From SIMLESA Phase 1 to SIMLESA Phase 11
SIMLESA gathered collective experience, produced the 2012 mid- term review report, held the third and fourth annual review planning meetings as well as a project steering committee meeting to inform the planning of SIMLESA II.
Phase 1 of the program empowered the National Agricultural Research Systems (NARS) in making important decisions on the program, built the capacity of the NARS to execute programs (programming, scientifically and financially).
As a result of its achievements, SIMLESA is being considered as a model project among government and the donor community. The program has also participated in various regional and international conferences to advance its agricultural research for development objectives.
SIMLESA is being institutionalized into NARS strategies, especially the adoption of SIMLESA approaches into their operational models such as the agricultural value chain analysis, innovation platforms, gender mainstreaming and M&E institutionalization.
In SIMLESA 2, the program is banking on its successes in conservation agriculture-based cropping systems which had raised productivity increasing technologies, NARS ownership of program work and capacity building. The challenges in implementation the program are conservation agriculture (CA)-based sustainable intensification in integrating other disciplines; risk reducing innovations and research designs, scaling out and business engagement (except maize seed), and M&E which supports management.
The overall objective of SIMLESA II is the continuation of the original 10-year vision by the year 2023: to sustainably improve maize and legume productivity of selected maize-based farming systems in each target country by 30 percent from the 2009 average and to reduce the expected downside yield risk by 30 percent on approximately an additional 650,000 farms in the SIMLESA countries.
SIMLESA II has the following elements:
- The combination of innovations with the aim to increasing productivity and profitability, reduce downside production risks, enhance sustainability and strengthen innovation platforms/systems.
- SIMLESA II implementation period is 2014 to 2018 with the following implication: continuation with adjustment to the first phase (2010-14) to build on SIMLESA 1 achievements and lessons/feedback with the aim of strengthening multi-disciplinary field teams, targeting, scaling-out; refocusing some research and capacity building and phase down on completed research.
SIMLESA 11 would be different from SIMLESA 1 and changes would include the following:
- Broader technological focus with the core thrust on CA-based sustainable intensification, system orientation-from plot to farm, impact orientation-adoption, impact pathways, value chain linkages; partnership and scaling up/out and the management of competitive and commissioned grants.
In SIMLESA II there are some new activities that would be implemented differently, such as:
The objective will make use of the rich and comprehensive data set available. The objective will no longer be a socioeconomics “silo” but will be multidisciplinary. Typologies to be used for targeting purposes will also be introduced to evaluate developed SIMLESA options. The objective will implement the value chain analysis and market studies for farmer-market linkages and agribusiness development. In addition, objective 1 will adopt and monitor results to influence technology development and feed back to objective 2 and 3.
This objective will improve on current options and new areas of research by all and not just agronomists. The project is expected to:
- Revisit on – station and on- farm exploratory trials- numbers and sites;
- Package options for scaling out – objectives 1, 3 and 4;
- Produce case farms studies;
- Going from plot to farm scale; and
- Facilitate CIAT and QAAFI to collaborate on country specific soil science research.
Making available more new and resilient varieties of maze and legumes. There will be no more breeding as both legumes and maize breeding has a heavy investment by Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. The objective will help the project:
- Refine the seed road maps per country;
- Strengthen seed companies;
- To have more emphasis on legumes by strengthening the informal seed sector and capacity building
This is now a new standalone objective. It is no longer a refugee under objective 2. There is a competitive grant for scaling out with current and new scaling out partners. The objective will strengthen and use agricultural innovation platforms (AIPs) for scaling out, and work with agribusinesses to facilitate scaling out. Another area of focus for the objective would be measuring and documenting scaling out experiences and lessons.
Strengthened capacity building on specific country needs. This includes:
- On the job training, online training by QAAFI;
- The development and production of a gender strategy for SIMLESA II;
- Communications office on board from September 1, 2014;
- M and E Specialist recruited;
- Two QAAFI scientists based in Harare (Zimbabwe) and Addis Ababa (Ethiopia);
- Improved project management and governance in place for SIMLESA II ; and
- Strict and regular reporting by all partners.