In Babati District, northern Tanzania, a popular but misleading myth persists. That use of inorganic fertilizer ‘kills’ the soil. For several years, majority of farmers in the district have desisted from use of fertilizer to replenish depleted soil nutrients. Africa RISING researchers have for the past five years, invested significant resources and effort to dispel this myth.
Through its research-in-development work on legume–cereal rotations in Tanzania and Malawi, Africa RISING has established that these rotations work better for larger farms, while intercropping targeted at smaller farms ensures crop diversity, while giving an opportunity for legumes to be grown, thereby bringing associated nitrogen-fixation ecological benefits.
In 2015, livestock scientists implementing Africa RISING research-in-development activities (R-in-D) introduced forage chopper machines in seven villages in Babati District, northern Tanzania. One year later (in 2016), social scientists evaluated the gender implications of the new processing practices among farmers’ groups.
Africa RISING scientists from ICRISAT implemented a small scale pilot study in the semi-arid regions of southern Mali and northern Ghana to evaluate the impacts of climate variability at different scales (farm to watershed), using newly setup hydro-meteorological stations and hydrological modelling tools.
Tree lucerne is a key supplementary feed for ruminant animals and is an important source of protein for animal fattening and milk production and can be mixed with other livestock feeds including those based on crop residues or hay.
Failing to take into account gender differences in needs, preferences, roles and responsibilities, access to and control of resources (such as labour, inputs, credit, and land), and power imbalances can limit the reach and scale of Africa RISING technologies.
During the first phase of the Africa RISING program (2012-2016) the three projects set up innovation and R4D platforms to support learning, sharing collaboration and joint actions. These experiences were critiqued at the recent program science for impact workshop to guide phase 2 interventions.
Drought-tolerant cowpea has become an attractive crop among rural Zambian farmers, thanks to USAID’s Feed the Future initiative in Eastern Province. Cowpea is now more frequently used as both a food and cash crop in the Eastern Province, due to its high nutritional value for household consumption and an increase in local market demand. Africa RISING supports this development by promoting crop diversification as part of its broader agricultural technological interventions and as an integral part of conservation agriculture.
Good agriculture practices (GAPs) are the low-hanging fruits for extension of new technologies. They are easily adoptable, give farmers an immediate benefit, and help in the gradual shift from traditional plough or hoe-based systems with maize monocropping to more sustainable and adapted ways of agriculture.It is against this background that the Africa RISING project theme on Sustainable Intensification of low input farming Systems has intensified the out scaling of simple component technologies in a mother-and-baby trial approach in three districts of Eastern Province, namely Sinda, Chipata, and Lundazi.
Remarkable results are emerging from Africa RISING project activities in Eastern Province of Zambia. More than 20,000 farmers have been exposed to CA by SIMLEZA-Africa RISING, the predecessor project of Africa RISING, which continues to sensitize and train more farmers. Farmers benefitted from increased use of CA technologies by gradually increasing crop yields leading to a solid yield benefit of 117% (1942 kg/ha) in a manually direct seeded maize crop following cowpea as compared with the conventional practice in the 2014/2015 cropping season.
In the cropping season of 2015/2016, Africa RISING expanded its work in Zambia under the Sustainable Intensification theme to trials on improved manure handling.
One of the main ‘program-wide’ changes in the second phase of Africa RISING is the institutionalisation of ‘communities of practice’ (CoPs). Five initial pilot CoPs were officially launched at the first science meeting of Africa RISING phase 2, in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania between 17 & 19 January 2017.
Findings from three districts in Zambia revealed that smallholder farmers use agricultural technology innovations and diversification strategies to manage droughts and enhance their resilience to climate shocks.
Farmers in southern Africa plant maize extensively on large areas, harvest less than 2 t/ha on average, extracting already depleted nutrients from the soil while trying to become food secure and escape from poverty―an impossible task! In Eastern Province of Zambia, farmers are being offered a range of solutions by Africa RISING that provide a way out of this poverty trap. These technologies, options, and approaches include drought- and stress-tolerant maize germplasm, conservation agriculture (CA), improved rotation and intercropping with grain legumes, agroforestry, and green manure cover crops.
During phase I, the project has learned a number of lessons in Ethiopia that will be key to designing an effective phase II that will generate development impacts at scale. These include issues around partnerships, capacity development, research management, budget utilization and specific approaches to exploratory and action research.
This study report provides interesting insights into the gender implications of Africa RISING’s agricultural intensification practices in target communities in northern Ghana.
To set plans and priorities for phase 2, in November 2016 the Africa RISING project in the Ethiopian highlands organized a two days review and planning meeting to look back phase I outputs and achievements, provide an overview of the phase II project and approach, review and refine scaling proposals from phase I, and discuss implementation processes for Phase II.
Insights from an economic evaluation of Africa RISING post-harvest technology (Purdue Improved Crop Storage bags) in Tanzania reveal how much farmers are benefitting by adopting the improved storage bags over the conventional storage options.
This poster provides a self-reflective look at the key lessons and what it takes to operationalize a robust M&E framework for a complex systems research program like Africa RISING.
In 2014, Africa RISING partnered with the USAID-funded NAFAKA project in Tanzania to scale-out best-bet technologies among smallholder farmers. Currently in its third year, the project, which also incorporates several community-based actors, has achieved great success. This poster provides an inside look at what it takes to make these kind of partnerships tick and the key lessons learnt from this nascent project.
Insights from the results of an evaluation of different Africa RISING technology packages per farm type and per region in Northern Ghana.
A geospatial framework for delineating recommendation domains for crop varieties which are part of the Africa RISING technology packages.
How switching to improved agricultural technologies like hybrid maize varieties and application of bladed fertilizers catalyzed a young female farmer’s dramatic rise from an off-season casual laborer to a champion farmer in rural Tanzania.
Originally published in Forages for the Future Newsletter, issue 3, December 2016 Livestock in Tanzania are largely underfed with farmers meeting only 65% of feed needs in a year, under best conditions. Farm areas with crops range from 0.3 to 0.7 ha, while the area committed to forages is <0.04 ha. Grazing areas are overgrazed …
Seventeen core action-oriented interventions have been introduced by the Africa RISING project in Ethiopia and validated under diverse socioeconomic and agro-ecological conditions. Over the years, researchers engaged participating farmers to test options adjusted to the needs of households with differing capacities, approaches to risk and levels of resource endowment. This allowed farmers to select interventions based on their interest and priorities. Between 2012 and 2016, farmers were involved in the selection and validation of the project interventions in a stepwise and iterative manner.
Two posters on scaling techniques applied by the Africa RISING project in Tanzania were recently ranked 2nd and 3rd at a poster competition featuring over 50 entries in Ibadan, Nigeria.
The Africa RISING project in Ethiopia has been promoting improved high-value fruit trees, such as improved avocado and apple varieties. Take up has been good, but is constrained by technical issues as well as limited local seedling supplies. Farmers have adopted the new varieties; some are also innovating themselves to address some of the challenges they encountered.
The Africa RISING project in Tanzania recently got merited recognition by the Kongwa District Council as a project that provides farmers with practical improved agricultural technologies that can be applied to fight hunger in the District.
As I write this piece to share the progress of high value trees research protocol, several circumstances, mostly the first Africa RISING project inception meeting in 2012, crosses my mind. I joined the meeting representing my organization, the World Agroforestry Center (ICRAF). I was delighted because the theme was on sustainable intensification where trees could play a central role.
This annotated bibliography of gender learning resources will ensure that project partners can at a glance find information and links to selected open access documents addressing particular topics of interest to them on gender in agriculture.
Poor diets, inappropriate feeding practices and disease are primary causes of maternal and child under-nutrition. Dietary diversity is an important element of dietary quality, a strong predictor of micronutrient adequacy and overall nutrition status.
While insecticide spraying offers the most effective management strategy for insect pests in farmers’ fields, most farmers in Ghana spray only once in most cases. The effect of a three spray regime was compared to conventional farmer practice (one spray) on yield and net financial returns of cowpea on-farm.