PROGRESS IN FP1: Priority Setting and Impact Acceleration – 2019

FP1 aims to enhance the relevance and impacts of GLDC research in Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia through improved targeting and priority-setting, learning from adoption and impact studies, strategic gender research and supporting scaling efforts with the larger goal of responding to the challenges facing smallholder farmers and their families and addressing national and regional priorities.

An ex-ante nutritional impact assessment of GLDC research and technology options was carried out as part of the multi-dimensional evaluation (i.e. economic, poverty, and nutrition) of GLDC research and technology options to identify research priorities with potential for adoption. The result was a region-wise ranking of GLDC technologies based on their largest positive impacts on nutrition security. In West and Central Africa, this included early-maturing sorghum varieties and hybrids with tolerance to drought; early-maturing and drought-tolerant pearl millet hybrids with high and stable yields and insect-resistant and drought-tolerant cowpea varieties including integrated crop and pest management. In Eastern and Southern Africa, it included intercropping-compatible pigeonpea varieties and integrated crop management options; early-maturing sorghum varieties and hybrids with tolerance to drought and Striga-resistant sorghum varieties and hybrids. In South Asia, it included chickpea varieties resistant to Fusarium wilt and root rots; Botrytis gray mold-resistant and herbicide-tolerant chickpea varieties to control weeds. A synthesis of these evaluations will allow a multi-criteria prioritization of GLDC research and technology options and a final prioritization that is expected to guide breeding priorities for GLDC crops.

Priority setting is also informed by the work on prioritization of varietal attributes and product profiles that define the most important end-user preferred traits for GLDC crops to be targeted by the breeders. Understanding the drivers of adoption and identifying producer and end-user preferences is crucial to align end-user demand with breeding targets and facilitate scaling of GLDC innovations. In India, a stakeholder consultation was conducted to identify the key market traits in sorghum to be part of the product profile. Preliminary results for rainy season sorghum revealed that varieties with white, large, globular and lustrous grains that attract a good market price are the market-preferred or must-have traits. For rainy season sorghum, the market or industrial preferred traits include high starch (>68%), medium protein content (8-10%) and higher protein digestibility. The results were used to develop an updated sorghum product profile for India. In Tanzanian, data analysis of a choice experiment conducted with consumers is underway to identify priority traits for groundnut and sorghum and to develop their product profiles and customer profiles using latent class analysis. In Nigeria, interviews were conducted with cowpea traders as part of a larger study designed to assess end-user preferences of traits and to provide an evidence base to guide product profile development efforts. Preliminary results showed that consumers in northern Nigeria prefer white cowpea whereas those in the south-south and south-east regions mainly prefer white speckled cowpea followed by white cowpea, and those in the south-west region largely prefer brown cowpea followed by white cowpea.

Work on enhancing the understanding of all aspects of end-user demand including consumer demand for GLDC food crops, technology demand by rural farming households and an analysis of the wider potential to change consumer behavior focusing on the drivers of technology adoption and change within smallholder farmer context and specific consumer segments has delivered several outputs (Gassner et al., 2019; Harris et al., 2019; Homann-Kee Tui, 2019; LaRue, 2019; Simtowe and Mausch, 2019; Verkaart et al., 2019; Watson and Mausch, 2019). Lack of market access was found to be a major barrier to adoption of climate smart sorghum varieties in Tanzania where farmers with poor market access abandoned sorghum production (Simtowe and Mausch, 2019). However, for chickpea in Ethiopia, good access to markets and extension services led to a faster and higher adoption of improved varieties, from 30 to 80% in just seven years (Verkaart et al., 2019). Coming to drivers of change, it is argued that existing technologies can achieve a three- to four-fold increase in smallholder farmers’ yields, even under rainfed conditions. Gassner et al. (2019) showed that the small size of land available to them limits the quantum that can be grown and that the per capita income from agriculture would be insufficient to enable people to move out of poverty. Wide differences between individual farming households themselves, in terms of their investment incentives and capability to benefit from productivity-enhancing technologies, underline the need for more differentiated policies for agricultural development in Africa and greater awareness by policymakers of farm heterogeneity to target interventions accordingly.

The strategic research on integrating gender and youth activities focused on four thematic areas: gender and breeding; gender dynamics in seed value chains; strategies for youth integration; and gendered impacts on asset ownership. A framework was developed and tested for assessing gender integration in traits, preferences and breeding decisions in the sorghum breeding program in West and Central Africa. Social scientists and breeders attended a joint training on ‘Gender Responsive Breeding’ to analyze the social structures in varietal demands to gain insights for the development of product profiles for GLDC priority crops in the region. Youth realities, aspirations, transitions and opportunities structures were studied in Uganda, Ethiopia and Tanzania (through qualitative interviews) and youth engagement in seeds systems in Mali and northern Nigeria (through quantitative data collection among 600 young women and 600 young men, respectively). Gendered transition pathways that are unique to boys and girls have implications of access to productive resources and influence who can or cannot engage in farming in the drylands ( While there is a blanket narrative that ‘youth are not interested in agriculture’, evidence generated so far shows that there is a category of youth who remain in agriculture; some because they chose to and others because it’s the only option. Models of engaging with youth in the value chains will be tested in 2020 with projects aligned to the CRP-GLDC.

Identifying enabling conditions for successful scaling and assessing impacts of GLDC technologies is one of the major areas of research in FP1. Regarding scaling, an idealized scaling framework was developed that encapsulates key elements considered important in promoting the large-scale adoption and, in turn, impacts of GLDC technologies. This framework was reviewed against four GLDC case study projects: Harnessing Opportunities for Productivity Enhancement of Sorghum and Millets (HOPE), Tropical Legumes III (TL III), Accelerated Value Chain Development (AVCD), and Malawi Improved Seed Systems and Technologies (MISST). While the original objective was to provide recommendations to strengthen their current scaling approaches as well as future scaling efforts, the framework will be expanded to make it more conducive to support and enhance GLDC’s scaling approaches and impact. Regarding impact assessment, a stakeholder workshop was held on 28-30 August 2019 in Nairobi for developing an impact evidencing strategy. An evidence framework was developed based on seven critical nodes in GLDC’s Theory of Change: (1) market and farmer demand; (2) delivery; (3) enabling environment; (4) adoption; (5) diets; (6) productivity and profits; and (7) natural resource management and resilience. The workshop used the framework to map the evidence available (completed, ongoing, and planned) for each of the nodes. The same evidence framework was used to identify 25 evidence gaps.

A study in Nigeria using a nationally representative sample survey of over 1,500 cowpea producing households to assess the extent, determinants, and impacts of adoption of improved cowpea varieties showed that over 40% of the growers adopted improved varieties on over 1 million hectares and adoption was associated on average with a 26% increase in yields and 61% increase in net returns per hectare (Manda et al., 2019a). Adoption of improved cowpea varieties led to a 17 percentage point increase in household income, a 24 percentage point increase in asset ownership, and a 5 percentage point reduction in the incidence of poverty, equivalent to 929,450 people lifted out of poverty can be ascribed to the adoption of improved varieties (Manda et al., 2019b). A study conducted in Malawi using a nationally representative sample of over 1,200 soybean growing households showed that 34% of the total soybean area was planted to improved varieties following the recommended agronomic practices (Tufa et al., 2019). Results from an endogenous switching regression model demonstrated that adoption of improved soybean varieties and agronomic practices led to an average 61% yield gain and 53% net income gain among adopters. In Myanmar, an impact study showed that the cropped area under improved chickpea varieties increased from 67% in 2001 to 98% in 2017, and the productivity gain due to their adoption was estimated at 51% (Charyulu et al., 2019). The estimated welfare benefits from the adoption was US$ 153 million, with the chickpea producers gaining a greater share of the welfare benefits relative to the chickpea consumers.

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