Strengthening Collaboration and Learning Spaces
The Territorial Learning Alliances are comprised of 41 members working for the development of coffee, cocoa, and mixed staple crop-livestock production systems in Nicanorte. The organizations include academic, research, public sector, civil society, and farmer institutions, associations and cooperatives. Faithful to its mission to build research for development capacities at a local level, Humidtropics led the design, implementation and follow up of nine integrated research projects based on the needs of these three sectors in the country.
“The thematic integration of the projects we have implemented through the Alliances has been very accurate in relation to production and gender elements,” said Henry Mendoza from CAFENICA within the Coffee Alliance. He expressed that Humidtropics’ facilitation of this research process has contributed to the improvement of weaknesses in past work that has been conducted in the territories. “It is very important to continue planning and implementing joint activities with local organizations,” he added.
The projects include developing decision-making tools at farm level in the various production systems, monitoring soil fertility, and scaling agroecological practices and agrobiodiversity use in Nicanorte. Besides working on natural resource management for sustainable intensification, the projects also have a policy and markets focus. Specifically, studies were conducted on access to markets and innovative value chains to increase rural women’s income, and public policy analysis and its impact on integrated rural development.
Looking Ahead: Beyond 2016
Participants reflected on the projects’ impacts, lessons learned, and their vision for the direction these initiatives will take in the territories on 2016 and beyond. Scaling of the various tools which were generated through these projects is one of the main objectives for Alliance members. Another element which was highlighted is the need to adapt these tools, making them more accessible for use by rural farming communities.
“The Alliances have been very important spaces to establish connections among organizations and develop our territories,” expressed David Sarantes of ASDENIC in the Mixed Staple Crop-Livestock Alliance. “We’re developing solid tools for knowledge management, through methodologies that facilitate debate and data interpretation, and allows for the involvement not only of our organizations, but also of our communities.”
Other elements which the Alliances seek to promote during the second phase of these projects include strengthening the dissemination of key research results through the appropriate structures, to impact decision-making processes, positioning these sectors in local markets, and promoting experimentation and practices in farm plots to encourage women’s and farmers’ participation in research processes and results dissemination.
“One of our main priorities is to create a structure to ensure the Territorial Alliances’ governance once Humidtropics is no longer facilitating these processes,” said Elisa Rocha, facilitator of the Cocoa Alliance for Humidtropics. “We are aiming to scale these development results using the tools we have created. The objective is to create a long-term territorial development project that includes all of the region’s priority elements, such as water, seeds, creating economic opportunities for rural communities, and agroecological intensification.”
Blog and photos by Shadi Azadegan, Communication Specialist, Central America and the Caribbean, International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT).