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Sustainable Agricultural Intensification Research and Learning in Africa (SAIRLA) project in Ethiopia


media type="custom" key="29076175" align="right"Sustainable Agricultural Intensification Research and Learning in Africa (SAIRLA) is a five-year programme (2015 – 2020) that seeks to generate new evidence and design tools to enable governments, investors and other key actors to deliver more effective policies and investments in sustainable agricultural intensification (SAI) that strengthen the capacity of poorer farmers’, especially women and youth, to access and benefit from SAI. Funded by the UK Department of International Development (DFID), SAIRLA has commissioned research and will facilitate multi-scale learning to understand different ways of achieving SAI and its developmental implications.

Why SAI matters

To meet the global challenge of food security and in particular to support sub-Saharan Africa’s growing population with sufficient and nutritional food, agricultural production must increase. Different approaches and methods for increasing production also need to be assessed in terms of how far they can reduce environmental impacts, given the major environmental challenges for global agriculture, such as climate change, conserving biodiversity etc. At the same time there are pressing social challenges which include the persistence of chronic poverty for many communities and rising inequality globally. Sustainable agricultural intensification (SAI) seeks to address these challenges by increasing agricultural productivity while maintaining or improving environmental and social sustainability. SAIRLA’s research projects will generate new evidence and decision-making support tools to help governments, policy-makers, investors and other key actors create an enabling environment for women and poorer smallholder farmers to engage in sustainable agricultural intensification. SAIRLA will facilitate the development of multi-stakeholder learning platforms – the SAIRLA Learning Alliance - in each of the target countries and between those countries and international stakeholders to co-generate, share and facilitate use of knowledge by decision makers.

Social Learning

Complex challenges such as developing equitable sustainable intensification in Africa need responses which take into account knowledge being incomplete, sources of uncertainty and also diverse values and interests. Multi-stakeholder, social learning processes can enable different perspectives to be shared and discussed, scenarios and options to be assessed, decisions taken, commitment and capacity to be built and actions implemented. SAIRLA will facilitate the development of a multistakeholder social learning platform called the SAIRLA Learning Alliance. National Learning Alliances are being developed by facilitation teams in Ethiopia, Tanzania, Ghana, Malawi, Mali and Zambia. An International Learning Alliance between the national alliances and international researchers and other stakeholders will be formed late 2016. These linked platforms aim to co-generate, share and facilitate use of knowledge between researchers and decision makers together with other stakeholders interested in enabling socially and environmentally sustainable agricultural intensification.

SAIRLA National Learning Alliances(NLA)

National learning Alliances (NLA) are being established in each of the target countries: Ethiopia, Tanzania, Ghana, Malawi, Mali and Zambia. The aim of each NLA is to co-generate, share and facilitate use of knowledge by SAIRLA research projects, decision makers (policy makers and investors) and other key stakeholders to develop equitable sustainable agricultural intensification in ways that enable women, youth and poorer smallholders to participate in and benefit from agricultural development. The NLA participants will engage in multi-stakeholder learning processes by which knowledge is generated, shared and used by SAIRLA research projects, decision makers and other key stakeholders.

Research Projects in Ethiopia - Summaries

SAIRLA is supporting 4 projects in Ethiopia

Research and Learning for Sustainable intensification of Smallholder Livestock Value Chains - Led by EDRI

The aim of this project is to use inclusive participatory processes to integrate environmental, economic and equity considerations into policy making and implementation decisions around livestock intensification.

Bringing evidence to bear on negotiating ecosystem service and livelihood trade-offs in sustainable agricultural intensification -Led By ICRAF

This project aims to build an interdisciplinary research programme to increase the uptake of context-appropriate SAI innovations in East and southern Africa through evidence generation, data analytics and the development of innovative tools for stakeholder engagement with evidence.

Smallholder Risk Management Solutions (SRMS): Sustainable Agricultural Intensification-Led by Oxford Policy Management

The project aims to addresses the research question in relation to the key risk factors for smallholders in participating in sustainable agricultural intensification, and the risk management strategies (RMS) that can be put in place to manage them. Specifically, the project focuses on increasing smallholders’ access to inputs and participation in the development of commercial value chains.

What works where for which farmer: combining lean data and crowd-sourcing for household- specific targeting of agricultural advisory services- Led By Bioversity International

This project aims to design and implement new digitally-supported information services that will support farmer decision-making in an intensification trajectory. The project will combine three approaches to achieve this. The first approach is “user-centred design“, this involves identifying how farmers currently use information. These insights will be used to develop new concepts and prototypes for information services, which will be trialed with farmers and other prospective users. Secondly, the project will make use of the “lean data” approach, an evaluative data collection approach that makes use of digital tools, this is highly goal-oriented and uses validated indicators. This will help to evaluate and compare farms and accelerate learning about how well they perform on different indicators that are important for SAI. A third approach is “crowdsourcing” or farmer citizen science, which will support a large group of farmers in experimenting with new agricultural options and creating new knowledge for sustainable agricultural intensification. The project will combine elements from these different approaches to create a digitally-supported agro-advisory service and to collect evidence on its effectiveness.

SAIRLA-NLA workshop reports

File:Final Report- SAIRLA 2nd NLA workshop November 2017.docx - SAIRLA -Second National Learning Alliance workshop report