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by Gretchen Robleto




El Presidente del FIDA explica la
importancia de un almacenamiento y elaboración
 adecuados para aumentar el valor de mercado
 de la producción en Nicaragua.
Kanayo F. Nwanze, Presidente del Fondo Internacional de Desarrollo Agrícola (FIDA), viajó  a la República de Nicaragua,  entre el 13 y 16 de julio para visitar emprendimientos rurales basados en cultivo y comercialización de hortalizas, cooperativas de granja porcina, café y aceite de coco, este último en Laguna de Perlas, Región Autónoma del Atlántico Sur de Nicaragua (RAAS). 

En Nicaragua, Nwanze  constató los progresos realizados en la esfera del desarrollo rural y reducción de la pobreza. Durante su visita  a la zona norte y la Costa Caribe, el Presidente del FIDA se reunió con emprendedores rurales, la mayoría mujeres, a quienes el FIDA ha apoyado mediante proyectos de desarrollo productivo, como estrategia para luchar contra la pobreza. En la visita también participó Josefina Stubbs, Directora del FIDA para  América Latina y el Caribe.

El Presidente del FIDA fue acompañado por el Vicecanciller de Nicaragua, Valdrack Jaentschke; la Ministra de Economía Familiar, Comunitaria, Cooperativa y Asociativa, María Antonieta Machado y el  Ministro Agropecuario, Edward Centeno.

 “Lo he visto en distintas comunidades rurales de todo el mundo, tanto de  América Latina como de África y Asia:  si queremos  comunidades que prosperen, debemos invertir en las mujeres rurales, porque una vez que la mujer rural está empoderada económica y financieramente, hay una inversión en la comunidad y la comunidad se transforma. Las mujeres rurales son mejores administradoras de recursos, tanto financieros  como ambientales;  ellas reinvierten en sus familias, en la educación de sus hijos y la nutrición. Sus hijos pueden ir  a la escuela y su desempeño mejora y la comunidad se desarrolla”, destacó el Presidente del FIDA durante una reunión con mujeres miembros de la cooperativa “Amor y Esperanza”, compuesta  por 116 mujeres de Terrabona y Ciudad Darío y la Cooperativa Leila López, formada por 158 mujeres de Sébaco y San Isidro (norte de Nicaragua).

Consuelo Velásquez, Presidenta de la cooperativa “Amor y Esperanza”, dijo a Nwanze: “Antes éramos productoras, ahora decimos que somos empresarias”. Durante un recorrido por la granja porcina de la cooperativa, Velásquez explicó a los medios de comunicación que “el principio de la cooperativa es ser solidarias  entre las mujeres, nadie quiere hacerse rico, pero sí salir de la pobreza y ayudar al crecimiento del país”.

Velásquez es madre de 3 hijos. “Mi hija no podía estudiar porque no había  posibilidades, los ingresos (los  que le generan la granja porcina) me ayudan a que mi hija pueda seguir sus estudios, me beneficia porque estos ingresos ayudan a ser libres,  son  parte del enfoque de género porque me ayudan a liberarme, no es sólo estar en la casa. Muchas mujeres dicen que no trabajan pero en realidad hacen un montón de trabajo en la casa”, explicó la Presidenta de la cooperativa Amor y Esperanza. 

Por su parte, el Presidente del FIDA manifestó: “Estoy muy complacido de ver que el FIDA participa en este proyecto de desarrollo rural, porque creemos que el desarrollo rural es central para el desarrollo  y la seguridad nacionales. Queremos que los jóvenes vuelvan al espacio rural y no solamente que emigren a Managua, sino que puedan contribuir al desarrollo de su espacio rural. Pero para que esto suceda el Gobierno debe invertir en infraestructuras, caminos, electricidad, escuelas, servicios de salud, servicios sociales y  agua (de modo que ustedes encuentren las condiciones adecuadas para invertir en sus empresas).  Eso es lo que la población rural quiere”.


Durante su viaje por el norte de Nicaragua, el Presidente del FIDA visitó una planta procesadora de hortalizas en Sébaco, Matagalpa, donde miembros de la cooperativa COOPRAHORT compartieron sus experiencias. Años atrás sufrían pérdidas económicas debido a  la  falta de infraestructura adecuada por lo que, al tener urgencia de vender su producción,  el intermediario les compraba su producción a precio muy bajo y se quedaba con la mayor parte de la ganancia de la venta.  Ahora, en cambio, mediante el equipamiento con el que cuentan los productores, la producción de cebolla tiene 4 meses más de vida útil, y por lo tanto no hay urgencia por vender. Sus ganancias se han incrementado en más del 100%.  La cooperativa integra a productores de Terrabona, Ciudad Darío y Sébaco, 251 mujeres y 90 hombres.

“Nada da más satisfacción, señor alcalde,  que poder observar experiencias exitosas que están siendo apoyadas por el FIDA”, manifestó el Presidente del FIDA al alcalde de Matagalpa, Sadrach Zeledón.

La misión del FIDA y la delegación gubernamental también visitaron la Cooperativa Solidaridad R.L, en Matagalpa, donde se acopia el café de los socios, quienes cultivan el grano a 1,300 de metros de altura sobre el nivel del mar.  Dicha cooperativa produce café gourmet para exportación.

by Sophie Ritchie

In the lead-up to the upcoming Third International Conference on Small Island Developing States (SIDS), a Google+ Hangout entitled “Samoa 2014: Empowering Youth for Sustainable Islands” took place on Thursday 24th July, and allowed young people from SIDS across the globe to discuss the challenges and opportunities facing these Island-States with the Conference Secretary-General, Wu Hongbo.

Youth representatives from the Caribbean, the Pacific, and the Africa, Indian Ocean, Mediterreanean, and South China Sea (AIMS) shared their views on what present and future actions the youth are partaking in, and planning for, to improve the social, environmental and economic outcomes for their societies; and spoke briefly of the challenges such communities face.The specific challenges that SIDS face; and the unique answers to Sustainable Development problems they offer

The meeting opened with a statement from Mr. Wu Hongbo, who spoke to several points of pertinence for the future of Sustainable Development in SIDS. Firstly, Mr. Hongbo outlined the particularly vulnerable position in which SIDS exist, and the necessary urgency the international community must utilize in mobilizing behind their needs. Indeed, Mr. Hongbo outlined that, despite the fact that SIDs were now facing a suite of challenges and dangers relating to natural disaster and climate change, he highlighted that if Sustainable Development was not taken seriously, many other Member States would also inevitably face this eventuality. The social, economic and environmental pillars of sustainable development are mutually reinforcing and inextricably intertwined; and nowhere is this more apparent than in the SIDS. Mr. Hongbo continued in emphasizing the role and significance of the upcoming conference in Apia, Samoa, in identifying priorities, challenges, and opportunities present in SIDS within the post-2015 development agenda. Mr. Hongbo’s address affirmed that, at present, SIDS face a significant amount of challenges that threaten to undermine their ability to properly enact sustainable development within their own domestic contexts.

From an economic perspective, the majority of SIDS suffer from small, and isolated economic capacities, vulnerability to external (demand and supply-side) shocks, and a narrow resource base. Further, the continuing global and economic financial crisis, negative impacts of climate change, global food and energy crises, and uneven absorption into global trade and development processes, coupled with low rates of economic resilience, have posed a multitude of dire consequences for SIDS economies. In addition to these economic challenges, the SIDS also face a disproportionate amount of social problems; particularly insofar as the weakening of social cohesion is concerned. This breakdown in social fabric is being reinforced by external shocks and decreasing amounts of state-provided social protection mechanisms; and is leading to increasing levels of crime and violence, Non-Communicable Diseases (NDCs), and widening income gulfs between the rich and the poor within SIDS.  However, notwithstanding the significant amount of social, environmental and economic challenges facing SIDS, Mr. Hongbo also noted that SIDS enjoy unique opportunities, and offer unique answers to shared global problems in the future of Sustainable Development; and may path the way in the necessary pursuit of innovative thinking, best practice, and paradigm change in the post-2015 agenda.

Youth priorities for SIDS within the post-2015 agenda

Following this, presentations from different youth representatives within SIDS regions allowed SIDS focal-points from differing regional perspectives to voice their thoughts on priorities for their respective regional contexts. In opening, youth activist Ms. Karuna Raya urged youth participants in the conference to inform themselves as to the political processes underpinning negotiations, including: the outcome document of the SIDS Preparatory Committee, the Barbados Declaration and Programme of Action, the steering and drafting committees of SIDS negotiations, along with the lobbying interests and political stances of certain Member States to the United Nations General Assembly. The Pacific representative articulated several cross-cutting issues of importance for the region, namely: the critical importance of capacity-building within SIDS, access to all levels of education, job creation for the youth (in both the formal and informal sectors), addressing climate change concerns, biodiversity preservation, social inclusion and mobilization at a grassroots level, along with increased provision of sexual reproductive health information and services. The representative from the Caribbean region echoed aforementioned sentiments, but also added that entrepreneurship, good governance, and social protection (due to climbing crime levels) should additionally be prioritized. The AIMS perspective reinforced previously mentioned priorities, and further added that private sector and civil society engagement, access to food, water and energy security, access to quality education, and IT connectivity should be issues that garner significant amounts of focus and political buy-in.  

After having taken the floor and presented the audience with their own thoughts on priorities for their respective regions, the panel of youth representatives in turn asked Mr. Hongbo his thoughts on the political priorities of the SIDS youth within the post-2015 Sustainable Development agenda. Many of Mr. Hongbo’s statements seemed to echo those of the youth delegates; with the conference Secretary-General emphasizing quality education, issues relating to health, strengthening active citizenship, increasing respect for cultural diversity, entrepreneurship, and innovation as key priorities within the youth constituency. Further, Mr. Hongbo urged the youth to send delegations to the Pre-Conference Youth Forum in the lead up to Samoa 2014, to make suggestions regarding the conference through the UN DESA website, and to register youth partnership projects with the Conference Secretariat.

Deliberations regarding the way forward, and action plans for youth engagement in Apia 2014

In closing statements, youth representatives articulated a support for the youth involvement in the SIDS conference, but also emphasized that the youth should be further prioritized; being the principal “guardians” of the future of Sustainable Development, and having such a large stake in (but minimal agency in deciding) the outcomes of current Sustainable Development negotiations. On the whole, the interactive forum between the youth constituency, and the UN SIDS Conference Secretariat for the upcoming global conference served as an effective platform for communication, best-practice sharing, and forward-thinking in preparations for future negotiations. Indeed, growing consensus seems to be shared across the UN system that partnerships, inclusive decision-making, and multi-stakeholder engagement will be needed in the successful formulation and implementation of a truly transformative Sustainable Development agenda for the next fifteen years. Engaging the youth perspective, and empowering their voice within these political processes, will be key to the success of such aspirations.

Check out IFAD's engagement in Small Island Developing States

Households at the heart of change

Posted by Christopher Neglia 0 comments

By: Soma Chakrabarti

In the International Year of Family Farming, we have been looking beyond communities and putting households at the heart of change. Last week in Malawi a workshop  showed community outreach workers from government and civil society how to use ‘household methodologies’ to improve the lives of all members of rural households, which includes improving their ability to cope with   climate change.

The household methodologies approach is  an exciting perspective that attempts to tackle the ‘black box’ of intra-household dynamics. With support from the Government of Japan, IFAD has been pioneering this approach with impressive results. At its  heart is an effort to better understand the different roles of women and men, girls and boys in the household, and support a move beyond limiting gender stereotypes to achieve household goals. The use of drawing and images means that literacy is no obstacle to full ownership by all household members.

Workshop participants explored the intersectionality of gender and climate change issues at the household level and got to know practical tools to support their work.   “I would like to link Household Methodologies to climate change resilience issues,” said Frieda Kayuni, Deputy Director of Agricultural Gender Roles and Support Services (AGRESS) in the Ministry of Agriculture.



The first three days focussed on sharing the benefits, experiences and key tools of household methodologies, and climate change ‘teasers’ were shared throughout. Next, a ‘Climate Change and Gender Game’, originally developed by the Red Cross brought gender differences in attitudes toward risks and trade-offs into sharp contrast, and hinted at the implications of gender gaps in building household and community resilience.  After the cries, frustrations and excitement had died down, the individual household winner emerged as male and participants noted that the winning village had a very high proportion of women prompting discussions about why this was so. 

One of the key findings from the game was that ‘women-headed households’ tended to favour community resilience strategies alongside individual household ones.  Participants also agreed that if women had equal access to resources, as well as a greater voice they would not only be less vulnerable to climate-related shocks but could also make useful contributions to improving community resilience. 

A field visit to Chikwawa District gave participants insights into the differentiated experiences of household members living with climate change and their current coping strategies.  This experience was consolidated with a review of possible questions that frontline extension workers could use at each stage of the household approach to help households move from ‘coping strategies’ to building their longer-term ‘adaptive capacities’.  Key resources were also presented, such as an FAO/CCAFS training guide to field research with a gender and climate and CARE’s Capacities and Vulnerabilities Framework, as well as OXFAM’s recent publication on climate change and Malawi  - alongside relevant national policies. One of the participants’ main ‘take-home’ messages was the link between climate change and gender at the household level.

What people are saying…

"We would like to integrate Household Methodologies with a climate and gender lens in our Community Development and Social Work Programme  curricula at Magomero College. The College Trains about 150 community development workers every year, recruited from Government (80%) and NGOs (20%). Graduates work at the community level and are the Government contact persons for community initiatives to improve livelihoods through a range of approaches." Ronald Phiri, Acting Director of Community Development.


“We can’t think of nutrition and food security without thinking about climate change.”  Prince Shaibu, Agricultural Gender Roles Extension Support Services Officer, Nsanje District.

IFAD expects to launch a new project in Malawi, building on the Irrigation, Rural Livelihoods and Development Project (IRLADP) and incorporating a climate focus with the support of ASAP (Adaptation for Smallholder Agriculture Programme).

Women’s dietary adequacy

Posted by Roxanna Samii Friday, July 25, 2014 0 comments

by Marian Amaka Odenigbo 

On 15 and 16 July 2014, FAO/USAID/FANTA organized a meeting on the global dietary diversity indicator for assessing the micronutrient adequacy of women’s diets in Washington DC, USA. IFAD was among the development agencies present at this meeting. Participants were challenged to reach a consensus on a global indicator for assessing women's dietary adequacy based on the Women’s Dietary Diversity Project (WDDP-II) draft report. The diets of resource-poor population are very monotonous, dominated by starchy staples which fail to meet micronutrients needs. Women of reproductive age are among the nutritionally vulnerable groups and their poor micronutrient intake  harm not only themselves, but also their children.

WDDP is designed to respond to the need for a simple global indicator of women’s diet quality with specific focus on micronutrient adequacy. WDDP uses existing datasets from women’s dietary intake in resource-poor settings. It analyses the relationship between dietary diversity and micronutrient adequacy and serves as a proxy for the micronutrient adequacy of women’s diets.

The first phase of WDDP-I resulted in  a candidate indicator of 9-food group which was adopted in several FAO-supported programmes. However, this 9-food group indicator was not adopted for use on a more global basis due to the preference to use a  dichotomous indicator. Dichotomous indicator relies on cut-offs for the choice of positive and negative options.  Based on this, FAO initiated the follow-on project (WDDP II) to address the need for a dichotomous women’s dietary diversity indicator. On completion of WDDPII, two candidate indicators were selected: (i) 9-food group (FGI-9R); and (ii) 10-food group (FGI-10R).
During the course of the two-day meeting,  participants engaged in extensive discussions on the uses, merits and limitations of each candidate indicator. As a result, the participants reach an agreement to adopt  dichotomous indicator with a cut off of ≥5 food groups. Finally, a consensus was reached with a unanimous vote for FGI-10R. In regards to operationalization and communication of the selected FGI-10R indicator, FAO will be issuing recommendations and guidelines.

IFAD is one of the potential future users of this indicator for tracking and assessing progress from agriculture interventions to dietary diversity. The FAO recommendations and guidelines on this indicator will support the operationalization of IFAD’s revised results and impact management system (RIMS) that is currently under development which includes measurement of dietary diversity. Assessing the progress in women's dietary adequacy is relevant in IFAD-supported operations for food and nutrition security because it  will enhance IFAD’s commitment to women's empowerment and particularly the nutrition contribution to smallholder female farmers in the resource-poor settings.

Read more: Interested in finding out more on this topic, please consult Dietary Diversity as a Measure of the Micronutrient Adequacy of Women’s Diets in Resource-Poor Areas


Hakizamungu shows off one of the completed water tanks. 
The Kirehe Community-based Watershed Management Project (KWAMP) supports community innovations and sharing of information through community competitions, called ‘Inteko y’Imihigo'. Different village committees come up with Natural Resources Management Plans and the cooperatives present business proposals that address their most pressing need for funding. The case study on these community competitions by IFADAfrica shows that they are a very good example of south-south and grass root knowledge exchange. In Kirehe District, there are amazing results of the practice.
Cyanika village won the Inteko y’Imihigo in 2013 with their proposal for improvised water storage tanks or ‘water baskets’, called agaseke in Kinyarwanda. The tanks are made by digging a ditch in the ground, laying it with a water retention plastic sheet, and then constructing a small ‘house-like’ structure over it above the ground using locally made bricks, mud and wattle. The structure is covered with iron sheets, through which a gutter pipe linked to the main house will feed water into the tank during the rainy season, where it is kept for use during the dry season.

A completed water tank, waiting to be filled when it rains.
The challenge facing Cyanika village is that for people living on the hillsides and hill tops, far from the small streams, rivers and marshlands in the valleys, the soils turn hard and crusty during the dry season. And during raining seasons, the heavy down pours destroy dwellings. This makes it difficult for families to have vegetables and fruits, causing most of the children to suffer from malnutrition and other related ailments. One of the village members, Hakizamungu  Etienne, had visited the village of Gatore and found that farmers used to harvest water during the rainy season and use it to maintain their kitchen gardens during the dry season.

Hakizamungu brought the idea to Cyanika and they put it in their ‘Inteko  y’Imihigo’. They proposed to make 30 tanks to cater for the 90 households in the village at the time, with at least 3 households sharing a tank. By May 2014, they had constructed 15 tanks.

We hope to finish the rest of the tanks before the rains come. As you can see, we already started doing the kitchen gardens to improve our diet. We need water to keep the vegetables growing and fresh," says Hakizamungu
During the dry season, the water will be fetched out and used to irrigate the kitchen gardens around the homestead, as well as for other domestic purposes. This is yet another ‘water for agriculture’ innovation in Kirehe, under KWAMP.  
Our future plan is that the households hosting the water tank will work with their neighbours and support them to put up other tanks. In the end, we hope that each household will have its own water tank, says Hakizamungu Edward, the leader of the Inteko y'imihigo in Cyanika

The main focus is to ensure that rural smallscale farmers have continuous access to proper nutrition as they are able to boost their diet with fruits and vegetables, as well as milk from the ‘one cow per household’ (Girinka) programme in Rwanda.

One of the cows from the Girinka project at a household in Cyanika.

Leveraging agriculture for nutrition

Posted by Roxanna Samii Sunday, July 20, 2014 1 comments

by Marian Amaka Odenigbo and Karima Cherif

Photo by Karima Cherif

On 11 June  to 5 July 2014  we participated in the supervision and implementation support mission for IFAD-funded projects and programmes in Malawi and Zambia.

Over the last years, IFAD is focusing more on nutrition sensitive interventions and as a nutrition specialist, my role is to make sure IFAD-funded programmes are nutrition-sensitive.

In reviewing IFAD-funded programmes and projects, we are retrofitting ongoing investment activities to make sure they are nutrition sensitive, while making sure that  newly designed and upcoming interventions are nutrition sensitive.

To this end, we’ve made sure that the project staff and supervision team are sensitized on nutrition-sensitive agriculture.

In the case of Rural Livelihoods and Economic Enhancement Programme (RLEEP) one of the on-going projects in Malawi, we identified activities supporting nutrition-sensitive interventions. The programme is commended for its preventive measure on aflatoxin control in groundnut. Aflatoxins are  toxic produced by fungi on crops like groundnut and maize.

Groundnut is one of the value chain commodities of this programme and the intervention activities included the distribution of an energy and time saving hand sheller to prevent aflatoxin. This technology is helping to reduce workload of women farmers, thus allowing them more time to provide care giving and to contribute to making sure the family benefits from a sound nutritious diet.

To further improve the nutrition of the target group, the supervision team recommendations included strengthening and extending the awareness building campaign of aflatoxin impact on markets, to health and nutrition. This recommendation helps preventing the adverse impact on beneficiaries considering that the chronic exposure and regular intake of aflatoxin contaminated food and livestock feeds bring about chronic malnutrition.

We’re pleased to hear from beneficiaries how the integrated nutrition value chain (INVC)  training supported by USAID in partnership with the farmers Union of Malawi had helped the Nkhunguyembe Cooperative in ,Mchinji district to improve their dietary intake. This training had informed the beneficiaries on diverse food preparation and nutritious recipe formulation.

The mission commended this complementary activity as an opportunity for RLEEP to support value added product development such as plumpy nut to address the critical state of undernutrition in project location.

Multi-sectoral collaboration

In view of adopting the multi-sectoral strategy in addressing the various determinant of malnutrition, IFAD’s country office in Zambia is harmonizing its operations with the government and other development partners to support the Scaling Up Nutrition (SUN) initiative.

In Zambia, UN agencies have identified nutrition as a ‘signature area’ for the UN delivering as one given the government of Republic of Zambia (GRZ) commitment to SUN and its pledge to strengthen efforts to fight the critical state of undernutrition.

IFAD is an active member of the UN Technical Working Group (TWG) on Nutrition established to improve the multi-sectoral governance and multi-stakeholder nutrition actions towards nutrition challenges.

The UN team on the ground - FAO, IFAD, ILO, UNFPA, UNICEF, UNHCR, WFP, WHO, UNAIDS, IOM, UNESCO -  have developed a letter of understanding which serves as a guide on roles and responsibilities of the various agencies vis-a-vis  nutrition interventions.

IFAD commitment as an active player in this joint UN initiative includes:

  • support to nutrition sensitive agriculture with focus on gender equality and women empowerment in addressing under nutrition during the first 1000 most critical days of life. 
  • focusing on diverse food production to ensure sustainable and adequate food access and consumption while addressing nutrition challenges.

  • support to nutritional outcomes of the major global food producers by supporting smallholder farmers through irrigation development and integrated homestead food production (IHFP). The programs on irrigation development and IHFP facilitate diversified dietary intake and generate income for improved livelihood.
  • focus on rural poor people, indigenous and marginalized population to promote and explore the nutritional potentials of local and neglected food varieties.

In Malawi, IFAD has engaged with the UN nutrition team for possible collaboration in its operations at various districts. For example UNICEF has a structure system for training of trainers and sensitization on nutrition. This presents an opportunity to collaborate with UNICEF to strengthen nutrition capacity of extension workers/ development agents at district levels in facilitating nutrition-sensitive agriculture interventions.

Malawi IFAD country office brings IFAD’s comparative advantages for engagement in the United Nations Development Assistance Framework (UNDAF) as a participating UN Organizations supporting the implementation of the Malawi Growth and Development Strategy (MGDS) II.

by  Marian Amaka Odenigbo and  Wiseman Kanyika

Irrigated agriculture for food and nutrition security
The vast majority of smallholder farmers in Malawi are food insecure and dependent on rain-fed agriculture. To respond to this challenge, IFAD in partnership with the World Bank is supporting the government of Malawi to rehabilitate and construct irrigation schemes to address the challenges of low productivity and increase profitability of Malawi’s agriculture sector.

One of the SRI Fields at
Nkhate Irrigation
Scheme-ChikwawaIFAD/IRLADP
Malawi’s agriculture sector relies primarily on maize and relies on mono-cropping practices resulting in  underemployment during the dry season.  Low production and productivity and lack of diversification in farming systems has led to persistent food insecurity, poor dietary intake, poverty and undernutrition.

IFAD funded irrigation systems in Malawi have helped farmers to adopt improved technologies such as irrigation farming, crop diversification and use of improved seeds and fertilizers. This has led to an increase in household income and improved access to different food varieties leading to a diversified diet.

Irrigation, Rural Livelihoods and Agricultural Development Programme (IRLADP)
An independent impact assessment survey assessed that the IFAD-funded Rural Livelihoods and Agricultural Development Project (IRLADP) had positive impact on the lives of beneficiaries and reduced the proportion of poor households by 21%, increased agricultural productivity by 68% and improved household incomes by 50%.

The survey observed that 37% of the income was spent on food thus contributing to the wellbeing of previously food insecure and poor households.

System of Rice Intensification (SRI)  – Growing more with less
The Systems of Rice Intensification (SRI) is an innovative agricultural practice to improve food sufficiency at household level and respond to the growing demand for food and the ever increasing scarcity of natural resources such as land and water.

In Malawi, SRI is being championed by the IFAD-funded Irrigation Rural Livelihoods and Agricultural Development (IRLAD) Project. The IRLAD project trained over 5,000 farmers in irrigation schemes to adopt SRI technology as a way of ensuring optimum utilization of the irrigation schemes and improve yield using less farm inputs.

According to rice farmers who have adopted the SRI technology, there are six principles that the farmers must follow for SRI to be successful. The principles include:

Maggie Chisi (practicing use of conoweeder in India), a
farmer at Limphasa Irrigation Scheme in Nkhatabay is
one of the farmers who are implementing SRI at the
scheme.IFAD/IRLADP
  • transplanting rice seedlings at a much younger age
  • plant single seedling per hill instead of a handful of seedlings at each hill
  • space plants wide apart 
  • plant in a square pattern of (23x23) cm
  • use intermittent water application to create wet and dry soil conditions instead of the conventional continuous flood irrigation
  • use of conno-weeder -  an instrument used for weeding. Conno weeder promotes aeration in the soil as it cuts rice roots which in turn induces the development of new tillers around a particular hill. Farmers who used conoweeders during 2013/2014 rainy season counted 45 to 60 tillers from one seedling instead of 4 to 7 tillers.

“We did not believe that one seedling could produce over 45 to 60 seedlings from a single seedling planted, our friends thought we were going back  at night  to the fields and planting some seedlings”, explained Mr  G.Njala of Likangala Complex irrigation scheme in Zomba and Mr Alhaji Chale of Lifuwu irrigation scheme.

“My friends thought I was crazy when I planted one seedling per hill” says Mrs Chisi, “but when they saw an impressive crop a few days later, they insisted to know the secret behind all this” she explained with pride.
“This season, because of using SRI practices, I expect to harvest  nine bags of 50 kg each on a 0.1 ha plot (4,500 kgs /ha) where previously I used to harvest four bags of 50 kgs each ( 2,500 kgs /ha)”, she said. She further said that with the proceedings from rice sales, she hopes to buy a bicycle so that she can move around more easily and save some money to build a house next year after harvesting and selling her produce.
PRIDE: The way forward
Mr G.Njala of Likangala Complex irrigation
scheme in Zomba and Mr

Alhaji Chale of Lifuwu irrigation schemeIFAD/IRLADP
Considering that increase in income and access to food do not guarantee good nutrition, IRLADP’s  successes will be replicated in the IFAD-funded Programme for Rural Irrigation Development (PRIDE).

The main thrust of PRIDE is to upgrade irrigation schemes to enable smallholder farmers move from low value to high value crops. The implementation of PRIDE aims to improve the livelihood of beneficiaries, get them out of poverty and provide them good nutritional status.

In view of building and scaling-up the IRLADP’s positive impact, PRIDE is committed to address nutrition concerns from design through implementation and the project activities will focus on:

  • ensuring dietary diversity
  • addressing women workload
  • mounting nutrition awareness campaigns 
  • sensitizing on food processing, storage and utilisation
  • collaborating with other development partners for maximizing impact and generating synergies in agriculture for nutrition programs. 

As a nutrition expert, I am confident that a nutrition-sensitive PRIDE will show how sound investment in  agriculture and crop diversification leads to good nutrition.