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Posted by Francesca Aloisio Wednesday, September 28, 2016 0 comments

Written by Mwatima Juma, Tanzania Country Programme Officer – IFAD, for GEMR

A group of 20 farmers gather around a facilitator who is demonstrating how to prepare nutritious fodder for dairy cows on Zanzibar island, off the coast of Tanzania. They are attending a Farmer Field School – a place where farmers come together to learn how to farm. They spend an entire farming season together, and the field is their classroom.

Before joining this Farmer Field School, dairy farmer Abdi Kassim Iddi and his family lived on one meal a day because his cows produced so little milk. After bringing his new knowledge back to his farm, Abdi’s cows produce four times more milk and his income has tripled. Now his children can go to school and Abdi has new-found self-respect.“I feel like I am now part of the community,” he says, “People see me as a human being.


Dairy Farmers learn how to prepare fodder at a Farmer Field School Credit: IFAD/Joanne levitan

What is a Farmer Field School?

A Farmer Field School (FFS) is a form of adult education based on the concept that farmers learn best from field observation and practical experimentation. A group of around 20 farmers who share a common interest, such as cassava production or poultry farming, come together to follow the seasonal cycle of the specific crop or livestock that is studied. One of the main practical training techniques is a demonstration plot that serves as a ‘classroom’ for testing new methods under similar conditions to the farmers’ own plots. In some cases a control plot is also established to compare the new practices with the traditional ones. Some farmers immediately apply the new methods to their own fields. Others wait to be convinced by the results of the demonstration plot.

Farmer Field Schools in Zanzibar


Historically, Zanzibar island was an important trade centre for spices and crops, but the local population benefited very little from this. Today the majority of the island’s 1.3 million inhabitants are still subsistence farmers working on small farms of 2-3 hectares. More than half of them live on less than a dollar a day. The Government of Zanzibar — supported by the UN’s International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) decided that education was the key to improving their lives.

Farmer Field Schools were introduced to Zanzibar as a pilot project in 1996 as a way to empower the rural poor, especially women and youth, to improve their crop and livestock production by learning and practising new technologies and sharing their local know-how. Since then bookkeeping, awareness of HIV and AIDS, nutrition and gender equality have also been included in the curriculum.

By 2016, more than 1,200 Farmer Field School groups had been established in Zanzibar, with more than 28,000 farming families participating. Almost two thirds of them are women.

These schools have been so successful in increasing farmers’ incomes, that the local government now insist that all rural development projects include this approach.

Impact of Farmer Field Schools

The 2016 GEM Report looks at the way that education and agricultural extension programmes can help increase agricultural productivity. It reports on a recent review of 92 evaluations of farmer field schools which found that they increased their crop yields by 13% and their net income by 19%. Pesticide use by those participating reduced by 17%.

IFAD’s experience has seen Farmer Field School participants practicing a crop-livestock integration system where the crop waste products are used to feed animals while manure is used to improve soil fertility.

Not just any school will do, of course. The best results come when facilitators of the schools have strong literacy and numeracy skills, are experienced in farming, follow a locally relevant curriculum and use the local language.

“My income before was very small,” said poultry farmer Zeyana Ali Said. “To be honest, I couldn’t even manage to get eggs for my kids to eat. Now I’m proud of myself. There is enough food in my family and I am paying for my children to attend university.”

Zeyana Ali Said packaging eggs for sale. Credit: IFAD/Joanne Levitan
With specific targeting of women students, participation in the Farmer Field Schools has changed lives, families and entire communities. Although most farmers in Zanzibar are women, until recently none of them would have earned their own incomes due to cultural norms. Women would rarely be the ones paying for their children’s education or making decisions in the home. Now many women who have attended Farmer Field Schools are managing their own money, leading meetings and teaching men how to farm. Many of them feel more confident to express themselves in public and are more involved in decision-making in the family.

In this video, Tatu Faki Yusuf says explains that her rice yield has quadrupled since attending the school and she is now an equal decision-maker in her family. She has also been elected as Secretary of her FFS group.

“Before I felt shy speaking in front of people, but that changed after attending the training,” she said. “Now, even if all of them are men, if I want to say something, I’ll do it without fear.”

Farmer Field Schools in Zanzibar have gathered a momentum far greater than expected. Many farmers who were trained have now spontaneously formed their own schools to further spread the knowledge. More than 450 self-initiated schools have sprung up attended by more than 13,000 farmers. Former FFS students have now become the facilitators.

And so, what began as an idea to teach better farming techniques to farmers has now taken on a life of its own as the knowledge spreads across the island from farmer to farmer, bringing with it economic and social empowerment.

By Clare Bishop-Sambrook, Lead Technical Adviser (Gender and Social Inclusion)
At IFAD’s 118th Executive Board, all three country groups presented a joint statement in support of the midterm review of IFAD’s policy on gender equality and women’s empowerment. This joint statement represented the position of IFAD members from 176 member states.
As noted by Adolfo Brizzi, Director of the Policy and Technical Advisory (PTA) division, this joint support is both significant and greatly appreciated. It represents consensus among different countries - with varying socio-cultural contexts - about the importance of women’s empowerment and gender equality for contributing to the successful outcome of IFAD-supported investments.

Links between targeting and gender
This support for gender mainstreaming complemented an earlier discussion at the Board meeting that emphasized the role of targeting in ensuring outreach to poorer members of rural communities. This focus on the ‘who’ of project participants lies at the heart of what makes IFAD unique, both as a UN agency and as an international financial institution. Contextual analysis – in terms of understanding the livelihoods, needs and priorities of poor rural women and men in different age groups – underpins project design and should be undertaken early in the design process.
  
Progress recorded in midterm review
The mid-term review of the gender policy, which was approved in 2012, provided an opportunity for a period of reflection. While the annual report on gender (which is presented as an annex to the annual report on IFAD’s development effectiveness - see Annex IV in RIDE) provides a snapshot of activities, the midterm review was a more thorough investigation of achievements and outstanding challenges associated with the implementation of the policy.
The review noted that IFAD is generally making very good progress - not only with implementing the gender policy but also with the 15 indicators in the United Nations System-wide Action Plan on Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN-SWAP). Women now account for half of all participants of project activities. IFAD’s gender team is now pushing for more gender transformative impacts by using approaches – such as household methodologies - that address some of the underlying causes of gender inequality. IFAD has been commended by UN Women as a leader among United Nations entities for its progress in meeting the UN-SWAP indicators: by the end of 2015 we had met or exceeded 11 of the 15 indicators.

Way forward in IFAD10
Nevertheless, the midterm review noted that IFAD will need to step up its efforts in order to meet the demands of the new strategic framework, as well maintain current achievements. Priorities include:
  • ensuring that the capacity of dedicated staff on the PTA gender desk and the regional gender coordinators - coupled with the network of gender focal points – matches the demand and requirement for effective policy implementation;
  • continuing with the ongoing initiatives by the Human Resources Department to ensure gender parity in staffing, with particular emphasis at P-5 and above, including the forthcoming emerging leaders’ programme;
  • capacity strengthening on gender and targeting for IFAD staff, gender focal points, implementing partners and qualified consultants;
  • establishing a more systematic approach to tracking project performance and impact from a gender perspective through the revised results and impact management system (RIMS) indicators and the Women’s Empowerment in Agriculture Index (WEAI), which has been adapted and piloted in several IFAD-supported projects.
Next steps
The midterm review also set out the five-point pathway for gender mainstreaming that IFAD will follow during IFAD10. This is now available in a four-page document with the centre pages summarising key actions in relation to the five action areas of the policy. As noted in the EB statement, the next step for the gender desk is to prepare an implementation plan and responsibility matrix to identify the key milestones and actors to ensure timely implementation.

Acknowledgements
The PTA gender desk and the regional gender coordinators appreciate the support of senior management, and in particular the President, for creating the space and providing support for the implementation of the policy. We also recognise the value of the supplementary funds and other forms of financial support received during this period (from Canada, Finland, Japan, Netherlands, Norway and Sweden) which have played a vital role in supporting outreach activities and piloting innovative approaches such as the household methodologies. And lastly, we would like to thank our colleagues – especially the gender focal points, country programme teams and thematic experts in PTA and other parts of the house – all of whom play a key role in mainstreaming gender both in operations and in IFAD as an organization. 




Written by: Beatrice Gerli

Tangible impacts:  labour-saving technologies freed up women’s time
 “And then, we requested to purchase six washing machines. This was fundamental for us and the other members of my group to free up time and engage in economic opportunities. Time is everything to us”, said Oralia Ruano Lima with a smile. Oralia is one of the three beneficiaries of the UnWomen- IFAD programme “Broadening women’s economic opportunities (BEO) for Rural Women Entrepreneurs in Latin America Region Programme” that came to IFAD today to share their experiences. It was the first time she travelled abroad and together with two other young women, shared with IFAD staff how this programme has helped her.

Results of two years initiative with UN Women in Latin America
BEO is an initiative funded by IFAD through regional grant for an amount of USD 2,500,000, and a counterpart granted by UN Women of USD 320 000; implemented by UN Women. Since 2013 the organizations have worked to contribute to the economic empowerment of rural women entrepreneurs in El Salvador, Guatemala, Mexico and Nicaragua. The programme is now coming to a closure and the event organized here in Rome is aimed at drawing key lessons learned and implication for future gender work in the region, including the cooperation between Un women and IFAD.

·         The programme has developed a new comprehensive strategy for empowering women. Efforts to support women’s economic empowerment were complemented by interventions aimed at strengthening women’s leadership and participation in decision making processes. The underlying principle is that women’s engagement in economic activities goes hand in hand with self-esteem and their recognition as key actors of economic development, both in their communities and at national level.
·         Promotion of labour saving technologies. The programme promoted rural women entrepreneurship, without overburdening them, designing interventions to strike a balance between productive and reproductive activities of women – and having a washing machine did help in that.
·         women organizations and the creation of women networks was supported to enable them to overcome informality of their business, access information and markets, and eliminate their dependency on social transfers for them or other members of their families.

Scaling up and learning for IFAD operations

What’s next? These strategies of women’s economic empowerment should reach out the scope of the programme. Sharing the tools and the methodologies that were developed (labour allocation tools, comprehensive business plans, peer-to-peer learning routes) can benefit other IFAD operations in the region. And beyond, IFAD and UNwomen should engage with governments to support better policy design and implementation that can favour women’s economic empowerment. Cooperation with Ciudad Mujer en El Salvador is a good example. This government initiative supports the coordination of all institutions supporting women, as well as the delivery of related services in a coherent way: health, leadership and economic empowerment. 


By Michele Pentorieri

The Italian Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Paolo Gentiloni welcomes IFAD's President Kanayo F. Nwanze for the launched of the Rural Development Report 2016.
15 September 2016 - IFAD officially launched the Rural Development Report 2016 at an event hosted by the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation in Rome, Italy.

The report, Rural Development Report 2016: Fostering inclusive rural transformation, is a rallying call to policymakers and development practitioners to focus on rural transformation as a crucial element to eliminate hunger, poverty and to build a sustainable society for all.

The report is set in the context of a rapidly changing world, with growing demand for food, increased migration to cities and the impact of climate change and environmental degradation.

It provides insight into regional and country-specific challenges and historical legacies and how factors like employment, youth populations, rights to land, access to finance, gender equality and social protection influence successful interventions.

Rural development is also thought to be one of the most effective ways to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals set out in Agenda 2030. The report analyses global, regional and national pathways of rural transformation, starting from evidence collected by experts in over sixty countries.

The Italian Mister of Foreign Affairs Paolo Gentiloni, in opening the event, stressed the importance of Italy's cooperation in development stating: "Italy’s role is not only confined to development cooperation, but has the full potential to place the country at the center stage for the active participation of its entire economic system."
A copy of IFAD's Rural Development Report 2016.

In his opening statement, IFAD President Kanayo F. Nwanze said the report was an extremely important tool for evidence-based decision-making processes in the global fight to eradicate poverty and hunger.

Pointing to lessons from the report, Nwanze said that inclusive rural transformation is essential to sustainable development but will depend on the choices made by governments, the private sector and institutions like IFAD.

“Inclusive rural transformation can lift people out of poverty, revitalise communities and offer opportunities to all, including youth, who are the future of any nation,” Nwanze said.

Nwanze added that the report is "a vital resource to help policy-makers to make the right decision and investments to bring about inclusive rural transformation".

Paul Winters, Director of Research and Impact Assessment, and Officer-in-Charge of the Strategy and Knowledge Department at IFAD, presented key findings from the report.

Winters noted that "75 per cent of extreme poverty is still in rural areas" and, as a consequence, "if we want to address poverty, we have to address poverty in rural areas."
Paul Winters, Director of Research and Impact Assessment, and Officer-in-Charge of the Strategy and Knowledge Department at IFAD, presented key findings from the report.

Presenting his three key messages, he said, "Rural transformation happens as part of a broader process of structural transformation and the role of agriculture changes in that."

He added that "inclusive transformation will not happen automatically, it must be made to happen." And lastly that "fostering inclusive transformation is about making the right strategic choices for the country". 

Paul Winter's contribution was followed by a high-level panel discussion moderated by Zeinab Badawi, an award-winning broadcast journalist.

A number of international researchers, policy experts, government leaders and civil society representatives were on hand including Winnie Byanyima, Executive Director of OXFAM International. Byanyima asserted that: "Smallholder farmers must be at the centre of rural transformation."

She also stressed that we need "to tackle social norms that hold women and communities back", and that we need "better infrastructure, roads communication, technology, inclusive finance that would make poor people able to find decent work in the non-farm sector."

The launch of the report is just the starting point. Several regional events have been organised by IFAD aimed at engaging various stakeholders in regional and country level policy and investment dialogues.

To learn more, browse the report online here and follow the conversation online at #ruraltransformation.

How to address the challenges faced by rural youth aged 15-17 in Mali?

Posted by Steven Jonckheere Tuesday, September 13, 2016 0 comments

By Philippe Remy and Elena Pietschmann, WCA

By supporting vocational training and microenterprise development, the Rural Youth Vocational Training Employment and Entrepreneurship Support Project (FIER) in Mali aims to facilitate rural young people's access to employment opportunities and attractive, well-paying jobs in agriculture and related enterprises. Everyone between the age of 15 and 40 living in the targeted villages is entitled to take part in the project’s activities. Young facilitators from local NGOs work with 4 groups of youth (girls 15-17; boys 15-17; young women 18-40; young men 18-40), showing them different possible professions in their rural area to help them choose their path. At the end of this 6-months process, youth under-18 have the possibility to choose among a range of education options, while young people over-18 can apply to receive the micro-credit and professional training that will help them set up their own (individual or group-based) economic activity.

The repartition of youth in 4 groups allows us to identify the specificities related to working with youth in the 15-17 age range, as well as the challenges of working with girls in particular. It is too early for talking about results or impacts, but the challenges encountered, and some of the approaches adopted, are still worth sharing:

It is proving harder to reach 15-17 years old than it is for the 18-40 age range. This is especially so if the households are required to choose one youth within the household to take part in the project’s activities. In that case, older youth are generally selected by the households. To counter this problem, FIER adopted an inclusive targeting strategy where every youth in the selected villages is entitled to benefit from the project.  
Even when the project targets every youth in the village and there is no need to choose among different young people within a household, parents tend to be reluctant to let under-18 take part in the project’s activities, preferring to keep them at home. To promote under-18 participation, the facilitators conducted door-to-door sensitization with parents.
Youth aged 15-17 tend to have greater difficulties in expressing themselves, especially in the presence of older youth. For this reason, working with separate groups of under- and over-18 proved helpful.
15-17 years old are often already running an economic activity and express interest in applying for the microcredit like the youth in the older group. However, this is not possible as minors cannot access credit. The approach used was to encourage them to open a bank account anyway and start saving in the meantime. Under-18 youth was also allowed to become part of a group-based economic activity that included over-18 youth able to access credit.
Adolescents easily get bored. It proved harder to retain 15-17 years old if the animation sessions were monotonous. The facilitators talked about the need to engage them with dynamic, participatory approaches and to develop games to share information in an interesting way. Approaches such as participatory photography or the staging of performances and sketches seem to work well.
At 15-17, youth are particularly vulnerable to migration. That is the age where both boys and girls often move to urban centers or, in the case of some regions in Mali, to do hazardous work in gold mines. This makes it harder to get them involved in the project activities, as they are often away from the village. The project also has to compete against dreams of easy money they hope to make in the city. The youth’s coming and going from the village also makes it harder to ensure continuity in the 6-months process. To counter these difficulties, it proved useful to carry out an intensive information campaign involving radio stations, local authorities, and the targeted communities so that even youth that were not present in the village could get information on the project. It also seems important to have a relatively flexible schedule of activities where youth can fit in even if they missed the first sessions.  
15-17 years old tend to be particularly impatient. The approach used was to develop a clear time plan and explain them the whole process and exactly how long each step takes.

On top of such challenges, working with 15-17 girls is particularly difficult because:

Girls – especially married girls – face restricted mobility and their families are less inclined to get them involved in a project that might require them to take a training far away from home. The approach adopted was to identify training opportunities close-by, or even mobile units that go to the villages, and to explain to the families from the start of the project that girls will not necessarily have to move.
There is a reluctance in investing in unmarried young girls, since they might move away from the village and certainly will move away from the household. Sensitization with the parents is thus especially important for girls.
The category of ‘youth’ is generally understood as referring to men. Girls become women as soon as they marry, independent of their age. They are thus often put in the over-18 group (even by some of the NGO facilitators), where they face greater difficulties to express themselves given the presence of older women.

In conclusion, some of the main lessons learned so far are:

Involving the families is crucial
To avoid the risk of households selecting older youth to take part in the project, targeting should be either very inclusive (every youth is a potential beneficiary), or very specific (e.g. only 15 to 17)
Dynamic, new activities are helpful to retain youth that might easily get bored
For girls, it is important to take their restricted mobility into account and identify training possibilities nearby

Home gardening in Kiribati brings innovation and change

Posted by Beate Stalsett Friday, September 2, 2016 0 comments

By: Josephine Reiher (Gender and Youth Officer, OIFWP ) and Monica Romano

Ata in her home garden. Credit: A. Aruee  

Life in the rural area of the outer islands of Kiribati can be challenging. A number of families who migrated to Tarawa have now returned to their home islands as a result of an increasing cost of copra. However, making a living from agriculture is difficult as families share small pieces of land and most of the youth have limited employment opportunities, also due to poor education.

The IFAD-supported Outer Island Food and Water Project (OIFWP) came into force in September 2014. Targeting the four outer islands of Abebama, Beru, North Tabiteuea and Nonouti, it promotes improved household food security and nutrition, as well as clean water through rainwater harvesting and community planning and action activities. The project aims to reach the entire population with a specific focus on women and young people.

Based on a consultative process in the  Tanimainiku village, in the island of Abemama, a Community Development Plan was formulated,  and  Community Committee was established to support activities in the village.

Ata Tangatariki, 30, is a young woman, who lives with her family in the Tanimainiku village. She lives with her parents, two married sisters with kids, and a brother who is still in high school. Ata participated in the induction meeting of the project and contributed to the design of the Community Development Plan. She was also selected as a member of the Community Committee.

To be eligible for becoming a Community Committee member a person living in the target villages is required to have a garden in his/her home, which can be used as a model to show interested people in the community how to properly grow and maintain it. The Committee established that project staff would visit the home gardens every two weeks to provide advice and help the farmers. Ata’s family grows three different gardens, which are taken care of by her father, mother and herself.

Before the project was introduced in their village, Ata’s family used to grow only banana, swamp taro and breadfruit because of limited agricultural knowledge, hence their diet was poor, and lacking important nutrients from vegetables. As a result of project-supported home gardening activities, they now grow cabbages, sweet potatos, tomatoes, pawpaw, new breadfruit types, pumpkins and kangkong (water spinach). Their dietary habits consequently changed and they now eat a greater quantity and variety of nutritious food.

Ata also tried to find other ways to support her family economically and found out that growing vegetables and fruit in the home gardens has many advantages: it helps coping with food shortages, often occurring due to undelivered cargo supplies to the Outer Islands and can also help generate additional income.

By selling her fruit and vegetables locally, Ata is able to earn about USD 1.9 for each cabbage and about USD 2.3 per kilo of sweet potatoes. She can also sell the bigger pawpaw and pumpkin for about USD 3.8 each. On average, she estimated she can earn around USD 7.5 per day from her fruits and vegetables – something the family was unable to rely on before.

Her major plan for the future is to do more to showcase her garden products to the communities across the island, and  encourage them to engage in gardening by sharing her skills and experience. She believes that a good way to attract the youngsters in farming is by organizing competitions, with some incentives for those growing the biggest or heaviest fruits and vegetables in the community. This activity has been agreed upon by the community committee and will be commenced during the World Food Day in October this year.

Ata is very proud to be involved in the Project, both as a farmer and a community leader. It has changed her view on farming, improved her family’s food security and nutrition, and  taught her new gardening and leadership skills through the help of the Community Facilitator Officers, the Agricultural Assistants and the Island Facilitators working for the project. She believes that the project has provided a major contribution to raise the profile of agriculture, especially among  young people, and brought about innovation and change in the life of rural communities.  

Participating in the community consultations, becoming a community committee member and engaging in home gardening greatly encouraged her and helped her learn an important lesson: farming can make you change your future.

Life as a young farmer in Fiji

Posted by Beate Stalsett 0 comments

By Tevita Ravumaidama, PHVA-Partners in Community Development Fiji (PCDF) and Monica Romano

Young people living in rural areas have the potential, as the farmers and producers of tomorrow, to help feed the world's growing population. But young people are increasingly abandoning agriculture and rural areas in search of better livelihoods in cities or abroad. In The Pacific island of Fiji, Joji Naikau returned to his rural hometown to invest in his farm and is showing great success.

Joji Naikau, 30, is a young man 30 living in Nadala village, Savaty district, in Ba province of Fiji. He is married with two children, and one of the beneficiaries of the Partnership in High Value Agriculture (PHVA) programme, an IFAD-supported grant targeting 13 villages and 7 settlements located in an impoverished district of Nadarivatu in the interior of Fiji’s main island of Viti Levu.

The USD 500,000 grant implemented during 2012-2015 aimed at increasing the income of the 200 farmers who participated by 20 per cent from the production of high value products, through enhanced market linkages and community empowerment.

Before joining the programme, Joji was not farming to earn his livelihoods. Despite owning 1.5 hectares of land, he had no knowledge and skills on how to use it for income generation. Therefore, he moved to Fiji’s capital of Suva and started to undertake mechanical work for an engineering company.

A few years ago while he was spending Christmas time in his village, he was approached by staff working for the IFAD-supported programme, and encouraged to participate in some training activities to learn how to put his land under production and to invest in farming as a business.
Joji presented his experience at the 1st stakeholder workshop of the IFAD-funded Fiji Agricultural Partnerships Project. Credit: M. Romano

He decided to try this opportunity because he was not happy with his job in the city. With the money earned through his urban job, he was barely able to buy food and rather wanted to make some more long-term investments to improve the life and prospects of his family. 

Therefore, Joji attended various technical and business-oriented trainings offered by the programme, including on farm management (e.g. growing vegetables and fruit such as tomatoes, capsicum, English and Chinese cabbage, watermelon and zucchini); adoption of best husbandry practices; financial literacy and management; entrepreneurship and negotiating skills. 

Joji is very satisfied with his new activity and he was able to achieve amazing results which has benefitted  his whole family. Sales of vegetables and fruits enabled him to earn about USD 6,300-7,200 annually in the first two years as opposed to intermittent earnings from previous work in the city due to an unsecure job, which ranged from about USD 1,400-2,400 annually. Over the first two years of farming work, he was also able to save some USD 3,400-4,800. In contrast, while working in Suva he was unable to save, faced with considerable expenses due to high living costs in the city. 

Through his farming activities, he managed to move from a small and simple house to a new and bigger one. He is also able to meet family commitments like health fees/charges, while contributing to community water projects, school infrastructures, church activities and extended family obligations. His next plan is to save more money to pay for his children’s education.