Humidtropics, a CGIAR Research Program, aims to help poor farm families in tropical Africa, Asia and Americas to boost their income from integrated agricultural systems’ intensification while preserving their land for future generations.
The humid tropics with 2.9 billion people, most of which are poor farmers on about 3 billion hectares of land, are critical to local, regional and global food supplies, and central to the maintenance of global biodiversity. A typical system in the humid tropics such as in the image above, has people (the farmer) in the center; and utilizes, water, land, labour, cash and knowledge to grow, process and market various commodities (crops and livestock) to meet livelihood needs such as income and nutrition. However, productivity of the farming system is often poor, natural resources degraded, and markets and institutions flawed to tap into the potential that exists in the wider system to meet their needs. Furthermore, access to and benefit from the limited systems resources often differs between men and women at all ages being more detrimental to women.
Basic Theory of Change
Integrated systems are complex, dynamic and vary from location to location. The Theory of Change of Humidtropics is based on the hypothesis that the region’s inherent potential is best realized through an integrated systems approach, built around sustainable intensification and diversification, involving participatory action across stakeholder groups. Humidtropics addresses this by enhancing the capacity to innovate at farm, institutional and landscape levels thus contributing to delivering on the four SLOs. Innovation Platforms and other change coalitions help to identify and prioritize systems problems and opportunities, supported by systems analysis, to identify entry points that require social and technical innovations. This is demonstrated in the Humidtropics overarching Theory of Change as depicted.
The Theory of Change takes its starting point in a baseline situation, characterized by a certain combination of poverty status and ecosystem integrity, related to productivity, natural resources integrity and institutional effectiveness. Different research sites of Humidtropics could be mapped onto specific locations (red circles) on the poverty/ecosystem integrity nexus. Systems interventions and innovation (in green) need to be developed and introduced at the sites in order to transform their respective baseline situations to the idealized position (white circle). This desired position is characterized by high productivity, high natural resources integrity and effective institutions; thus providing better standard of living for smallholder farmers, and enhanced sustainability within the production system.
The program logic is presented in the below figure where the Strategic Objectives (SOs) are realized together in an interactive and integrated fashion. Each SO relates directly to one or two Intermediate Development Outcomes (IDOs) with 2027 targets (see Outcomes tab). The realization of these IDOs is then accomplished through a number of “Flagship Projects”, which are seen as the main vehicles through which the research of Humidtropics partners is carried out to ensure impacts of the program.
Strategic Objectives and Outcomes
The Intermediate Development Outcomes (IDOs) of Humidtropics derive directly from its four Strategic Objectives (SOs) of (i) Livelihoods Improvement, (ii) Sustainable Intensification, (iii) Women and Youth Empowerment, and (iv) Systems Innovation. Each SO relates directly to one or two IDOs; and for each IDO, indicators with targets to be reached by 2023 are defined. The IDOs and their indicative targets for impact are indicated below, under the respective SOs, and further detailed in Table 1.
Livelihoods Improvement addresses the issue of improved livelihoods in terms of income and nutrition for rural farm families, and the directly related IDOs concern Income and Nutrition.
IDO Income focuses on increased and more equitable incomeas a result of Humidtropics system interventions, earned by smallholders in the value chain. Progress will be tracked by gender and age with a focus on improving the incomes of marginal populations.
IDO Nutrition monitors the increased consumption of diversified and quality foods by the poor, especially among nutritionally vulnerable women and children. This IDO will be accomplished through research for the diversification of high quality crops and livestock leading to enhanced consumption of diverse nutritious foods by the poor.
Sustainable Intensification concerns increased total farm productivity while respecting natural resources integrity. This is a central and over-riding theme with contributions and implications for the other IDOs. It is linked to IDOs on Productivity and Environment.
IDO Productivity focuses on the total farm-level productivity (food, feed, fibre, livestock products), through sustainable intensification and diversification. The overall aim is to optimize the returns from the farm, while respecting the natural resource integrity.
IDO Environment concerns reversing land degradation trends and the adverse environmental effects of integrated systems intensification by guiding the transition to sustainable management. This IDO focuses on the ability of the land to remain productive for present and future generations through the conservation and management of biodiversity, soil fertility and ecosystem services.
Gender Empowerment concerns empowering women and youth with better control over, and benefit from integrated production systems, and it is directly linked with the IDO on Gender.
IDO Gender focuses on empowering women to have better control over and benefit from integrated production and marketing systems through specific interventions, and ultimately to transform women’s status and position. The IDO also addresses youth and marginalized groups’ empowerment as an essential component to ensure their improved access to and control over the benefits from integrated systems interventions.
Systems Innovation addresses the issue of enhanced capacity for systems innovation and corresponds to the IDO on Innovation (Capacity to Innovate).
IDO Capacity to Innovate is an enabling IDO supporting systems interventions towards achievement of impact at scale. It involves building innovation capacity among the actors within a defined agro-ecological and livelihood system, and facilitating and guiding innovation processes by influencing the socio-technical regimes at work in the various impact domains. The IDO also aims to shift discourse of actors operating at the socio-technical regime level, in support of systems thinking and innovation.
Table 1: Intermediate Development Indicators with 3, 6 and 9-year targets with data needs
IDO Income: Increased and more equitable income as a result of Humidtropics system interventions, earned by rural poor farm families, with special focus on rural women
1.1 Total annual household income and distribution disaggregated by household members along gender and age. [Average USD equivalent per household]
By 2023, at least 2.5 million households will have increased their income by 44% (200,000 households by 2017; 1 million by 2020)
Overall household income data expressed in USD equivalent, disaggregated by household members
IDO Nutrition: Increased consumption of diversified and quality foods by the poor, especially among nutritionally vulnerable women and children
2.1 The number of children (6-23 months) who receive foods from 4 or more food groups out of a set of 7 standardized food groups during the previous day [number of food groups]
By 2023, within at least 1 million households, children of 6-23 months consume at least 4 food groups (2,000 households by 2017; 200,000 households by 2020)
A representative sample of women in the Field and Action Sites and Action Areas are asked to recall what their child 6-23 months of age consumed the previous day
2.2 The number of women of reproductive age (15-49yrs) who have increased their dietary diversity out of a set of 9 standardized food groups during the previous day [number of food groups]
By 2023, within at least 1 million households, women of 15-49 years consume a larger number of food groups (2,000 households by 2017; 200,000 households by 2020)
A representative sample of women in the Field and Action Sites and Action Areas are asked to recall what they consumed the previous day
IDO Productivity: Increased total farm-level productivity in smallholder production systems
3.1 Total annual farm-level productivity (food, feed, fibre, livestock products) [USD equivalent per farm per year]
By 2023, within at least 2.5 million households, farm-level productivity is increased by 60% (200,000 households by 2017; 1 million households by 2020)
Measurements of the productivity of all production units for a representative sample of households, supported by satellite imagery; the USD values will be derived from current prices (before Humidtropics value added interventions)
IDO Environment: Minimized adverse environmental effects of increased system production
4.1 Partial annual C and nutrient balances at farm level [kg per farm per year]
By 2023, within at least 2.2 million ha of farm land, nutrient and C balances become positive (150,000 ha by 2017; 800,000 ha by 2020)
Resource flow maps are drawn for a representative sample of farms to identify farmers’ soil management strategies with quantification of all carbon and nutrient inputs and outputs at farm level followed by modeling to substantiate the IDO outcome
4.2 Woody cover on-farm through assessment of perennial and semi-perennial plant component [% woody cover per farm]
By 2023, on at least 2.5 million farms, negative trends in woody cover are reversed (200,000 farms by 2017; 1 million farms by 2020)
Assessment of woody cover using the T-square method for a representative sample of farms
IDO Gender: Increased control over resources and participation in decision-making by women and other marginalized groups
5.1 Improved women empowerment [access to assets]
By 2023, within at least 250,000 households, women have increased their access to assets by 35% (20,000 households by 2017; 100,000 by 2020).
Number of women who perceive to have better control over assets and increased decision making capacity
5.2 Improved empowerment of youth and marginalized groups [access to assets]
By 2023, within at least 250,000 households, youth have increased their access to assets by 50% (20,000 households by 2017; 100,000 by 2020)
Number of young people who perceive to have better control over assets and increased decision making capacity
IDO Innovation: Improved capacity to innovate integrated systems by actors at household, institutional and landscape levels
6.1 Capacity of systems actors to identify and prioritize systems problems and opportunities improved
By 2023, systems innovation coalitions such as R4D Platforms in all Action Sites independently continue to identify and prioritize systems problems (at least 2 coalitions per Action Area by 2017; at least 1 coalition per Action Site by 2020)
Number of operational systems innovation coalitions such as R4D Platforms that defined and prioritized systems problems and opportunities for systems intervention research
6.2 Capacity of systems actors to invest, test and experiment with tradeoffs between alternative intervention options improved
By 2023, systems innovation coalitions independently continue to experiment with alternative interventions options (at least 2 coalitions per Action Area by 2017; at least 1 coalition per Action Site by 2020)
Number of intervention options experimented with and number of best-fit innovations generated through R4D and other innovation coalitions
6.3 Capacity of systems actors to learn and share their knowledge improved
By 2023, systems actors at all levels are engaged in systems innovation coalitions, share their knowledge and learn from other experiences with other Action Sites, and scale to other Action Areas (at least 1 coalition per Action Area by 2017; at least 1 coalition per Action Site by 2020)
Number of innovations shared with systems actors at all levels in Action Sites, Action Areas and new geographical locations
Strategic Research Themes
Humidtropics has the following three main Strategic Research Themes (SRTs) that underpin the research process in realization of its Theory of Change and that are increasingly integrated into the Flagship Projects’ functioning:
Systems Analysis and Synthesis establishes the baseline situation and synthesizes progress towards the expected outcome situation.
Integrated Systems Improvement involves researching and mainstreaming promising systems interventions related to productivity, natural resource management, and markets and institutions. This theme also includes use of modelling tools and analysis, gender considerations, research-development interactions, and scaling-out dimensions. Sustainable intensification and diversification are key drivers in this respect.
Scaling and Institutional Innovation focuses on co-evolving institutions via social innovation with the technologies emanating from the integrated systems improvement theme. As such it improves stakeholders’ capacity to innovate and supports the scaling of interventions at farm, national and global levels.
The structure depicted below shows the three strategic research themes that are linked through monitoring and evaluation processes.
The Flagship Projects are developed as place-based integrated R4D programs based on Action Areas with main agricultural production systems nexus, where all three SRTs produce research outputs from partner collaboration. In phase 1 there are 5 Flagship projects. Four relate directly to the Tier 1 Action Areas and one to Crosscutting Research. Flagship projects based on Action Areas produce solutions relevant to the area’s characteristics (Table 1) and potential for innovation. The geographical aspects, landscapes, and crops may be similar but the people, socio-technical regimes, farm practices, livelihoods and living conditions vary significantly. This provides scope for cross learning and sharing of solutions across Action Areas. Four additional area-based Flagship Projects will be launched in 2017 (Phase 2, Tier 2). These are the West Africa Moist Savanna project, the Southern Africa Moist Savanna project, the northern Andes Transect project, and the Indonesian Humid Lowlands project.
Table 1. Selected characteristics of each Tier 1 Action Area.
In 2013, Humidtropics adopted the concept of “Flagship Project” as the main programmatic vehicle through which research is carried out for the attainment of IDOs. There are five Flagship Projects. The first Flagship Project is crosscutting in nature to ensure coherence across the entire program, in both research and capacity development. The remaining four Flagship Projects are based on geographic location, covering East and Central Africa highlands, West Africa lowlands, Central Mekong, and Central America and the Caribbean regions. The five Flagship Projects are further described in summary below.
This website will be updated during 2015 with Flagship Project Pages, for the time being the summary below should be used.
Crosscutting Flagship Project
The crosscutting Flagship conducts research that is relevant to all of the area-based Flagship Projects and includes the synthesis of lessons learned through the entire program. Clusters of activities under this Flagship include (i) Global Synthesis on Systems Research; (ii) Strategic Nutrition Research; (iii) Scaling and Institutional Innovation; (iv) Gender Research and Integration; and (v) Capacity Development. The cluster on global synthesis is essential for enabling Humidtropics to present a global perspective, and to analyze and synthesize research deliverables and knowledge base across all Action Areas and Sites. This includes information related to agricultural population, poverty, production systems, market access and natural resource integrity. The strategic nutrition cluster focuses on ensuring incorporation of nutrition dimensions within the production and livelihood systems. The research involves piloting a set of next generation tools and methodologies in target Action Sites, including innovative ways to measure nutrient gaps, identify typologies and entry points, and develop Innovation Platforms to improve dietary diversification and nutrition security in target Action Areas. Nutrition-sensitive systems interventions will be identified and implemented at household, community and policy levels in the piloted sites. The cluster on systems innovation will involve developing methods, tools and indicators for assessing system innovation and responsible scaling. This will include developing tools for measuring the contribution of R4D Platforms to institutional innovation and system innovation. Gender research within the crosscutting Flagship will aim at developing transformative innovation strategies to gender equity by improving the targeting and design of innovations to take account of salient gender norms in target populations and regions. This will include participation of Humidtropics in a project entitled “Innovation through transformation of gender norms in agriculture and natural resource management”, a global comparative research study of the CGIAR Gender Research Group, with other global partners. The cluster on capacity development will focus on responding to the global capacity and learning needs of Humidtropics. Increased support to capacity development will be needed if the projected increasing levels of investment in AR4D are to generate sustainable returns. To support this, we will implement a wide range of methods and activities in 2014, and during 2015-2016, including carrying out research on how capacity development can support the achievement of the IDOs. Other areas of work will include developing and refining training materials/tools, coordinating and facilitating training workshops, supporting the platform implementation process, coordinating a postgraduate research fellowship scheme, and leading learning processes throughout Humidtropics.
The area-based Flagship Projects are designed to result in improved livelihoods for smallholder farming communities in the respective areas, based on sustainable productivity improvements and on social and technical innovations in institutions and in natural resources management. Within each Action Site, R4D Platforms have been established, through which generic entry points for interventions have been identified and Field Sites (districts, counties or other administrative unit) selected for Humidtropics implementation. The R4D Platforms in each Action Site build on new and existing partnerships, including farmer organizations, advisory services, research and development partners, the private sector, and policy making entities. Research in each of the area-based Flagship Projects consists of four broad clusters of activities: (i) Systems Analysis and Synthesis, (ii) Integrated Systems Improvement, (iii) Scaling and Institutional Innovation, and (iv) R4D Partnership Development. The four area-based Flagship Projects are briefly described below:
East and Central Africa Highlands Flagship
The East and Central Africa Flagship Project covers the highlands (1,125-1,800 m above sea level) of Western Kenya, Southern Uganda (Lake Victoria Basin), the Ethiopian highlands, Eastern DR Congo, Burundi and Rwanda. The area is uniquely endowed with great potential in terms of water, soils and a variety of staple and cash crops as well as livestock. Agriculture is the mainstay of the economy of the area. However, with an average population density of 263 persons/km2, 36% of the population living on less than US$1.25/day, and 49% of the total land estimated to be degraded, the region faces debilitating poverty and food insecurity. The Flagship Project will involve integrated research to remove barriers to production and enable enhanced livelihoods and natural resources management. The entry points identified include improved soil fertility management, integration of legumes and trees into production systems, crop diversification, nutritional integration into cropping and food systems, strengthening of seed systems, integrated livestock production, Striga management, and the development of improved value chains for priority commodities.
West Africa Lowlands Flagship
In West Africa, the humid tropics occupy an area of 206 million ha and are home to 145 million people. About 28% of the population live on less than US$1.25/day, the average market access is 3 hours and 58% of land area is estimated to be degraded. The Flagship Project has Action Sites in the humid and sub-humid regions of Nigeria, Cameroon, Ghana and Ivory Coast. The Nigeria and Cameroon Action Sites are now operational and the Ivory Coast and Ghana Sites will be initiated during 2014. In the Nigeria and Cameroon Action Sites, the broad entry points identified include intensification and diversification of the tree crop systems, intensification of food crop systems, involvement of youth in agriculture, improvement of market access and strengthening of institutions for innovation. The research will contribute towards Humidtropics’ IDOs, with particular emphasis on income, productivity, environment and innovation.
Central Mekong Flagship
Over 300 million people live in the Central Mekong area, 63% of whom are agriculture dependent and 29% live on less than US$1.25/day. Three Action Sites have been selected encompassing portions of six countries. By the end of 2014, we expect to have operational R4D Platforms in northwest Vietnam, central Vietnam and northern Thailand. These R4D Platforms will have identified local entry points, and developed and tested entry points. Moving into 2015-2016, the Flagship will focus on systems interventions and analysis of trade-offs among the key components. Diagnosis and platform establishment is planned to move into new locations, namely Cambodia, China, Southern Laos and Myanmar. Emerging themes for interventions during 2014 and into the extension period 2015-2016, include integrated crop-fodder-livestock systems, involving interaction with erosion control and soil fertility management; diversifying mono-crop rubber forests; sustainable intensification of rice rotations with vegetables and potatoes; tackling malnutrition through increasing dietary diversity; integrated pest management; enhancing value-chains, and market access for key commodities. All interventions are targeted to contribute towards all IDOs, though there would be differentiated emphasis on certain IDOs, based on the prioritization within respective Action Sites.
Central America and the Caribbean Flagship
The Central America and Caribbean Flagship, working in three Action Sites (northern Nicaragua, greater Trifinio in Honduras-Guatemala-El Salvador, and the border region in Haiti-Dominican Republic) is characterized by erosion and nutrient depletion of soils resulting in degradation of 75% of agricultural lands. In the northern Nicaragua Action Site, the research focus will be on three major land use systems: maize-bean-livestock-tree; coffee-banana-tree; and cocoa-banana-tree. A more detailed mapping process of stakeholders, their linkages and mechanisms has provided the basis to assemble a diverse group of partners into incipient Innovation Platforms. These groups generate approaches focusing around the farm household as an enterprise/livelihood system/agro-ecosystem management unit, the multi-farm territory with important service and support functions in ecosystem services, infrastructure and market access and diverse forms of social capital, and the broader institutional and market system. Main research products will be on institutional innovation (policy), dietary diversity in food security, farm/local territory modelling, household decision making tools (trade-offs, resilience), and trade-offs within integrated livestock-fodder–crop-tree systems. During the extension phase, activities and partnerships will extend into the Greater Trifinio area (including parts of Honduras, El Salvador, and Guatemala), where an Action Site will be initiated.
The Theory of Change and Impact Pathways of Humidtropics are all based on the existence of relevant actor groups and institutions working together in partnership towards the realization of development outcomes from integrated systems research for development. The partnership strategy of Humidtropics identifies three levels of partnership engagement. The first level, “Core Partnerships” involves the partnership among the founding members of Humidtropics. These consist of the 11 founding institutions who sign Program Participant Agreements with IITA, as lead center for Humidtropics, for undertaking and facilitating core areas of work. This batch currently consists of seven CGIAR centres (IITA, ILRI, ICRAF, CIP, IWMI, Bioversity International and CIAT) and four non-CGIAR institutions (FARA, icipe, Wageningen University and AVRDC). The second category of partners consist of institutions that take some active leadership roles in the implementation of Humidtropics research or in the facilitation of research processes in particular Action Sites or research domains. Such responsibilities include R4D Platform coordination, Action Site facilitation, or leading a sub-component in research. These partners operate on delegated authority of a core partner through sub-contracting agreements. The third category of partnerships involves the wider collaboration of implementation partners who engage in the R4D Platforms and participatory research, at the various Action Sites. This third category has the largest number of institutions, participating to varying degrees in the implementation of Humidtropics. The following section provides some description of partnerships within the various area-based Flagships. These partnerships will be expanded into the future.
Partnerships in East and Central Africa Highlands Flagship
Good progress has been made in establishing partnerships with research and development organizations that participate directly in the R4D process, and they include CGIAR and advanced research partners, universities, national research institutes and development partners. Some specific examples are: (i) University of Rwanda/College of Agriculture and Veterinary Medicine (UR/CAVM) – involved in the implementation of specific activities at Innovation Platform level in Rwanda; (ii) Equity Bank, Rwanda – involved in management of small loans to members of Innovation Platforms (for various technologies emanating from platforms research), and encourages farmers on efficient and effective community banking, savings and borrowing; and (iii) IMBARAGA – Rwanda National Federation of Farmers – involved in facilitation and organization of farmers into marketing associations to target niche markets. National policy makers, who are not directly involved in the research, but play important roles in influencing the direction of research programs, have also been engaged in various countries. Examples of existing partners in this domain include Ministries of Agriculture in Rwanda, Uganda, South Kivu, Kenya, and Ministry of Water and Energy in Ethiopia. Finally, farmer organizations have also been engaged in particular countries to participate in the platforms and also help to mobilize their members.
Partnerships in West Africa Lowlands Flagship
In West Africa, Humidtropics collaborates with a broad range of partners, including both national and international organizations. These include ministries, universities, research centers, private sector, farmer organizations and input suppliers. Examples are the Institut de Recherches Agricoles pour le Développement (IRAD) in Cameroon and the Osun State Ministry of Agriculture in Nigeria, who are playing major leadership roles, facilitating R4D Platforms for the Cameroon and Nigeria Action Sites, respectively, through their assigned staff members as Action Site Facilitators. The international research and development organizations present in the Flagship are CIRAD, CARE, GIZ, SNV, Catholic Relief Services and AFD who are involved in development processes, and as participants on R4D Platforms. An example of private sector partnership is with Mars Inc. funding the bilateral research and development project Vision for Change (V4C) being implemented in Sobre, Côte d’Ivoire, contributing to both Humidtropics and to the CGIAR Research Program on Forest, Trees and Agroforestry (FTA). The work is carried out in partnership with ICRAF and national partners.
Partnerships in Central America and the Caribbean Flagship
Partnerships in the Flagship are built on existing “traditional” CGIAR partners like NARS, national universities, NGOs and advanced research institutions. Some specific examples are as follows:
(i) CATIE, a regional research and education institution, is involved in complementary research activities in Action and Field Sites (ecosystem services, platforms); (ii) Wageningen University is involved in research activities in Action and Field Sites (policies, incentive strategies, modelling); (iii) Heifer International and Catholic Relief Services are involved with scaling, and development linkages (existing collaboration in other CRPs); and (iv) IICA (Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture) is involved with development linkages, out-scaling, policy linkages and coordination support (presence in all Action Sites, strong interest/push to collaborate). The partners and collaborators also include the decade old R4D Platform called the Central American Learning Alliance, bringing together research centres (CIAT and CATIE) with development NGOs to build methods and tools to generate and fill knowledge gaps. The traditional partners at Action Site level will continue to be crucial. At the Field Site level, partnerships will include local government, farmer groups and NGOs as national partners.
Partnerships in Central Mekong Flagship
Humidtropics partnerships in Central Mekong are quite advanced. The Vietnam Academy of Agricultural Science (VAAS) is an umbrella organization linking a number of agricultural research institutes that are important partners and collaborators of Humidtropics. This includes the Fruits and Vegetables Research Institute (FAVRI), the Northern Mountainous Agriculture and Forestry Science (NOMAFSI), and the Soil and Fertilizer Research Institute (SFRI). NOMAFSI is chairing the R4D Platform for northwest Vietnam and is also a research and development partner in the Action Site. FAVRI is specialized in research on fruits, vegetables and ornamental crops focusing on the northern and central provinces of Vietnam, and has become an important Humidtropics research partner. They have contributed to the situational analysis and the identification of best-bet options for sustainable intensification through vegetables, and are now involved in assessing the potential for intensification through vegetables in northwest Vietnam. Other key partners handling specific components of work include Chiang Mai University (CMU) in Thailand; Tay Nguyen University (TNU) in Vietnam; and the National Agriculture and Forestry Research Institute (NAFRI) in Laos. In Yunnan Province, important partners are the College of Agronomy and Biotechnology, Yunnan Agricultural University (CAB-YAU) and the Industrial Crop Research Institute, Yunnan Academy of Agricultural Sciences (ICRI-YAAS).
Partnerships with Other CRPs
As a systems CRP, Humidtropics has established strong partnerships with a number of CRPs. There is active partnership engagement among the three systems CRPs (Humidtropics, Dryland Systems and AAS), with regular consultations and a number of joint activities undertaken. This partnership will intensify, especially related to issues of sustainable intensification, capacity to innovate, and other IDOs. The partnership established between Humidtropics and RTB is a most significant one. In 2013, a number of engagements culminated in a workshop for planning concrete joint projects starting in 2014 for implementation between Humidtropics and RTB. Further interaction is planned for 2014 and through the extension period, especially in relation to joint research on RBM piloting. Other CRPs with which Humidtropics will intensify partnership efforts in coordination, co-location and collaboration during the extension period are A4NH, MAIZE, L&F, WLE, FTA and CCAFS. Consultation with these CRPs is at variable levels.
Partnership with regional and sub-regional organisations is essential particularly for scaling out purposes; though research partnerships also apply in some instances. In sub-Saharan Africa, regional organizations that help to promote Humidtropics regionally and influence national policies, include the Forum for Agricultural Research in Africa (FARA); the Association for Strengthening Agricultural Research in East and Central Africa (ASARECA); and the West and Central African Council for Agricultural Research and Development (CORAF/WECARD). CORAF’s experience in integrated agricultural research for development (IAR4D) and multi-stakeholder Innovation Platform processes, and FARA’s experience in Innovation Platforms for Dissemination of New Agricultural Technologies in Africa (DONATA) are shared to strengthen the establishment and facilitation of R4D and Innovation Platforms in Humidtropics Action Sites. FARA is a founding partner in Humidtropics and involved in the execution and coordination of research with partners through the sub-Saharan Africa Challenge Program it led, which is now mainstreamed into Humidtropics. These links with FARA, CORAF and ASARECA in Africa are a major channel for associating Humidtropics with the Comprehensive African Agricultural Development Program (CAADP). It also provides a channel for policy engagement and information dissemination between Humidtropics and member countries within the respective regions.
In the Central Mekong Action Area, Humidtropics has initiated contacts for collaboration with the multilateral cooperative platform in agriculture, ECCAST-GMS (Exchange and Cooperation Consortium for Agriculture Science and Technology in GMS). The members of ECCAST-GMS are drawn from agriculture research and development institutions coming from Cambodia, Yunnan Province, Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam. It aims at agricultural science and technology generation and utilization via cross-border cooperation and exchange among GMS countries so as to support food security, poverty alleviation and environment sustainability, and to lead agricultural development in GMS. These goals are very identical to Humidtropics goals, and it is for this reason that efforts are on-going to develop a strong partnership relationship with ECCAST-GMS. The Head of ECCAST-GMS participated in the Humidtropics launching and planning meeting held in Hanoi. In 2014 and during the extension phase 2015-2016, this collaboration will be strengthened for purposes of policy convergence, scaling out and impact generation. In the Central America and Caribbean region, contacts have been initiated through CIAT and partners in relation to strengthening collaboration with the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA). This is particularly aimed at influencing policy processes in the respective countries through IICA, and to coordinate activities especially focused at climate change, sustainable livestock production and capacity building. Apart from this, through its regional character, IICA is a good platform to connect with partners in other countries within the region, especially through its direct link with the CAC (Council of Ministers of Agriculture in Central America). For instance, IICA-Haiti has recently assisted Humidtropics to establish contacts with Haitian authorities (Ministry of Agriculture).
Gender is core in systems research and a central theme in Humidtropics and will be carried out during the extension phase in the strategic dimensions outlined here. It is identified as one of six IDOs – an ‘enabling’ IDO – that supports the achievement of the other IDOs; though also producing output and outcome targets in its own right. The IDO on Gender focuses on a reduction in gender disparities in access to inputs, services and technologies, a reduction in the drudgery of women’s labor, an increase in productivity in men and women-managed farms, improved women’s empowerment for decision-making and income management leading to increased gender equity and balanced empowerment of men and women. It also involves a better understanding and appreciation of gender roles and inter-relations, and how they could be enhanced through optimization of capacities and benefit-sharing among men and women. Empowerment of youth and marginalized groups is also an essential component of the gender research goal of Humidtropics.
Gender research will be undertaken within the Crosscutting Flagship, and also mainstreamed into each of the four area-based Flagship Projects; all research activities are required to show gender implications, relevance and analysis in the development and implementation of the research agenda. As part of the gender mainstreaming component, the following elements will be built into the extension phase research:
Gender research and analysis in the research cycle, from situational analysis and entry point identification, through planning and testing of innovations, to monitoring and evaluating of their outcomes.
Technologies and services will be selected, developed and evaluated to ensure that they address critical gender issues.
Sex-disaggregated social data will be collected and used to diagnose important gender-related constraints. This will be achieved using both quantitative and qualitative approaches.
Through capacity development, a gender knowledge base is created containing gender equity challenges and opportunities, and strategies to address gender inequality across the platforms. This requires gender training tools and modules to ensure gender mainstreaming and analysis.
Institutional architecture for integration of gender is in place. This will include strengthened staffing and specific budget allocations for gender research and mainstreaming.
Gender dimensions are built into Humidtropics’ M&E system, which supports operational and performance monitoring as an input to program management and accountability. This will include development of protocol for tracking progress on integration of gender in research.