Earlier this year, as part of the process to develop a new CGIAR Livestock Agri-Food Systems research program, several face to face meetings and an online consultation were held to discuss the main ideas under development. Insights from these discussions, as well as several CGIAR country/site integration workshops were fed back into the proposal process. Summary notes from the consultations are online.
Some key feedback and insights included:
On the smallholder focus, participants strongly agreed with this. This focus was not considered an option, rather an imperative. Smallholders “can be competitive” (Ethiopia), some “98% of the livestock producers are smallholders” and “if capacitated can make an impact” (Tanzania). There were also qualifications and concerns: The CRP should not ONLY focus on smallholders but remember the other scales as well, including any pre-smallholder subsistence level; smallholders should not be seen as remaining ‘small’ or static, they should be helped to grow, transform or evolve, link to markets and the private sector and generally move into value addition activities (beyond keeping and producing). There was a concern that the program might exclude pastoralists who may not have any land holdings but may have what seem to be fairly large livestock holdings. As one contributor said: “the smallholder focus is very relevant, but should include a profound analysis of them.”
The trajectories (rapid inclusive growth and fragile growth) were appreciated and found useful. They cautioned that the lines are blurred, that they should not be looked at independently nor framed as either/or, and that both ‘strong’ growth trajectories may start having externalities. There was also caution that too rapid intensification or attention to the wrong drivers, for instance, might be detrimental in some systems.
On the integrated approach, feedback was positive, with many suggestions to adopt inclusive participatory approaches, connecting well with extension and policy, ‘unpacking’ notions around youth, and giving proper attention to participatory action research and learning on the ground. It was suggested that a smallholder focus should mean “research for them and with them” that takes care that the voice and interest of the smallholder livestock keepers does not get lost.”
Participants reinforced greater emphasis and support for capacity development. “It is important that capacity development is not seen as a one-off intervention but is multi-dimensional and multi-actor process that goes well beyond transfer of skills and knowledge at individual level.” On gender, capacity issues – to undertake gender research – were highlighted as well as having it integrated from the outset. One concern is that the proposal’s focus on ‘strong growth’ may displace women as different activities get commercialized. Communications, it was said, should be multi-dimensional, community focused and employ diverse local information delivery systems, media, and ICTs and seek to influence the right people.
Finally, public and private sector role and partnerships were discussed. Different roles were sketched for the different growth systems with the public sector role seen to “support and allow the development of technologies for small-scale production (high potential areas) and flexible technologies for the drylands.” This “means for public partners: land rights, job creation for those who cannot be sustained by the system. Private: producing and distributing tech that can be used in small scale systems, risk averse.” Their differing key roles in uptake were signaled: “The private sector has a role in both testing our research products and scaling. Inviting collaborations with the private sector is one way to engage. The public sector is also a key partner in cultivating sustainability of adopted technologies. Understanding of the research process by both private and public sectors is an incentive to their technology uptake.”
“Communication is of vital importance regarding collaboration between research and private companies. Private companies have to express their needs as well as their willingness to in some cases fund and more importantly implement developed technologies. Research has to bear in mind the practical adaption of their developments. To reduce any kind of transaction costs, research and private companies should stress an exchange as early as possible at the beginning of a new project/program.”
Have read the draft and it really addresses the pertinent issues with smallholder farmers at the centre of the R&D efforts. And I agree with the integrated apparoach. We need to look at the farmer holistically. If they keep a dairy cow, the crop side can complement dairy as well as output of meat whether from cattle or non ruminants or even farmed fish. The important think is to break the circle of subsistence production to commercialization.