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Project Breadbasket workshop


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Description of workshop in Brazil 10th -16th July 2011.

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Project Breadbasket workshop

  1. 1. PROJECTS, WORKSHOP AND INNOVATION NETWORK<br />BACKGROUND: In recent years, policymakers, multilateral organizations, donors and researchers have reassessed the importance of agriculture in development processes. While consensus is lacking on the best instruments to foster agricultural growth, poverty alleviation, and the sustainable use of natural resources, there is agreement that no single policy recipe will work in all locations and for all types of smallholders. Therefore, it is necessary to strengthen the capabilities of different stakeholders in agricultural development so that they can successfully design and implement their own menu of interventions. AGRA has selected eight projects/Learning Sites, based on their demonstrated need, capacity, and commitment to implement Integrated Soil Fertility Management (ISFM) practices, improve crop productivity, and to improve income of over 400,000 smallholders in 6 countries: Ghana, Mali, Malawi, Mozambique, Tanzania, and Zambia. Project Breadbasket expects to augment smallholder income by addressing the entire value chain of each project’s products, building conservation agriculture and high value product elements into the ISFM project base.<br />OBJECTIVE: A Brazil-based workshop is planned to provide expert support on technical, commercial, and organizational issues to the eight interdisciplinary project teams composed of local, national, and international participants. Participants will be invited to join the Project Breadbasket Innovation Network and platform to provide ongoing support to the projects and for further research and dissemination of lessons learned. In particular, the workshop will focus on issues associated with adaptation and dissemination of conservation agriculture principles and the production of high value products. Interaction of the project teams with the broader Innovation Network on a virtual learning platform ( will inform the strategies to promote income generation in rural areas and efficient use of natural and other resources to minimize negative environmental impacts; to promote food safety and integrated agricultural management practices; and to support gender-focused rural livelihoods.<br />THE PROJECTS<br />AGRA's Soil Program has funded Integrated Soil Fertility Management (ISFM) projects in 13 countries, targeting some 1.4 million smallholders, since 2007. CA is a recognized sustainability strategy for ISFM and the eight selected projects were identified by AGRA as the most suitable for the adoption of CA. The eight selected projects target some 420,000 smallholders and are funded for three years, with most starting in 2009.<br />The criteria for selection of each project included the following: <br />History of three years of collaboration with AGRA;<br />Strategic local partners are centrally involved, including local farmers’ groups;<br />Farmers have land tenure, access to water and to reasonable transportation infrastructure connecting them to input and output markets; <br />Existing projects have some elements of CA or are amenable to adopting CA. <br />Figure 1 PROJECT SITE MAP<br />The projects have been provided access to improved seeds for corn (and in some cases, for legumes that could serve as cover crops), fertilizer, provisions for capacity building by extensionists and through farmer field schools, lead farmers, and other established modes of technical transfer, and to some form of financing, by AGRA or other institutions. The complete value chain has been addressed in each project, although some program elements have been better defined than others. Local private companies and NGOs have been identified to create and strengthen links to market. <br />Through the workshop, the Innovation Network will facilitate development of CA and high-value projects within each of the eight existing project teams by addressing each of the following identified technical issues: <br />appropriate crop combinations for CA; promising high value products<br />extension materials (emphasizing training of trainers and ultimately, farmers associations) <br />capacity building techniques and mechanisms required for the CA and value added projects, including commercial and organizational (notably, gender-specific) considerations  <br />appropriate CA and value adding equipment, especially water management and renewable energy infrastructures (including arrangements for importation/local manufacture)  <br />links to input (seed, fertilizer, herbicides) and output markets <br />appropriate mechanisms for financing CA and high value inputs <br />solutions to problems unique to each of the projects, e.g., how to maintain ground cover in light of traditional rights of migrating cattle to graze in fields and of post-harvest organic matter and the loss of post-harvest residues to wild fires<br />Figure 2 PROCESS MAP<br />THE WORKSHOP<br />The workshop will take place over six days (July 10-16, 2011) in Parana State, Brazil, a region recognized for its success in adopting CA to the needs of smallholders. Each of the eight African project directors has nominated two project partners to join them. The LGF has worked with each project team in advance to discuss workshop objectives and collect baseline demographic and topographic characteristics of the target regions of the eight projects. The project teams will arrive at the workshop prepared to present the status of their existing projects, as well as their understanding of what will be required to transition the projects to CA or value-added projects and the information required to plan that transition.  They will then have the benefit of a dedicated coach - drawn from the project steering committee or from the participating experts - to refine their understanding of the requirements for successful CA and high value projects to prepare for a group discussion on the final day of the workshop. The coaches will help the project teams integrate the approaches and information learned from the workshop presentations and site visits into their own project planning. The refined CA and high value project presentations will become the basis for a Project Breadbasket proposal to be submitted by LGF and AGRA for financial support. <br />Representatives of the most important stakeholder groups in smallholder agricultural production in Brazil and Africa will form the core of an Innovation Network that will enable effective technology and knowledge transfer. Participants will include:<br />Brazilian farmers with significant expertise in conservation agriculture and production of value-added agricultural products<br />African farmers interested in learning conservation agriculture and value-added production techniques<br />Brazilian professionals working in rural extension and in agricultural research centers supporting farmers <br />African professionals interested in supporting the development of conservation agriculture in their own countries<br />Brazilian and African companies involved in the dissemination of sustainable agricultural practices and related equipment<br />Experts from relevant international and donor organizations<br />Technical experts in, post-harvest production and market access, and water management<br />The Brazilian No-Till Federation (FEBRAPDP), based in Ponta Grossa, Brazil, will serve as the host and coordinator of the workshop. FEBRAPDP is internationally recognized for its success in introducing CA to Brazil and has over 20 years’ experience in providing training and technical assistance in CA principles to farmers, researchers, extensionists, and government representatives. An intensive six-day workshop, beginning in Curitiba, the capitol of the State of Parana, will involve a combination of small group project discussions with coach-facilitators, field visits throughout Parana, nightly dinner talks by invited experts, and culminate with presentations to invited donors in Foz do Iguaçu. <br />The approximately 900 km distance between Curitiba and Foz do Iguaçu will be travelled over 5 days as a group in a well-equipped bus with full electronic capabilities to allow project teams to work together en route. This corridor in Parana presents a diverse array of on-farm CA activities, including smallholders, extensionists, researchers, and input suppliers who can be models for the design of CA and value-added approaches in the eight selected projects. The Brazilian agricultural agency, EMBRAPA, the State of Parana agricultural research institute, IAPAR, and the Parana agricultural extension agency, EMATER, will all participate in the tour, both explaining their roles in the adoption of CA in Parana, discussing CA principles, and participating in coaching. <br />A matrix of the eight projects has been created, populated with relevant data on soil conditions, crops of interest, demographics, market access, target farmers, and anticipated challenges. A Steering Committee has been identified to work with LGF and AGRA to identify key issues, topics, and coaches to enable optimal interaction and field work during the Brazil workshop. The Steering Committee is composed of donors and international experts in the field of agriculture and food security. <br />THE INNOVATION NETWORK<br />During the course of the workshop each project team will work with its coach to refine its CA approaches and high value strategy, integrating the insights gained from exchanges with Brazilian small smallholders and other expert practitioners on site visits and presentations. The IN will be composed of individuals and institutions with the specific agronomic, technical, commercial, financial, or organization (including gender integration) skills to address identified project needs. The IN will provide ongoing technical assistance and communication to facilitate the execution of each project. The Project Breadbasket website will provide a platform for project development, interaction, and documentation, monitoring, and shared learning. Interested donors will be invited to hear final project presentations and to discuss the program of projects. The IN will play a critical role in ongoing technical support and monitoring for each project to allow mid-course corrections and guidance regarding stated objectives. It is recognized that local conditions may prevent the full adoption of CA principles in each project. However, it is expected that increased productivity with ISFM, identified high value crops and value-adding post-harvest activities will produce significant incremental income for smallholders participating in the projects. <br />