When delivering dryland farming system innovations, ICARDA includes a vital capacity-building component of training, technology, and support.
Family farmers, scientists, governments, research institutions, and private sector actors, among others, can then take full advantage of our technologies to help overcome critical issues they face, especially under a climate crisis.
Significant 2021 developments in our capacity building work were:
In 2021, ICARDA held a series of interactive webinars in collaboration with the International Center for Advanced Agronomic Studies and other institutions such as the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the Arab Fund for Economic and Social Development (AFESD), World Bank, Friends of Europe, Mo Foundation, Agropolis Foundation, as well as national partners to engage young scientists in the value and function of systems research to support the transformation of dryland agri-food systems. Over 400 participants registered for each webinar.
Additionally, through the continued annual funding support of AFESD, ICARDA was able to offer multiple series of training courses and Ph.D. and MSc opportunities, and individual non-degree training for mid-career professionals targeting Arab nationals. A total of 4,168 trainees attended. Of 3,248 trainees enrolled in group courses, 1,849 were women (60%). Eighty-three students (43 Ph.D. and 40 MSc) were enrolled in degree training, of which 60 were women (72%). A total of 16 scientists were enrolled in non-degree individual training, of which 10 were women (62.5%).
The Monitoring, Evaluation and Learning (MEL) team supported learning around Research Data Management (RDM) and documented the importance of strong support and suitable tools to help develop RDM commitments. Without such knowledge and understanding, policy conflicts, unclear data standards, and multi-platform sharing, can lead instead to unexpected engagement conflicts within databases.
Our Data Management team worked on 34 datasets, completing the curation and publication of 17 of them by the end of 2021. The datasets relate to Egypt, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Syria, Tajikistan, Tunisia, and Uzbekistan. They cover a range of topics, such as crop and livestock improvement, genomic data, capacity development, and the impact of COVID-19 on agricultural activities.
In 2021, ICARDA’s Genetic Resources team organized four field days at Marchouch station in Morocco that attracted over 200 attendees, including breeders, major seed multiplication companies, and lead farmers. These field days gave attendees the opportunity to select the best elite lines, view demonstration trials of new lines of cereals, food legumes, and bread wheat, and to learn about conservation agriculture and the diversification of cropping systems.
A new e-learning course, ‘Date Palm Value Chain Analysis, Management, and Market Linkages in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) Countries,’ was produced in 2021. Funded by the GCC, the course is designed to enhance capacity development of the Arabian Peninsula government officials and researchers who are engaged in the socioeconomic component of the date palm project, ‘Developing Sustainable Production Systems for Date Palm in GCC Countries.’ Twenty-three professionally-trained National Agriculture Research Systems partners from Oman, Kuwait, Qatar, Bahrain, United Arab Emirates, and Saudi Arabia, including five women, took part in the course, together with two participants from Egypt and Jordan.
ICARDA’s E-Learning Platform continues to offer over 85 courses addressing various agricultural topics and the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. Most of the courses are in English, but French, Arabic, and Spanish classes have also been made available. Registration for these courses is free.
In December 2021, ICARDA and the Central Laboratory for Agriculture Climate of Egypt’s Agriculture Research Center (ARC) jointly organized a workshop on modern horticulture practices for the Arabian Peninsula partner countries in Egypt. The workshop took place within the framework of the Arabian Peninsula Regional Program and was funded by the AFESD and the Kuwait Fund for Arab Economic Development. The workshop was led by several experts and researchers from ICARDA and ARC and was attended by researchers and extension agents from five of the six GCC member countries and Yemen. The discussions involved protected agriculture practices, such as greenhouses and hydroponics, which substantially reduce water usage and provide a better and higher yield.
The IFAD SKiM Project, implemented by ICARDA, strengthened the capacity of 40 (25 male and 15 female) representatives from national institutions in Moldova, Morocco, and Sudan in 2021. In line with needs identified in a consultative Capacity Needs Assessment and Innovation Plans, 29 participants benefited from the Republic of Moldova Learning Route (19 male and 10 female), and 15 benefited from the Knowledge and Innovation Transfer through Technology Transfer Offices (TTOs) (10 male and five female) participants, in line with their knowledge management needs identified through the project . In this regard, the communities of practice on knowledge management established by SKiM in Moldova, Morocco, and Sudan strengthened resilience throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, with stakeholders engaged in knowledge sharing activities at the national and international levels.