramid) are the real “mainstream” customers! He argued that focusing only on the top of the pyramid was equivalent to pursuing a myopic strategy. We are told that it is precisely thanks to the partnerships formed that Equity Bank was able to expand its business, to go beyond the “brick and mortar” retailing model that is not financially viable in rural areas. Thus, Equity Bank worked in partnership with retail shops and micro-finance institutions. Only a few years ago, Equity Bank was insolvent and ranked 66th out of 66 banks in Kenya. Today, Equity Bank ranks number 1 and that is due to partnerships – at all levels and particularly in rural areas.

    The Panelists

    Our panel discussions were also very interesting, each bringing out diverse aspects and experiences that relate to the role of partnerships in the quest for rural poverty reduction. Estelle Biénable, from the Agricultural Research Centre for International Development (CIRAD), spoke on the basis of her experience in developing pro-poor value chains. She highlighted that sustainable partnerships and linkages between farmers and business for rural poverty reduction require: receptive businesses; trained farmers; and an enabling environment. It is fundamental to understand the various partners’ differing perspectives, to identify the “room to maneuver”, i.e., the common grounds and the limits. She stressed that the role of doubly specialized intermediaries, that are sensitive to development as well as market requirements, cannot be overemphasized. She described these intermediaries as “business-oriented and development-motivated.”

    Next came Odacir Klein, providing insight from the perspective of cooperatives’ work in Brazil. For historical reasons, there is a deep-seated partnership between the public sector and cooperatives in Brazil. Cooperatives are by definition a form of partnership, and indeed he highlighted that the greatest partnership seen from the stance of cooperatives is that among their members. Just to put the importance of this partnership with regard to rural poverty reduction in perspective: 84% of the cooperative in Brazil are owned by smallholder farmers. This involves approximately 1 million members. And if you consider also the members’ families, this means over 3 million people.

    Our final panelist was Ingmar Streese, Director of Global Programmes and Partnerships at Mars, Inc. Now, one may wonder why should a confectionary company be interested in rural poverty reduction? Well, because it makes good business sense. Of course, I am not referring to smallholder farmers as consumers of Mars bars. Although this would also be a benefit - as we have seen from Equity Bank, reaching the bottom of the pyramid means penetrating an enormous new market. However, in this case, Mars focuses on building partnerships with smallholder farmers because they are key suppliers, and there is thus a real commercial and social need to do so. Smallholder farmers, we are told, are the backbone of many agricultural products Mars needs as basic ingredients for confectionary products. Looking at cocoa, for example, the suppliers are represented by 5 million smallholder farmers - there is no big cocoa plantation. “Our future is connected to the future of smallholder farmers,” Mr Streese says. The increase in demand for chocolate is estimated at 25%. To meet this demand, Mars needs farmers to become more productive and more entrepreneurial.

    What were the key messages?

    I think there were several interesting observations that came out of the high-level panel. No doubt, a clear message was that partnerships are proven to be powerful instruments for development.

    Partnerships need to championed at the top and, for them to succeed, it is necessary to share both the risks and the benefits. It is important to agree on clear principles on how people come together and frameworks for engagement. Partnerships are not cheap – they require time, grit as well as money. For example, for the private sector, the amount of time donors require for taking decisions may be too onerous. Partnerships require trust, which can only be built over time. Also, I would add that sometimes partnerships are actually not possible – perhaps due to excessive power asymmetries, or to lack of common objectives. So there must be a right time and reason to partner.

    Another key message is that each partner has a distinct role to play. Each partner comes with different obligations and perspectives, and this can be both a challenge and a benefit. Intermediation is typically fundamental to get different partners together, and help partners identify and pursue their common cause. For example, governments have an essential role in providing the infrastructure and an enabling environment – that is definitely not within the purview of the private sector. Indeed, as highlighted by the delegate from Cote d’Ivoire, the Mars success story in Cote d’Ivoire also benefited from a good partnership established with the state, that allowed a more enabling environment to develop to support both Mars and the smallholder farmers.

    Finally, I cannot conclude the blog without mentioning the video which was shown during the panel session, on quinoa. The video was produced by James Heer, and it is on activities implemented in Bolivia through an IFAD-funded grant programme to Bioversity International. Please see it, as it is an excellent example of partnership – with IFAD, Bioversity, NGOs, the private sector, government and last but not least smallholder farmers as main protagonists: Bolivia: crazy for quinoa
    Happy St Valentine’s Day and Happy International Year of Quinoa to all !

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    Great timing! Just when the Power of Partnerships is at centre stage of the 36th IFAD Governing Council #ifadgc – the Mozambique Country Team - the living proof of just how powerful a partnership can be, is presented the very first Award of Excellence: Working Together in the Field.

    Just a little bit of background on how this award came to be. In one of their regular meetings last September, the RBA Heads, José Graziano da Silva  (#FAO), Kanayo Nwanze (#IFAD) and Ertharin Cousin (#WFP) agreed to establish the Award of Excellence: Working Together in the Field to promote field-level collaboration.

    Working in the Office of the President and Vice President, I know for a fact that RBA collaboration is a high priority for all three organizations at all levels. And a lot has been done so far (I keep the RBA Action Tracker!) in administrative areas, procurement, audit, security, legal, treasury, ICT, delivering joint messages and speaking with one (more powerful) voice at international summits. RBA staff continue tirelessly to work together on these and many other issues. And it’s not always smooth sailing to coordinate activities for a number of reasons, i.e. conflicting schedules, travel, staff changes, heavy workloads, etc. but in the end we manage because we know that when we work together the results of our actions are much more powerful.

    As WFP's Executive Director, Ertharin Cousin said this morning, all the hard work and coordination we do here at HQ must translate in the field where the action takes place to meet the needs of the people we serve.

    Today we celebrated our Mozambique Country Team who was unanimously chosen for their close collaboration, number of projects they have worked on together, the impact they have had on beneficiaries and on how innovative they have been in finding solutions.

    So what has this Team done?

    In 2008 RBA officers working in Mozambique, Lola Castro, WFP Country Director, Julio de Castro, FAO Country Representative and Custodio Mucavele, IFAD Country Programme Officer and Claus Reiner, IFAD Country Programme Manager started with a small pilot programme that aimed to improve production quality and reduce post-harvest losses for smallholder farmers. In three years the programme had reached 17 000 farmers with increases of up to 30% in marketable surplus.

    Building on this success, the team is now jointly implementing the Programme for Accelerating Progress towards MDG1c (eradicating hunger) in Mozambique. The programme is being financed with a EUR 67 million grant from the European Union complemented by a contribution of EUR 10 million from the government of Mozambique. The programme operates in the two strategic development corridors of Beira and Nacala, covering one third of the country’s rural districts.

    The team designed the programme to tackle the complex issue of food security by contributing what each agency does best. And this is how they put the pieces of the puzzle together: the main areas of intervention are clustered around pro-poor value chains and include access to inputs (mostly FAO and IFAD), good agricultural practices (mostly FAO and IFAD), fishery and aquaculture development (IFAD), rural finance (IFAD), access to markets (all 3 RBAs), reduced post-harvest losses (all 3 RBAs), infrastructure (IFAD), nutrition (all 3 RBAs) and staple food fortification (WFP).

    The Mozambique Minister of Minister of Planning and Development H.E. Aiuba Cuereneia also joined us this morning at IFAD HQ in commending the team for their exemplary commitment in improving agricultural development, pro-poor value chains and agricultural markets so that farmers can become more effective and face competition.

    Julio de Castro, speaking on behalf of the team inspired us all with his enthusiasm and stories. And is so doing he also revealed to us, in one simple word, the secret to the team’s success: Trust. The team has been able to communicate effectively, they count on each other and working together for them is the “natural” way of doing business.

    It is impossible to describe in words the power of this success. But thanks to our colleague Joanne Levitan from IFAD’s COM Broadcast Unit, who put together a 3-minute video (notwithstanding the difficulties due to recent flooding in northern Mozambique), we can really get a sense of what RBA partnership is all about.
    See video on youtube: Mozambique RBA Award.

    We all congratulate Julio, Lola, Custodio and Claus for their success and wish them all the best in continuing to work together in finding solutions that benefit the people we serve together.
    We also recognize that there are many other teams working together with great commitment in other countries and we look forward to knowing who the next winner is!

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    Panel on the secrets of successful partnerships. ©IFAD/Amedeo Paglione
    ROME, Italy – If a single thread has run through the discussions at the 36th Session of the IFAD Governing Council, which wraps up in Rome today, it’s this: Effective partnerships between private-sector companies and small-scale farmers and fishers are not social programmes. They are business relationships based on mutual interests and shared benefits.

    That point was especially evident at yesterday’s panel on secrets of successful partnerships. Participants in the panel recounted their direct experiences with smallholder producers who have organized themselves into cooperatives, thereby expanding their operations and increasing market access.

    Lucian Peppelenbos, Director of Learning and Innovation at the Sustainable Trade Initiative in the Netherlands, noted that smallholders are among the world’s estimated 1.5 billion commodity producers, who are in a position of growing influence. The global pool of 7 billion consumers is edging ever higher, he said, and opportunities beckon along with growing demand.

    Peppelenbos and other panellists pointed out, however, that private-sector suppliers need food products that meet standards of quality and consistency in order to sell them internationally – notably in the European Union and other markets with strict food-safety requirements. As a result, smallholder producers must become more technologically proficient. “This is a shared interest of all our partners,” Peppelenbos said.

    Economies of scale
    In order to achieve quality and consistency, the panellists agreed, it is in the interest of  smallholders to organize themselves into producers’ cooperatives. Tulio Garcia, Executive Director of 4 Pinos, a 3,500-member agricultural cooperative in Guatemala, observed that such associations enable farmers to sell at better prices and take advantage of economies of scale. But they are most viable when they offer farmers training and access to finance, he said, adding: “Cooperatives have to be the best option for their members.”

    Tadesse Meskela, General Manager of the Oromia Coffee Farmers Cooperative Union of Ethiopia, suggested that cooperatives can also provide social benefits, including support for education. He said many coffee cooperatives in Ethiopia are doing just that as a long-term investment in the communities where their members live and work.

    Salah Hegazy, Chairman of Agrofood, a private company in Egypt that exports fresh produce to supermarkets in Europe, suggested yet another prerequisite for successful partnerships between the private sector and smallholder farmers: They must begin at an early stage to ensure that farm products meet suppliers’ specifications. “Quality starts in the field,” Hegazy asserted. But when quality is assured, he said, partnerships between smallholder cooperatives and companies like Agrofood are “a win-win situation.”

    Role of governments
    Lest anyone think that the market cures all ills, the panellists were clear about the critical role of governments in establishing a level playing field for smallholders and their private-sector partners.

    “There’s only so much that the marketplace can do,” Peppelenbos cautioned. He pointed out that government investments in rural infrastructure such as roads and irrigation systems – as well as policies on farm subsidies, taxes and education – can create an enabling environment for agricultural development. And since it often takes time for private-sector investors to see a significant return from partnerships with smallholders, he said, public-sector funding can provide an important bridge to profitability.

    Mylène Kherallah, IFAD’s Senior Technical Advisor on Private Sector Development, concluded the discussion with a brief take on how the Fund itself can support successful partnerships. Among other actions, she said, IFAD can be “an honest broker between small farmers and private businesses,” and an advocate for investments in infrastructure and basic services in rural areas. “Private companies need scale, quality and consistency,” Kherallah added. “It’s a business relationship, not charity.”

    Video: Watch the trailer for Black Gold, a documentary about Tadesse Meskela – one of the speakers at the IFAD Governing Council panel on secrets of successful partnerships – and his organization's struggle to protect 74,000 Ethiopian coffee farmers from exploitation. 

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    by Claudio Lanzi

    Busy days these days….  All that is before our eyes looks so easy, but the reality is very different. Let’s thank some of the people who made this Governing Council possible.....

    To those who work for our safety…

    …to who is always ready to run in case of emergency…

    …to who keeps our offices clean…

    ….to who feeds us when we feel down!....

    …to those who work around the clock…

    … to who is always happy to receive a letter from a Member State…


    …and finally to our eyes and voice, the Social Reporting Team,, better known as the dream team!

    …and apologies to those many I forgot.

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    Written by Monica Romano

    ©IFAD/Flavio Ianniello
    It is really the truth that “l’unione fa la forza” (meaning that if we are united, we are stronger), as a traditional saying in the Italian language states. This is what came to my mind during these days by attending the various panels and sessions that took place in conjunction with the Governing Council, all focusing on highlighting the power of partnerships in combating poverty and promoting rural development.

    In particular, I “blocked” part of my afternoon at IFAD on Wednesday 13 February to follow carefully a high-level panel in which representatives from the private sector and research, under the facilitation of David Nabarro, Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary-General for Food Security and Nutrition and coordinator of the UN High Level Task Force on the Global Food Security Crisis hosted by IFAD, and with the participation of Kevin Cleaver, IFAD Associate Vice-President, Programmes. IFAD Governors intervened actively in the discussion, with comments and questions, but also success stories and challenges in building mutually-beneficial partnerships.

    It is not so easy to establish successful partnerships. It takes time, requires money, and necessitates building trust among all parties - noted James Mwangi, CEO and Managing Director of Equity Bank in Kenya. Equity Bank offers inclusive, customer-focused financial services that aim to socially and economically empower people who are generally considered “unbankable”. The Bank was founded as Equity Building Society in 1984 and was originally a provider of mortgage financing for the majority of low-income customers. Over time, it was transformed into a microfinance institution and then into a commercial bank, with more than 8 million customers, thus becoming the largest bank in terms of customer base in Africa and having nearly half of bank accounts in Kenya. Mr. Mwangi indicated that partnerships can only succeed when responsibilities, investments, risks, and benefits are shared and when they are established through bottom-up processes. In a global context of limiting economic resources, investing in innovation, entrepreneurial skill development and capacity building – all key to sustainable development - cannot be afforded but through partnerships between different actors. This does not mean that everybody does everything. Each party has a specific role to play building on its comparative advantage: government in policy formulation and as an enabler of the institutional environment; donors in leveraging on their resources. There is need for “transformative” partnerships, echoed IFAD Governor from Nigeria, which could bring about change that individual organizations cannot achieve on their own.

    The importance of “specialization” between partners in innovative partnerships for value chain development was highlighted by Estelle Biénable, an Agricultural Economist at the Agricultural Research Centre for International Development – CIRAD. Key factors to successful partnerships are the social capital – that is trained and organized farmers -, business orientation and development motivation, the specialization between different partners within the value chain (production, processing and marketing), and adequate attention to the institutional and organizational dimensions (including traditional institutions and the enabling environment).

    The possible tension and the need to reach an equilibrium and foster dialogue between the public sector and the cooperatives were some of the key points raised by Odacir Klein, President of the Brazilian Biodiesel Union – UBRABIO, an association of producers and researchers of biofuels, which was founded in Brasilia in 2007. The issue of the relationship between government and cooperatives raised the interest of the Governors from Angola and Cote d’Ivoire. Mr. Klein noted that cooperatives have collective obligations towards their members, while the state should develop public policies to guarantee infrastructure development and provide stimulus for the cooperatives to represent their members and exercise collective responsibilities. The Governor from South Sudan pointed out that sometimes donors trust and support more the NGOs than the governments, even when these have not the required capacity or expertise to assist small farmers. The governments should have a clear policy to manage their relationship with NGOs.

    I have to confess that I was mostly looking forward to hearing from Ingmar Streese, Director of Global Programmes and Partnerships at MARS, a private company doing cocoa production. I had been involved in the Mid-term review mission of the IFAD-supported Rural Empowerment and Agricultural Development (READ) project, which established a PPP linking smallholder farmers with MARS for cocoa production in Central Sulawesi, Indonesia (a story about READ’s experience with this PPP can be found here). Mr. Streese explained that there are estimated 5 million smallholder farmers producing cocoa globally, but they need to become entrepreneurs. Partnering between farmers and MARS has been proving successful in Indonesia. The ingredients for successful partnerships include trust, choice of the right partners, and building on the comparative advantage of each actor. Challenges are also there: working with big organizations is not always speedy and it takes time to find reliable partners. As the Governor from Rwanda stressed, for all actors to work together, there is need for the right institutional framework in place.

    After remembering that last year the United Nations launched the International Year of Cooperatives, and summarizing the main points discussed and conclusions drawn - forming partnerships requires finance and time, science has a role to play, certifying the partnerships is needed to make sure that the principles are adhered to, donors organizations need to update their working methods and expertise – the floor was passed on to Mr. Cleaver to bring in IFAD’s perspective.

    I liked particularly the first remark made by our Associate Vice-President: farmers cannot be considered any more as recipients. They are partners. Second strong point: IFAD, like many other organizations, has limited finance to have impact and scale. Partnerships are therefore a must. This has direct implications for IFAD’s business model and processes, which are not always suitable to work out optimally certain partnerships, especially with the private sector. In this regards, IFAD Member States can support us. And to say the truth, another key actor in the equation- the public sector – has often problems with the agility, flexibility and speed that private sector requires – Mr. Clever highlighted. Third consideration: there are also bad partnerships, as in some cases it is seen when the so called “land grabbing” occurs. Purchasing land is not bad per se. The question is whether the partnership requiring use of land is equal and the benefits accrue to private sector and governments only, leaving out the farmers. Public policy has a role to play. Donors like IFAD also have a role to play in empowering rural communities so that they can defend their interests and rights as well as in strengthening the capacity of governments to analyze and understand the implications, opportunities and threats of certain situations.

    I left the room enriched by the debate. Despite challenges, it is promising that all expressed the desire and understand the need for working more closely together for rural poverty reduction. With farmers as partners, by supporting their organizations, building trust among all parties and leveraging on everybody’s comparative advantage. I guess these would really be transformative partnerships.

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     Tulio Garcia (2°) Director Ejecutivo de la Cooperativa Agrícola Cuatro Pinos
    Apenas concluido el 36º Consejo de Gobernadores del FIDA, podemos ver con cual responsabilidad compartida el FIDA, los Gobiernos de los países y los Pueblos Indígenas deberán enfrentar los grandes retos que implica la lucha contra el hambre y la pobreza para lograr mejorar las condiciones de vida en nuestro subcontinente.


                Los ejemplos de estos países nos presentan un panorama del camino que debe seguirse para lograr objetivos de desarrollo sostenible. En Guatemala, la Cooperativa Cuatro Pinos nos hace constatar un dicho popular: “La unión hace la fuerza”. Para reflejarnos este concepto, el señor Tulio Garcia, Director ejecutivo de la dicha cooperativa, habla en representación de sus 318 socias, y aclara que es un modelo tangible, donde han logrado adquirir un buen nivel de competitividad, lo que permite acceso a los mercados y a la exportación de productos agrícolas. Esto ha llevado a crear empleos e ingresos familiares, permitiendo además la escolaridad infantil en la comunidad y el empoderamiento de las mujeres indígenas. Sobre todo demuestra que la opción de colaborar en grupo es una alternativa válida y viable.

                 Asimismo, la colaboración comunitaria facilita el acceso al crédito y evita la concesión de los mismos a tasas de interés altísimas, obstáculo que desalienta a  aquellos que los solicitan individualmente en los bancos. Además trabajar colectivamente facilita a que los pequeños productores se conviertan en pequeños empresarios y sean menos vulnerables.  Otro factor importante es incrementar las inversiones del sector público en las zonas rurales más aisladas y reforzar las infraestructuras: ello llevaría a un gradual mejoramiento de  las condiciones de vida en general. Concluyendo, el señor Garcia manifestó lo siguiente: "necesitamos 4 elementos para fortificarnos: calidad, consistencia, productividad, y mercado".

    Pedro Tzerembo, Shuar, Amazonia Ecuador

               Por otra parte, el caso del Ecuador es emblemático: aquí se mezcla el drama del progreso a costo de destruir la selva amazónica con el clamor de las poblaciones indígenas. Por ejemplo, el representante de la etnia Shuar, Pedro Tzerembo, nos manifestó la experiencia y el sentir de los Pueblos Indígenas, que ven amenazado el medio ambiente que ellos han cuidado y conservado por generaciones, e insta a la comunidad internacional y a los organismos especializados  a emprender un rumbo que pueda combinar el desarrollo sostenible con la preservación de los recursos naturales y de la propia cultura e identidad.  
                El FIDA es uno de los medios con los cuales los pueblos indígenas cuentan para difundir su voz a nivel mundial; los paradigmas anteriores son solo una pequeña parte del gran trabajo desempeñado por esta Institución que, junto a los gobiernos y a los directamente interesados,  contribuye con su apoyo financiando proyectos, con el fin de realizar concretamente el compromiso adquirido en el Primer Foro de los Pueblos Indígenas.

    By Eduardo Vides y Carla Francescutti

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    By Nicole Carta

    In addition to the many successes of last week’s IFAD Governing Council, another highlight was the launch of the Governors’ Round Table – a new forum designed to foster more interaction and exchange among IFAD Governors on strategic issues impacting smallholder farmers.

    President Nwanze created the round table in response to direct calls from our Governors for more opportunity to exchange ideas and experiences among each other during the annual meeting. This year the Round Table was moderated by Ambassador Miguel Ruiz Cabañas Izquierdo, Permanent Representative of the United Mexican States to IFAD, and Vice-Chair of the IFAD Governing Council, and focused on Partnerships for Financing Agricultural and Rural Development.

    During the two-hour session, Governors and Heads of Delegations from 109 Member States reflected on how to build and finance partnerships that can best support smallholder farmers and their role in transforming agricultural systems and rural economies to achieve greater prosperity, sustainability and equity.  Building upon a Discussion Note that included notable case examples from IFAD-supported programmes, participants underlined the critical role of IFAD in brokering sustainable, productive, profitable and equitable partnerships that centre upon smallholder interests.  Many delegates also highlighted the important role of the public sector in creating enabling environments for new partnerships to thrive.  Further, the need for increased access to finance for smallholders was also a sentiment shared among many.

    IFAD was commended by Governors for creating the new forum, and for its role in brokering many of the partnerships discussed in such detail.  IFAD staff who followed the discussion commented that the session was a good learning opportunity to learn more about the existing partnerships and initiatives on which our Member States are working, and were further encouraged to hear that, by in large, IFAD’s work is focusing on the issues and concerns Governor’s raised throughout the event. A key highlight for many were the Quinoa cookies brought all the way from Bolivia that provided a very tasty example of a successful IFAD-supported partnership.

    Feedback received from 70 participants was overwhelmingly positive for the Governors’ Round Table, and next year will surely bring an opportunity to further build upon its success.

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    by Kevin Cleaver, IFAD Associate Vice-President Programmes

    Gordon Conway is coming to Rome to launch his book entitled ONE BILLION HUNGRY;  CAN WE FEED THE WORLD?  (Cornell University, 2012).  It’s a good book, and an important book, well worth the read.  For those of you who are too busy doing other things, I will summarize what I believe are the most important points, and some issues.  After all, 430 pages is a lot of reading.

    First Conway argues that the part of the food security debate which has been most ignored is nutrition.  Hunger has traditionally been measured by FAO as caloric intake.  But this is only part of the hunger story;  the quality and content of those calories is critical.  Food security equals access to food, its availability, the way it is utilized and its composition.  This is a more complex definition.  Simple concepts no longer suffice.

    Similarly the success of the green revolution is partly questioned.  The evidence, which Conway reviews in great detail, is pretty compelling that the green revolution reduced poverty, at least in those places where it occurred.  It also stabilized rural employment earnings, reduced food prices, and moderated seasonal fluctuations in food availability.  For those of you who forgot what the green revolution was, it was not really very green.  It consisted of the introduction of high yield varieties of some crops, combined with investment in irrigation, fertilizer, a slightly better policy environment for agriculture, and literacy campaigns for farmers.  Good stuff; definitely resulting in production increases.  But, the evidence is also compelling that the impact on the poor was less than expected, rural inequality increased, environmental degradation accelerated, and there are diminishing returns (i.e. the productivity gains now are less than in the past).  These findings incidentally were the basis for my statement in the panel at the Governing Council that the benefits from project introduction of green revolution technology are diminishing, and we need to find (and are in fact finding) new ways to have high impact on small farmer incomes and wellbeing.  Conway goes on to develop the idea, which was originally his, of what he calls a doubly green revolution.  The idea is to pursue productivity gains in agriculture, as the original green revolution did, while conserving natural resources, focusing more on hunger reduction (remember the expanded definition of food security;  it is relevant here), focusing on equality of distribution of benefits, and with techniques and technologies resistant to shocks (climatic, environmental, economic, etc.).  And it needs to be sustainable.  This is a very tall order.  What does Conway suggest as a way of delivering such an ambitious set of objectives?

    He has an answer;  you must decide if it is convincing.  First on the large farm small farm debate;  he argues that both are needed.  Small farmers tend to be more efficient per hectare (important as land constraints become more severe, especially for crops which do not require large on-farm investments).  But for crops which work in harmony with capital intensive processing investment (palm oil, rubber, sugar, cut flowers), large farms are generally more appropriate.  And of course the two can work together.  What does this have to do with a doubly green revolution?  I think that this was just the warm up to the meat of it which is that the new agriculture needs to be one which promotes ecological sustainability and social sustainability (sounds like IFAD mantra does it not?).  This means that in thinking about agriculture systems (or projects), the trade-offs between productivity (large farm or small), stability, resilience, and equitability (new word) must be considered.  The green revolution focussed on productivity, but sacrificed sustainability and equality.

    What does ecological sustainability look like?  What does it mean?  Conway has specific examples which are interesting;  I will list them in order to save space.  I use buzz words here, but there is a lot of meat behind each:  intercropping, rotations, combine trees and grasslands with cropping, green manuring, conservation tillage, biological control, IPM…   Grainger-Jones;  you will love this stuff.  He argues that new technologies, (ICT, nanotechnology, biotechnology) need embracing (so he is not just an organic green;  he’s a bit of an iconoclast).  He wants a lot more innovation however, including in the public sector, the private sector, and in education.

    He does not stop there.  We have learned that institutions and policy matters.  He does a good job at looking at the pros and cons of some of the policy orientations that accompany technology.  Coops for example can be good at enabling small farmers to reach economies of scale, but often leave the poorest farmers out.  Contract farming is great for connecting processors to farmers and ensuring better prices for farmers contracted.  But most farmers are excluded;  contracts go to the best farmers.  Fair trade provides farmers with premium prices, but benefits tiny numbers of farmers.  Food safety is great for consumers, but standards often cause small farmers to be dropped.  Conway states that organic produce is a great niche but organic crop yields are still 30% less than conventional farming yields, important in situations of land scarcity.  Crop insurance is tough to make work because damage is difficult to connect to an event;  risk is not easily quantifiable.  This is why crop insurance schemes, such as that of the USA, are so heavily subsidized by governments.

    His chapter on livestock is intriguing.  Livestock are central to mixed farming systems which characterize most small holder farms.  The use of crop waste to feed animals, and animal waste to feed plants, livestock as the engines of early farm mechanization, makes sense.  Livestock provide draft power, generate employment (it is a lot of work to keep livestock), source of wealth, cultural significance, and source of food.  Let’s get one!  But, there are increasing environmental problems, greenhouse gas emissions from livestock are huge, and zoonotic diseases (remember avian flu?), are increasing, not decreasing problems.  No easy fix on this one.  Read the book for answers;  my sense is the livestock raising sends us into the world of the second best.  There is rapidly increasing demand for meat (faster than for crops), and the positives listed above remain, but there are very negative environmental consequences.  How to manage these negatives is the challenge.

    I have done a shoddy job of summarizing a long and complicated book in a few words;  let’s jump to the conclusions.  There is a chapter of conclusions, that in a nutshell (really), goes like this:

    • Donors should meet their aid commitments (they rarely do)
    • The Doha round must be successful (freer agricultural trade and fewer subsidies) – fat chance
    • Governments need to have policies which create an enabling environment for private investment in agriculture and agro business (most do not)
    • Institutions need to be supportive (food safety, environmental regulation, etc);  most are not
    • Producers associations should be supported
    • Micro credit works
    • Push for sustainable agriculture technologies (such as those listed above)
    • Expand the technological horizon (including bio technology, nano technology, ICT)
    • Small scale irrigation rather than large government run schemes
    • Adaption to climate change (some good stuff on climate change-  come to his seminar this week at IFAD sponsored by Grainger jones on this)
    • Scale up
    • Private public partnerships
    When I read the concluding chapter, I found myself wondering what’s new.  It reads pretty much like our own strategic framework.  Maybe this is why I liked the book so much.  It provides a very well referenced argument for the type of agriculture that I believe that IFAD is promoting.  For this reason, I am an enthusiast.  Despite the common sense nature of the recommendations, few governments actually practice any of it, and most of our societies are not very supportive in deeds.  Conway is an ally.  We don’t have as many allies as you might think;  each is precious.  Come to his lecture.

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    The Learning Route on Pro-Rural Poor Public and Private Partnership in Lao PDR is finally started!!

    Participants coming from various regions of Lao PDR are now travelling within the Attapeu Province to analyze and learn from the best practices and successful strategies in the promotion of Pro-Rural Poor Private and Public Partnership, in order to promote  their scaling-up in Lao PDR and especially within IFAD supported projects. The Learning Route focuses on small-scale agriculture and non-agriculture rural businesses developed in Attapeu province as part of the activities promoted by RLIP.  

    The learning route bus is now running! It is full of different practitioners, which background, skills and experiences make it a very rich, unique group of learners. Farmers and staff member from SSSJ, RLIP, SNRMPEP already have show their interest.

    Questions and discussions in the field will be the basis to open the path for innovation, reaching the communities and organizations they represent. Three organizations will share their knowledge and tips on how to get out from poverty cycle.

    1.       Organic Asparagus Producers’ Group, Darkhied village, Sansai district
    Successful story of resilience of a group of food-insecure households that have been able to improve their livelihoods by capitalizing on new market opportunities. Today there are 21 families of the village of Darkhied, belonging to Alak ethnic group, involved in the production of Organic Asparagus which are sold directly to SWIFT Co. LdT., one of the most important organic traders in Southeast Asia.
    2.       Taliang Natural Dyes Group, Vang Xai village, Sansai district
    The Taliang Natural Dyes Group is composed of 10 Taliang women from Vang Xai. Interesting example of how the combination of traditional knowledge with current markets trends can generate new business opportunities for rural people. Moreover, the articulation of women with the public and private sectors is playing a catalyser role in this young experience.
    3.       Organic Coffee Producers’ Group, Dakseum village, Sansai district
    The Alak community of Dakseum is producing organic coffee since 1994. In 2009, thanks to the establishment of long-term PPP, villagers started producing and selling at larger scale. Their strategy can be considered a learning model in Lao PDR when targeting the poorest of the poor.

    Stay tuned for the next updating!!

    For more info visit:

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  • 02/27/13--23:55: If it works, scale it up!

  • by Rosalie Lehel, IFAD Natural Resource Management Programme Support Officer, East and Southern Africa

    Nairobi, Kenya – Sometimes what is important is not only to have a new idea, but to be able to expand what already works.

    That was the key message of the first 3 days write-shop on scaling up frameworks that took place in Nairobi, Kenya. Organised by IFAD, the write-shop gathered  together members of the Kenyan Government, representatives of associations and project coordinators to talk about what scaling up means, and how to put it in practice.

    Scaling up can be defined as ‘’expanding, replicating, adapting and sustaining successful policies, programs or projects in a given geographic space and over time to reach a greater number of the rural poor’’.
    In order to be scaled up, the model needs to have a vision that sets the appropriate ultimate scale along with the timeframe. Next comes the identification of the drivers that are pushing, or are expected to push, the scaling up process and of the spaces that need to be created. Finally, the determination of the pathways that define the way interventions are to be scaled up, and what IFAD can do to promote the process.

    After a presentation of the above scaling-up process, the participants had been asked to apply it to the models of intervention they wanted to scale up through a writing exercise: for every model, they had to  identify the vision, the drivers, the spaces, the pathways and IFAD’s role. This was a useful and practical way to check the participants’ understanding of the subject matter. Towards the end of the workshop, each participant had to make a presentation on the scaling up process of their model.

    An example is the water resource management model, presented by Maria Notley, technical adviser of the Water Services Trust Fund. The model’s goal is to bring different users together and give them training on integrated water resources management and financial resources for planning and implementation of the water resources management activities. The idea was born in Kenya, where several water resources users’ associations (WRUAs) were formed in the 1980’s around critical water bodies and catchment areas. The first WRUAs were voluntary associations formed in the situations where the resource was either diminishing or deteriorating or upstream and downstream users were in direct conflict over the use of the resource. The vision of the programme is to reach 1200 WRUAs, and the main driver is the motivation of local level water users. Many spaces, such as financial, cultural, institutional, learning, partnership and environmental needed to be created in order to scale up the idea. The pathway of the process has a time frame of the next 5 years, and implies a large scale up with finances generated by water users in order to have multiple impacts such as increased awareness, practical activities in catchment areas, increase flow and better quality of water resources, increased availability of water  for population and production.

    But the scaling up doesn’t stop there. The role of knowledge management and community building is fundamental, and has to be implemented in every phase of the process. IFAD will soon launch a platform that will put together the experiences, the lessons learned, and the tools to achieve successful scaled up models.

    Even though the scaling up approach is still work in progress, the mind-set is already changing: the projects are now seen as dynamic, and with a wider dimension. The on-going internalization has already started with the integration of the scaling-up process in the project design and more will come. The scaling-up of the scaling up mind-set continues.  

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