A presentation made at the workshop shows the stark difference in landscapes in Ethiopia – (L) without interventions and (R) with sustainable intensification. Photo: ICRISAT

Moving away from silos, working towards ‘synthesis’ of learnings

A presentation made at the workshop shows the stark difference in landscapes in Ethiopia – (L) without interventions and (R) with sustainable intensification. Photo: ICRISAT

A presentation made at the workshop shows the stark difference in landscapes in Ethiopia – (L) without interventions and (R) with sustainable intensification. Photo: ICRISAT

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.

Key highlights

  • In 2017, the Ethiopian Prime Minister approved a policy to make all water technologies tax exempt;
  • Helped the Ethiopian Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development develop a revised Ethiopian Soil Strategy and support a new irrigation map;
  • Gender research in 2015-2017 was featured twice on the United States Agency for International Development (USAID ) Agrilinks seminar;
  • Government of India to design new solar photovoltaic irrigation investment of US$7 billion;
  • A special issue on “The productivity and profitability on small scale irrigation communal irrigation systems in Southern-Eastern Africa” was published by the International Journal of Water Resources Development.

Next steps

  • Promotion of Watersheds/Gestion de Terroir approaches for integrated natural resource management in the Sahel;
  • Development of policies for watersheds that consider gender and inclusion;
  • Influence investment and focus in small-medium irrigation rehabilitation and management.

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).

Brainstorming sessions

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.

Session on writing
On the final day, a session titled – Write to Life: Science in the world of ‘popular’ writing – was conducted to encourage scientists to think out of the box, hone skills to disseminate their work and to support them to present their work in an attractive and easy to digest format. The creation of an ‘idea bank’ was proposed to extend the benefits of the workshop. The half-day session was led by the Strategic Marketing and Communication team of ICRISAT. Ms Mia Signs of the CRP Water Land and Ecosystems and Ms Jayashree Balasubramanian, ICRISAT, designed and conducted this ‘write-shop’.

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.

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