Land and Soil Experimental Research 2013

The Land and Soil Experimental Research (LASER) 2013, was conducted as a joint collaboration with The World Bank (LSMS Team), the Central Statistical Agency of Ethiopia (CSA) and the World Agroforestry Center (ICRAF) in an effort to improve the quality of agricultural data, particularly with respect to land area and soil fertility measurements in Ethiopia.
The aim of the LASER study was to assess the data quality associated with a number of possible measurement methodologies associated with land area, soil quality, and crop production while piloting the use of each method and assessing the feasibility of implementation in national household surveys.

Accurate and timely crop production statistics are critical to adequate government policy responses and the availability of accurate measures are pivotal to establishing credible performance evaluation systems. However, agricultural statistics are often marred by controversy over methods and overall quality, leading to inertia at best, or entirely incorrect policy actions. Major advances in recent years in technologies and practices offer an opportunity to improve on some of the indicators commonly used to measure agricultural performance.
Considerable efforts were made in the 1960s and 1970s, primarily by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), to build a body of knowledge on agricultural statistics based on sound research which, over the years, has proven invaluable to researchers and practitioners in the field of agriculture. However, little new knowledge has been generated over the past few decades and much of the available methodological outputs are now obsolete in view of the changing structure of the sector, driven by global and local trends in both the agronomics of farming and the environment.
Measuring land area and soil quality was essential in properly estimating the factors that both promoted and hindered agricultural productivity. It is also critical to assess the accuracy of the key output variable, crop production, in order to validate the methodologies used to collect harvest data as well as analyze the impact of various input measurements on yield estimates. By measuring these components using a variety of methods it was possible to identify the implications of using each and move forward with the superior methods in future household surveys.

LASER was implemented across three administrative zones of the Oromia region, namely: East Wellega, West Arsi, and Borena. In total, 1018 households were interviewed, with nearly 1800 agricultural fields selected for objective land area and soil fertility measurement.

Land Husbandry, Water Harvesting and Hillside Irrigation Project Impact Evaluation 2014

Agriculture is a major engine of the Rwandan economy and remains a priority sector in the Government of Rwanda’s goals of reducing poverty and achieving food security through commercialized agriculture. Sustainable improvements to agricultural productivity is the only way to achieve this target, calling for investments in participatory land management, water harvesting and intensified irrigation of the hillsides. The Land Husbandry, Water Harvesting and Hillside Irrigation (LWH) project has been working to meet these goals.

Evaluating the overall impact of LWH is important to allow Ministry of Agriculture and Animal Resources (MINAGRIs) to effectively plan for its future activities. LWH covers a relatively small area of 30,250 ha, eventually affecting approximately 20 watersheds. From the perspective of MINAGRI, LWH can be seen as a pilot program for comprehensive agricultural overhaul. LWH includes major infrastructure investments such as hillside terracing, irrigation dams, and post-harvest storage. The project aims to operationalize MINAGRIs strategy to encourage mono cropping of cash crops, as opposed to the traditional system of inter-cropping for household consumption.

LWH has been rolled out in three phases: implementation in the four Phase 1A sites began in 2010, in the three Phase 1B sites in 2012, and in the Phase 1C sites in late 2013.

There have been five surveys for this project including baselines and four follow-ups. There were two sample groups: 1B and 1C. For the 1B sample group, the baseline was conducted in 2012, and follow-up surveys in 2013, 2014, and 2016. For the 1C sample, the baseline was implemented in 2014, and a follow-up in 2016.

The data file documented here is from the third follow-up survey.

The datasets from the baseline, the first, the second, and the fourth follow-up surveys are also published in the Microdata Library with the following study IDs:
1) The baseline, the first and the second follow-up surveys: RWA_2012-2016_LWHIE-BL-F2_v01_M
2) The fourth follow-up survey: RWA_2016_LWHIE-F4_v01_M

Sugar palm (Arenga pinnata (Wurmb) Merr.) for livelihoods and biodiversity conservation in the orangutan habitat of Batang Toru, North Sumatra, Indonesia: mixed prospects for domestication

Domestication of desirable forest resources in agroforestry is expected to contribute to community based forest conservation efforts, but there may be an optimum level of domestication in this respect. Aren or sugar palm (Arenga pinnata (Wurmb) Merr.) is a multipurpose tree that provides livelihoods for local people and food for other biota in the landscape. However, its domestication is still limited in many places, such as in Batang Toru Forest Block, an area of high conservation value, including habitat for the Sumatran orangutan (Pongo abelii). Options for aren management were prioritized as part of a landscape-scale conservation study by comparing domestication levels in the area. Data on economic indicators and ecological knowledge were gathered through interviews with key farmers, focus groups and transect walks. Four representative villages were selected for the study, that is, (i) two villages with no domestication of aren; and (ii) two villages with aren cultivation in rubber-based land-use systems. Costbenefit analyses suggested that in a rich biodiversity area, such as Batang Toru, although aren was one of the sources of local livelihoods, additional investment for domestication beyond cultivation was not an option considered by farmers. Farmers still perceived wildlife as an efficient mode of aren regeneration, supported by
the coexistence of people and other biota in the area. It appears the value of aren for local people’™s livelihoods and conservation can be enhanced by increasing its stocking density. There is also scope for improving market access and share of end-user value received by farmers.

Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey 2014

The Sudan Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey (MICS), was conducted from August to December 2014 at national level covering all eighteen states. The MICS was designed to collect information on a variety of socioeconomic and health indicators required to inform the planning, implementation and monitoring of national policies and programs for the enhancement of the welfare of women and children.

The survey was carried out by the Central Bureau of Statistics (CBS) in collaboration with the ministries of health, welfare, general education, national environment, and national water cooperation as part of the global MICS program. Technical support was provided by the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF). UNICEF, World Health Organization (WHO), United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), World Food Program (WFP) and the Department for International Development (DfID) UK, provided financial support.

MICS surveys measure key indicators that allow countries to generate accurate evidence for use in policies and programs, and to monitor progress towards the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and other internationally agreed upon commitments. The Sudan Multiple Indicator Survey is a nationally representative sample survey. Interviews were successfully completed in 15,801 households drawn from a sample of 18,000 households in all 18 states of Sudan with an overall response rate of 98 percent. 20,327 women in the 15-49 years age group, and 14,751 children under 5 years of age. The specific objectives of the survey is to:

1. Update information for assessing the situation of children and women in Sudan based on MICS5 modules and geographical coverage of the 18 States in Sudan.
2. Measure the trend towards achievement of the MDGs and the goals of a World Fit For Children Plan of Action and other internationally agreed upon indicators related to children and women.
3. Furnish data needed for the indicators as per the global review of the Millennium Development Goals.
4. Contribute to the improvement of data and monitoring systems in Sudan and to strengthen technical expertise, national capacity building in the design, implementation, and analysis of such systems.
5. Update Census indicators and provide solid evidence for decentralization (planning and measure of progress).
6. Provide key evidence for social sector programming and the Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper (PRSP) under development and accountabilities for sector strategic plans and UNDAF 2013-2016.

Results presented in this survey have been reviewed by the national MICS Technical Committee and approved by the national MICS Steering Committee. The results are not expected to change and are considered final.

Weed Ecology and Weed Management Strategies for Dry-Seeded Rice in Asia

Rice is a principal source of food for more than half of the world population, and more than 90% of rice worldwide is grown and consumed in Asia. A change in establishment method from manual transplanting of rice seedlings to dry-seeded rice (DSR) has occurred in some countries as growers respond to increased costs or decreased availability of labor or water. However, weeds are a major constraint to DSR production because of the absence of the size differential between the crop and the weeds and the suppressive effect of standing water on weed growth at crop establishment. Herbicides are used to control weeds in DSR, but because of concerns about the evolution of herbicide resistance and a scarcity of new and effective herbicides, there is a need to integrate other weed management strategies with herbicide use. In addition, because of the variability in the growth habit of weeds, any single method of weed control cannot provide effective and season-long control in DSR. Various weed management approaches need to be integrated to achieve effective, sustainable, and long-term weed control in DSR. These approaches may include tillage systems; the use of crop residue; the use of weed-competitive cultivars with high-yield potential; appropriate water depth and duration; appropriate agronomic practices, such as row spacing and seeding rates; manual or mechanical weeding; and appropriate herbicide timing, rotation, and combination. This article aims to provide a logical perspective of what can be done to improve weed management strategies in DSR.

Developing direct-seeding options for rice farmers in the Indo-Gangetic Plains

The rice-wheat farming systems of the Indo-Gangetic Plains (IGP) are essential to India’s food security. These systems face multiple threats, however, to the future of the natural resource base. These threats include increased costs for irrigation and fuel, seasonal labor shortages, and unsustainable use of groundwater. In addition, climate change means increasingly variable monsoons that are likely to pose further constraints. Direct-seeded rice, as an alternative to transplanted rice, provides a potential entry point to save labor, reduce reliance on irrigation water, and increase productivity of the wheat crop. Technology options for direct seeding and related weed management were developed and validated in India commencing with on-station experiments and small-scale on-farm trials in 2000 and increasing to a total of more than 100 farmers’ field trials by 2005. These farmers’ trials, which compared both wet and dry direct-seeded rice with transplanted rice, were conducted in the states of Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh, and Bihar by four agricultural universities. The trials involved a wide community of farming stakeholders in diverse agroecosystems, and spanned mechanized farms (>2 ha) in Uttarakhand to smallholder farms (>=0.5 ha) in Bihar reliant on manual labor. Direct seeding is ‘knowledge-intensive’ and farmers require access to considerable amounts of information in order to respond to the variability of the monsoon, soil conditions, and weed infestations. Making such information available within the farm communities, and providing them w
ith tools to aid better decision making and the means to evaluate their crop own management, is critical to the successful adoption of such practices. Activities with farmers’ groups have continued since 2005 to validate direct-seeding practices on-farm, and also to explore the constraints to adoption and the information requirements to support effective farmer decision making.

Africa RISING Project

The research was supported through the USAID funded project Africa RISING (Research in Sustainable Intensification for the Next Generation). The project was launched as part of the US government Feed the Future initiative to address global hunger and food security issues in key farming systems in sub-Saharan Africa. This study was focussed on identifying existing sustainable intensive agricultural methods in Sinana woreda, Oromo region. The study also collected local knowledge on agricultural methods so as to assist in the development and implementation of appropriately adapted technologies to intensify production of crops, livelihood and household production without extending the areas subject to cultivation. The research objectives of the study were: A. To characterize agro-ecological knowledge of farmers in the Africa RISING project sites A. To identify and map out community resources A. To assess land use and livelihood strategies at the household level A. To characterise existing tree cover and assess the drivers of tree cover change A. To determine temporal variation in availability of provisioning services (income, fuel, livestock feed, crops, labour.)

Trees for Food Security Project-Local Knowledge-Tree management and impact of management on trees’ phenology in Oromiya region, Ethiopia

The research investigated the impact of management on the phenology of Acacia tortilis, Faidherbia albida, Croton macrostachyus, Dichrostachys cinerea and Ziziphus mucronata. The trees were selected, as they were dominant species, in two sites in a parkland system in Oromiya region, Ethiopia. The main purposes of this research were to elicit local knowledge about the effect of common management practices on phenology, the effect of management on tree – crop interaction and if management practices affects the tree size. Data mainly were collected by semi – structured interview and in combination with participatory research tools. This research found that pollarding, pruning and coppicing were three common management practices in both sites that farmers have a broad knowledge about them and they use from each one of these practices under the special circumstances for example they never do the pollarding when the trees are still so young. The farmers’ local knowledge suggested that the practice of pollarding was found to have a significant impact on the timing of flushing and flowering of all five species at both sites Tree management can change the tree – crop interaction. Except the managed F. albida trees, crops grow better under the other managed trees, as they have no shade and no water dropping on crops. Unmanaged F. albida has no leaf at the time of cropping but when farmers do the pollarding these trees start leaf flushing only 1 week to one month after pollarding and when they have leaves they have more light and water competition with crops so the crop productivity decrease under the managed F. albida.

Africa RISING project: Local agro-ecological knowledge as a basis for sustainable intensification of tree- crop- livestock systems in the Ethiopian highlands: Sinana Woreda, Oromo Region

This study provides results from local knowledge studies conducted in Sinana woreda, Oromo region. The local knowledge was used as a means of understanding fine-scale variation in a non-homogenous smallholder system in the wheat-belt of the Ethiopian highlands. The research was supported through the USAID funded project Africa RISING (Research in Sustainable Intensification for the Next Generation). The project was launched as part of the US government’s Feed the Future initiative to address global hunger and food security issues in key farming systems in sub-Saharan Africa. This study was focussed on identifying existing sustainable intensive agricultural methods in Sinana woreda, Oromo region. The study also collected local knowledge on agricultural methods so as to assist in the development and implementation of appropriately adapted technologies to intensify production of crops, livelihood and household production without extending the areas subject to cultivation.   The research objectives of the study were: · To characterize agro-ecological knowledge of farmers in the Africa RISING project sites · To identify and map out community resources · To assess land use and livelihood strategies at the household level · To characterise existing tree cover and assess the drivers of tree cover change · To determine temporal variation in availability of provisioning services (income, fuel, livestock feed, crops, labour.)

Africa RISING Project: Local knowledge of farmers on constraints and opportunities to sustainable intensification of tree-crop-livestock mixed systems in Lemo Woreda, Southern Nations, Nationalities and Peoples Region, Ethiopia

Conducted under the AfricaRISING project, the overall objective of the study was to characterize local knowledge of farmers about resources which their livelihood depends on in Lemo woreda, Southern Nations, Nationalities and People’s Region (SNNPR). This research is one of the several studies that are geared towards contributing to the achievement of sustainable tree-crop-livestock intensification as a pillar for the Ethiopian Climate Resilient Green Economy Initiative by providing opportunities for integrating early win tree species and management options in fields, farms and landscapes customized to local conditions and circumstances. Therefore, the main goal of the study was to identify opportunities through which trees-crop-livestock mixed system can be sustainably intensified to contribute towards achieving whole System Level Outcomes (SLO’s) namely: reducing rural poverty and promoting income diversification, improving food security, improving nutrition and health and ensuring sustainable management of natural resources. Specific objectives of the study were: 1. To assess land use and livelihood strategies at the household level 2. To identify and map out community resources 3. To determine temporal variation in availability of provisioning resources (livestock feed, crops, income, fuel, etc.) 4. To characterize existing tree cover and assess the drivers of land use/ tree cover change 5. To identify existing challenges and assess opportunities for sustainable intensification