By Jane Gitau
Small scale farmers appear to seek diversified ways of living as method of coping with the changing climate patterns and expensive goods. This observation was made by researchers of the IMPACTLite writeshop January 21-24, in Machakos, east of Nairobi, to consolidate their views and outline their proposed scientific papers.
The team is headed by Mariana Rufino, Livestock Systems Scientist at ILRI and supported by Patti Kristjanson, the Theme Leader for Linking Knowledge with Action at the CGIAR Climate Change, Agriculture and Food security (CCAFS) program. It was observed that farmers are diversifying both their crops and sources of income. Across study sites, diversification seems to be the way farmers want to goto boost farm income.
The study was conducted in East and West Africa and in South Asia. It covers 12 countries and 15 sites in the three regions. It was observed that cropping is seen as a diversification strategy at the low rainfall sites and that there will be continued competition for land.
Said Rufino, “we are looking for the missing bits that help stimulate smallholders to plan their future. The starting point is to analyze current livelihood diversity using multiple dimensions. Some farming practices might be good to increase incomes, but may have a negative impact increasing labour demands on women. We want to capture those tradeoffs, so that we don’t end up pushing technologies that are absolutely unattractive to users”
Understanding farms and what is happening in them will help show how people are managing their soils and water, said Kristjanson. “It will also help us understand what science can do to improve methods of coping at farm level because ultimately it is at farm level where change takes place and if it happens we have better livelihoods”.
“The project called IMPACTlite gave us an opportunity to try a new way of working together between researchers, and our partners on the ground. We have designed the project together, and at this stage we put things on the table to assess progress and decide how to proceed. The different teams, including members from different centres have decided together which dimensions were interesting to be explored. We hope this model will allow us that the needs on the ground are addressed in the best way possible. In this ongoing research other CGIAR centres have also been engaged such as the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT), the International Institute for tropical Agriculture (IITA), and in the near future, the International Centre for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT) and Bioversity International.
“Working this way helps us to build trust”, says Rufino. “There are three words we must learn to use if we are to be successful in our research. The three words are TRUST, TRUST, and TRUST. Only then shall we be successful and people like to associate with success”.