Vitalizing farmer innovation and building capacity of local institutions: Project outputs will play a key role in kick-starting the farmer innovation process to enable the technology selection and uptake process. Technology selection and uptake will be complemented by greater capacity building to strengthen local institutions in seed production, enhancing knowledge and delivery of information, and market opportunities to farmers.
Building synergies along the value chain: The project will also facilitate essential synergies with other value chain actors by working together with governments, NGOs, farmer organizations and the private sector in each country to improve access to finance, seeds, fertilizer and tools for improved CA practices. Knowledge management and spillover systems developed will generate region-wide benefits through the more rapid implementation of innovations beyond the initial target sites.
Enhanced productivity and food security: Increased adoption of maize-legume technologies will enhance productivity and increase food production –with benefits for producers (improved food and nutritional security and higher incomes), consumers (through low and stable prices), and the country at large (food security, reduced poverty, social empowerment for women and equity, agro-ecosystem health). In addition, some of the benefits are likely to spill out across borders and farming systems to further strengthen the process of local innovation, adoption and adaptation of technologies.
Social benefits: Farm-household welfare will increase with reduced risk (or increased yield stability) and vulnerability to drought and other shocks; labor savings and increased labor productivity, especially important in households headed by the elderly or by children and in HIV and AIDS affected households; enhanced food and nutritional security for children, nursing mothers and the elderly; social empowerment of women and reduced drudgery; and increased resilience of the resource base and sustainable intensification resulting from integration of legumes and capacity development for farmers and local partners.
In Australia the project is expected to generate important economic and science benefits from the targeted introduction of drought – tolerant, disease-resistant and more productive maize inbred lines, and identifying feasible pathways for the intensification of cropping systems for the increasingly summer rainfall dominated environments of Queensland and northern New South Wales.
SIMLESA’s first phase ended with its Fourth Annual Regional Review, Planning and Program Steering Committee meeting in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, on 7-11 April 2014. In July 2014, CIMMYY launched the second phase of SIMLESA (2014-2018), also funded by the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research.
The project has made considerable achievements in developing conservation agriculture (CA)-based sustainable intensification options, technology adoption by both female and male farmers, capacity building for national agricultural research systems (NARS) of partner countries and the creation of partnerships.
In particular, SIMLESA contributed to the release of 40 new maize varieties, which have yield advantages of 10 to 30 percent when compared to existing commercial varieties in its project countries. The project also trained more than 3,000 agricultural scientists in the maize and legume production value chains and engaged more than 40,000 farmers (almost half of them women) through farmer field days and exchange programs.
The project is considered a flagship project and is being adopted by donors as a framework for sustainable intensification.
SIMLESA has also significantly contributed to the generation and adoption of user-preferred maize and legume technologies, as well as information and knowledge that improve system productivity and profitability of the target farming systems.
The outcome of SIMLESA, in terms of human capacity and research facility building, would improve the efficiency and impact in agricultural research in the future.
To strengthen this part of the work, SIMLESA II has a broader technological focus on its systems as well as the creation of more partnerships and scaling out of project results.