A special ‘Synthesis’ issue that collates research outputs from participating CGIAR centers was one of the key action points discussed at a workshop on Land and Water Solutions (LWS) – Flagship 2 of the CGIAR Research Program Water, Land and Ecosystems. Scientists presented their work and brainstormed on topics related to gender equity, sustainable irrigation and watersheds. As a follow-up, a ‘Science Synthesis Workshop’ was planned.
Progress report of the LWS flagship
In the introductory session, the flagship leaders Dr Anthony Whitbread, Research Program Director, Innovation Systems for the Drylands, ICRISAT, and Dr Jennie Barron, Professor at the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Uppsala, Sweden, presented the key achievements for 2017-18 and the next steps (See Box 1).
The brainstorming sessions centered on sustainable intensification given the CGIAR focus on sustainable landscapes and included issues such as soil fertility, rainwater management, smallholder climate resilience and water productivity. Developing a synthesis paper for gender; guidance/tools for out-scaling and upscaling technologies, and benchmarking of medium- and large-scale irrigation were discussed.
One of the key issues discussed was on influencing the donor community in West and Central Africa, where scaling landscape solutions has limited government support. Solutions suggested included developing an investment case for watershed restoration and developing indicators for impact assessment of watersheds given the complex interventions. Citing the example of the Ethiopian watershed, ICRISAT scientist Dr Tilahun Amede said that it was important to “create a social movement” to garner the support of policy makers.
On the issue of meeting the growing demand for solar irrigation, International Water Management Institute scientist Dr Alok Sikka stressed on the power of incentives and promoting solar irrigation service providers. In his presentation “Smart use of solar powered irrigation” he highlighted an innovative concept in India that linked farmers’ solar irrigation pumps to the electricity grid with the choice to sell surplus power.
Presentations by participants
Brisk question and answer sessions after each presentation got participants reaching for their thinking hats. The presentations were on the use of solar-powered irrigation; new innovations to test soil moisture; modeling tools to improve land and water productivity; watershed work and impacts; small-scale irrigation technologies; and gender issues. Dr Sreenath Dixit, Principal Scientist and Theme Leader, ICRISAT Development Center, spoke of ICRISAT’s work in the Bundelkhand region that contributes to the Indian Government’s Goal of doubling farmers’ income by 2022.
Scientists who made presentations included Dr Dawit Mekonne (International Food Policy Research Institute); Ms Bezaiet Dessalegn (International Center for Agriculture Research in the Dry Areas); Dr Petra Schmitter and Dr Alok Sikka (International Water Management Institute); and from ICRISAT Dr Martin Moyo (Zimbabwe), Dr R Padmaja (India) Dr Tilahun Amede (Ethiopia), Dr Birhanu Zemadim (Mali) and Dr KH Anantha (India).
The LWS Science Workshop was held from 7-9 October at ICRISAT, India.