In March, some 75 people from national and international research institutes and governmental agencies joined the research planning workshop of the Livestock and Irrigation Value chains for Ethiopian Smallholders (LIVES) project.
The workshop was organized to develop an overall research framework for LIVES, to determine priority multi-locational research topics in support of the proposed interventions in LIVES sites and align with activities of regional and national partners as well as with CGIAR research programs, and to identify potential research partners to lead and synthesize the research and partners to implement such multi-locational research in zones and regions where LIVES will be implemented.
The project research framework, presented by Berhanu Gebermedihin- the LIVES research coordinator, comprises three distinct and complementary research components:
2 Action research will be conducted to generate qualitative and quantitative information on the development process and performance of a single or combination of interventions. This information can then be used to modify interventions, and/or identify context-specific adoption factors that can be used to scale up/out good practices.
3 Impact research will be conducted to generate knowledge as well as qualitative and quantitative information about the impact of interventions on economic, social and environmental conditions of smallholders targeted by the project.
The research components of LIVES are expected to generate knowledge, results and lessons on commodity value chain development. The priority research topics will be in relation with the commodity value chain stages, input supply and service provision support functions, institutional/organizational environments and cross-cutting issues on gender, knowledge management, capacity development, food safety and the environment. The importance of embracing environmental issues while developing a commodity value chain was stressed during the workshop.
Participants split into six working groups to identify priority research topics i.e dairy, poultry, fattening, apiculture, irrigated agriculture and extension, knowledge management and capacity development. Each working group also proposed a coordinating team with lead research partner organizations, including ILRI, IWMI and EIAR.
Gender is another focus area receiving lots of attention and interest. In practical terms, however, gender remains difficult to integrate in the research and development work of many programs and projects. National and regional government representatives showed tremendous support to work on gender and youth in this workshop. The strategy of LIVES to mainstream gender consists in featuring it highly on the project strategy and on the menu of interventions by paying particular attention to how women will be targeted.
Integrating livestock and irrigated agriculture comes naturally in LIVES as the project targets have already a framework of integrated agriculture production. The participants anticipate that these synergistic research and intervention activities on livestock and irrigated agriculture will bring a higher impact than the conventional separate efforts made in each of the areas. Synergies between these 2 project component will be targeted in particular through irrigated permanent and/or rotational annual fodder production and use of horticultural crop residues for livestock feed and use of organic manure for soil fertility and conservation. Knowledge and lessons on economizing water resources while improving access to water for livestock production is an area expected be captured.
Workshop participants also expressed the crucial need for continuous and strong communication, coordination and alignment with other research areas and programs. They are very eager to see LIVES engaged in field activities. The next activity of the commodity lead team is to develop/review research methodologies and proposals on the basis of the identified research priorities and areas for each commodity value chain development while incorporating cross cutting issues.