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Project impacts

The process used by SIMLESA has been built around adaptive research conducted at experimental stations but replicated in local communities. By involving more agricultural value chain partners in demonstrations SIMLESA was able to promote conservation farming practices further faster and harness buy-in.

Through participatory research and development with farmers, extension agencies, non-governmental organizations, universities and agribusinesses along the value chains, the SIMLESA program has significantly contributed to the generation and adoption of user-preferred maize and legume varieties

and has provided information and knowledge that improve system productivity and profitability of target farming systems – improving maize and legume productivity and reducing expected yield risk throughout the region.

The program focused also focused on institutional innovations in relation to maize-legume production systems. In turn, it was envisaged that these will make significant measurable positive changes in the livelihoods of all categories of smallholder farmers. Some of these achievements can be summarized as follows:

  • Strengthening trans-national collaboration in agricultural research and development: by bringing together at least 12 institutions in an international collaboration that emphasized working in multi-stakeholder process across the value chain to facilitate division of labor. Private seed companies, farmers, farmers’ groups, agro dealers and extension departments have been involved in the activities of the SIMLESA program.  
  • Providing the business case for conservation agriculture based sustainable intensification (CASI) across Eastern and Southern Africa: SIMLESA research and communication efforts have generated the evidence that is useable for developing policy and programs in support of CASI. For example, agronomic on-farm research have demonstrated that baseline maize yield have increased from 1.8t/ha to 4.4t/ha and from 0.5t/ha to 1.5t/ha for legumes across the project countries.

    This body of evidence has also shown that adoption of CASI options can reduce labor use by an average of 50% from the farmers’ practices creating huge economic benefits for the farmers. Agronomic data based on on- station and trials can now be accessed via the CIMMYT dataverse account. 
  • Testing and sharing lessons on scaling modalities for CASI farming methods:Toward the end of 2016, the program managed to competitively select 19 partners to drive the scaling out initiatives under the Competitive Grants Scheme (CGS). Lessons from these efforts have been documented and shared widely. A total of 58 innovation platforms are now helping scale out sustainable intensification technologies and market agriculture produce for maximum benefits. Field days, exchange visits and innovation platforms have continued to improve knowledge transfer, which has increased yield of both maize and legumes, and improved food security in project sites
  • Regional socioeconomic, market and policy studies: Socio-economic datasets from more than 5,000 households and 508 villages across the five project countries. These datasets are now freely and publicly available on Open Access basis through CIMMYT Dataverse pages.
  • Strengthening of maize and legume seed systems as a critical enabler of CASI: In collaboration with national breeding programs, CIMMYT’s Drought Tolerant Maize for Africa project and ICRISAT’s Tropical Legume Projects, SIMLESA facilitated the release of 40 maize and 64 legume varieties which were tested and evaluated by farmers in the study countries. Partner seed companies selected and scaled up seeds that performed the best and met farmers’ preferences.
  • Linking climate smart agriculture to Policy: The analysis and data generated under the SIMLESA program have influenced policy discussions in the region. For example,  a regional policy summit was held in October 2015 in Entebbe , Uganda which resulted in the signing of a Ministerial Communique by five countries (Ethiopia, Kenya, Tanzania, Mozambique, Rwanda) committing to the mainstreaming of SIMLESA results in their countries’ agricultural policies. A series of policy engagements were conducted across all SIMLESA countries.
  • Building Capacity of early and mid-career scientists: The project and Australia Awards Scholarships (formerly Australian Development Scholarships), ACIAR and the ARC- South Africa, have supported 65 masters and doctorate students who studied in Australia, and African universities.