Implementing CSA in East Africa: closing the last mile!
During the last twelve month we were piloting participatory approaches, integrated biophysical modeling and mobile phone-based tools to test the local prioritization of Climate Smart Agriculture (CSA) packages in the climate smart village Lushoto in Northern Tanzania. The project “Using Science Knowledge and Expert Feedback to Accelerate Local Adoption: Climate Smart Technologies and Practices meet ICT tool” was funded by the OPEC Fund for International Development OFID, and by the Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security program CCAFS.
The overall goal was to combine highly relevant CSA research outputs with practical knowledge on the ground, use modern information and communication technology (ICT) to support the interaction between actors and to accelerate the delivery of information from scientific experts to implementers, and stimulate communication from implementers to experts.
National adaptation plans and CSA prioritization is a first important step and top down approach to mainstream CSA, we believe that further it is very important to meet local and site-specific approaches providing a bottom to bottom approach of CSA testing. By bottom to bottom we mean showing and mapping evidence that CSA is working under very specific social and ecological conditions and share this experiences among other communities and spatially distant sites.
Together with our partners, the Selian Agriculture Research Institute (SARI) in Tanzania and RealApps, a young Colombian mobile phone application developer, we developed the interactive CSA Implementer platform and tested the usefulness for local CSA Implementation in several villages in Northern Tanzania. The specific objectives were:
- Identify the most promising CSA practices for Northern Tanzania
- Conduct spatially explicit monitoring and modeling of land health and agronomic suitability
- Assess modeled agronomic and environmental benefits for the CSA practices at the local level
- Validate benefits of CSA with local agriculture experts through an interactive platform
Carried out Activities in Lushoto – CCAFS climate smart village
In a participatory workshop we grouped farmers into different groups, based on gender and agro-ecological zones.
See below graph showing frequency of CSA practices being used in different groups:
The biophysical modeling shows the performance of different management practices, soil and climatic conditions. We looked at climate variability by using 27 years of historical data comparing different planting dates. Soils – we used data from 16 soil samples – and the type of fertilizer used affect crop yield.
See below simulated yields for maize and beans using Decision Support System for Agrotechnology Transfer – DSSAT:
The CSA Implementer platform is a crowdsourcing tool and used to collect and share relevant data for monitoring and out scaling of promising climate smart agricultural practices in a structured way. An internet based mobile-phone application supports local knowledge broker like extension workers and local experts in interacting with farmers and connecting them to national and international experts in the field of Climate Smart Agricultural practices (CSA). Learning sessions, spatial observations and local issues can be documented by local experts and commented by thematic (national or international) experts through the interactive platform. Best practices of CSA implementation are spatially documented and can be out scaled to other similar regions. The CSA Implementer is based on the Geocitizen platform-framework for collaborative problem solving within the citizen’s spatial context.
Beans and maize are important to the smallholder livelihoods in Lushoto. As previously noted, these crops could be more frequently affected by future climate variability, especially in years presenting El Niño and La Niña phenomenon. To be prepared, farmers should increase their resilience against climate risks in agricultural production.
The selection of the right CSA practices for a farmer is a very complex task and there are many internal and external factors influencing the success of implementation.
Information and communication technologies (ICT) are valuable tools to support the implementation process of CSA practices. They can build a communication bridge from experts to farmers and stimulate question and answer sessions between them. Further they are very well suited for simple evaluation of the implementation success and can be used for monitoring ongoing activities on demonstration plots and the process of up taking CSA practices by farmers. However, ICT tools are not the new panacea for agricultural extension services and they can only help to close the last mile and improve the communication process and delivering beforehand site-specific targeted information easier and faster to the ones being on the ground implementing CSA practices together with farmers.
Read the full report online
Go to the pilot CSA platform
If you interested in testing the mobile app, please write to: firstname.lastname@example.org