PROGRESS IN FP1: Priority Setting and Impact Acceleration – 2020

The Flagship Program 1 (FP1) aims to enhance the relevance and impacts of the CRP-GLDC research through improved gender-sensitive targeting and priority setting informed by ex-ante impact evaluations as well as adoption and impact studies. A multicriteria ranking method—Technique for Order of Preference by Similarity to Ideal Solution (TOPSIS)—has been developed using ShinyApp and applied to rank a range of GLDC research and technology options. The work on prioritization of varietal attributes and product profiles aims to define the most important end-user preferred traits of GLDC crops to be targeted by breeders. Results from a choice experiments conducted in Tanzania revealed priority traits in groundnut and sorghum that help guide the development of their product profiles as well as customer profiles using latent class analysis. In groundnut, there was strong farmer preference for varieties that are high yielding and tolerant to pests, diseases and extreme weather conditions. However, preferences were found to be heterogenous across different groups of groundnut farmers; market-oriented farmers showed strong preference for high yields, while the subsistence farmers preferred high tolerance to pests, diseases and harsh environmental conditions. In sorghum, on the other hand, farmers’ preferred varieties that are high yielding, early maturing, white in color and tolerant to pests, diseases and adverse weather conditions. A gender dimension has been integrated into the work on trait preference assessment. Preliminary results from studies conducted in West Africa showed that where women and men faced similar constraints, they tended to have similar trait preferences.

As part of the larger targeting effort, FP1 investigated end-user demand including consumer demand for GLDC food crops and technology demand by rural farming households. The work on rural aspirations focused on the drivers of technology adoption and efforts made to reach a broad audience (Mausch and Harris, 2020a; Mausch and Harris, 2020b). A special issue in the European Journal of Development Research on Rural Aspirations in Africa: Livelihood Decisions and Rural Development Trajectories is on track and will feature four papers as well as the editorial introduction based on GLDC research on aspirations related to youth, gender and extension services. This special issue provides in-depth insights into heterogenous aspirations of households and discusses how the CGIAR and its partners as well as policymakers can better account for and respond to aspirations and how this approach would enhance development strategies and project design. Using narratives to explore rural aspirations in Kenya, entry points emerge for more responsive development support and extension centered around rural visions and desires. Exploring aspirations of men and women through storytelling revealed that male out-migration shapes rural women’s agricultural opportunities and agency. While men pursue off-farm opportunities, women aspire to commercialize their farming, reflecting their new realities as farm managers.

A critical review of value chain approaches towards development outcomes undertaken in collaboration with the cross-cutting theme on Markets and Partnerships in Agri-Business (MPAB) has revealed several critical trade-offs that need to be considered for future implementation (Mausch et al. 2020). Application of the agri-food system approach has allowed to shed light on critical avenues where these trade-offs play out between consumers and producers of GLDC crops. Complementing this understanding was the review of interventions to mainstream nutritious orphan crops into African food systems which highlighted the need to closely align demand and supply side interventions (McMullin et al. 2021). Scaling orphan crops requires more than seed systems or food innovation fixes. A strong engagement with farmers is necessary to demonstrate that they are better off, thanks to non-monetized benefits of crop diversification like better resilience and family nutrition. Carefully designed policy interventions are also needed, from reviewing crop production incentives and food taxes to strict regulation of food adverts to nudge consumers, farmers and the food industry towards healthier and sustainable diets.

The work on gender and youth focused on strategies for youth integration and the effects of migration on feminization of agriculture. The study on youth realities, aspirations, transitions to adulthood and opportunity structures in dryland areas has been completed and a youth strategy paper has been prepared drawing on the country reports for Ethiopia, Uganda and Tanzania. The recommendations for facilitating youth engagement in dryland agricultural value chains focus on understanding youth, addressing gender-based discrimination in accessing resources, ensuring availability of locally adapted and gender-responsive rural finance, streamlining bureaucratic rules, training youth as value chain actors and rural service providers, creating market links, providing rural infrastructure that can support youth engagement in agriculture, and promoting the production of high value early-maturing drought-resilient and disease-resistant crop varieties. A study of the effects of migration on the feminization of agriculture in dryland areas showed that women perform more farm labor due to the increasing out-migration of men (Baada and Najjar, 2020). Despite the tensions and (re)negotiations that accompany these changes, particularly regarding return migration, policy interventions could leverage the increasing participation of women in dryland agriculture to improve their livelihoods.

A number of adoption and impact studies are being carried out to provide evidence of GLDC’s progress towards the SLO targets. A study based on a systematic review and analysis of 35 screened adoption studies estimated that over 17.6 M smallholder farmers have adopted improved varieties of GLDC crops over an aggregate planted area of over 15 M ha in GLDC target countries (Woldeyohanes et al. 2020). In Nigeria, an impact study on improved groundnut varieties found that 30% of the groundnut producers (1.8 M households) adopted improved varieties leading to significant income effects among them (Melesse et al. 2020). With at least 65% of the adopting households living below the poverty line, the results suggest that an estimated 290,000 households (1.5 M people) have been supported in exiting poverty through the adoption of improved groundnut varieties. In Ethiopia, an impact study on improved chickpea varieties showed that 58% of the producers (585,000 households) have adopted improved varieties leading to a 58.5% increase in yields and 5% increase in household dietary diversity (Murendo et al. 2020). In Bangladesh, an impact study on improved lentil varieties found that 49% of the lentil producers (645,000 households) adopted improved varieties leading  to increased yields by 40% (580 kg/ha) and gross margins by 47% worth US$ 501/ha (Yigezu et al. 2020). With a poverty rate of about 25% among lentil producers, based on World Bank data, the results suggest that an estimated 160,000 households (657,600 people) have been assisted in their way out of poverty through the adoption of improved lentil varieties. A study carried out to assess key nutrition gaps in GLDC target countries and the contribution of GLDC crops to daily dietary energy and protein requirements showed that GLDC crops meet 9% and 21% of the energy and protein requirements of adopting households, respectively.

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