An inception workshop was held on March 10, 2016 at IFPRI for four studies funded under SIAC activity 3.3 (under-evaluated areas of CGIAR research): (1) alternate wetting and drying, Philippines; (2) agroforestry, Kenya; (3) brachiaria grass, Colombia; and (4) forest co-management, Guinea (more information on the project page and the events page). The methodological challenge underlying all these studies is that the interventions (under assessment) have been ‘out there’ for a while or have been adopted at a large-scale. As is the norm with SPIA inception workshops, this was structured to provide detailed feedback on each of the studies, and also convey to the proponents the kind of information SPIA is looking for (thematically). Without going into the details of each study, below are some of the more interesting issues/suggestions that came up and is relevant to IAs of such research areas.
An oft-discussed issue when it comes to NRM practices (generated from CGIAR research) is what constitutes 'adoption'. While this is a result of the fact that practices are often a combination of recommended management techniques that farmers deploy differently – like in the case of conservation agriculture where a farmer may use zero tillage + residue retention in one season, but only practice residue retention in another – one can also start to see the deviation away from ‘blanket recommendations’ in agricultural extension over the decades, leaving more room for interpretation (and innovation) by farmers. Blanket recommendations for fertilizer application do have several issues in that they do not take diversity of farming environments into account, and hence are not always profitable for farmers. But this deviation from blanket recommendations brings up other issues.8Mar 2016