In East Africa, climate change leads to a drastic reduction of the quality and resilience of the land, increased greenhouse gas emissions and food and nutrition insecurity for the growing urban and rural population. Climate-Smart Agriculture (CSA) can mitigate the impacts of climate change focusing on three aspects of agricultural production:
i. sustainable intensification,
ii. increasing resilience against climate change, and
iii. contributing to climate change mitigation through reduced carbon emissions from land use through sequestration of carbon in soils.
Governments in Ethiopia, Kenya and Rwanda included CSA in national policies and, together with the EU, the Netherlands’ Ministry of Foreign Affairs and other donors, made large investments in the land, soil and crop information services (LSC-IS) carried out by their national agricultural research institutes.
Currently, LSC information is often not used effectively in decision-making because it is not available in an organised and accessible form and is not seen as ‘owned’ by national organisations. Therefore, stakeholders at national and local levels, including smallholder farmers, are not well equipped to evaluate their policies, plans and farming practices and improve and transform these in a climate-smart manner. This project starts, therefore, with the safe assumption that soil, land and crop information can help to improve the efficacy of CSA related policies, plans and practices.
The project aims to develop sustainable land, soil, crop information hubs in national agricultural research organizations to enhance the effectiveness of national Agricultural Knowledge and Innovation Systems (AKIS) and contribute to rural transformation and Climate-Smart Agriculture (CSA) in East Africa.
The expected beneficiaries of the project will be male and female small-scale farmers (including young as well as experienced farmers), and other users and producers of knowledge and information. Specifically, the LSC-information hubs will target three levels of users:
- policy bodies, knowledge organizations and development partners;
- organizations working with farmers including local landscape and watershed planning and management bodies, local public rural extension, NGOs, private sector, farmer organizations; and
- farmers themselves.
To achieve above outputs our LSC-IS Team will be ‘assessing’, ‘developing and testing’, ‘embedding and scaling’ and ‘monitoring and learning’ in the following work packages (WP):
WP 1 - Facilitation
WP1 focuses on creating a conducive learning environment for the implementing teams, on facilitating multi-stakeholder learning and including effective communication to keep stakeholders and general public informed and engaged about performance and progress of the Action. WP 1 also safeguards the application of a participatory and an inclusive approach.
WP 2 - Needs assessment
WP2 prepares agricultural sector assessments and stakeholder overviews at national and local levels and information needs assessments of users at national and local levels, as well as an assessment of the capacity of the hub host. These will provide the requirements for the design of the hubs.
WP 3 - LSC hub development
WP3 will design, build and test innovative information technology (IT) system, databases of land, soil, crop and other data, and user interfaces of the hubs in Ethiopia, Kenya and Rwanda, and train staff in the operation and maintenance of the hub.
WP 4 - LSC hub use at national level
WP4 will introduce and train national-level users in the use of the hubs as well as engage them in testing and collect feedback. WP4 will demonstrate the use of LSC information in CSA related agricultural policy, planning and agricultural extension systems. This team will also implement and adapt LSC hub sustainability and financial strategies.
WP 5 - LSC hub use at local level
WP 5 will introduce and train farmers and other local stakeholders in using the hubs and engage them in testing and collecting feedback, demonstrate the use of LSC information for climate-smart farm and watershed management, and include local-level use of LSC hub services in hub sustainability plans.
Starting with the safe assumption that soil, land and crop information can help to improve the efficacy of CSA measures and projects, in East Africa, the key outcomes of the LSC-IS Hubs will include:
- Participatory monitoring, evaluation, adaptation and learning approach to measure outcomes from DeSIRA - LSC-IS
- A platform for decision-makers to access the latest earth observation data, tools and information
- A repository of accessible and interpretable LSC datasets for the regions of interest
- A network of practice through collaborative and collegial engagement with various stakeholders
- Integrating LSC information into services for land use planning at farm and watershed levels
- Enhanced capacity of various LSC-hubs users with blended learning processes; and
- Local ownership and sustained provision of the new LSC hub information services by national partners according to international standards
Implementing organisations are Wageningen Research (WR) with Wageningen Centre for Development Innovation (WCDI) and Wageningen Environmental Research (WEnR), ISRIC - World Soil Information and the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) for the Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security program (CCAFS) of CGIAR. National partners are Ethiopian Institute of Agricultural Research (EIAR), Kenya Agriculture and Livestock Research Organisation (KALRO) and Rwanda Agriculture Board (RAB).
This project is jointly funded by the European Union’s Development Smart Innovation through Research in Agriculture (DeSIRA) program, The Netherlands’ Ministry of Foreign Affairs and a contribution from ISRIC.