This section is under development. We adopted DevResults to support our transition to Results-Based Management (RBM) and once fully operational (mid 2016) you will be able to easily follow our progress towards results in the various sites.
Integrated systems research embraces the complexity of the system. Its multiple intervention pathways display trade-offs and synergies between competing use of resources and benefits based on different entry points and priorities. The program uses an overarching Impact Pathway incorporating all IDOs (Figure 1). The overarching Impact Pathway is the basis for more detailed Impact Pathways that result from priorities and entry points established for each research location.
The starting point of the overarching Impact Pathway relates to activities needed to develop change coalitions of systems actors at farm, institutional and landscape levels, and develop their capacity to prioritize, experiment and learn. This enables the system’s capacity to innovate (see IDO Innovation), empowers women and youth, and ensures their participation (see IDO Gender) to work on systems interventions. Based on the identified problems and priorities combined with desired development outcomes, a series of site-specific social and technical innovations will be developed through multiple, often competing systems interventions. The innovations stimulate increased system productivity, which leads to realization of IDOs on Income, Nutrition and Environment – all three contributing to livelihoods and ecosystem integrity. The enabling IDOs on Innovation and Gender influence the other IDOs throughout and also result in changes in livelihoods, equity and empowerment status.
Sustainable Intensification Pathway
At the Flagship and field levels, the core of the Impact Pathway is the integrated systems research addressing key components and aimed at enhancing income, livelihoods and environment in respective locations. Partnerships, developed through R4D and Innovation Platforms, will be central in this research. An example of a specific Impact Pathway on Sustainable Intensification is shown in Figure 1.
Figure 1: Impact Pathway for Sustainable Intensification, indicating geographical scope and approximate number of households (HH).
This Impact Pathway primarily involves IDOs on productivity and Natural Resources Management (NRM), but with links to IDOs on Income, Gender and Nutrition. At Action Sites, Humidtropics will facilitate the identification and prioritization of entry points for sustainable agricultural intensification . These entry points cover aspects of best-bet improved productivity and NRM interventions . They will be validated through participatory action research, seeking best-fit options for sustainable intensification that are aligned to prevailing agro-ecological conditions, market access, natural resource status and resource endowments of farm families. Validating best-fit options for sustainable intensification  will include specific focus on gender and youth. Scaling processes are designed so that pro-poor best-fit options are tested across a sufficient range of context diversity at Action Sites. They are defined by socio-ecological gradients and farmer typologies that integrate the gender dimension to refine our understanding of what works where and for whom. Development partners use decision support tools for best-fit interventions to scale sustainable intensification interventions. This requires partnerships and networking with other initiatives and programs, such as national development plans, government development programs and donor-supported investment programs. It also needs private and public sector actors to create enabling conditions, including access to inputs, micro-finance, market facilitation, and value addition opportunities . Boundary spanning partners will engage with farmers and farmer associations in creating institutional innovations towards the uptake of sustainable intensification options supported by facilitating policy measures . This will move best interventions for sustainable intensification from the Action Site to the Action Area, eventually delivering on the target IDOs .
Scaling Systems Innovations Pathway
In Humidtropics we regard enabling conditions for technology to diffuse as part of the innovation challenge. Research alone is unable to drive system innovation. Humidtropics will therefore embed its research in ongoing dynamics, to ensure that research links to real demands and produces outcomes that are important to society. Scaling then happens largely through ‘pull’ rather than ‘push’ mechanisms. A range of communication and innovation intermediation strategies is then needed to work towards system innovation. Humidtropics will facilitate and enhance interaction among existing networks of actors, resulting in the operation of permanently evolving R4D Platforms that operate at different levels. Several forms and aspects of research activity are embedded in this broader process, and linked to the multi-level model of system innovation (Figure 3) in three phases:
Figure 3: Stylized multi-level model of socio-technical transitions after Geels serving as scaling of innovations pathway
(1) Landscape and regime level research
R4D activity will start with research to find promising entry points for further investigation, vision development and action supporting the program impact pathways. This research involves a multi-disciplinary characterization of simultaneously occurring trends, i.e. of how the landscape selection environment is changing, and an analysis of institutional (=regime) constraints. The purpose of this research is to identify emerging tensions, constraints and opportunities that set the agenda for further activity in niche level incubators.
(2) Niche/incubator level experimentation
At the niche level, Humidtropics will experiment in the field with multiple (combinations of) social and technical options, building upon earlier landscape and regime level research. As promising/interesting institutional and technical options become available (through research and dialogue) they will take the form of socio-technical incubators. These are networks of people that try out new institutional and technical options at different levels. Lessons learned from the incubator testing will be documented, leading to adapted designs and/or the discontinuation of specific investigations.
(3) Regime-level coalition building to enable scaling
The niche-level incubator activities include the gradual building of a support network and coalition for promising technical and institutional innovations. Such networks may include policy-makers, NGOs, extension organisations, value chain parties, donors, media, etc. that can serve scaling purposes. The gradual expansion and strengthening of the support network and coalition will result in both gradual and sudden changes (i.e. ‘tipping points’). Institutional changes achieved this way will provide an enabling environment where different groups of farmers can capitalize on the social and technical opportunities offered by ever changing environments.
Gender and Youth Empowerment in Impact Pathways
The rationale for emphasizing gender is that: women are underrepresented in agricultural research and extension efforts; the roles and responsibilities, opportunities, and challenges of men and women differ according to region, crop, and livestock system; and women farmers in many, if not most, regions have less access to agricultural inputs. Gender and youth empowerment is an essential component in the basic and derived complex impact pathways and important to all flagship projects and IDO achievement. It involves the analysis of participation barriers as well as to identification of specific gender and youth-related entry points, needs and targets. Empowerment relates to the often-weak status of gender equity in agricultural R4D, the various processes leading to strengthening of gender dimensions in representation and program management roles, as well as in the mainstreaming of gender dimensions into research and technology development. The gender strategy is an integral part of Humidtropics. Its goal is to narrow the inequities between men and women in access to the productive resources that are central to rural livelihoods. Humidtropics will mainstream gender into all its activities and work with partners across regions to achieve improved incomes, nutritional outcomes and productivity and yields for both male and female farmers.
Interventions are carried out through Flagship Projects and shared across leading to:
Aggregated increase in technology adoption and productivity of women producers.
Enhanced capacity of men and women to diversify and share risks.
More equitable and integrative agricultural growth outcomes.
Sustained engagement of men and women in integrated systems development.
Change in gender relations at all systems levels with improved women decision-making on inputs, interventions and benefits.
Change in behaviour of institutions and policy makers with regard to women empowerment.
The gender research approach follows five steps:
This research will embrace the three pillars of Strategic Research Theme 2 on Integrated Systems Improvement, and will identify gender related constraints. Analysis will include examination of power relations within households, families, communities, markets, and other institutions, and the preparation of location-specific studies and other research activities to explore these in greater detail. The next steps include forming and testing hypotheses about these relationships, to go beyond the case studies in specific sites, and setting up appropriate monitoring and evaluation systems that will center on the transformative outcomes of increasing gender equity. Women’s empowerment will be emphasized by ensuring that their contributions to agricultural production are valued, and supported, and that their wider postharvest activities are incorporated into livelihoods analyses of smallholder farm families.
A draft gender Impact Pathway is depicted in figure 4 below.
The result of the pathway is improved gender equity from a situation where it was poor.