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Impact

Estrategias de desarrollo bajo en emisiones (LEDS) resultados Preliminares para Colombia

Mar 31st, 2014 | By
Reunion taller LEDS Febrero 21

Taller LEDS Febrero 2014
Fuente: CIAT-DAPA

Cuando se habla de políticas de cambio climático en agricultura, los tomadores de decisiones se encuentran con una gama de información y posiciones de sectores diferentes: los entes de investigación, el sector privado y el público, sin embargo las políticas deben contar con una inclusión global, que abarquen desde los cambios de precio debido al uso de la tierra hasta desarrollar y poner en práctica políticas de  mitigación del cambio climático y fortalecer la seguridad alimentaria. Por esta razón es muy importante suministrar a ellos datos confiables y relevantes que incorporen la entrada de una gama de disciplinas y sectores.

En el taller “Estrategias de Desarrollo bajo en emisiones (LEDS) resultados preliminares para Colombia” que se realizó a finales del mes de febrero, investigadores del International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI)  y  el Centro Internacional de Agricultura Tropical (CIAT), se reunieron con colegas invitados para discutir sobre formulación de políticas que permitan desarrollar iniciativas con las características antes mencionadas.

El proyecto LEDS es parte de una iniciativa más grande llamada: Mejorando la Capacidad para Estrategias de Desarrollo en Bajas Emisiones (CE-LEDS por sus siglas en inglés), que apoya el sostenible y resilente crecimiento económico, compatible a una reducción de emisiones de gases de invernadero. Basándose en gran medida en la colaboración local e intersectorial, el proyecto permite la personalización de los resultados de la investigación para satisfacer las necesidades del tomador de decisiones, considerando ampliamente argumentos socioeconómicos y comerciales. “La política de uso de la tierra abarca varios sectores, y este proyecto permite a la gente de disciplinas y sectores diferentes hablar para ver opciones posibles ” dijo Alex De Pinto Investigador del  IFPRI (investigador líder del proyecto).

DSC_0009

Presentación de Metodologías usadas en el modelo
Fuente: CIAT-DAPA

En una primera sesión, investigadores del IFPRI y CIAT demostraron un modelo preliminar que provee información y apoyo a tomadores de decisiones en Colombia para desarrollar políticas de uso de la tierra en respuesta al cambio climático. La Estructura usa una serie de herramientas incluyendo un modelo de equilibrio parcial del sector agrícola, un modelo IFPRI IMPACT, un modelo de uso de la tierra, y un modelo de cultivos para determinar cambios de emisiones y captura de carbono en forestales, áreas cultivadas y pasturas.

También se presentaron algunos datos y metodología utilizados para hacer estimaciones, escenarios de desarrollo agropecuario, tendencias de deforestación, entre otras consideraciones necesarias para correr el modelo. y otros usos de la tierra, así como futuros impactos económicos, bajo varios escenarios políticos. 

En una segunda sesión, se organizaron dos mesas de trabajo con el fin de discutir los resultados, la  información utilizada para el modelo de estimación de emisiones y la metodología utilizada  para el análisis y la gestión de políticas que permitan un desarrollo agropecuario bajo en Carbono

 Dentro de las conclusiones a las que se llegó, vale la pena mencionar, que dentro de las políticas a nivel nacional se debe considerar el Plan nacional adaptación al Cambio Climático en donde se consideran las estrategias de desarrollo bajo  en carbono, la implementación de REDD+ y la estrategia nacional de financiamiento para el desarrollo de NAMAS.

También se plantearon algunas propuestas de política que puedan servir al desarrollo bajo en emisiones. Dentro de estas encontramos:

 -          Formalización y legalización de la tierra, considerando un posible éxito en el proceso de paz y una futura situación favorable para que disminuyan los niveles de desplazamiento forzoso.

 -          Implementar estrategias de presión sobre los poseedores de tierra con capacidad empresarial, por medio de impuestos a quienes desarrollen actividades agropecuarias con prácticas que vallan en contra de la política nacional y estímulos o incentivos a quienes estén alineados con esta.

 -          Ordenamiento productivo del territorio a cargo del UPRA, considerando 3 temas principalmente:

  • Reconversión de área en la Orinoquia (cerca de 6 Millones de Has).
  • Implementación de sistemas silvopastoriles que tienen mayor captura de CO2 (menos emisiones por Ha) y mayor productividad.
  • Estudiar dinámica de la vocación futura de la tierra

    Blog

    Foto izquierda: Intervención de Bernardo Creamer – Investigador CIAT-IFPRI
    Foto derecha: Intervención Néstor Hernandez – MADR
    Fuente: CIAT – DAPA

También se identificaron problemas retos y avances en las mesas de dialogo con el fin de planear mejores alternativas que permitan desarrollar estrategias exitosas. Dentro de los problemas que se encontraron están:

-          Falta de continuidad de los proyectos

-          Falta una ley orgánica que no varíe con  el gobiernos de turno

En cuanto a los retos se identificaron tres:

-          Es clave homologar información mediante sistemas únicos que recopilen y custodien la información

-          Realizar un monitoreo constante y eficaz del impuesto de Carbono

-          Vincular de forma efectiva a los consejos municipales

Dentro de los avances, se destacó la página web de Agronet como sistema encargado de la gestión de la TIC.

Finalmente los asistentes al taller acordaron continuar una colaboración útil ya en marcha con el proyecto de LEDS. Representantes de varios ministerios e investigadores planean trabajar juntos para desarrollar otros modelos y escenarios hechos a medida para Colombia. Esto permite que el proyecto refleje los factores únicos e históricos del desarrollo del país en el marco del modelo, ayudando a los usuarios a priorizar simulaciones de escenarios políticos.

También se generó una lista de actividades que tienen como objetivo mejorar y ampliar la información que alimenta el modelo, también se hizo el compromiso de participación constante de las entidades que asistieron al evento por medio de una red de información web donde se compartirán los datos recomendados y además se propuso una reunión futura con algunos de los gremios que no asistieron y que son calve para entender los procesos de crecimiento agropecuario, como es el caso de FEDEPALMA, ASOCAÑA y la Federación Nacional de Cafeteros.

 Al final del día, De Pinto señaló: “Cada ministerio puede ver la política de cambio climático a partir de sus propias prioridades y metas, pero todos son importantes y todas ellas relacionadas.”

Escrito por: Akiko Haruna (IFPRI), Jesús D. Martínez (CIAT), Brayan Valencia (CIAT)

 



Is the FT4ALL initiative really for “all”?

Mar 17th, 2014 | By

FT4All4by Martha del Rio and Marc Adam

As the name states, Fair Trade for All (FT4ALL), a new certification developed by Fair Trade USA (FTUSA), is an innovative model to reach more farmers, farm workers, and communities.

FTUSA split off from Fairtrade International (FLO) in 2011, aiming to expand Fair Trade opportunities to independent smallholders and farm workers on medium and large size coffee farms. While FLO only includes smallholders that are organized in cooperatives, it can be argued that independent smallholders and farm workers are in as much, if not more, need of a Fair Trade premium as those in cooperatives. 

But what impact does FT4ALL really have on farmers and farm workers? That is the question behind the impact study that the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT) and partners are conducting in Peru, Nicaragua, Honduras, and Brazil.

In the case of independent smallholders, the FT4ALL standard stipulates that there must be a continuous organization process among the certified smallholders. The organization of independent smallholders is one of the key ambitions of the new certification as these farmers often lack market access that forces them to “take it or leave it” when offered a price from buyers that find their way into remote coffee communities. FT4ALL is attempting to boost farmers’ market power by linking independent farmers with more direct business channels.

FT4All1However, this organizational process is also one of the largest obstacles that CIAT identified while recently collecting baseline data in northern Peru. “When I interviewed the only household in Tierra Blanca that is part of the FT4ALL pilot of independent smallholders in Peru, I had to walk 2 hours to reach it. It is not even accessible by car or motorbike,” explained Martha Del Rio who is leading the fieldwork in Peru, Nicaragua and Honduras. The Farmers dispersed throughout the Peruvian departments of Cajamarca and Lambayeque have a number of obstacles to overcome in order to form a committee and pursue common commercialization.

With respect medium and large size farms, CIAT is assessing the impact of FT4ALL on farmworkers at La Revancha – a coffee farm with 65 permanent and 370 temporal workers last harvest season – in Nicaragua. For FT4ALL to be successful, it is crucial to increase the scope, impact, and relevancy of Fair Trade premium investments for all workers on the farm, but especially for temporal workers who are particularly vulnerable to poverty and are more difficult to reach with Fair Trade initiatives. While both permanent and temporal farm workers have equal rights in deciding what to use the premium for, it appears to be much harder to motivate temporal workers to participate in year-round decision-making process.

FT4All3

Another lingering question about the FT4ALL initiative is how the market will react. Will competition between cooperatives, independent smallholders, and medium and large scale estates benefit the latter at the cost of smallholders, since profit seeking FT coffee buyers are likely to purchase from the most cost-efficient producer? Or will consumers react positively to the new certification and start to buy more FT coffee so that everyone benefits?

The contrast between independent smallholders and large estates, participants of the same market, characterizes the diverse circumstances in this project. The final impact evaluation study will thus include not only the impact of FT4ALL on the welfare of individuals covered by the certification. Researchers are also analyzing the organizational process of independent smallholders and farmworkers, as well as the overall Fair Trade market.

FT4All2While interviews in Nicaragua are still running, CIAT is already preparing for data collection in Honduras, which will begin at the end of this month.

See related stories:

Understanding the impact of the Fair Trade for All initiative, cup by cup

Arabica’s magic skin

FTUSA steps up on impact measurement



ECOP moving forward with new activities

Feb 18th, 2014 | By

head cogsThe CGIAR Evaluation Community of Practice (ECoP) is now ready to launch two of its prioritary activities: the roster and Trainings/ Webminars and Information Sharing. The ECOP stewards and IEA facilitators are presenting a first draft of the content and possible form of the roster and training for feedback from the community. Also recently we have updated on the website the ECOP terms of reference, where you can find the description of the resources that will be facilitated, the community’s objectives and more. You are part of this group of interest if you have any role in CRP external evaluations… or anything at all to do with evaluation capacity, design or implementation in CGIAR programs!

The roster of evaluators responds to the shortage of qualified external evaluators who know the CGIAR and the topics of the CRPs well enough to engage as evaluators. Such a roster would be built by CRPs sharing names and contact information of evaluators they have used in the past, with the important clarity that inclusion in the roster would by no means imply endorsement, by the IEA or the ECOP. Additionally, a concerted effort is needed to recruit new evaluators. This would be approached by launching a targeted call for expressions of interest by evaluators who wish to work with the CGIAR, along with some appropriate orientation material with guidance on what it means to work with us in this capacity.

The Training and Information  sharing events, dealing with topics which are important for ECOP members and key to implementing the Evaluation Policy, will include a variety of delivery methods such as webinars, online discussions, one-day training (in conjunction with the annual ECOP workshop), links to other learning events, facilitated peer reviews, etc. The aim is also to foster increased collaboration among and between ECOP members and IEA, as well as strengthening the capacity and information sharing across CGIAR in evaluation topics. Some of the topics proposed until now include: Updated discussions on CCEEs (CRP commissioned External Evaluations) and IEA Commissioned Evaluations,  Evaluations Standards and Guidance Notes, Experiences from Evaluations exchange, Theory based evaluation, Learning from evaluations, Evaluation of capacity to innovate and adapt, and measuring innovation. 

A simple way to engage now is to visit the CGIAR ECOP website and join the Discussion Forum, where people from around the CG are already commenting on the usefulness/ benefits of the two ideas, suggesting improvements and proposing ways for their own programs to be involved and contribute. An especially welcome contribution would be feedback on the relevance of the training topics, and a show of preliminary interest, so that we may prioritize and address first the more important topics to the community. Let us know what you want/ need training on- also if you can be a coach or facilitator in any of these!



ECOP: a place to join around the fire of evaluation

Nov 22nd, 2013 | By

eval in desicion cycleI recently attended the first workshop of the CGIAR Evaluation Community of Practice (ECoP) in Rome, on 29-31 October.  The workshop was a launch of the ECoP, which is being instated to strengthen evaluation, promote evaluative thinking in the CGIAR and serving as a platform to join those interested in following and participating in CGIAR systems and processes for evaluation.  There were 45 of us participating:  evaluation focal points and other staff with significant evaluation-related responsibilities from CRPs and Centres; IEA head and staff; Consortium Office (CO), SPIA and ILAC representatives. It was an interesting mix of people which i believe reflects well the current status of “evaluation intelligence” in the system: strong and formal (if overworked) IEA and CO, a loosely articulated group of evaluation focal points and an even more informal “loose” fringe of people who move between Centers and CRPs, monitoring and evaluation (and several related topics, such as data management, knowledge sharing, capacity building) and yet another group of “externals”- happy to contribute, just a bit doubtful when trying to draw parallels between this System and any other they’ve ever encountered. I was one of the Community Stewards, who, with patient leadership of the facilitator, Julia Compton, supported workshop preparation, facilitation and review.

During these 3 days, key elements of CGIAR evaluation guidance, such as the Four-Year Rolling Evaluation Work Plan (REWP) of the IEA, CRP Commissioned External Evaluations (CCEEs) and Independent External Evaluation of CRPs were presented. We had an outside evaluation expert providing capacity strengthening in an evaluation method, much in the way we’d like the ECoP to be in the future, with its role in capacity strengthening of members, and there was the opportunity to discuss and agree on some activities and next steps for the ECoP. We went through informative materials- sharing and presenting of evaluation in the reformed CGIAR, the roles of central bodies (IEA, SPIA and the Consortium Office), the IEA’s rolling evaluation work plan (REWP), CRP-level evaluations, and CRP-commissioned external evaluations (CCEEs) by Rachel Bedouin (Head of IEA), Anne-Marie Izac (CO) and Tim Kelly (SPIA).

The Independent Evaluation Arrangement (IEA)

The IEA is based in FAO- Rome, operating in close consultation with the consortium. This group collaborates with ISPC, SPIA and the Evaluation and Impact Assessment Committee (EIAC), reports to the Fund Council (FC) and are in charge of conducting system level evaluations of specific cross- CG issues, the CG System-wide and other CG institutions, such as the FC and the CO, for accountability, decision- making support and institutional learning. The IEA is also in charge of the Independent Evaluations of the CRPs. Last, but not least, they are charged with coordinating and harmonizing evaluation in all the system (as described in the REWP) and facilitating this ECOP.

The Rolling Evaluation Work Plan (REWP)

The Rolling Plan Document mostly presents on the two main aspects of the IEA duties: evaluations (of CRPs, cross- CGIAR) and strengthening evaluation capacity. Table 1 (below) is an overview of the evaluation plan of the IEA for 2013- 17. While CRPs are in charge of monitoring (collecting data on inputs, outputs and immediate outcomes) and of Impact Assessment; with the support of SPIA (studying later outcomes, linkages with impact), the IEA is in charge of evaluations. On capacity building, the plans for maintaining and strengthening this ECOP was discussed, as well as the role of the IEA in coordinating evaluation plans with CRP, in particular the CRP commissioned evaluations (CCEEs).

 timetable evals 14-17Table 1- IEA Evaluations 2014-2017

Guidance for CCEEs

CCEEs are evaluations commissioned by CRP management, and which can cover a broad scope- they can evaluate themes, subthemes or crosscutting topics in a CRP. A CCEE will be carried out by external evaluators, but with the inputs and advice of  a “reference group”, an evaluation manager, who plans a designs the ToR and contracts and manages the external evaluator;  and commissioning, overseeing and following up on recommendations of a CRP governance body.  Perhaps the least straightforward issue here has to do with the scope of the CCEEs- although the guidance clarifies that in a CRP’s lifetime, the major funding and outcome areas should all have been “CCEE’d”. Also clear is that any CCEE must address all of the main evaluation criteria: relevance, effectiveness, efficiency, impact, sustainability and quality of science. The tricky part is striking the required balance between the depth of analysis and coverage of the evaluation, and the current overlap in responsibility for evaluating outcomes (see figure 1 for the overlap, marked in red)

M&IA into Eval

 Figure 1- Monitoring and IA flow into evaluation (IEA), and overlap in assessing outcomes

 

The IEA has really done a thorough job of putting together the what and how of CCEEs and the articulated plan. There was some discussion- I don’t think enough-  about the “scope” – what is worthy of evaluation focus? In programs of such duration and objectives- where are we monitoring (activities and the road to outputs, but also outcomes) and where are we evaluating?

Some CRPs (the brave: GRiSP;  WHEAT/MAIZE; RTB; A4NH; FTA; and  AAS) presented their progress in their evaluation plans. There was a broad scope of progress in these plans, and in the focus of the presentations. I was leading one of the groups, so could only attend 3 of the 6, but in hearing the reports back in plenary the main conclusion I draw is that CRPs are still in very incipient stages of formalizing what they will be doing for M&E, that each CRP is “going at it” from very different points of view, but that there is hope: in the light of quite some confusion and lack of focus on rigidly directed M&E, lots of innovation and interesting takes on issues are happening, adding to diversity and potential.

Finally, we discussed follow-up areas for the ECoP: (1) provide resources (such as a roster of evaluators, a database of evaluative studies- in coordination with the similar endeavour of SPIA, a website, harmonized glossary of evaluation terms, others); (2) capacity building and training on evaluation topics of interest for the ECoP members, and all M&E- related personnel in CGIAR; and (3) forums and discussions. Some of us will continue to work with the IEA to advance these areas.

SOME CHALLENGES GOING AHEAD

CRPs are in a very incipient state of evaluation thinking, planning and resourcing. Not all CRPs and centers have dedicated staff for M&E, and M&E plans are still very general and not well disseminated. While there is clear guidance on conducting CCEEs (except for the scope and “aggregation” challenges mentioned above) guidance in other key areas of monitoring and evaluation, such as center/ CRP coordination, inter- CRP synergies, “immediate” outcomes (a new term- are these what has been called research outcomes before?) and longer- term outcomes (are these IDOs?), etc is missing to date. While it is understood that the IEA is not responsible for providing this guidance, it is hard to separate such a fluid process/ cycle into the three neat windows/ designations of monitoring, impact assessment and evaluations.

A summary of the CGIAR evaluation policy can be found here, and other interesting documents and guidance are in our website.



We assume this will work… because we assume it should

Nov 15th, 2013 | By

Assumptions in  M&EApproaches to development, and the methods that flow from them, are profoundly shaped by assumptions about people… Assumptions are also made about processes, such as how change happens or how learning takes place. Assumptions are made about what can and cannot be done. All of these shape the nature of the approach and the choice of methods. Where do these assumptions come from? Some are based on experience or sound research and evidence from elsewhere. Others are based on beliefs and values – some of which are based on stereotypes and misinformation. — Rowland 2003

I recently participated in the American Evaluation Association 2013 conference, in Washington DC. The AEA yearly meets have an amazing range of professional development sessions at the beginning and at the end:  this year the offer was 60 different 1-day, 2- day or ½-day workshops, in a variety of evaluation-related topics. Needless to say, it was hard to choose just one (they are also quite costly). I finally decided on a 1-day workshop on Assumptions, Working with Assumptions: Key Concepts and Tools for Program Design, Monitoring and Evaluation”, presented by Apollo Nkwake and Nathan Morrow, from Tulane University’s Disaster Resilience and Leadership Academy. Both presenters have extensive background in global research, evaluation and capacity building.

The objectives of the workshop were for participants (mostly evaluators and program designers who commission evaluations, from diverse fields) to improve our work with assumptions in the elaboration, monitoring and evaluation of projects and programs. My objective was to extract from the session the things that were most applicable to our work in CIAT and CRPs with M&E, Theory of Change and the “search for outcomes”. The definition of assumption used was “something that is taken for granted-or advanced as a fact. To assume is to suppose, to take it as given, to take for granted”. My first “learning moment” came early on, when I had to remember that assumptions are not only about possible obstacles, but also very much about where opportunities for change lay.

The importance of surfacing assumptions

Feyerbend, the “philosopher of science” argues that one cannot do research, or collect any data, without the existence of some theory (explicit/ formal or (often) informal and culturally implicit) or theoretical concepts. Each of these theories is full of assumptions of how we think the world works: assumptions are, according to Nwake “the glue that holds all the pieces [of a theory of change] together”. Theory-based approaches to planning and M&E elaborate the sequence of changes/mini-steps that connect activities to final impact, but they often fail to help program managers, designers and evaluators to articulate key assumptions clearly.  Challenging also is the fact that, in complex programs and projects such as ours, there are as many of these different, and often conflicting, ideas about how change happens, as there are stakeholders. This lack of clarity on how the change processes are underpinned by our many assumptions pose a significant threat to program success, confounds the learning processes, and makes it challenging to monitor and evaluate them. A first step to smooth the way is to ensure discussing assumptions becomes a standard in our theory of change/ PIPA/ Outcomes mapping and similar processes.

Assumptions Typologies

The presenters discussed their assumptions typologies, or ways for a project to organize and classify assumptions. A few of them are below:

  • By paradigm- the main categories here are whether they are ontological or epistemological (based on our perception of reality and of what constitutes a “correct” description of reality), or axiological/ prescriptive- all about values- (based on what we think is “right”, what “should be”) or causal/ predictive (based on how we think different parts of the world work and about the conditions under which these can be changed).
  • By scale of articulation- whether they are ambiguous, tacit, informally explicit, explicit or explicit and tested. By the way, one of the objectives of doing theory of Change/ program theory exercises is to move assumptions from ambiguous and tacit to formally explicit, and hopefully at the end of a program phase, to tested.
  • And the one we most commonly use, one by “stage” of theory of change.

AEA Explicating Assumptions

This model (figure 1) was adapted from John Mayne’s Contribution Analysis. For theory of change, program theory, PIPA, Outcomes Mapping or project planning exercises, this approach is very valuable, as it facilitates eliciting and organizing assumptions at the causal/ transformational/ impact pathways (including design of strategies and products) and the external levels. And although we do already make use of this model, it was good to remember the articulation of assumptions is all around the “arrows” of a theory of change model, that is, the ways in which activities reach end results, or impact. We regularly make so many assumptions around how things like “reach”, “enhance”, “contribute to change”, “influence” happen!

Inquiry into Assumptions

This basic and necessary level of inquiry can be well complemented by looking into other important assumptions we miss sometimes:

At the “problem diagnostic” level:

  • What are the Root Causes of the focus problem?
  • What factors interact in creating/ sustaining the problem?
  • For whom is this a problem? Is it a problem for all involved?
  • What levels of the problem will this intervention address?

At the stage of design of an M&E framework:

  • Are these indicators valid and reliable measures of outcomes?
  • What design will be the most appropriate to measure?
  • How will the data be used?
  • How precise and objective is the outcome measurement expected to be?

And, more in general, questions to surface assumptions regarding a whole theory of change:

  • When you look at the total picture, do you believe that the theory makes sense?
  • Is there anything going on in the real world that may make it difficult to get this theory off the ground the way we’ve planned it?
  • Is this theory of change PLAUSIBLE? Have we created a compelling story about the pathway of change that would lead to the long-term goal in this community?
  • Is this theory of change FEASIBLE? Do we have the capacities and resources to implement the strategies that would be required to produce the outcomes in the pathway of change?
  • Is this theory TESTABLE? Have we specified how success will be measured clearly enough that we can recognize progress toward our goal when we see it? Have we defined indicators for each outcome in clear terms that a researcher or evaluator can use to produce a research plan?

Some remaining questions

How far can we/ should we elaborate assumptions in the field of agriculture, complex, interconnections, paradigms, etc? How far can we extrapolate assumptions?

Whose assumptions matter? Which assumptions matter?

When is it essential, and when only useful, to discuss assumptions?

And my last bit of callousness: is making assumptions explicit actually useful in a pragmatic sense? That is, even if we find serious assumptions that will affect the probability of (egalitarian, sustainable) impact of a project- will that change drastically the formulation of the project? What aspects can change?



A rice variety adoption study across the Bolivian Tropical Zone

Aug 8th, 2013 | By
Pic by Diana Carolina Lopera

Survey Cochabamba Bolivia
(Pic by Diana Carolina Lopera)

Since April 2013, the socioeconomic group of DAPA has been conducting the Variety Adoption and Agronomic Practice of Rice Crop Study that will evaluate the contribution of CIAT’s rice breeding program to rice production in Bolivia. One key determinant will be estimating the percentage of the acreage under each rice variety out of the total rice acreage -adoption rate- in Bolivia.

The study is gathering information about CIAT’s rice varieties that are being cultivated, the total areas sown using CIAT’s germplasm, gender dimensions that will allow analyses to differentiate the role of men and women in the production and commercialization of rice, production constraints and perceptions of the impact of climate change. The information is mainly being gathered through the use of a survey carried out across the Bolivian Tropical Zone within the Santa Cruz, Cochabamba and Beni departments, where farmer households have been selected randomly to respond to the survey. The specific methodology that was used to select the farmer households, guarantees that the survey is being carried out on a nationally representative sample.

Furthermore, a molecular characterization of field collected seed samples has been incorporated into the study to verify that the cultivated varieties are the ones provided by CIAT’s rice plant breeding program. The molecular characterization will be performed by CIAT´s biotechnology group.

Also, exploratory research about micronutrient deficiencies within the communities of study is being conducted using secondary information. These findings will assist in determining the need for future research on the potential increased impact that zinc and iron bio-fortification of rice could have in this area.

DAPA´s socioeconomic researches expect that the information obtained will be useful for developing new research proposals for the rice program that aim to maximize impact for the rural poor.

The study is being led by Ricardo Labarta, agricultural economist from CIAT Colombia and Juana Viréz, agronomist from The Research Center for Tropical Agriculture in Bolivia and it is expected to be finished by January 2014.

Support and funding for this research was provided by the Global Rice Science Partnership (GRiSP) and Harvestplus.



Pilot initiative: How does Terra-i data link to on-the-ground events in Colombia?

May 7th, 2013 | By

Recently, Terra-i habitat loss data has been explored by research work independent from the Terra-i team’s periodic case studies. Sergio Cortes, a former master’s student from the University of Southampton (United Kingdom), assessed the ground truth drivers of land cover and land use changes at a local scale in the departments of Cundinamarca and Tolima (Colombia) based on Terra-i data from 2004 to 2011. Qualitative data were analyzed in the field through direct interviews with communities in both sites to verify the habitat-loss information produced by Terra-i. The results confirmed the link between computerized land-use change detections and on-the-ground industrialization and overexploitation in sensitive habitats. 

Figure 1.   The land-use recognized during the individual’s field visit in the municipality of “El Espinal” (Tolima): sorghum crop (left) and paddock (right).

Figure 1. The land-use recognized during the individual’s field visit in the municipality of “El Espinal” (Tolima): sorghum crop (left) and paddock (right).

Ground-truthing Terra-i data

Sergio Cortes, former MSc of the University of Southampton, told the Terra-i team that the aim for his research was to visit two municipalities in Colombia (“Cota” and “El Espinal”), identifying areas of rapid deforestation or land-use change and thus ground-truthing the data from Terra-i (Figure 2).

Figure 2.   Field sites (green shapes) where Terra-i land-use detections from between 2004-2011 (yellow to red spots) were verified, in the municipalities of El Espinal (Tolima) and Cota (Cundinamarca), Colombia.

Figure 2. Field sites (green shapes) where Terra-i land-use detections from between 2004-2011 (yellow to red spots) were verified, in the municipalities of El Espinal (Tolima) and Cota (Cundinamarca), Colombia.

He also hoped to establish local drivers of land use change and explore the impact of change on communities in the area. Direct interviews with the communities verified information given by Terra-i about habitat change in those areas.

Verification of transformation

Some fundamental questions that allow to Sergio to introduce issues described in this research were:

- What are the processes leading to the land-use change identified by Terra-i (e.g. forest to agriculture, agriculture to industry, among others)?

- Has Terra-i software correctly identified areas with high rates of deforestation during the last eight years?

- What are the external drivers in the land-use change?

The results

The two sites were characterized by highly fertile soils in addition to a high incidence of industrial activities (Figure 3). The Terra-i data extracted to identify potentially disturbed sites indicated a trend of change from agriculture to industry in one site (Cundinamarca), and intensification of agriculture in the other (Tolima).

Sergio concluded that Terra-i has accurately identified those areas which have undergone land-use transformations in recent years.

Figure 3.   Photos from Sergio’s field work demonstrating the land-use conditions that were found at each site.

Figure 3. Photos from Sergio’s field work demonstrating the land-use conditions that were found at each site.

How did Terra-i go from the Internet to the individual?

Sergio communicated personally with the Terra-i team after he noticed the tool’s potential through a connection with The ESPA ASSETS (Attaining Sustainable Services from Ecosystems Through Trade-off Scenarios) initiative. Such initiatives—led by a variety of institutions and their host universities–have started to rely on Terra-i data thanks to its time sensitive and highly consistent  information, as this case study has shown.

Further information about Sergio’s work can be found on the Terra-i website in the Publications section.

The Terra-i team invites its users to share about further research or initiatives making use of its data.

This article was authored by the members of the Terra-i team. The team is grateful to Sergio for sharing the details of his work as well as the digital version of his thesis. Revision of English-language version by Caitlin Peterson (CIAT / CCAFS visiting researcher).



Profesionales trabajando en el desarrollo con bajas emisiones se reunieron en Pucallpa, Peru

Apr 30th, 2013 | By

Cross-posted in English on ASB Blog here

La semana pasada más que 25 profesionales trabajando en temas relacionado con la reducción de emisiones de gases de invernadero reunieron en la ciudad de Pucallpa, Perú para discutir escenarios de desarrollo con bajas emisiones. El taller fue organizado por el World Agroforestry Center (ICRAF) y el Gobierno Regional de Ucayali (GOREU), con participación de otras instituciones trabajando en el desarrollo sostenible de la región. El programa DAPA de CIAT participa en la iniciativa a través de nuestra colaboración en el ASB Partnership for the Tropical Forest Margins.

El taller fue una combinación de discusiones sobre planificación regional y enseñanza en metodologías para estimar los costos y beneficios de desarrollo. Durante el primer día del taller, los participantes discutieron diferentes escenarios de desarrollo, incluyendo los efectos de aumentos en la deforestación y en el área de algunos cultivos, todos con sus impactos respectivos. Los días subsecuentes fueran utilizados para estimar los impactos de diferentes escenarios de desarrollo. Hacía ese fin, científicos de ICRAF dieran enseñanza en el software ABACUS. Sonya Dewi y Degi Harja viajaron desde Indonesia para dar instrucciones en cómo usar la herramienta, además de explicar todo la metodología de planificación de bajas emisiones. En el último día del taller, grupos de trabajo presentaran los resultados de sus simulaciones frente un grupo de tomadores de decisión en la región, incluyendo Franz Orlando Tang Jara, jefe de la Dirección de Recursos Naturales de Ucayali y Miguel Vasquez, Presidente de la Mesa de Dialogo de Palma Aceitera, entre otros.

Los participantes produjeron varios resultados interesantes y muchas preguntas para ser contestadas con investigaciones futuras. Encontrando un balance entre el desarrollo económico y la reducción de emisiones va a tener sus complicaciones y dificultades. Algunas proyecciones para el crecimiento de la industria de palma aceitera van a implicar la conversión de un área sustancial de bosques simplemente por la falta de otras tierras disponibles. El desarrollo de nuevo infraestructura de transporte puede tener grandes impactos y requiere mucho más investigación para entender los costos y beneficios del desarrollo. Se publicara el informe final del taller finales de mayo.

LUWES



Strategic Assessment of Research Priorities in Cassava: Latin America Stakeholders Workshop

Mar 27th, 2013 | By
Priority setting in cassava

Priority setting in cassava

The CGIAR Research Program on Roots, Tubers, and Bananas (CRP-RTB) is conducting a Strategic Assessment of Research Priorities to identify which research options are expected to yield the highest impacts on welfare, poverty, food security, human nutrition and health, gender  equity and environmental sustainability. This strategy involves a dynamic, systematic approach of continual revision and updating of research priorities. The objective is to engage scientists and stakeholders from the RTB community in a dialogue to increase the relevance and enhance the impacts of RTB research.

The stakeholders’ workshop that will be held the 3-4th of April will be an opportunity to “validate” the results of the initial activities of the project. This will be a process of bringing together diverse types of information from the key actors in the value chain, so that the stakeholders can advise on priority – setting for future research agendas

Stakeholders include all parties involved with any of the stages of the cassava value chain. In the workshop, participants will come from: R&D from the NARs, government employees from institutions dedicated to agriculture production and promotion, Vice-Ministry of agriculture, national science and technology institutions, universities, non-governmental organizations, biofuel companies, chip companies, cassava processors and production chambers, associations and unions.



Los Llanos Orientales: the Wild East

Jan 9th, 2013 | By

Guest post: Julian Moll-Rocek

The savannah, cattle country

I went on a field trip with two of CIAT’s best: Silvia Elena Castano and Carlos Nagles, experienced field workers, GPS button-pushers and expert ‘mamagallanistas’, which translates crudely to jokesters.

We were here to georeference 4 fincas, and document the division and land use history of the pastures. Many pastures are planted with Brachiaria sp. a genus of African grasses that is hugely productive. Other land is natural savannah that has had the few scrubby trees removed. Between farms there are neatly curving rivers outlined with small gallery forests.

Here a cool ant domatium on a melastomatacea in one of the gallery forests. The ants actually get in from the underside of the leaf, where there are holes between the leaf’s vasculature leading into their swanking green apartment (You can see a blurry ant leaving his pad near the top of the photo). These ants are very defensive of their homes, a neat symbiosis of plant-landlord for overly aggressive ant-tenants.

We’ll get all the botanical oddities out of the way first: Here a crazy legume fruit, with a fleshy-red inside of the bean and shiny blue seeds.

But, as mentioned, this is cattle country. Most of the cows in this area are descendants of the indian Brahmin breed, or a hybrid called Brangus.

They can be very stubborn: this one had laid down in front of the gate we had to pass through. Carlos manning the tail; Andres, the son of the farm administrator at the ears.

The farms are subdivided into many different lots, and some are managed very intensively with rotations, a la Sweet Grass Beef (featured in Omnivore’s Dilemma, Michael Pollan 2006). Here we see two things of interest: on the left, an improved pasture (planted with African grass), on the right a degraded natural pasture for lack of rotation and over grazing.

The savannahs are an incredibly expansive open area, covering 18% of the national territory (Wiki). Parts are characterized by ‘Serrania’ or sawed-up areas, like this highly eroded plateau.

Recently, much more perennial and annual crops have been planted across the llanos. Here a rubber plantation, with ‘fertilizer bean’- Mucuna, planted in the alley.

The trip was an extremely refreshing week of 18 hour work days, wind, sun, and dust. This is one of the most rapidly ‘developing’ areas in Colombia; for now though, the sun still sets on the wild east, where cowboys tend to their herds.