The Sustainable Intensification of Maize-Legume Cropping Systems for Food Security in Eastern and Southern Africa (SIMLESA) program was established in 2010. It aims to create more productive, resilient, profitable and sustainable maize-legume farming systems that overcome food insecurity and help reverse soil decline, particularly in the context of climate risk and change. Funded by the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR), the ultimate goal is to sustainably increase the productivity of selected maize-based farming systems by 30% from the 2009 average by the year 2023 in each target country in eastern and southern Africa, and at the same time reduce seasonal down-side production risks by 30%. After successful implementation of the first phase (2010-2013), the program was extended for four years (2014-2018) with an increased focus on up-scaling sustainable intensification technologies that the first phase initiated and tested. The second phase also focuses on crop livestock interactions for maximum benefit to the farmer. The SIMLESA project is anchored on five main thematic objectives: 1. To enhance the understanding of Conservation Agriculture (CA)-based sustainable intensification for maize-legume production systems, value chains and impact pathways. 2. To test and adapt productive, CA-based intensification options for sustainable smallholder maize-legume production systems. 3. To increase the range of maize, legume and fodder/forage varieties available to smallholders. 4. To develop local and regional innovation systems and scaling-out modalities. 5. Capacity building to increase the efficiency of agricultural research today and in the future.
The Sustainable Intensification of Maize-Legume Cropping Systems for Food Security in Eastern and Southern Africa (SIMLESA) is a multi-stakeholder collaborative research program which is being managed by the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT) and implemented by National Agricultural Research Systems (NARS) in Kenya, Tanzania, Ethiopia, Malawi and Mozambique, with backstopping inputs from other partners. Rwanda, Uganda and Botswana are spill over countries benefitting from ongoing SIMLESA research activities. The program focuses on leveraging science and technology to develop and deliver technological and institutional innovations in relation to maize-legume production systems. In turn, it is envisaged that these will make significant measurable positive changes in the livelihoods of all categories of smallholder farmers. SIMLESA aims to improve farm-level food security in the context of climate risk and change, through the development of more resilient, profitable and sustainable farming system that overcome food insecurity for significant numbers of farm families in Eastern and Southern Africa. The SIMLESA program is being funded by the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR) and was launched in March 2010 and expanded in April 2012 (with funding support from AusAID) to cater for three additional regions in Ethiopia. This additional support has been terminated since the end of Phase1. The program falls under the African Food Security Initiative (AFSI) that was launched in 2009/2010 by the Australian Government to assist selected African countries reduce poverty and eliminate hunger as part of fulfilment of Millennium Development Goal Number 1 (MDG1- Reduce Extreme Poverty and Hunger). It is aligned within the African Union (AU) initiated and led made-in-Africa solution known as the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Program (CAADP1). CAADP was established as part of the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD), and endorsed by the African Union Assembly in July 2003. SIMLESA is led and managed by the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Centre (CIMMYT), as the commissioned organization. CIMMYT is assisted by the following in implementing the program: the National Agricultural Research Systems (NARS) in five eastern and southern African countries; Association for Strengthening Agricultural Research in Eastern and Central Africa (ASARECA), Agriculture Research Council (ARC)-South Africa; Queensland Alliance for Agriculture and Food Innovation (QAAFI). SIMLESA related activities have been initiated in three spill over countries (Botswana, Rwanda, and Uganda) for wider impact. The main thrust of the SIMLESA program is increasing farm-level food security, productivity and incomes through promotion of maize-legume intercropping systems, in the context of reduced climate risk and change. SIMLESA Program is envisaged to reach 650,000 small farming households in the five countries over a period of 10 years. Phase 1 of SIMLESA (2010-2014) as mentioned earlier, began in March, 2010. From 2010 to 31 June 2014, SIMLESA was implemented under the following five themes, called objectives: Objective 1: To characterize maize-legume production and input and output value chain systems and impact pathways, and identify broad systemic constraints and options for field testing. Objective 2: To test and develop productive, resilient and sustainable smallholder maize-legume cropping systems and innovation systems for local scaling out. Objective 3: To increase the range of maize and legume varieties available for small holders through accelerated breeding, regional testing and release, and availability of performance data. Objective 4: To support the development of regional and local innovations systems. Objective 5: Capacity building to increase the efficiency of agricultural research today and in the future. Transition to Phase 2 During the 3rd Annual Review and Planning Meeting (ARPM) and the Program Steering Committee (PSC) meeting in Chimoio, Mozambique, the Program Steering Committee, CIMMYT, ACIAR and partners reviewed and assessed the challenges and the achievements of SIMLESA Phase 1(2010-2014) and recommended the development of Phase 2 proposal for possible support by ACIAR. A variation document of Phase 1 was developed, reviewed and accepted by ACIAR. The second phase of SIMLESA started on the 1st of July 2014 and is scheduled to end on 30th of June 2018. The main focus of SIMLESA 2 is based on the initial results of understanding of the maize - legume based farming systems in the partner countries, findings from the various conservation agriculture based sustainable intensification experiments conducted both on-station and on-farm and the lessons from establishing innovation platforms in different communities to enhance scaling out of tried and tested innovative technologies. Scaling out was limited in the first phase mainly due to lack of well packaged messages and lack of sufficient resources to effectively engage partners to scale out the technology. In the fourth year, SIMLESA tried to engage partners for scaling out best practices. The Variation SIMLESA document (second phase) has addition and modified components: Incorporation of soil health related research activities to be supported by CIAT(as a new sub grantee) Emphasis on crop livestock integration with a focus on fodder and forages to be supported by ILRI (as a new sub grantee) Capacity building to focus on more on the job skills building with support from ARC and other technical partners ASARECA to catalyse policy dialogue forums to enhance the adoption of SIMLESA technologies and promote sustainable intensification production systems Introduction of competitive grants system (CGS) for partners. The fundamental aim of competitive grants is to enhance effectiveness of scaling out process of SIMLESA technologies to farmers. Considering the importance of scaling out new innovations, around 25-30% of the national budget has been set aside for competitive grants under Objective 4. Competitive grants selection committees will be formed in each country with the following composition: National Coordinator ACIAR Representative Project Coordinator (Program Management Committee Representative) SIMLESA Objective 4 Representative A competitive grant guideline developed by SIMLESA was shared with ACIAR for approval. In ensuring that scaling out activities are not delayed, currently SIMLESA countries are using part of 20% budget allocation for Objective 4 in promoting sustainable intensification technologies. As soon as the strategy is approved, it will be quickly implemented in a transparent and professional manner involving all relevant stakeholders. The guideline would be reviewed bi-annually (twice per year). As mentioned earlier, SIMLESA 2 was launched on the 1st of July 2014 with modified program objectives as detailed below: Objective 1: To enhance the understanding of CA-based sustainable intensification for maize-legume production systems, value chains and impact pathways. During the reporting period, July 2014 to June 2015, the main SIMLESA activities carried in operational countries included planning meetings, adoption monitoring, value chain analysis, updating database of productive and risk reducing CA-based intensification options. Market analysis will strengthen farmer-private sector relationship which was weak in the initial phase of SIMLESA. This would enhance both input and output markets within the agricultural sector. Studies carried under this objective have documented and published their findings. (See Technical Reports and Annexes). Objective 2: To test and adapt productive, CA based intensification options for sustainable smallholder maize-legume production systems. The annual reporting period, July 2014 to June 2015 was characterized by execution of Objective 2 fundamental activities which included planning meetings at country level, establishment and monitoring of trials. Field days and exchange visits were conducted during the reporting period in Eastern and Southern Africa. The teams and activities expanded through an additional focus on fodder/forage varieties in Ethiopia, Kenya and Tanzania, and new research on soil health focusing on the identification and rehabilitation of non-responsive soils and the development of nutrient management systems. Objective 3: To increase the range of maize, legume and fodder/forage varieties available to smallholders. Under Objective 3, the main activities implemented during the reporting period were participatory variety selections, establishment and monitoring experimental trials, scaling out of improved technologies and testcross formation. A shortlist of new experimental maize and legume varieties (all countries) and forage/fodder species/varieties (in Ethiopia, Kenya and Tanzania) with potential adaptation to the conditions and farmers’ priorities were identified by NARS for each country and targeted maize-legume system. Maize and legume varieties would mostly originate from on-going breeding programs such as DTMA or TL-11. Significant progress was made in developing and registering of drought tolerant maize and legume varieties, which were being promoted by both governmental and private institutions in respective countries. Objective 4: To support the development of local and regional innovation systems and scaling-out modalities. During the period under review, Objective 4 was dominated by proper planning meetings at country level focusing more on cross participation and objective linkages. Field activities carried out during the same period included field days, exchange visits, Innovation Platforms in all SIMLESA countries and the involvement of other organizations to scale out SIMLESA technologies. These platforms are of paramount importance in the dissemination of information and as training sessions to farmers at community level. In Mozambique, dissemination of agricultural information technologies through mobile Short Message Service (SMS) based technologies has started. ACIAR Small Research Activity (SRA) grant was acquired to strengthen Innovation Platforms in spill over countries plus Burundi and Zambia. Training and mentoring meetings were held for partners in Embu, Kenya, and a regional training in Rwanda in September 2014. Subsequent activities were scheduled for Uganda. A number of policy options and organizational models for the delivery of CA-based intensification options will be developed. Activities thereby include the formulation and advocacy of policy options to address institutional constraints for CA-based intensification options in terms of reach, farmer use and sustainability. Objective 5: Capacity building to increase the efficiency of agricultural research today and in the future modalities. Objective 5 plan was developed by country staff and relevant stakeholders like ARC-South Africa. The program will use short courses, workshops, field days and exchange visits in support of the program agenda, and free online courses in topics that are relevant to SIMLESA. Capacity building will be targeted at project scientists and technical staff in partner organizations, and will include researchers, extension agents, the private sector, and farmers. During the reporting period two SIMLESA PhD candidates at the University of Queensland and two from Universities of Kwazulu Natal and Jomo Kenyatta have successfully completed their studies. Forty two students are pursuing Master of Science degrees at national universities in SIMLESA partner countries while twenty two are enrolled for PhD studies. Project Coordination and Management SIMLESA 2 objectives were organized and structured in integrated multidisciplinary functional teams at the regional and country level. This took off smoothly during the reporting period. Teams were active on the ground and busy synthesizing lessons. The Project Manager, Communications Specialist and M & E Specialist have lessened the burden of the Project Leader from monitoring of activities and development communication tasks. The 2014/2015 planning meetings held in Lilongwe (Malawi), Addis Ababa (Ethiopia) and Arusha (Tanzania) were well documented and proceedings reports produced. A communication plan was developed. Part of the plan included the revamping of the SIMLESA website, SIMLESA brochure, Standard SIMLESA Information Pack, Case studies and Success Stories/Stories of Change, among other development communications activities. The CIMMYT - wide new Research Management System (RMS) is used to monitor the progress and performance of the project. The Project Leader interacted with NARS leaders on how to implement the research coordination and oversight budget under each country. Ethiopia suggested to use their existing system established for other projects. The other countries were to share their views in the next quarter. Given the continuous change in staff movements SIMLESA Tanzania and Ethiopia had new National Coordinators, Dr John Sariah, and Dr Bedru Beshir, respectively. SIMLESA Program recently engaged a Monitoring and Evaluation Specialist as a way of internalizing M & E activities rather than continuing to outsource. The idea is to strengthen M & E activities within the program and ensure the use of accurate and reliable data for tracking program performance. The M & E Specialist is in the process of designing an indicator tracking system and also compiling strategic documents for use in the October 2015 scheduled SIMLESA Mid Term Review (MTR). From a monitoring and evaluation perspective, Case studies and Success Stories/Stories of Change written during the reporting period are meant to demonstrate project impact and enumerate lessons and effective implementation strategies learnt which could be replicated in other program sites. Building Visibility: Initial findings of conservation agriculture-based sustainable intensification from partner countries (Ethiopia, Mozambique, Kenya Tanzania and Uganda) were presented at the 6th World Congress of Conservation Agriculture in Winnipeg, Canada, 22-26 June 2014. SIMLESA and ACIAR facilitated a side event on CA for smallholder agriculture in Asia and Africa. SIMLESA also featured at the African Green Revolution Forum organized by AGRA in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia on 1-4 September 2014. SIMLESA’s experience and its implications for Asian maize - legume system was presented at the 12th Asia Maize Conference in Bangkok, Thailand (from 29 October to 1 November 2014) making SIMLESA visible globally. This was followed by a workshop organized by QAAFI in Brisbane to identify pathways for sustainable intensification. Quarterly bulletins, Informa Newsletter (CIMMYT internal newsletter) and articles published by local print and electronic media in the SIMLESA project countries enhanced the program’s profile
This annual progress report is a synopsis of activities under the Sustainable Intensification of Maize-Legume Cropping Systems for Food Security in Eastern and Southern Africa (SIMLESA) program over the period July 2015 to June 2016 in the SIMLESA implementing countries - Ethiopia, Kenya, Tanzania, Malawi and Mozambique. The program, in its second year of the second phase - utilizes pathways for the intensification of maize-legume cropping systems through the promotion of resilient and adopted technologies. Funded by the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR), SIMLESA was launched in March 2010 and is a multi-stakeholder collaborative research program managed by the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT) and implemented by National Agricultural Research Systems (NARS) in the core countries, with backstopping inputs from other partners. Botswana, Uganda and Rwanda are spillover countries benefitting from ongoing SIMLESA research activities, (See map on page i). Collaborators of the program include: Association for Strengthening Agricultural Research in Eastern and Central Africa (ASARECA), Agricultural Research Council (ARC) of South Africa; Queensland Alliance for Agriculture and Food Innovation (QAAFI), International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT) and International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI). The program aims to create more productive, resilient, profitable and sustainable maize-legume farming systems that overcome food insecurity and help reverse soil fertility decline, particularly in the context of climate risk and change. The program is helping farmers to diversify their crops, increase food production, and withstand the risks of climate variability and drought. SIMLESA is envisaged to reach 650,000 small farming households in the five countries over a 10-year period. The second phase of the program (SIMLESA II) was launched in July 2014 with modified program objectives and emphasis on scaling out evaluated technologies. Notable activities and achievements during the reporting period During the reporting period, SIMLESA managed to reach out a cumulative of 173,533 farmers adopting new technologies/practices against a target of 143,607 which translates to a 121% achievement. This was achieved through field days, exchange visits, innovation platforms, demonstration plots and farmer trainings. The program has also witnessed an average yield increase of 30-60% from conservation agriculture (CA) exploratory on-farm and on-station trials which have varied results from one region to another. Local innovation platforms, which at the time of reporting had a cumulative figure of 56, have been strengthened and are functioning in the SIMLESA countries as farmer groups, partners and other key stakeholders shared knowledge on good agricultural practices, market linkages and value chains. A total of 14 NARS researchers and SIMLESA project managers, communications specialist and monitoring and evaluation specialist, participated in an ARC-SA facilitated one-week “Situating Gender in SIMLESA” capacity building course. A cumulative total of 65 students (42 students pursuing Masters of Science degrees and 23 PhD students at national and Australian universities in SIMLESA partner countries, were being supported. In October 2015, SIMLESA and ASARECA jointly coordinated a high-level ministerial policy conference in Entebbe, Uganda. The forum, whose theme was “Mobilizing policy action to scale-up best agricultural practices,” focussing on promoting sustainable intensification (SI) options generated by SIMLESA. It was attended by 50 people, including the Ministers of Agriculture of Kenya (represented by Jacinta Ngwiri), Mozambique (Feliciano Mazuze), Rwanda (Charles Murekezi), Tanzania (Hussein Mansoor), and Uganda (Ambrose Agona). Other participants included researchers from CIMMYT, NARS, ACIAR, international and regional non-governmental organizations, farmer associations, and private companies. A final Ministerial communique calling governments to create an enabling policy environment to promote SI practices was adopted and disseminated to the SIMLESA program countries. During the same period, a program Mid-Term Review (MTR) was one of the major activities carried out. ACIAR contracted an external review team to carry out the MTR of SIMLESA in the second year of implementing phase II of the program. The MTR was carried out in the last quarter of the year, 16 October - 3 November 2015.The MTR report generally recognized the positive elements of achievements by this complex project and made very useful suggestions on how the project could prepare for the conclusion of program activities by 2018. Emphasis was placed on the need to avoid starting new activities whose objectives may not be met by June 2018. The SIMLESA website was revamped and updated to reflect the breadth of program activities, in addition to producing the SIMLESA Bulletin in December 2015 and March 2016. Other multimedia publications were also developed and produced. Details of program activities by objectives country-by country constitute the bulk of this annual progress report where monitoring and evaluation, gender integration, training, communications and documentation, are part of the report. The report goes further to articulate SIMLESA impacts, problems and opportunities. Rolling out Competitive Grants Scheme for scaling out SIMLESA technologies under Objective 4 have been initiated. Expressions of Interest (EoI) were advertised in June in the SIMLESA partner countries as well as on the SIMLESA website. By mid-August 2016, Ethiopia and Kenya SIMLESA teams were expected to sign collaborative agreements with selected partners and disburse the competitive grant funds. SIMLESA objective achievements are presented below: Objective 1: To enhance the understanding of CA-based sustainable intensification for maize-legume production systems, value chains and impact pathways. Economic analysis of SIMLESA promoted technologies across all the five countries, Mozambique, Ethiopia, Kenya, Tanzania and Malawi continue to reveal that use of sustainable intensification practices (SIPs) improves crop production. Plans for adoption and impact assessments to refine impact pathways and facilitate learning, priority setting processes for maize-legume-forage/fodder production systems were completed where major stakeholders were consulted during planning meetings using participatory methodologies, particularly in Ethiopia. SIMLESA team in Kenya reviewed and synthesized literature to identify challenges and opportunities in crop/livestock interactions and shared this with stakeholders. Based on the reviews of challenges and opportunities in crop/livestock interactions, data analysis and reporting will be finalized before the end of 2016. The Kenyan team would develop a scientific paper on the subject which would then inform future work on crop/livestock interactions. In collaboration with ASARECA, SIMLESA Objective 1 held a policy dialogue in Entebbe, Uganda in October 2015. The two-day meeting was attended by 50 people from SIMLESA partner countries, donor representatives, non-governmental organizations, the private sector and farmer organizations. A ministerial communique calling governments to create an enabling policy environment to promote sustainable intensification practices was adopted and disseminated to SIMLESA program countries. Objective 2: To test and adapt productive, CA-based intensification options for sustainable smallholder maize-legume production systems. In the reporting period, main SIMLESA activities under Objective 2 conducted include evaluation of CA plots; performance evaluation of newly released common bean varieties in maize/common bean cropping systems; establishment of different experimental trials in both on-farm and on-station sites, best-bet technology scaling up of CA as well as testing and evaluation of options for improving farmer access to inputs. Other activities conducted by Objective 2 were on-farm exploratory trials in Kenya, and the participatory evaluation of on-farm trials in addition to carrying out adaptive on-farm experiments with CA-based intensification options. Farmer trainings were also conducted. In addition, Objective 2 held 18 field days across the five SIMLESA countries during the reporting period. In Mozambique, Objective 2 organized inputs and materials for 30 modified exploratory trials with three new varieties to test compatibility with CA for the 2015/16 agricultural season. Objective 3: To increase the range of maize, legume and fodder/forage varieties available to smallholders The main Objective 3 activities carried out during the reporting period were participatory variety selections, establishment of experimental trials (trials for maize and legume varieties) and supporting local seed companies in scaling-out new maize and legume varieties in SIMLESA areas and beyond. SIMLESA’s partnership strategy for scaling-up of certified seed production with seed companies included provision of germplasm and technical backstopping, particularly form breeding programs within and outside CIMMYT, development of seed road maps for collaborating seed companies, trainings in seed business management and financial support to popularize the new varieties through demonstrations, field days, and media. Effort has been made to improve fodder/forage availability and utilization for feeding livestock in Eastern Africa, particularly in Ethiopia, Kenya and Tanzania. There has been an introduction of new grass species in the program, such as: brachiaria decumbens, brachiaria brizantha brachiaria brizantha, penicummmaximum, tripsacumandersonii and penisetum preprium. ILRI is playing a leading role in fodder production and integration within the sustainable intensification realm. Objective 4: To support the development of local and regional innovation systems and scaling-out modalities. Objective 4: To support the development of local and regional innovation systems and scaling-out modalities. Field activities carried out during the reporting period includes field days, exchange visits, establishment of demonstration plots, those related to Agricultural Innovation Platforms (AIPs) in all SIMLESA countries and the involvement of other organizations to scale out SIMLESA promoted technologies. AIPs have played a central role in the dissemination of information, sharing of new knowledge, rural innovation including through training sessions, marketing and business approaches among rural farmers. In Mozambique, dissemination of agricultural information technologies through mobile Short Message Service (SMS)-based technologies has started. The program is working with numerous partners in scaling out best bet SIMLESA technologies. This programme is being replicated in Kenya and Tanzania. Two workshops were held in these countries late in 2015, and messages will be disseminated beginning July 2016. SIMLESA 2 is rolling out the Competitive Grant Scheme (CGS) to scale out and up tested/ validated technologies and practices by partners that include NGOs, extension services, private seed companies, farmers’ unions and other relevant partners. Key documents for the CGS can be found at http://simlesa.cimmyt.org (Events). One of these documents is a comprehensive scaling out plan, developed as per the 2015 MTR recommendation. The first country to roll out will be Ethiopia, where plans/ proposals are ready for contracting. In October 2015, a high level policy meeting for SIMLESA was held in Entebbe Uganda (http://simlesa.cimmyt.org/high-level-policy-confer…). The theme of that meeting was “Mobilizing policy action to scale-up best agricultural practices”. Follow up for action is being led by ASARECA. Objective 5: Capacity building to increase the efficiency of agricultural research today and in the future. The focus of SIMLESA II is on-job training and in-house capacity building of NARS. The ARC, South Africa, conducted a gender training workshop in Pretoria during the reporting period. The overall goal of the training workshop was to enhance the capacity of management, objective leaders, and country coordinators and gender focal persons, and to integrate and mainstream gender in the SIMLESA planning and implementation process. The objectives of the training workshop were to: develop an improved understanding and knowledge of gender concepts for effective gender integration in SIMLESA; initiate the scope for behaviour change/innovation to determine the set of gender intervention; identify influencing factors affecting the final decision toward gender change in SIMLESA; provide participants the opportunity to acquire gender change agency skills and discuss and reach consensus on topics for strategic gender research in SIMLESA. Various famer trainings, including establishment of experimental trials were conducted at country level. Details of community trainings are in this report. ARC will conduct more short trainings in 2016, for example economic benefits of CA as recommended by the program’s MTR. The ARC would also develop a CA-field guide in 2016. SIMLESA supported 65 NARS students (42 MSc and 23 PhD) from the five main countries and Australian universities. Project Coordination and Management Program Mid -Term Review The MTR was one of the major activities carried out during the reporting period. As mentioned earlier in this report, ACIAR contracted an external review team to carry out the MTR of SIMLESA in the second year of implementing phase II of the program. The MTR was carried out in the last quarter of the year, 16 October - 3 November 2015, which involved review of documents, field visits, stakeholder meetings, informant and farmer-focused group discussions. All major documents like program proposal, logframe, progress reports, spillover and monitoring reports, were availed to reviewers before field visits. Four countries out of the five main SIMLESA countries were visited by MTR external reviewers. The sampled countries were Ethiopia, Malawi Tanzania and Kenya. An MTR meeting was organized with reviewers after field visits to discuss program milestones, outcomes and impacts on 30-31 October 2015 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. The meeting was attended by 40 participants comprising key program staff, such as objective leaders, country coordinators, MTR reviewers and project steering committee (PSC) members. Details of the MTR observations and recommendations are summarized in this report. The MTR report generally recognized the positive elements of achievements by this complex project and made very useful suggestions on how the project could prepare for the conclusion of activities by 2018 with emphasis on the need to avoid starting up new activities whose objectives may not be met by June 2018. The MTR review team came up with 12 recommendations which were generally constructive and positive. The recommendations were incorporated in the program as part of realigning activities during the sixth Annual Review and Planning Meeting (ARPM) held in Lilongwe, Malawi, on 6 - 8 April 2016. SIMLESA Program Management Committee and Program Management Unit deliberated on the series of MTR recommendations and submitted an official response to ACIAR. During the period under review, monitoring visits were also conducted in all the core SIMLESA countries to get a better understanding of how the countries were progressing with their program implementation plans and giving support on how they were supposed to document their activities as evidence of program progress on performance as part of internalizing the monitoring and evaluation process as the program now had a full time ME&L Specialist as at June 2015. Before, the program depended on outsourcing from ASARECA. Countries, through their SIMLESA country focal persons were also expected to keep track and update figures in database as a way of strengthening the internalized SIMLESA ME&L system. The ME & L visits proved very beneficial in terms of improving data management at country level and provided proof for farmers’ understanding of maize-legume value chains, especially in Western Kenya where a field day was attended and issues of value chains were articulated in a very impressive way. Details of the visit are articulated later in this report. The CIMMYT- wide new Research Management System (RMS) is used to monitor the progress and performance of the project. Individual tasks and achievements are regularly checked by management. This enables implementation of corrective measures on time leading to overall achievements of the program goal at the end. SIMLESA now has an improved system which can be used to check efficiency and effectiveness of its implementation process and there is explicit desire to continue improving the performance tracking system as recommended by the MTR. Policy Dialogue A high-level policy forum was held on 27-28 October 2015 in Entebbe, Uganda. Fifty participants drawn from Botswana, Ethiopia, Kenya, Malawi, Mozambique, Rwanda, Tanzania, and Uganda, attended the forum. The participants represented policy makers, scientists, farmers, private sector and development partners. The main theme of the policy forum was ‘Mobilizing Policy Action to Scale-up Best Agricultural Practices’. Official opening consisted of statements in support of the theme by five representatives of the Ministers for Agriculture in Kenya, Mozambique, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda. The keynote presentation by a renowned Zimbabwean academic, Professor Mandivamba Rukuni, addressed the question: “Does agricultural policy matter in agricultural transformation?” Details of the policy forum are contained in ASARECA report and the communications section.
This annual progress report outlines activities under the Sustainable Intensification of Maize-Legume Based Cropping Systems for Food Security in Eastern and Southern Africa (SIMLESA) program from July 2016 to June 2017. The program is being implemented in five core countries, namely Ethiopia, Kenya, Tanzania, Malawi and Mozambique, and in three spillover countries, Botswana, Uganda and Rwanda. The main objective of the project is to sustainably increase the productivity of selected maize-based farming systems in each target country in eastern and southern Africa by 30% (from the 2009 baseline average) by the year 2023. At the same time, the program is expected to reduce seasonal down-side production risks by 30%. Funded by the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR), SIMLESA was launched in March 2010 and is a multi-stakeholder collaborative research program managed by the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT) and implemented by National Agricultural Research Systems (NARS) in the core countries, with backstopping inputs from other partners.11 Partners of the program include: Association for Strengthening Agricultural Research in Eastern and Central Africa (ASARECA), Agricultural Research Council (ARC) of South Africa, Queensland Alliance for Agriculture and Food Innovation (QAAFI), International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT) and International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI). SIMLESA is envisaged to reach 650,000 small farming households in the five core countries by 2023. The second phase of the program (SIMLESA II) was launched in July 2014 with modified program objectives and exploring the scaling out of the evaluated technologies and livestock integration through various novel development partnerships. The 2016 Adoption Monitoring Survey report estimated 61,889 farmers (43,000 males and 18,489 females adopted at least one sustainable intensification technology (use of improved varieties, minimum tillage, maize-legume intercropping, rotation and residue retention) bringing an estimated cumulative figure for 2016/17 season to 235,422 farmers, which is 91% of the target adoption figure. The expectation for the 2017/18 season is that targets will be exceeded with the implementation of the competitive grants scheme. A well-attended SIMLESA regional conference with over 100 participants took place on 19 - 22 June 2017 in Arusha, Tanzania. The conference entitled ‘Taking stock on Sustainable Intensification Research for Impact in Eastern and Southern Africa: Implications and Strategies for the Future’ (See Annex 1). This was an opportunity to review what has been achieved by the impactful program to date and plan for a follow up program with even more benefits. Drawing from the results presented at the conference by NARS coordinators, the SIMLESA program has witnessed an average yield increase of 30-60% from conservation agriculture-based sustainable intensification technologies implemented both on-farm and on-station. This resonates very well with the program’s aim of increasing productivity by at least 30%. A total of 268 and 378 maize and legume Participatory Variety Selection (PVS) trials, respectively, were conducted where best performing varieties that met famers’ preferences were identified and selected for scaling. The varieties were selected based on grain yield, maturity, drought tolerance, pest resistance and palatability. SIMLESA is working with 42 seed companies to produce and disseminate seed. During the period under review at total of at least 22, 000 tons of seed maize was made available by the seed companies to smallholder farmers across the five core SIMLESA countries. In addition, 58 local innovation platforms have been strengthened and are functioning in the SIMLESA countries as farmer groups, partners and other key stakeholders share knowledge on good agricultural practices, market linkages and value chains. In 2016, the competitive grants scheme was initiated to competitively select 19 partners with different expertise mix (ICT, media, seed production and knowledge management) to drive the scaling out of sustainable intensification technologies. The 19 partners have since received resources and are now implementing the agreed scaling out activities. The Monitoring, Evaluation and Learning Unit continued to articulate program performance in line with the 2015 Mid Term Review recommendation to look at performance beyond numbers. The focus is now to get a clear understanding of how SIMLESA has impacted on the capacity and actions of national agencies, beyond numbers trained or reached. Lessons learned by CIMMYT and the benefits accrued to national partners from implementing such a complex multi-country program need to be measured and continued to be documented, especially at this stage of the program. During the period under review, one PhD student and two MSc students from Mozambique supported by SIMLESA completed their studies. A cumulative total of 65 masters (42) and doctorate students (23) have been supported under SIMLESA and Australia Awards Scholarships. QAAFI, ARC and SIMLESA NARS partners conducted trainings on SIMLESA SMS platform and in Biometrics in Kenya and Tanzania. To ensure effective communication, the SIMLESA website was revamped and updated to reflect the breadth of program activities and achievements. In addition SIMLESA bulletins, briefs and flyers were produced during the period under review. Up to now, SIMLESA has produced 130 publications, 21 policy briefs and various communication products including national-level media coverage, national, regional and international conferences and participation by partners in meetings and field days. The report articulates SIMLESA impacts, challenges and opportunities. Details of program activities are summarized in this report with numerous attachments which include; ‘Voices from the Field’ book (Annex 2), SIMLESA Pre Partners Conference report (Annex 3), Competitive Grants Scheme (CGS) report (Annex4), technical reports, bulletins, consolidated log frame update, Progress reports, among others, such as SIMLESA: The Africa Long Walk to Sustainability, Resilience and Climate Smart Systems (Annex 5), Monitoring, Evaluation and Learning report (Annex 6) and conference presentations. Program progress details are articulated in subsequent sections in this report.