ICARDA’s Social, Economy, and Policies (SEP) research team, led by Dr Barbara Ann Rischkowsky, is responsible for studying our innovations’ socioeconomic feasibility, adoption, and scaling up, as well as their effect on poverty reduction, food security, system resilience, and social inclusion. The team’s methods include socioeconomic assessments, gender transformational techniques, and context-sensitive targeting. Its solutions aim to achieve more equitable marketplaces and value chains, improved natural resource management and governance, and the optimization of sustainable land and livestock management alternatives.
Significant 2020 developments in our work on improving rural livelihoods were:
ICARDA’s ICT2Scale project, funded by the German Agency for International Cooperation and led by Mr. Udo Rudiger and Dr. Boubaker Dhehibi, uses cell phone-based services to offer extension services to smallholder farmers in Tunisia. In 2021, 50 percent of participating farmers learned new technologies and received further information, and 40 percent stated that they were willing to pay to receive technical information via SMS. ICARDA’s national partners are now building on this work and making it their own.
In 2021, Egyptian wheat growers who adopted ICARDA’s raised-bed technology through a project led by Dr Beziat Dessalegn, benefited from a 937 kilogram per hectare (12.8 percent) increase in yield, a US$77.60 per hectare (9.5 percent) increase in gross margins, an 824.6 cubic meters per hectare (15.1 percent) reduction in irrigation water application, a 16.7 percent reduction in seeding rate, a 5.6 percent increase in water productivity, and an 11.8 percent reduction in downside yield risk.
The Jordanian Badia is the region of desert and steppe covering the country’s northeast. In this challenging environment, Dr. Boubaker Dhehibi, in collaboration with Jordan’s National Agricultural Research Center, implemented permaculture technology as a new low-cost development tool for managing dryland resources in ago-pastoral farming systems. The beneﬁts associated with permaculture include high yields and increased savings from reduced inputs. Investing in permaculture could make dryland resources more efficient, diverse, and multifunctional for food and nutrition-insecure agro-pastoral communities.
Under a project entitled ‘Services to support the seed multiplication sector in Syria for the season 2020/2021,’ under the ‘FAO Syria Smallholder Support Programme (SSP) for Agriculture Transformation’, small holder farmers in areas affected by civil unrest were supported to become community-based seed suppliers. The farmers, from Aleppo, Homs, and Deir Azor were given quality wheat, barley, chickpea, and lentil seed to engage in farmer-based seed production. They were also provided with inputs, extension services, and training on community-based seed production and commercialization business management. They produced and commercialized a total of 244.4 tons of seed. They generated an income of SYP300,344,906 (US$240,280) under an Arab Fund for Economics and social Development funded project, 12.8 tons of seed of 47 crop varieties, and five seed cleaners were provided to support the seed sector in Lebanon.
In Palestine, ICARDA partnered with the Food and Agriculture Organization of The United Nations (FAO) to test and out-scale in-situ water harvesting approaches. ICARDA will implement water productivity improvements at the watershed level and support the scaling of in-situ water harvesting for improved agroforestry and orchard agriculture. ICARDA will also support capacity building and empowerment activities for targeted communities.
In 2021, within the framework of the Arabian Peninsula Regional Program (APRP), led by Dr. Abdoul Aziz Niane and funded by the Arab Fund for Economic and Social Development and the Kuwait Fund for Arab Economic Development, ICARDA distributed 10,000 ultra-low-pressure dripper units to six APRP member countries. The energy-saving, solar-power-compatible dripper technology fosters desert farming.
In Ethiopia, the ICARDA-coordinated ‘Technologies for African Agricultural Transformation (TAAT) Wheat Compact’ produced a total of 27,543 tons of basic seed, certified seed, and quality declared seed in the 2020/2021 growing season. The seed was produced in partnership with the Ethiopian National Agriculture Research System, public/private seed companies, and cooperatives. The TAAT Wheat Compact was funded by the African Development Bank
An economic impact assessment has found that ICARDA-improved lentil technologies have contributed significantly to a massive productivity gain in West Bengal, with a registered lentil yield of over one ton per hectare in the state, a 33.36 percent increase over traditional lentil growers. Overall livelihood status of the lentil farm-family has increased, and ICARDA has established long-term sustainability of food legumes in West Bengal.