Africa / Article / Drought / Drylands / DRYLANDSCRP / Event / ILRI / Pastoralism

Collaboration in drylands research will achieve greater impact

Collective skills and collective knowledge will be very useful and achieve greater impact as the 15 members of the CGIAR consortium move into the new research methods under the CGIAR Research Programs (CRPs). This was said by Iain Wright, the director of the People Livestock and Environment Theme at the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI).

Wright was speaking at the launch of the research program on Integrated and Sustainable Agricultural Production Systems for Improved Food Security and Livelihoods in Dry Areas (popularly known as Drylands Systems), at ILRI in Nairobi yesterday.

He noted that of 15 CRPs, ILRI was involved in seven and all the CRPs were multi-disciplinary, multi centre and multi-location all of which called for new skills in collaboration across centres and with other partners including national research centres (NARS), non-governmental organisations, government departments and other stakeholders.

“We hope to draw from our collective synergies in knowledge and ability to move this work in the drylands forward. The CRP approach embodies a new way of working together” , said Wright.

The Acting Director of the CRP on Dryland Systems, Maarten van Ginkel said three (3) types of people -system experts, commodity experts and farmers will have to work together to ensure that the farmer understands what to plant when and how. Van Ginkel is the Deputy Director for Research at the International Center for Agricultural Research in the Dry Areas is based in Aleppo, Syria (ICARDA), the lead centre for this CRP.

He said the CRP will utilize inputs from other CRPs and provide them with feedback on their performance in the agro ecosystems. Highlighting the mistaken assumption that drylands are a step away from desertification, van Ginkel said the approach now will be to address both the vulnerability risk and the sustainability option. Some areas may be good for grazing and not cropping while others may be good for both.

“Impact pathways are important as we seek to make a difference”, he said, adding that the systems approach for agro-ecosystem multi relationships and multiple components will lead to a high level of integration.

“We will use flexible, inclusive and beneficial partnerships as we align to national agendas. Scientists can come up with new ideas for governments to use. Land tenure is a huge problem in dryland areas. Monitoring and evaluation processes should be in accordance with government goals to achieve greater impact in our work and assist government to achieve its aims as we seek to make an impact”, said van Ginkel.

The new Director of the Drylands Systems CRP William Payne, was announced June 1, and is expected to assume office shortly.

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