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Socioeconomics, Policy and Markets Research

To support the development of local and regional agricultural innovation systems and scaling-out platforms.

The first objective of the project was economic, policy and market research to identify key policy, institutional and market enablers of conservation agriculture based farming systems appropriate for smallholder systems in eastern and southern Africa. The aim was to enhance the understanding of CA-based intensification options for maize-legume production systems, value chains and impact pathways

Work Done

  • Understanding farmers’ perception of risks, their attitude towards risk, risk exposure and sensitivity under different management responses; and ways to improve on those responses under different biophysical, socioeconomic and institutional innovations.

  • Understanding CA-based intensification and feed options in selected farming systems : The initial data base of technology options developed in Phase 1 was enriched in Phase 2. A dynamic web-based database of CA-based intensification options (agronomic practices, varieties, crop choices/diversification, fodder/forage) was established. From this at least one peer reviewed synthesis of performance of CA-based intensification options has been drawn and the implications of CA-based intensification options on crop failure analyzed and documented. Through a new complementary focus on feed/forage, feed demand and feed intervention options were synthesized.

  • Understanding maize, legume and fodder/forage value chains, focusing on institutional constraints and opportunities, costs and pricing patterns (gender specific). Building on SIMLESA-1 in which standardized tools were developed for in/output market and value chain analyses. The results, notably the constraints and underutilized market opportunities, were identified and shared with the research team and partners to inform targeted interventions.
  • Functional farm-household typologies matched to CA-based intensification options.The initial farm household typologies were refined. Existing farmer resource allocation decisions and their consequences on risk-productivity-environment were quantified. Bio-economic modeling was used to identify the mix of interventions from among the maize-legume-fodder/forage systems options that are low-risk and productivity enhancing, and that best fit the setting, characteristics and endowments of each household typology.

    Opportunities for improvement have were identified for further testing in Objectives 2, 3 and 4, together with collaborating farmers, stakeholders (including other national and regional development teams – researchers, extensionists, NGOs, and others), and partners to facilitate program focus on key research questions, best-bet practices and innovations.

  • Identified recommendation domains and adoption and impact pathways for maize-legume–forage systems. Recommendation domains for scaling out of CA-based intensification options have been refined. Evaluation criteria, indicators and monitoring processes with particular reference to productivity and stability were selected by the program team including the M&E group. The evaluation criteria and feedback processes on changes in productivity, risk and income at multiple scales (field, household, community/district, zone and country) were implemented.

    In partnership with the Adoption Pathways Project, adoption and impact assessments were conducted through farm household surveys in selected farming systems to identify impact pathways and facilitate learning, change and priority setting processes. New opportunities were identified from linkages with other programs, and local and regional activities (e.g. new products, new systems, generation of inter-regional and inter- country spillovers).

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