CIMMYT / East Africa / Ethiopia / HUMIDTROPICS / Intensification / Interview / Maize / Participation / Research

RISING voices: Frédéric Baudron, tropical systems agronomist (CIMMYT, Ethiopia)

Frédéric Baudron, senior tropical systems agronomist at the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT) in Ethiopia, introduces himself and his work with the program. It is one of a series of portraits of key people in Africa RISING.

Tell us about your background

I trained as a tropical agronomist, but specialized as a livestock scientist and started my carrier working for various development programs targeting the interface between people (mainly farmers) and wildlife. I then did a PhD in plant production systems. My research interests include farming system research, sustainable intensification, impact of agriculture on biodiversity, and participatory innovation development.

What do you do in your current position?

Currently, I am a senior scientist working for the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT) in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia where I lead a number of projects for CIMMYT including the Farm Mechanization and Conservation Agriculture for Sustainable Intensification (FACASI) project, which is implemented in Ethiopia, Kenya, Tanzania and Zimbabwe.

What are your plans for Africa RISING?

Developing a ‘proof of concept’ on the Ethiopian Highlands regarding farm power as a main limiting factor to the productivity of these systems (as, or more important than germplasms, nutrients and water) and how this can be addressed by small mechanization.

What are the biggest Africa RISING challenges and how do we deal with them?

To me, the biggest challenge of Africa RISING is in creating the conditions for co-construction of innovations. Innovation platforms ensure that local knowledge is taken into account, but mechanisms need to be put in place to ensure that the ‘creativity’ of researchers is not limited (is participatory  and not ‘locked in’). Broadening the range of what is possible is a fundamental role of research.

What are some of the main achievements of this program?

No other program I know of has such a systems perspective. Having 10 CGIAR centres working together is, I believe, a uniqueness of Africa RISING. Many CGIAR Research Programs (CRPs) have hardly managed to have more than two centres working together!

What gives you hope looking at a possible second phase, based on the first phase?

Reaching a truly farm-scale and landscape-scale research approach, integrating the various component technologies tested in the first phase.

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