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IFAD Annual Report 2012 − introducing the cheat sheet

Posted by Hazel Bedford Thursday, June 27, 2013 0 comments

Listen up! Raising awareness about women's legal rights in Burundi

Summer is the season of cheat sheets, as students around the world get into gear for exams. So I’ve developed  a cheat sheet for IFAD’s AR2012 that will break it up into bite-sized chunks, and might even whet your appetite for the main report.

The Annual Report is one of the places that staff, our Member States and partners go for key facts and figures. (You may not believe it, but people start trying to get their hands on it even before the preliminary GC draft is printed.) 

Here are some of the key numbers from AR2012. Remember, these are all correct as at 31 December 2012.
Let’s start with the big numbers:
  • 255 ongoing programmes and projects with an IFAD investment of US$5.3 billion and a total value of US$11.9 billion – up 50% from 2009
  • 33 new programmes and projects approved in 2012 with loans and DSF grants worth US$968 million
  • 88 new grants approved in 2012 worth US$69 million
  • Total IFAD loan and grants operations since 1978: US$14.7 billion
If you want the details behind those figures, or more information on the various types of cofinancing, disbursements or repayments – take a look at Table 1 and the graphics that go with it.
Now let’s break down the big numbers region by region.

West and Central Africa
  • 55 ongoing projects in 23 countries
  • US$966.7 million invested by IFAD in the region’s ongoing portfolio
  • 7 new programmes and projects for a total IFAD investment of US$250.8 million
East and Southern Africa
  •  56 ongoing projects in 18 countries
  •  US$1,368.7 million invested by IFAD in the region’s ongoing portfolio
  • 4 new programmes and projects for a total IFAD investment of US$108.0 million
Asia and the Pacific
  •  59 ongoing projects in 19 countries
  • US$1,592.8 million invested by IFAD in the region’s ongoing portfolio
  • 10 new programmes and projects for a total IFAD investment of US$328.4 million
Latin America and the Caribbean
  • 39 ongoing projects in 19 countries
  • US$574.1 million invested by IFAD in the region’s ongoing portfolio
  • 8 new programmes and projects for a total IFAD investment of US$149.6 million
Near East, North Africa and Europe
  • 46 ongoing projects in 18 countries and Gaza and the West Bank
  • US$787.7 million invested by IFAD in the region’s ongoing portfolio
  • 4 new programmes and projects for a total IFAD investment of US$70.1 million
But the Annual Report isn’t just about numbers. It’s also about issues, strategies and stories. If you want more of that kind of detail, go to the Programme of Work chapter. You’ll find a handy overview of issues in each region, key areas of work with results, and stories from the field. You’ll also see 2012 investments and disbursements by lending terms in the regional pie charts. If you want to know which countries we’re working in and where we have country offices, take a look at the map.

Don’t forget that you can use the online full version to search for anything you’re interested in using the simple Find command with a keyword. The full online version also contains individual summaries for all newly approved programmes, projects and large grants – worth a look if you want to keep up with new directions and developments.

The Financing Data and Resource Mobilization chapter is far from dry − every year the numbers tell a different story. This is where you’ll find the figures on the current shape of our portfolio, the 8th and 9th replenishments, supplementary funds, bilateral and multilateral cofinancing, support to the HIPC Debt Initiative and more.

Here’s a sample – again, remember that these figures are correct at 31 December 2012:
  • US$1,386 million pledged to IFAD9 – 92% of the target
  • US$42.7 million received in supplementary funds during 2012
  • US$653 million disbursed in loans and DSF grants during 2012
  • US$412 million provided in debt relief under HIPC to 33 countries
  • 71% of 2012 financing went to LIFDCs

If you’re looking for a super cheat sheet with graphics and pictures  - try the Highlights, which is just 12 pages long. It’s very portable for sharing with partners.

Finally, if you’ve found time to look at the main report, please take 5 minutes to fill in the AR survey – we’d like to hear your comments and ideas for next year.

And last but not least, a big thank you to everyone who worked on the Annual Report this year. If we had credits like in the movies, they would go on and on. The stars of the show are the determined rural women and men featured in the stories from the field. But we also have scores of people behind the scenes: focal points, writers, editors, translators, proofreaders, gaffers and best boys (and girls). We couldn’t do it without you!

Payment for environmental service

Posted by Roxanna Samii Monday, June 24, 2013 0 comments

by Elwyn Grainger-Jones, Director of IFAD’s Environment and Climate Division

Paying the protectors 
At IFAD we are convinced that poor rural smallholder farmers should be recognized and compensated for the environmental services they provide when they practice environmentally sound land-use management and forestry which benefit all of us.

This type of compensation, known as Payment for Environmental Services (PES), creates incentives for sustainable production by paying for carbon sequestration, avoiding deforestation, and protecting biodiversity. It’s all part of the solution to climate change. Schemes for carbon trading need to involve compensation for rural carbon sequestration.

Climate change will affect us all, but it poses a particular risk to development and poverty reduction, and to the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals.

Natural water filters
One example of PES at work is the Green Water Credit model, piloted in Kenya and now expanding to other countries such as Algeria and China. This model is about farmers upstream being paid for soil and water conservation by water users downstream who benefit from cleaner water.

Soil and water conservation is a matter of survival in most developing countries where the majority are smallholder farmers. In fact, 80% of the food consumed in Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa is produced by small farmers. Although many private investors are not attracted to natural resources management, it is a fundamental part of sustainable development.

In the Andean Highlands of Peru, our project with the Global Environment Facility (GEF) will work towards protecting and sustainably farming this fragile ecosystem. At the same time, downstream beneficiaries will pay upstream agricultural communities for the resulting biodiversity and water services that they maintain.

Similarly, communities in Ethiopia have re-greened the Tigray, a massive watershed which was hopelessly degraded a few years back. It is now a rejuvenated landscape supporting 4.4 million people who depend on smallholder agriculture. Investors are also trickling back to support people’s livelihoods.

Not just cash
In Jordan, another GEF funded project for IFAD will see private tour operators being asked to pay local communities for nature conservation and the maintenance of corridors between different reserves.

Recent work in Africa tested innovative techniques for promoting PES through negotiated environmental service contracts with poor communities based on the principles of 'willingness to provide services' and 'willingness to pay'. This work was funded by an IFAD grant to the World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF) – Pro-poor Rewards for Environmental Services in Africa (PRESA) – which is linked to IFAD investment projects in Guinea, Kenya, Uganda and the United Republic of Tanzania.

Similar work with ICRAF is ongoing in Asia, where the Programme for Developing Mechanisms to Reward the Upland Poor of Asia for the Environment Services They Provide (RUPES) is active in 12 sites in China, Indonesia, the Lao People's Democratic Republic, Nepal, the Philippines and Viet Nam.

In Indonesia alone, over 6,000 farmers in 18 communities received permits to grow coffee while protecting the forests. Providing communities with clear land tenure rights gave them the incentive to maintain or restore environmental services, such as replanting and managing forest areas.

One community negotiated with a private dam operator to reduce silt in the river by applying soil protection techniques on their plots in return for a micro-hydroelectric machine for energy supply.

The activities also benefit lowland communities by protecting the watersheds, and shoring  up carbon sinks. These activities offer further evidence that PES transfers do not necessarily need to be financial, but can be provided in the form of secure land rights.

Our efforts at IFAD will be more effective if we recognize poor rural people as effective custodians of the natural resource base, and ensure they have access to the technology and financing they need to cope with climate change and be part of the solution.

By listening  to smallholder farmers in developing countries when planning adaptation and mitigation projects, we can reduce the amount of carbon in our atmosphere while accelerating progress towards a world without poverty.

The different sides of M&E

Posted by Adriane Del Torto Thursday, June 20, 2013 1 comments

The West and Central Africa Division of IFAD organised yesterday (19 June 2013) a talk on the importance of Impact Evaluations in Programme Implementation. The talk was given by our new Colleague Franck Luabeya Kapiamba, the Country Programme Officer (CPO) for the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Franck vibrantly introduced his extensive experience with M&E from the point of view of a student reviewing poverty profiles for social adjustment programmes for his dissertation as well as from the point of view of a technician to whom a poorly designed programme document was given, with too many indicators for which he had to put into place an M&E system.

From his experience, on whichever side he found himself, the questions and complexities regarding M&E and evaluating impact are the same:

  •           What are we trying to measure or to prove? Which questions are we trying to answer?
  •           Are our projects effective? Have they reached their objectives?
  •           Do our projects really impact the lives of the farmers who participate in them?
  •           Are we using the proper tools to undertake our analysis?
  •           Is quantitative data enough to demonstrate our impact?  Can impact be limited to numbers?
  •           How important is qualitative data in impact evaluation?
  •           Are we objective in our method? Is our data reliable?

Of course the questions we chose to answer imply many things and can change during course of our observations according to the findings of our observations and the data collected.

Franck stressed the importance of consistency throughout the evaluations and the need for good baseline surveys, midterm and final evaluations of projects and programmes. He outlined some methods that can be observed to achieve good evaluations and explained some risks like selection bias of the control group. In order to mitigate some of the risks associated to ineffective M&E, he suggested that technicians with good experience in the project area are selected.

To continue the discussion, you can follow us on twitter #ifadm&e, #ifad, #drc or contact Franck directly l.kapiamba@ifad.org

What is the best conference you ever attended in your life? Those who have had the luxury of attending a TedTalk may think of their TedTalk experience. Others may think of the only time they attended an out of the box event.

Well, whatever your best conference moment may have been, I wish you had attended the “young professional conference: Innovative ideas to feed the world” conference.

This fantastic conference was organized by four interns working at the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). The event created a platform for young professionals to share some extraordinary and highly innovative ideas to feed the world and more importantly to learn from each other and share ideas on how to end hunger.

I had the honour and privilege of moderating the conference and I must say, so far this event  has been one of the highlights of the year. It was so refreshing to see the enthusiasm and the out-of-the-box ideas of our young colleagues. It was so wonderful to see that their complex and innovative ideas were expressed in 500 words instead of 500 pages. It was so great to see the look of awe on the faces of the more seasoned participants and to hear comments such as “wow, I do not remember when was the last time I got excited about something”.

So what was this great event all about? Here is how Rebeca Souza described it in her blogpost

On the 21st of May, more than 150 young professionals presented their groundbreaking ideas to help end global hunger and malnutrition on the “Innovative Ideas to Feed the World – Young Professionals Conference” held at FAO Headquarters.

The event was initiated by four interns of FAO and had the main goal to establish a platform where young professionals could learn from each other and help new talent and ideas to end hunger to emerge.

“This event brings in three important ideas: young professionals – innovative ideas – feeding the world. These are three ideas that are not always connected. The biggest contribution you can give is to bring them together”, said FAO Director-General José Graziano da Silva.

“Five top project proposals were selected from among 25 entries in a competition involving young professionals from the three Rome-based agencies. They included interns, volunteers, Associate Professional Officers, consultants and staff working in different technical areas in the three UN Rome-based agencies, besides students and young professionals from organizations related to Food Security and Development issues”, said Cyntia Lima, one of the group of young professionals who had spearheaded and organized the Conference.

The projects were selected by a committee of senior professionals composed of representatives of FAO, IFAD, WFP, the Young Professionals Platform for Agricultural Research for Development (YPARD) and academia. The choice of the five most innovative ideas was based on the criteria of innovation; impact and potential for adoption of the 25 project proposals submitted.

The five winning projects and their presenters were:

CourseWork on Feeding: PC and mobile application to connect NGOs with Master and PhD students which would provide  technical assistance for them, at the same time that they gain practical experience and write their thesis - Marco Bianchini, volunteer at FAO Headquarters;

Care Farming: Using this approach to reduce the work burden of rural women and thus contribute for their potential economic empowerment which is key for food security and hunger eradication - Hajnalka Petrics, Gender and Development officer at FAO Headquarters;

Price Monitoring using Interactive - Voice Response (PMIR Technology): monitoring food prices by linking  grocers with price information that was then fed into a database that could be easily accessed by all - Syed Fawad Raza (Programme Officer at WFP in Pakistan);

Save Food, Save Future: a Multimedia tool for sustainable diets and food consumption - Daniela Demel (Executive Board Officer, WFP), Camelia Bucatariu (Consultant, FAO) and Sandra Ferrari (Consultant, FAO);

Save.Use.Produce (SaveUP): focus on increasing the efficiency of urban and peri-urban food systems for mass nutrient and dietary energy flows. This will be done by  rearing insects for feed is already practiced in some countries7 and is a concrete solution towards supplementing animal feed and indirectly providing safe and sustainable8 high quality protein for human consumption. - Ms. Afton Halloran and Ms. Camelia Bucatariu - FAO consultants

Amir Abdullah, WFP Deputy-Executive Director, was in charge of the closing remarks of the event. He noted that two of the five projects focused on the development of new Apps. and technologies while another two of the five proposals were concerned with the common theme of food waste. Young people thus had a very topical, innovative and practical approach to ending hunger.

The five speakers selected received congratulatory letters from the FAO Director-General, José Graziano da Silva and had their presentations uploaded at the FAO Slide Share.

The Conference was attended by young professionals from the three Rome-based agencies, Tulane University’s Disaster Resilience Leadership Academy (USA), University of Erlangen Nuremberg (Germany) and University of Rome 3 (Italy).

Opening remarks were made by FAO Director-General, José Graziano da Silva. Statements were also made by Conference moderator Roxanna Samii, IFAD manager for the Web, Knowledge and internal communications; Arni Mathiesen, Assistant Director-General, Fisheries and Aquaculture Department and Monica Altmaier, Director of Human Resources, FAO. The Closing Remarks were done by the WFP Deputy Director, Amir Abdulla.

Have a look at the Compilation of the 24 Ideas submitted for the "Innovative Ideas..." Contest. Congratulations to all the participants for their excellent work and innovative ideas!

Check the picture of the event on Innovative to Feed the World's Facebook album.

Focussing on rural youth – Discussion event at IFAD

Posted by Sarah Hessel Tuesday, June 18, 2013 1 comments

Worldwide, there are 1.2 billion young women and men between the ages of 15 and 24, 85 per cent of whom live in developing countries, often in rural areas. IFAD’s project portfolio includes a number of activities that focus explicitly on supporting rural youth, such as the establishment of young farmer clubs in Cambodia, business training in Vietnam and on Fiji, a youth employment programme in India, and a young professional programme in Afghanistan, if we look at the Asia and Pacific Region. Large portions of the population in IFAD’s partner countries are in the youth demographic – in Bangladesh the median age is 23.9 years, and in India half of the population is below 24 - making young women and men an important target group in all IFAD-supported projects.

IFAD discussion event on "
"Rural Youth - Why should it be a priority?
Last week, IFAD’s Strategy and Knowledge Management Department organized a meeting to discuss the question “Rural Youth – Why should it be a priority?” The meeting made clear that the answer is quite straightforward: today’s generation of young people  is the largest in history. In fact, youth make up one fifth of the global population, with shares growing in South-Central Asia and Sub-Sahara Africa.  As the President of IFAD, Kanayo Nwanze, writes in his viewpoint, “Sheer force of numbers means that we urgently need to harness the power and creativity of young adults on every continent. (…) With world population set to peak at over 9 billion in 2050 – and projections that food production will need to rise by 70 per cent – creating opportunities for young farmers and workers in rural areas is crucial.”
Rural young people must play vital roles in their communities as tomorrow’s teachers, farmers and businessmen or women. But currently, many rural youth have difficulties finding work or feel that they cannot gain sufficient income from farming, and they are therefore leaving their rural homes for urban areas in record numbers.
A large number of IFAD-supported projects work to address this situation, to create perspectives and opportunities for young people in rural areas. As a lead implementation agency of the System Wide Action Plan on Youth , IFAD is particularly committed to increasing access to assets and services by young entrepreneurs in rural and urban areas (measure 3.3), as our SKM colleagues Rosemary Vargas-Lundius and David Suttie reported.
 In Bangladesh, for example, IFAD is working closely with local institutions to do just that, supporting entrepreneurship and building the business capacity of farmers in several ways:
  • Creating employment by supporting entrepreneurship: Young people often are confronted with a jobless market but have ideas for their own businesses. To give them the funds and capacity needed to turn these ideas into reality, the Finance for Enterprise Development and Employment Creation (FEDEC) project that is working in all areas of Bangladesh provided women and men with access to micro-entrepreneur loans as well as training on business management and technology aspects. Loans averaging USD 1000 supported a broad variety of businesses, ranging from producing cooking tools made of recycled aluminum, to producing clothes, to food processing. Worth noting is that an average of 1.5 additional jobs were created for every entrepreneur supported with a loan. So supporting small entrepreneurs with financial resources and capacity creates new opportunities and perspectives for others as well.
  • Changing the mind-sets: Most rural youth are involved in agriculture, or as Felicity Procter, International Development Expert, put it in her presentation last week: “For many millions of rural youth there is no other alternative other than a livelihood in agriculture.” However, many do not perceive farming as a sufficient means to support themselves. The Rural Enterprise Development Component under the Market and Infrastructure Development Project in Charland Regions (MIDPCR) supported smallholders in turning their farming into a business, bringing in new technologies and increasing their incomes. Following a systematic approach to value chain development, the project brought relevant actors (suppliers, producers, buyers, regulators) together before the actual crop production started, which allowed young farmers to identify market demand, input shortages and technical assistance needs. Through these meetings and workshops, farmers strengthened their linkage with private sector actors and adjusted their production to market needs. In addition, farmers participated in marketing workshops where they learned to approach farming as a business undertaking, including the nuts and bolts of bookkeeping, market analysis and marketing. Young farmers who had encountered technical issues that kept them from increasing their production or adjusting to market demand received targeted technical training in new technologies and production methods from private sector partners . After three years of implementation, the income of participating farmers had increased by up to 300 per cent.
The meeting on rural youth last week showed the importance of involving young people in our work,

and first steps have already been taken at the corporate and the project level. To summarize the very rich and detailed discussions from the afternoon would be almost impossible – the tweets (#ifadyouth) will give you an impression – but a few points that I took away from the event were:
    Sharing experiences from operations.
  • IFAD needs to continue creating opportunities in rural areas, so that young people can and will want to stay and work there. This includes providing funds and capacity building for small businesses, and making farming more profitable.
  • When working with youth, it is crucial to know your audience. There is not just one rural youth but a diverse group of women and men with different perspectives, expectations, and skills.
  • Young women and men should be included in the whole project circle from design to implementation.
  • As the two examples above show, there is a need to invest in capacity building that responds to job-market demand and self-employment, enhancing both entrepreneurship and life skills.
  • ICTs offer big opportunities in terms of creating access to information, knowledge and markets, be it a market information system in Ghana or a rural radio programme in Bangladesh.

For further information, please see:

Journalist trainees speak to jackfruit producers in Pagon village, Indonesia.
©IPS/Abigail Lee
By Katie Taft 

Saleem Shaikh Muhammad, a freelance journalist from Pakistan, sat under a rambutan tree in Pagon village, about 70 kilometres outside Jakarta, Indonesia. He was interviewing a group of women about their jackfruit business and how it has been affected by a changing climate. After his interview, he walked over to me with an expression of disbelief.

“It’s not just about giving them some rice to eat,” he said of the group’s efforts to produce jackfruit snacks. “They are getting something much more – empowerment.”

Saleem is one of 13 journalists from across Asia who came to Indonesia this month as part of an IFAD-sponsored training programme conducted by the Thomson Reuters Foundation (TRF) and IPS International News Agency. The three-day training focused on expanding the journalists’ knowledge about the impact of climate change in the region, specifically its effect on rural areas.

Hari Priyono, Secretary General of the Indonesian Ministry of Agriculture, and Ron Hartman, IFAD Country Programme Manager, were among several speakers who gave presentations to the journalists. The training also included a visit to Pagon to interview members of a farmers’ organization that was once a part of the IFAD-supported P4K project.

‘Doing it themselves’
The project, which has been operating successfully on its own for seven years now, aims to improve post-harvest processing and provide small-scale farmers with access to capital through a local commercial bank. As the journalists saw first-hand, the project continues to thrive. Each member has access to about US$220 in capital, and they have increased their income by about 40 per cent, producing jackfruit snacks that they sell to souvenir shops in Jakarta.

Pagon village producers' group displays jackfruit snacks.
©IPS/Abigail Lee
What Saleem and the other journalists learned from speaking to the women is that reporting on climate change is about more than just environmental facts and figures.

“These women, they are business women with confidence and knowledge because they are doing it themselves,” Saleem explained on the bus ride back to Jakarta. “One woman told me that before, her husband would not give her money for buying household items. Now that she is making more money with her jackfruit business, he came to her recently to ask for money. She is the one making the money and the decisions.”

But Saleem, like the other journalists, saw that the women were beginning to struggle because of climate change.

“They talked about how the rains are not as predictable, and how water resources are running low,” he said. “Working together, they are looking at adjusting the two jackfruit planting seasons to accommodate the rainfall.”

Covering the human angle
Back in the training session, the journalists had a chance to discuss challenges and opportunities in covering climate change in their respective countries and share what they learned from the field visit. Dilshad Elita Karim, a reporter from Bangladesh, explained how her newspaper regularly covers climate change but sometimes lacks attention to detail on the social and economic aspects.

“Everything is too scientific, which I think readers find a bit boring,” she said. “There is a place for statistics and the science behind climate change, but what really improves a story is when I can meet the people who are living and dealing with the issues.”

Ho Vinh Phu, a television reporter from Viet Nam, agreed and noted that there are many similarities between rural areas in Indonesia and those in Viet Nam. “Those women yesterday, they could be speaking from a village in Viet Nam,” she said. “The social issues of climate change, how it impacts women and children specifically, is the same story no matter where you are.”

She added that journalists have a responsibility to better highlight what she called the human angle. “I think the story about climate change is a long, long one. It is the small farmers that need the most up-to-date information, and it is our stories that can help give them that.”

Linking agriculture and biodiversity can help feed the planet

Posted by Roxanna Samii Friday, June 14, 2013 2 comments

By Emile A. Frison, Julia Marton-Lefèvre ‎ and Kanayo F. Nwanze

Agricultural biodiversity is the basis of our life on Earth. It is also the basis of healthy and resilient ecosystems. Yet it is under threat. Biodiversity provides more options for dietary diversity, can help smallholder farmers grow more food and earn more income, while protecting the natural resource base upon which their—and our—lives depend. It is time to redesign farms as productive, healthy, resilient ecosystems that conserve diversity within a broad landscape that provides food.

 Conserving biodiversity makes nutritional, ecological and economic sense. Targeted development projects can leverage these benefits to reduce hunger and poverty. For example, ancient grains high in quality proteins and rich in micronutrients such as quinoa and finger millets have been grown for generations, but in some places farmers were struggling to conserve and use these grains because there were limited markets. From 2001 to 2010, an international effort supported by the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) and coordinated by Bioversity International in Bolivia, Peru and India helped to enhance the sustainable conservation and use of such underutilized species, in order to unlock their potential value for income generation and nutrition.

Bioversity International and its national and local partners researched high-yielding Andean grain varieties, reintroduced lost species, ensured a wide diversity of genetic resources were preserved in seed banks, and introduced technologies to process grains for markets. The result was not only improved livelihoods but enhancement of cultural identity for communities.

When farmers are linked to value chains, they can reach markets for these primary grains, which are transformed into processed foods that are highly in demand.  Rural people living in poverty are important custodians of biodiversity and have found ingenious ways of utilizing it sustainably. When they achieve higher incomes through these activities it creates an incentive to conserve biodiversity sustainably.

In Uganda, the forest-dwelling Benet people have been deriving their livelihoods from the forested landscape of Mount Elgon for hundreds of years. In 1983 the Ugandan Government declared Mount Elgon a National Park, evicted the Benet communities and resettled them outside the forest. The park subsequently experienced land degradation, while communities that had looked after the Park’s natural resources for generations suffered from marginalization and increasing poverty.

The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) worked with the government, local communities and district authorities to realize a new vision for the Mount Elgon area, which included better-defined use and access rights for communities within the national park. After this new model replaced the exclusionary approach, harvesting of wild resources for food helped diversify and improve local diets. It also benefited Park management, with an 80% reduction in incidences of illegal timber extraction. In the buffer zone around the Park, IUCN helped communities apply their own by-laws to improve land-use decision-making. Communities elected to stop open access herding of cattle, which enabled simple but effective soil conservation techniques to be applied.

The preliminary results demonstrate that local communities have increased their incomes by more than 100% through collection and marketing of wild honey, a two-fold increase in milk production and vegetable gardening, and harvesting of two (rather than one) agriculture crops per season from the rich volcanic soils.

There are many other examples of farmers, scientists and policy-makers working together to re-establish traditional land management regimes where agriculture and conservation practices co-exist and complement each other. This can improve productivity, reduce fossil energy dependency, increase efficiency in plant nutrient utilization, improve water management, and contain the use of pesticides and fertilizers.

These positive examples demonstrate that it is time to take a landscape perspective on agriculture and natural resources: a more pragmatic approach involving community-based natural resource management, strong partnerships and flexibility.

In 2012, the IUCN World Conservation Congress delivered a ‘Call to Action for Agriculture and Conservation to Work Together.’ The conservation and agriculture sectors will need to collaborate if we are to find long-term sustainable solutions to food and nutrition security and preservation of biodiversity. We need commitment from partners and funders to a common vision, and decision-makers need to rethink policies separating the two agendas.

The major actors in conservation and agriculture are recognizing the critical contribution that biodiversity makes to human livelihoods, food and nutrition. However, we need a deeper understanding of how social, ecological, commercial and financial sectors, as well as cultural movements, can mobilize biodiversity’s contribution to food security and poverty reduction, particularly in view of climate change threats. Biodiversity can be both safeguarded and put to use within a sustainable and resilient agriculture that meets multiple needs: food production, environmental restoration and preservation, and improved livelihood for rural people.

The momentum for a new agricultural paradigm began at the 2012 IUCN World Conservation Congress where Bioversity and The Christensen Fund co-organized a plenary panel discussion and workshop facilitated by Ken Wilson from the Christensen Fund. This workshop ‘From Competition to Collaboration between Agriculture and Conservation’ was the impetus for partnerships that are continuing this effort.

Bioversity International, IFAD and IUCN are coming together with thought leaders in agriculture, conservation, public entities and industry to support a new paradigm in agriculture and sustainable development. Through CGIAR research programs, Bioversity is developing a research model of agriculture with smallholder farmers and partners that maximizes agricultural sustainability, productivity and conservation objectives, emphasizing the bridge between agriculture and conservation with biodiversity as a key link.

Our common vision is a global agricultural system that meets the challenge of transforming food systems while building resilience to climate change. This is especially vital for the regions of the world where large rural populations living in poverty rely on agriculture and ecosystems for their livelihoods.
Cross-sectoral cooperation will be vital to addressing shared global challenges now and in the future, including within the context of the post-2015 development agenda. We need to work together to ensure that biodiversity is recognized as key to tackling major issues such as food and nutrition security, climate change, human health, and poverty. Learn more about the Agriculture and Conservation Initiative.

Emile A. Frison is Director General of Bioversity International, Julia Marton-Lefèvre is Director General of IUCN, and Kanayo F. Nwanze is President of IFAD.

Originally posted by Thomas Reuters 

Making ASAP fit in Bolivia: the role of knowledge management

Posted by Roxanna Samii Tuesday, June 4, 2013 1 comments

By Ilaria Firmian and Estibalitz Morras

We recently started the design of a project funded though the Adaptation for Smallholder Agriculture Programme (ASAP) in Bolivia, which will complement an existing programme of US$ 45 million that was recently signed by the Bolivian Government.

The Economic Inclusion Program for Rural Families and Communities in the Territory of the Plurinational State of Bolivia (ACCESOS) invests in selected community-based natural resources management initiatives which are also deemed fit as economically viable business plans. The business plans enhance food security, generate income, and improve access to financial services. The best plans are selected by the communities themselves and funded through an IFAD loan.

During the design of ACCESOS, the vulnerability of rural poor to climate change was identified as a major area of concern for both the Government and IFAD. In fact, the 52 municipalities included in ACCESOS are located in a large and dispersed area, covering highlands, valleys and plains, that is extremely susceptible to a number of climatic phenomena affecting the rural economic base and preventing progress in poverty reduction.

Additional funds of $10 million from ASAP
One of the tasks of the design mission was to better understand the implications of climate change for the lives and livelihoods of the communities IFAD works with. The mission split into two groups and visited 20 municipalities, where we undertook focus interviews by applying a framework developed by CARE, the Climate Vulnerability and Capacity Analysis - CVCA process.

The community members raised concerns on drought, frost, hail and floods that badly affect crop and livestock. Interestingly enough, we did not only heard about the difficulty of dealing with current climate variability, but also about the opportunities generated by the change in climate. In the highlands, due to temperature increase, the farmers were keen on exploring the possibility of growing fruit trees, which would have a higher value on the market than currently grown crops such as potatoes.

Watch and listen to local people and their climate concerns.

Knowledge means action
Focus group discussions also revealed that human-induced impacts on ecosystems were not understood in their cause-effect relations, for example the increase in climate-related risks associated with bad land management practices.

Therefore, knowledge management – intended as different approaches for knowledge sharing, sensitization and joint learning among different stakeholders that eventually results in behavioural changes - appeared to be a practical strategy to facilitate community-based adaptation to climate change.

In Bolivia traditional technologies exist that may help in copying with floods. At the same time, new technologies, such as biogas, appear to have the potential to help crops recover from frost (through the application of fertilisers generated through biogas systems).

Following this line of thought, part of the project response will include systematisation and validation of both ancestral knowledge and new technologies, with the notion that project stakeholders, through community meetings, exchanges of experiences and trainings, identify practices that improve productivity and reduce climate risks.

The results of the systematizations will also generate a ”menu” of options that the project may finance through the “concursos” (competitions) approach.

In fact, the ASAP ACCESOS will apply the same competition approach as the baseline project, but with a difference: its focus will be on funding investments at landscape or larger territorial level to complement those at community/group level funded by ACCESOS. The underlying principle being recognising the complexity of people’s interactions with landscapes and the fact that investments or management practices in different parts of a landscape unit can produce benefits or reduce climate risks on other parts, well beyond the local administrative borders.