PROGRESS IN FP1: Priority Setting and Impact Acceleration – 2021

A major goal of Flagship 1 was to enhance the relevance and impacts of GLDC research through improved gender-sensitive targeting and priority-setting informed by ex-ante impact evaluations as well as adoption and impact studies. The work on multicriteria priority setting has been successfully completed, with the most promising GLDC research and technology options identified based on their potential economic, poverty reduction, and nutrition impacts. This has led to the preparation of two papers, i.e., on “Generic algorithm for multicriteria ranking of crop technological options based on the Technique for Order of Preference by Similarity to Ideal Solution (TOPSIS)” submitted to MethodsX, and another one on “Multi-dimensional impact assessment for priority setting of agricultural technologies: an application of TOPSIS for the drylands of sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia” submitted to Agricultural Systems.

The work on prioritization of varietal attributes and product profiles aimed to define the most important end-user preferred traits for GLDC crops to be targeted by the breeders. A study conducted in Tanzania on priority traits showed strong preferences of both groundnut and sorghum farmers for varieties that are high yielding and tolerant to pests, diseases, and extreme weather conditions, with sorghum farmers having an additional preference for varieties that are early maturing with white seeds. In collaboration with MPAB, Flagship 1 organized a webinar to present results from two studies to inform breeding approaches. A case study of the chickpea success story in India showed that demand- and market-led breeding strategies need to consider the CGIAR’s key function of public IAR4D to generate public goods in service of development outcomes. Pursuing research that is more risky and not always commercially viable can generate a spectrum of technological options that could help poor farmers. Being more resilient, this is also key to serving a greater diversity of heterogenous agro-ecological niches, market contexts and farmers’ aspirations.

A significant body of work on rural aspirations focusing on the drivers of technology adoption aimed at targeting GLDC research. A special issue on “Rural aspirations – livelihood decisions and rural development trajectories” has been published in the European Journal of Development Research, with six of the 15 contributions from the CRP-GLDC (Mausch et al., Nandi & Nedumaran, Mausch et al., La Rue et al., Crossland et al., Dilley et al.). The collection outlines current views on aspirations and their relevance for development research, projects, and approaches. Using several examples from Africa, it outlines how the combination of different theoretical perspectives, case studies and regional backgrounds provides deeper insights into the role of aspirations in shaping rural areas. The distinct entry points of the ‘bottom-up’ local aspirations for future lives, the ‘top-down’ aspirations as visions for change, and the process of negotiating between these provide novel insights into directions for development action as well as for future research in the field of aspirations in the development arena. In addition, one media contribution on youth and aspirations, one Blog on gender aspirations and data collection and one policy brief on gender and aspirations have been released. A Press release and Blog post are online and a launch event was conducted virtually on August 26, 2021. Furthermore, one guest lecture at Akita University of Japan has raised interest among next generation scientists for agriculture in development topics. At the same time, developmental organizations such as GIZ, Mercy Corps, Rainforest Alliance, SNV and UNDP have reached out for collaborations and an invited talk to the SNV agriculture teams has been delivered.

Gender research has been undertaken to assess the varietal trait preferences of value chain actors aimed at developing demand-driven and gender-responsive product profiles for the breeding programs. Developing crop varieties that consider prioritized needs of end users has become the driving force for successful crop improvement programming. The diversity of these users is determined by many factors and variables, such as gender, age, type and role in the value chain, agro-ecology, and production system. Understanding and defining the priority traits of cultivars demanded by diverse customers require a systematic and proactive engagement and consultative interaction with the different stakeholder groups. The gender research team of ICRISAT West and Central Africa (WCA) convened a workshop on Demand Driven and Gender Responsive Product Profile Development during 21 to 24 July 2021 at ICRISAT-Mali. The workshop brought together key actors in the cereal-legume value chains and multidisciplinary research teams to define and develop sorghum, millet, and groundnut product profiles for ICRISAT as well as the national breeding programs of Nigeria, Mali, Burkina Faso, and Ghana. The workshop designed a feedback system for reviewing and updating the product profiles such that each crop breeding program continues to address the dynamic needs of male and female cereal-legume value chain actors in different production systems of WCA.

Gender case studies were carried out to assess the gendered impacts of commercialization of subsistence crops such as chickpea in Ethiopia. In Sub-Saharan Africa, crop commercialization has been shown to often have unequal outcomes for women and men due to pre-existing social hierarchies and norms around farm roles, asset ownership, control over crops and income, and local farming practices. This is likely the case in Ethiopia where women are consistently marginalized as farmers, despite contributing significantly to agriculture in the country. Using qualitative methods, a study examined the gender norms and relations around lentil commercialization in the Amhara and Oromia regions of Ethiopia to understand whether the benefits of commercial lentil production accrue to women and men farmers equitably. These findings showed that despite naming lentils as a women’s crop, women often remain invisible as farmers, and thus tend to have few or no rights over lentils, with consequent marginalization from the sale and use of lentil and income from the crop.

Adoption and impact studies were carried out to provide evidence of progress towards the CRP-GLDC SLO targets. Using the international poverty line of US$1.90 per capita per day and based on a comparison of the observed and counterfactual incomes for technology adopters, Tufa et al. (2021) showed that adoption of improved soybean varieties and agronomic practices in Malawi led to a 4.16 percentage-point reduction in poverty among the sample households, which translates to over 150,000 people lifted out of poverty. A review of GLDC varietal adoption studies revealed that improved GLDC varieties are cultivated on 15.37 million hectares by 17.64 million households in 13 priority countries of the CRP-GLDC (Woldeyohanes et al. 2021). Adoption of improved GLDC varieties is estimated to have generated an additional income of US$4.7 billion in these countries through yield gains and additional areas under improved varieties which helped an estimated 6.8 million people exit poverty. This is about 150% and 57% of the targets that this CRP was set to contribute to the SLO 1.2 by 2022 and 2030, respectively. The most populous country, India, leads in terms of share of people supported, followed by Mali and Nigeria. Furthermore, preliminary results of an ongoing study showed that the adoption of improved GLDC varieties has assisted an estimated 19 million people (50% women) to meet their dietary energy requirements and 38 million people (48% women) to meet their dietary protein requirements through the supply of additional nutrients. Similarly, over 3.8 million women of reproductive age met their dietary protein requirements with this additional protein source.

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