Irmgard Hoeschle-Zeledon, Africa RISING Project Coordinator at the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture writes:
I would like to give you an update on the status of the USAID funded project on Sustainable Intensification of Key Farming Systems in Eastern and Southern Africa.
After the inception workshop in Dar es Salaam in February it was decided that all three regional projects would be operating as a Program called Africa RISING (Africa Research In Sustainable Intensification for the Next Generation) to ensure cross regional learning and synergistic impact.
The inception meeting also decided to launched a semi-open competitive call for ‘early win’ proposals. The purpose of this approach was to allow for sufficient time to develop a thorough research framework for the entire Program while at the same time laying the foundation for the longer-term project in Eastern and Southern Africa, establish partnerships and produce reportable results by the end of fiscal year 1 (September 2012).
The call for proposals was launched on 22 February. Twenty-eight proposals were received of which 4 did not meet the criteria set for eligibility. Because several proposal received had similar objectives, the selection team (USAID and Project Coordinator) asked the submitting institutions to team up and submit a joint proposal. With this approach, a total of 10 projects could be approved. The proposals for all projects can be downloaded from this page http://africa-rising.wikispaces.com/early+wins.
In addition, a sub-agreement was signed with Michigan State University (Prof S. Snapp) for the first phase of a project on Take AIM: Agroecological Intensification in Malawi and Tanzania through action Research with women and men farmers.
You will also be interested to learn that we established our project office in Arusha, Tanzania. The World Vegetable Center (AVRDC), a major partner in Africa RISING, has kindly agreed to let us office space at their Regional Center for Africa. We have recruited an Executive Assistant, Mrs Irene Mwasaga and a driver Frank Gideon Haule. IITA has also recruited a Systems Agronomist, Prof. Mateete Bekunda from Uganda, who is also based in Arusha. He has been attending several inception workshops and has been communicating with the project teams on indicators and targets against which we have to report to the donors.
From 17 to 22 June colleagues from our donor (USAID) Eric Witte, Jerry Glover and Elisabeth Maeda joined us on a field trip in Tanzania to meet with partners and see some work on the ground. After meetings in Dar es Salaam, the team set off to action sites of IITA, AfricaRice, and ICRAF. Discussions were also held at Sokoine University, with the USAID supported NAFAKA project (including a visit to a model farm at the Dawara irrigation scheme) and with a manufacturer of agricultural and processing equipment, Intermech. The trip was concluded with a meeting at the USAID Mission.
The trip provided clear evidence of the advantages of co-locating Africa RISING’s research sites in Tanzania with other USAID activities, particularly those of NAFAKA. We will therefore focus our research on Kiteto district in Manyara Region and Kongwa district in Dodoma Region for the work on maize mixed systems. Work in rice/vegetable systems would best take place in Mvomero or Kilombero districts in Morogoro Region. Final decision and identification of the specific locations is still pending.
During the first week of October, we will hold a workshop with all key implementing partners. The purpose of this workshop is to present the results, discuss how to adapt our work to the research framework currently under development, draft a workplan for year 2, and discuss project management issues. On the last day, we will invite a wide group of stakeholders. We are also planning a field visit in conjunction with the workshops.
Thank you very much for your interest in Africa RISING and I am looking forward to the development of fruitful partnerships for the benefit of the people in and beyond our target region.
More information on the Dar es Salaam workshop