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EIARD

Impact case Studies 2010

Impact Case Studies

A series of case studies have been made available to EIARD showcasing the impact of investments in Agricultural Research for Development (ARD). Agricultural research is seen as a key building block in the research-development continuum and as crucial part in the impact pathway.

A first set of case studies had been commissioned in 2010 by the UK Department for International Development (DFID) and of DFID's funding to agricultural research.

A farmer-friendly approach to prevent avian flu in Viet Nam

A DFID-funded partnership has pioneered an innovative approach to prevent the resurgence of Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI) in Viet Nam. As part of its worldwide Pro-Poor HPAI Risk Reduction project, which explores alternative approaches to reducing HPAI and its impact on smallholder farmers, a successful pilot programme has taken a demand-driven approach, introducing a traceable labelling scheme that links safe on-farm practices to consumer demand for guaranteed disease-free meat. Using a certification scheme, the pilot programme provided farmers with sufficient incentive to meet health standards in raising their poultry. As customers, concerned about quality and health, willingly paid a price premium of US$0.63 for certified chickens, participating farmers were able to access higher value markets. Chicken bearing the programme logo and guarantee of safety was sold in four markets outside Ha Noi. As a result of this success, wider donor interest has been generated and the pilot programme is being scaled up to national level with support from USAID and a private Vietnamese company.  more

A harmonious approach to eggplant borer control in India and Bangladesh

Eggplant, one of the few affordable and nutritious vegetables available year-round in South Asia, is vulnerable to attack from the destructive eggplant fruit and shoot borer (EFSB). Integrated pest management (IPM) options were investigated by the World Vegetable Center with partner organisations in India and Bangladesh to reduce costly and intense use of hazardous pesticides by developing female moth-borne sex pheromone lures and traps to kill male borer moths. The technology has been combined with other pest management techniques, including healthy seedling production; prompt removal and destruction of infested shoots and fruits at regular intervals; and withholding of chemical pesticides to encourage natural enemies. As a result, pesticide use has dropped by up to 75 per cent, reducing production costs and increasing incomes. Commercialisation by small and medium enterprises in India, which advertised the affordable lures, has resulted in farmer uptake beyond the project area. Since 2009, Bangladesh’s parliament has been in the process of passing a law to facilitate registration and use of sex pheromones for pest control.  more

An evidence-based response to the global food crisis

When global food prices began to rise in 2007, the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) was one of the first institutions to warn of an impending global food price crisis. With an extensive research portfolio and expertise ranging from markets and trade to nutrition and food consumption, IFPRI was well placed and well prepared to answer questions from the public, media, and policymakers with regard to “What happened?” and “Why did it happen?” The Institute provided evidence-based information through a coordinated communication campaign to inform policy debates through publications, media interviews, face-to-face meetings with policymakers, testimony before legislators, press releases, and the communication of research findings through the internet. IFPRI also provided innovative and workable recommendations on what could be done to mitigate the effects of the food price crisis and to help prevent such a crisis from reoccurring. Evidence-based policy recommendations, developed by a large number of IFPRI staff working closely together, were used as the basis for discussions at several high-level meetings and summits, including a joint UN-FAO High Level Meeting on Food Security for All.  more

Ashoka rice: Selecting for success with farmer participation

Rainfed upland rice farmers have little use for modern varieties bred for irrigated and fertile lowland paddies. However, two rice varieties (Ashoka 200F and Ashoka 228) developed in the early 2000s have achieved unprecedented levels of adoption in central India's uplands. The varieties were developed by involving farmers in establishing breeding priorities, known as client-oriented breeding (COB), and by involving them in selecting processes, known as participatory varietal selection (PVS). These farmer-oriented breeding approaches offer dual benefits as they reduce breeding time, and produce varieties in response to farmers’ articulated needs. The result has been to provide valued flavour and cooking characteristics, early maturity, drought tolerance and improved yield in these two varieties of rice. A recent impact assessment conducted under DFID's Research Into Use (RIU) programme has revealed that 95 per cent of farmers who received seed in the five release states continued to grow the varieties 4-6 years later from their own saved seed. High adoption levels in project villages were matched by those in neighbouring villages indicating that rice had spread informally from farmer to farmer. Some 400,000 hectares of Ashoka rice is estimated to be grown by nearly 3 million households across central India.  more

Creating genetic markers to breed downy mildew and drought resistant pearl millet

Food security in some of the hottest, driest and least food secure areas of India is threatened by downy mildew disease, which causes 30 per cent production losses nationwide in pearl millet at a cost of some US$8 million during regular disease outbreaks. Between 1990 and 2005 new techniques of genetic marker-aided selection (MAS) helped to advance the development of pearl millet hybrids more resistant to this disease. Breeders improved downy mildew resistance of the parental lines of an existing popular hybrid through conventional and marker-aided selection. The laboratory process accelerates the development of one improved parent by several years, without the need for testing in the field. A resulting hybrid, evaluated and chosen by farmers, is both more downy mildew resistant and higher yielding, and is now available around the country and promises to protect farmers from the past “boom-bust” cycle of pearl millet hybrid cultivation in India. Further improvement of this hybrid for new traits such as improved drought tolerance using this technology is underway.  more

Ending Striga’s reign with IR maize

Spreading through masses of tiny seeds, Striga infestation can cause yield losses of 20-100 per cent in maize, driving some farmers to give up cultivating the crop entirely. The persistence of the weed presents a serious challenge. However, a major step forward has been achieved by a private-public collaborative Striga control project to facilitate the release and utilisation of Imazapyr-resistant (IR) maize technology for Striga control in Sub-Saharan Africa. The new IR technology has two components: (i) herbicide resistant maize and (ii) herbicide (Imazapyr) coating. As the maize seeds germinate, they take in the herbicide. The germinated maize then produces a chemical which induces germination of the Striga weed, but as the Striga seedlings attach to the roots of the maize to withdraw nutrients, they are killed by the herbicide. During pilot work in Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania, maize yields have increased from an average yield of 0.5 tonnes/ha to about 2 tonnes, thanks to the IR technology. Four hybrids and two open pollinated varieties are being produced as certified seed in Kenya, where about 30 tonnes have been made available to about 15,000 farmers in 2010. One variety has been released in Tanzania, and pre-release trials are underway in Uganda. Meanwhile, more than 60,000 farmers and 40 agrodealers have been trained to use the technology safely and effectively thanks to the combined effort of the partner seed companies, NGOs, farmer organisations and Ministry of Agriculture extension services.  more

Fodder trees for more milk and income

Fodder trees are highly nutritious, easy to grow and, by fixing atmospheric nitrogen, improve soil fertility. Relatively easy to manage, fodder trees do not compete with food crops, can be intercropped and, once mature, can be fed to livestock (dairy cows and goats) for up to 20 years. Fodder trees (also known as fodder shrubs) can be harvested year-round, providing fodder even during the dry season. In collaboration with the International Livestock Research Institute, the Oxford Forestry Institute, and national partners, the World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF) has helped to introduce a variety of leguminous fodder trees, including calliandra, leucena and mulberry, to over 200,000 farmers across East Africa. As a result of increased availability of fodder, milk yields have increased, raising incomes of rural smallholders by some US$30-120 per household per year depending on the level of adoption. Women too have taken to the technology with a significant proportion of fodder trees being planted by women, in both male and female-headed households.  more

Linking farmers and science

PETRRA’s objective was to facilitate the development of a research system that was more responsive to the needs of resource-poor farmers. Over five years, 45 sub-projects were commissioned with more than 47 partner agencies. The project identified or developed more than ten significant technologies, improved methods for disseminating technologies and provided an opportunity for policymakers to engage with critical policy issues. With higher yields and reduced expenditure on inputs, new technologies raised the incomes of resource-poor farmers significantly. Farmers’ views and knowledge helped scientists adapt new technologies to make them more relevant and appropriate for their circumstances. By treating women and men equally and including them in all of the activities, PETRRA gave women access to knowledge that they were previously denied. The value-based management approach developed under PETRRA has demonstrated that traditional institutions, both national and international, can be innovative in creating an environment for the development of technology that is readily taken up by resource-poor farmers, men and women.  more

Liquid assets: community-based fisheries management in Bangladesh

The aim of the CBFM initiative was to provide research-based approaches so that sustainable management of inland fisheries could be handed over to CBOs. Fish sanctuaries have been established in over 80 waterbodies with the result that production of fish has risen, the income of CBFM fishers has increased, and biodiversity has improved. CBFM-type approaches have been included in the Government of Bangladesh’s new Inland Capture Fisheries Strategy and fisheries aspects of the Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper (PRSP). At regional and global levels it represents a substantive body of evidence demonstrating that co- and community-managed approaches can result in more productive and sustainable fisheries, at the same time as safeguarding the livelihoods of poor fishing households. Pilot projects began in the mid-1980s, but to scale up benefits, the approach of major institutions in charge of managing inland water fisheries needed to change. The overall goal of CBFM projects has therefore been to improve inland fisheries management policy and stimulate more sustainable, equitable and participatory management of resources.  more

Making a GIFT selection: improved tilapia in the Philippines

Genetically Improved Farmed Tilapia (GIFT) is the product of the world’s first selective breeding programme for tropical fish, and has become a template for genetically improving other aquaculture species. The GIFT strain of Nile tilapia grows quickly and survives well, dramatically increasing aquaculture yields. Between 1990 and 2007, tilapia production in the Philippines expanded by 186 per cent, while production costs fell by 32-35 per cent. The Asian Development Bank found in 2003 that GIFT and GIFT-derived strains accounted for 68 per cent of tilapia seed produced in the Philippines and, in the same year, President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo declared tilapia the up-and-coming “food of the masses”. The introduction and dissemination of GIFT have generated significant rural incomes and employment, and contributed to human nutrition, especially among the poor, as tilapia is a relatively low-priced fish. Tilapia farming provides an attrac¬tive livelihood for hatchery operators and fish farmers and the contribution of GIFT to employment generation has been significant, including for poor smallscale farmers. As many new fish farmers are women, this empowers them while improving local supplies of high-quality, affordable protein, providing an income and benefiting the nutrition of the household.  more

Planting without ploughing: zero-till wheat takes root

Zero-tillage cultivation is a farming practice that reduces costs while maintaining harvests and protecting the environment. During 1997-2004, an estimated 620,000 farmers in northern India adopted the method to sow wheat after the rice harvest on around 1.76 million hectares of land, with average incomes increasing by US$180-$340 per household per year. The impact achieved resulted from long-term efforts involving direct promotion and testing with farmers, training and support for national programme champions willing to oppose conventional wisdom about tillage practices and development of affordable, locally-manufactured seed drills. Efforts were led by the Rice-Wheat Consortium (RWC) for the Indo-Gangetic Plains, a partnership involving the national research programmes of Bangladesh, India, Nepal, and Pakistan, and with key technical and logistical support from the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT).  more

Policy change: milking the benefits for smallscale vendors

Evidence-based research by the DFID-funded Smallholder Dairy Project (SDP) revealed the economic and nutritional significance of the informal milk sector and the potential for improved handling and hygiene practices, which would ensure quality and safety of milk from farm to cup. The second phase of the project (2002-2005) involved more active engagement with policymakers to raise awareness of its research findings on the informal milk market, its importance for livelihoods, and to allay public health concerns while simultaneously working with milk vendors to pilot training and certification approaches that effectively improve quality. Updated dairy industry regulations, designed to streamline licence application processes for smallscale milk vendors, were issued by the Ministry of Livestock and Fisheries Development (MoLFD) in September 2004. Total economy-wide gross benefits accruing to the sector from the policy change are estimated at US$33 million per annum, as a result of reduced transaction costs and less milk spoilage due to improved practices by newly-trained vendors. More than half of the benefits accrue to producers (increased incomes) and consumers (lower milk prices). Licensing of smallscale milk traders by the Kenya Dairy Board (KDB) has also led to formation of groups under the umbrella of the Kenya Smallscale Milk Traders Association. A further legacy of the project is the establishment of self-employed business development service providers, who are paid by dairy companies and traders to provide training on milk handling and business development. The lessons learnt from the SDP are being applied across East Africa, particularly Tanzania and Uganda, and also in India.  more

Protecting African cattle from East Coast fever

East Coast fever (ECF), a tick-transmitted disease, threatens more than 25 million cattle across eastern and southern Africa. Calves are particularly susceptible to the disease. Currently 20 to 50 per cent of unvaccinated calves in many Maasai herds in northern Tanzania will die from the disease. It also significantly impacts smallholder dairy farmers who rely on just a few cows for their income. Although an effective vaccine against ECF was first developed more than 30 years ago, it has not been widely applied, partly because the vaccine has to be stored in liquid nitrogen, and animals require simultaneous treatment with antibiotics and is thus relatively expensive (up to US$10 per animal). With funding from DFID and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, GALVmed (Global Alliance for Livestock Veterinary Medicines) is working with ILRI (International Livestock Research Institute) to make the ECF vaccine more accessible and affordable to livestock keepers by exploring ways of transferring the production and supply of the vaccine to the private sector through local manufacturers and distributors.  more

Protecting farms from costly whiteflies

Tropical whitefly is one of the world’s most serious agricultural pests. Feeding damage causes severe economic losses in a wide range of food crops grown by millions of smallholder farmers. However, it is the transmission of viruses by whiteflies that has the widest impact on global food production, including on key crops such as cassava, tomatoes, beans and sweet potatoes. The Tropical Whitefly Project (TWP) has fostered collaboration amongst a range of partners, including several CGIAR centres, universities, national governments and the private sector to develop and share highly effective Integrated Pest Management (IPM) practices. Regionally-specific responses have been advanced in 31 countries, utilising new resistant varieties of crops and more rational pesticide use to keep the whitefly and its diseases under control.  more

Ridding the world of rinderpest

Concerted effort by national veterinary services in both industrialised and developing countries, aided by international organisations, has brought the once dreaded rinderpest livestock disease to the point of extinction. In its severest form, rinderpest is capable of killing up to 95 per cent of the animals it infects. However, the development of new vaccine technologies, community-based health delivery and disease searching techniques and diagnostic tools over the last 20 years has helped to protect the livelihoods of the livestock-dependent rural poor in developing countries and avoid massive financial losses in terms of milk, meat, and animal traction. Since 1990, rinderpest control programmes have protected tens of millions of livestock keepers, particularly pastoralists whose cattle are their main livelihood assets, from experiencing major losses in milk, meat, hide production, and household income. Concurrently the control and eradication of rinderpest has also protected Africa’s wildlife population, as evidenced by the recovery of wildebeest numbers in East Africa following the removal of rinderpest from local cattle populations.  more

Scuba rice: breeding flood-tolerance into Asia’s local mega rice varieties

Through collaborative research led by the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI), a flood-tolerant local rice variety was investigated to isolate the gene responsible for flood resistance. Using a technique known as marker-assisted backcrossing, scientists transferred the water tolerant trait of interest into commercially valuable local rice varieties without losing useful characteristics which make them popular with farmers. Identification of the genetic code of the SUB1 gene controlling submergence tolerance enabled breeding of new, high-yielding “Sub1 mega-varieties”, with popular characteristics such as high yield, good grain quality and local pest and disease resistance. In collaboration with local partners, the varieties have been disseminated across ten Asian countries, and are also being tested in Africa. Further seed multiplication and research into flood tolerance is ongoing, as well as identification of genes for drought and salt tolerance.  more

Taking plants to the doctor: plant health clinics from Bolivia to Bangladesh

A series of DFID partners have, for the last ten years, been establishing walk-in plant health clinics in nine countries to provide expert advice to smallholder farmers dealing with pests and disease. Accepting any query on any crop, the clinic 'plant doctors' diagnose problems and write down treatment advice prescription-style. When necessary, samples may be sent to partner labs, giving poor farmers access to world class diagnostic services. The result has been smarter and lighter use of pesticides, as well as increased incomes for farmers and a new relationship between research and farming. The project started in Bolivia, where eight clinics serve thousands of remote farmers, and has spread to environments as different as Bangladesh, where visiting farmers report average crop income boosts of 37.5 per cent. Breaking the mould of the traditional development project, plant health clinics are intended as self-sufficient fixtures of the community, providing a public service that can truly change farmers' livelihoods.  more

The impact of research on policy and practice in Indonesia’s pulp and paper sector

Research led by CIFOR revealed the poor monitoring and weak regulatory environment which allowed Indonesian pulp and paper companies to expand capacities at their mills and to continue harvesting fibre from natural forests at a pace that far exceeded plans to establish plantation fibre supplies. The study was the first to establish quantitative evidence of the effects of the disparity between mill growth and sustainable fibre supplies. CIFOR's policy-oriented research has been credited by key NGOs involved in advocacy, the Ministry of Forestry, and the corporations themselves with driving improvements in the sector, including increasing conservation set-asides and accelerating plantation development. From 2009, a Ministerial Decree on the ‘acceleration of plantation development and pulp and paper industry raw material supply’ was adopted, which requires specific improvements in fibre sourcing practices by 2014. As a result of these initiatives, 76,000 to 212,000 hectares (ha) of natural forest will have been saved by 2013.  more