This project aims to strengthen AEI research as a priority theme for CCRP in West Africa. Farming systems analysis that is participatory, place-based and adaptive is well positioned to identify AEI options that are tailored to the multi-dimensional and multi-scale context in which farmers operate. Building on its first phase, this project aligns well with CCRP by (1) identifying and assessing solutions that improve the performance of agricultural systems and by (2) building the capacity of institutions and stakeholder groups to support farming communities to advance along AEI pathways. Through an adaptive co-learning process with a focus on gender inclusiveness, multi-directional information exchange, and joint decision making, the project aims at empowering smallholder farmers to drive the development process and benefit from contextualized agricultural research. This project intends to produce tailored AEI solutions, knowledge, tools, approaches and communication products. To achieve its objectives and outcomes, the project will use a farming systems analysis (FSA) approach, gradually scaling up to a food systems approach through local value chains and attention for nutrition-related activities. The research will be embedded in stakeholder-researcher exchange networks, for which communication tools and approaches will be refined. The FSA will rely on a combination of on-farm experiments, modelling and multiple stakeholder engagement to identify baskets of AEI solutions. Performance indicators such as agricultural productivity, income and food self-sufficiency will be complemented with information on nutrition, labor requirements, resilience and risk, which will all be gender-disaggregated. We will also assess environmental health, including soil fertility, land use/cover and biodiversity.
Envisaged outputs can be categorized as tailored AEI solutions, knowledge, tools, approaches and communication products. Specifically, the project seeks to:
- Propose baskets of AEI options for different farm types, gender groups, agroecological and socio-economic contexts and improve the knowledge on their effects on various AEI criteria.
- Identify levers and refine approaches to understand and remove constraints for enhanced adoption of AEI options, through value chain interactions, risk assessment, farm planning and budgeting, and improved seed access.
- Elicit AEI pathways and their effects on agricultural productivity, income, environmental indicators, food security and nutrition at farm, community and regional levels.
- Develop and refine tools and methods to effectively communicate research findings to inform discussions between actors and support the decisions of various stakeholders.
- Consolidate and further energize the adaptive co-learning process and build the capacity of students and young researchers in farming systems analysis.
By using these outputs in the co-learning process, the team aims to foster outcomes in terms of improvements in knowledge, skills and attitudes of various stakeholders. In the long term, these outcomes will contribute to positive impacts on (1) agricultural productivity, (2) farmers (women and men) livelihoods, (3) household food security and nutrition, and (4) environmental health, and (5) empowered farmer organizations.