A selection of feedback received from our readership in 2014.
Houses from Cassava in Spore no. 144
"The use of cassava flour instead of cement to build houses in Congo is a good innovation I have shared with community members and can therefore be embraced in Ugandan communities as well."
Subscriber from Uganda (name not provided).
Timbers 1 (PROTA series)
"I (we with co-authors) used as one of the good bases and references to write a book on Commercial Timber Species in Ethiopia that was published in 2012."
Getachew Desalegn Yilma, EARO, Ethiopia
Farming Change: Growing more food with a changing resource base
"I was enthused about how to manage degraded lands and gathered a lot of information on how to rejuvinate such lands to make them productive. I meet a rice cultivation group, who have part of their land completely saline and making poor yields, to teach them how to leach the soils with fresh water and lime to make them productive. This publication, though based on the Caribbean, is applicable to Ghana. The problems analysed are similar to Ghana and it is very helpful."
Hope K. Kumah, Ministry of Food and Agriculture, Ghana
Women feeding cities: Mainstreaming gender in urban agriculture and food security
"It is important to utilize the gender divide across the globe to bridge the gap in food production, supply and protection. Especially in Africa where women are being faced with social and political discrimination. The book advocates the need to mobilize our women across the globe to activate a crusade on safe global crop production."
Ifeanyi Aaron Aguchukwu, GILEADBTH Women Project, Nigeria
Where land is greener
"The publication helped me to improve my analytic skills, technical skills and my professional understanding of issues related to soil and water conservation initiatives and this has been implemented on farmers' fields whose agricultural lands have been degraded largely due to poor farming practices and lacking soil moisture retention capacity. The case studies outlined in the book have assisted me in problem solving, e.g soil erosion control measures, in training of farmers in contour ridging and in implementing conservation agriculture. All these measures were aimed at improving land productivity."
Alex Kabwe, Department of Agriculture, Luapula Region, Zambia
Where there is no vet
"Recently one of my dairy goat ate a Datura stramonium plant - a poisonous plant found here in Kenya. I applied the tips from this book on how to carry out emergency treatment for animals that have eaten poison. I gave the goat milk through the mouth and also water was administered through the mouth. The animal was sick for two days and finally it got healed. I would have paid a Vet 2,000Ksh if I had requested services from the local veterinarian. This book is must read for whoever wants to be a livestock farmer. Great work!!"
Jepi Lentoijoni, Department of Agriculture, Kenya
"Capacity-Centred Impact Pathway Analysis (Ccipa)" Synthesis Workshop
In Rome, 21-24 October 2014.
Eunike Spietings, monitoring and evaluation expert at the European Centre for Development Policy Management (ECDPM), the Netherlands. Mrs. Spietings worked with CTA as an external expert on the CcIPA Study of CTA.
"For me, being involved in the process of the development of the Capacity-centred Impact Pathway Analysis (CcIPA) model and its implementation methodology, in a multi-stakeholder setting, is a new experience, which in itself has offered many learning opportunities. It was very interesting to be part the open approach, the allowance for and learning about many different experiences brought to the table. For ECDPM it was a great insight to see first-hand the practical application of the Core Capabilities model operating on very different focus areas, from knowledge management and research to policy to the farmers level. We got lessons from the application of the model both with more emerging and very strong well-established organisations and networks in many parts of the world.
It is true the CcIPA Model needs some fine tuning. This model is framed towards CTA partners and is not yet a self-standing model which can be easily applied by others. Really linking the various elements of the model (logic model, 5CCs and impact categories) is still a challenge. But this is a real interesting approach, especially to connect capacity assessment with impact evaluation and in that sense it is certainly a recommendable approach. If I came to CTA in 2025 I would like to see a very dynamic office thanks to a nice mix of young staff (half of them female) from all over the world, including ACP, but also Asia, Latin America and EU and with a female director of course. They work in office spaces that all have facilities in place to easily directly join teleconferences in any part of the world to connect with their extensive partner network. As over the past years CTA and its partners have been extremely successful in their original/previous working areas, the focus has changed to the main urgency the world is coping with: CTA and partners join forces to entirely focus on research, knowledge management, changing policies and practices and learning strategies around climate change."
Sharon Alfred, office and compliance manager at the Food, Agriculture and Natural Resources Policy Analysis Network (FANRPAN), South Africa. Mrs. Alfred worked with CTA as internal expert on the CcIPA study. FANRPAN was one of organisations studied.
"FANRPAN had the pleasure and honour of working with Mr Jose Felipe Fonseca from 2003 to 2012. During this period, FANRPAN emerged as a credible and successful regional organisation that is recognised internationally for its leadership in FANR policy research and advocacy issues. CTA support to FANRPAN up to 2012, ranked amongst the six largest and longest standing contributors, funding multi-stakeholder policy dialogues at regional and national levels, communication and visibility activities. Our relationship with Mr Fonseca epitomised that of a sincere and mutually beneficial partnership and with time, he became part of the FANRPAN family with intimate knowledge of the Network’s modus operandi and needs. The CTA-FANRPAN partnership through Mr Fonseca is testimony that the personality and proximity of individuals is critical for nurturing successful partnerships.
The current CTA partnership strategy and modality has resulted in some shift in focus. FANRPAN envisages that the findings of the CcIPA impact evaluation model will feed into the definition of the partnership focus areas with CTA and partners strategically to allow them to build on past successes."
Birte Nass-Komolong, Strategic Planner at National Agricultural Research Institute (NARI), Papua New Guinea. Dr. Nass-Komolong worked with CTA as internal expert on the CcIPA study. NARI is one of organisations studied.
"To achieve greater impact in Papua New Guinea what CTA and NARI can do in my opinion is to come together and agree on interventions that address gaps in the currently already identified strategies by our institute especially in Information and Knowledge Management and Policy research and development. CTA has to continue to engage with national organisations. It cannot be taken as a given that regional organisations have the capacity, mandate and reach to engage effectively with all national organisations in the region. In case of the Pacific for example, SPC has the mandate to reach to national organizations in the region but is struggling to actually do so equally in all its member countries. Alternatively, CTA could also consider joint initiatives and partnerships where SPC is encouraged to make better use of the existing capacity of national organizations in PNG."
Alfred Ochola, Communication officer at the African Network for Agriculture, Forestry and Natural Resources (ANAFE), Kenya. Mr. Ochola worked with CTA as internal expert on the CcIPA study. ANAFE was one of organisations studied.
"My first contact with CTA was in June 2013 in Harare (Zimbabwe) at the mid-term progress review meeting of the CcIPA study. At this meeting, I met CTA LME staff, Dr. Khadar Ibrahim and Tarikua Woldetsadick who, on first impression, struck me as very open, knowledgeable and passionate about supporting ANAFE and other organisations improve on their respective capacity to deliver on their mandates. Since then, the two have been instrumental in driving the CTA-ANAFE partnership in which I have been kept in the loop throughout. In this regard, they have been consistent, understanding and accommodating."
Moses Owiny, Information and communication technology for development (ICT4D) officer at the Women of Uganda Network (WOUGNET), Uganda.
"While CTA has done already tremendous work around women and ICTs, we think that continuous support for initiatives that empower rural women to take advantages of the opportunities presented by ICTs to improve their agricultural and rural development practices should be emphasized. With wide range of issues affecting rural women in terms of access and utilisation of ICTs and ICT-based services, the activities of intermediate organisations such as WOUGNET that empower rural women should continue to help address underlying challenges as well as presenting new opportunities for rural women to use and apply ICTs in their farming activities.
WOUGNET would also like to see long term partnership deepened in regard to initiatives that empower rural women to use ICTs. Women and youth form a critical mass of community members that can harness the numerous opportunities that ICTs offer to support farming activities – this could be through finding new markets for their produce, communicating with other farmers, traders, suppliers across value chains and understanding marketing issues and opportunities. ICTs provide value added services in the way women engage in their agricultural activities. Evaluating the impact of ICT-based interventions for rural women farmers should be strengthened both at our own institutional level in terms of regular monitoring and evaluation and also at the level of CTA support to WOUGNET in terms of technical and financial contributions."
Marygoretti Gachagua, Assistant program officer for gender and youth at the Eastern Africa Farmers' Federation (EAFF), Kenya.
"I started working in EAFF in 2010 as the Knowledge management officer. Three years later, in August 2013, I moved offices to become a gender and youth officer. I have interacted with CTA in a number of activities previously; I was in charge of organising the Web 2.0 training for our member organization and also in 2010 organised the biofuels workshop that led to the development of the Eastern Africa Biomass Board. Would I like to continue working with the LME Unit at CTA? I think the team of LME in CTA are very interesting and it’s a good opportunity to learn while doing. I think the CcIPA tools created within the Unit so far for assessing impact are essential and to be replicated at even our organisational level to assess how well our initiatives are making a difference to the regional farming community."
Stellah Nyagah, Policy and research manager at the Kenya National Farmers federation (KENAFF), Kenya
"KENAFF recently successfully completed the CcIPA study. Through the CcIPA study, I have realised that Monitoring and Evaluation is quite critical to constantly improve the capacity of the organisation. That we should not just focus on monitoring the projects and programs we implement but that we should go beyond this by ensuring that the organisation constantly assesses itself."
Davine Thaw, External consultant for the Indigenous Peoples of Africa Coordinating Committee (IPACC), South Africa.
"I believe there is a future for the collaboration between CTA and IPACC. I believe IPACC is keen to continue to work with CTA. As for my own work, I have no doubt I will draw on the CcIPA model in my evaluation, organisational development and facilitation work. I would not use it as a self-administered questionnaire by adapting the questionnaires to the context."
Jan Brouwers, Senior advisor multi-stakeholder processes and M&E at Wageningen University and Research Centre (WUR)
"I have worked for two years now with the LME unit. I have especially enjoyed the methodological collaboration designing together with the CTA partners the CcIPA methodology, which is now being used by CTA partners and we hope to have an article by end 2014. My recommendation regarding M&E for CTA would be to make it a still more crosscutting function within CTA with the Unit playing a growing facilitation role."
Paul Barera, Founder and executive director of the Rwanda Telecentre Network, Rwanda.
"There is a power of change hidden in social entrepreneurs which CTA could tap into. CTA needs to explore how to increase collaboration with social entrepreneurs especially in relation to developing agriculture and youth employment solutions. Social entrepreneurs are able to develop innovation that systemically impact positively people in remote and rural areas. They are able to experiment any solution with more flexibility and with cost effectiveness than a public agency or a large organization. Hence working with social entrepreneurs should be regarded as one of strategic options for CTA.
The entry point to involve youth in CTA interventions is through ICTs. I appreciate CTA has already undertaken this by supporting youth innovation hubs. Also, CTA should explore how to support youth initiatives that aimed to address specific issues in line with CTA priorities. In 2025, I would love to see the headquarters shifting in one of ACP countries leaving a small office in Europe."
Emile Adam, Information officer at the Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC), Noumea, Fiji.
"My perception with regards to CTA’s presence in the Pacific region is that relative to other large donors, CTA complements strategically the knowledge management and communication sphere; capturing, documenting and sharing integrated outcomes with stakeholders at the community and at the national level.
This is CTA’s comparative advantage and CTA should continue to place more resources in this sphere especially to complement other major donors contributing to developing Pacific livelihoods. With no physical presence in the Pacific, its distance from the Pacific and its rather short term funding mechanism, CTA struggles to stamp a stronger mark amongst the big donors helping the Pacific islands. There are pockets of great successes to individuals as well to a few Pacific organisations which CTA could tap into by aligning itself more strategically with the SPC.
SPC itself is the premiere technical development organisation in the Pacific assisting with resources and technical capacity assistance across a wide cross-section of human development and resource management. SPC is an inter-government organisation and engages with 22 Pacific island countries and territories at various political levels, the highest being the SPC Conference of Ministers, the national level with the Council of Representatives of Government Administrators comprising of heads of national foreign affairs, and at the sector level and line ministries, such as the Ministry of agriculture, and also where NGOs and farmer groups are engaged. CTA engages with SPC at the sector level through the national Ministry of agriculture. In 2025, I will not need to travel to CTA as CTA will have a physical presence at SPC with its own budget and work plan and identified Pacific entities as national collaborators."
Allister Glean, Senior Project Officer at the Caribbean Agricultural Research and Development Institute (CARDI), Trinidad-and-Tobago.
"With the arrival of a new executive director at CARDI, I only anticipate the relationship between CTA and CARDI to further strengthen. At present, the current leaders have already forged a symbiotic relationship from which tremendous benefits rebound to both entities. Both organisations have similar strategic and programmatic focus. CTA is a key gateway to relations in Africa, the Pacific and Europe while CARDI is the most effective conduit for CTA's interventions in the Caribbean.
I am certain that the new director appreciates the work that has been achieved through the CARDI-CTA partnership. I can therefore see him seeking to forge even greater relations with CTA as one strategic tool to achieve greater impact, particularly in the areas of science and technology, ICTs, climate change, value chains, learning and development and enhanced media relations.
Regarding the Caribbean Week of Agriculture, the first lesson has been that the partnership with CARDI as well as with the CWA works! CTA and the CWA is an ideal fit. More importantly, working with CARDI to deliver at the CWA is a critical strategy for CTA. I believe that CARDI has been instrumental in establishing the presence of CTA at the CWA over the years. While CTA continues to work with agencies such as CARDI to make interventions, it is at the CWA that there is an opportunity like no other in any other region for CTA to engage the key regional stakeholders in a one-week-long forum. This is the major lesson. CTA is able to obtain ideas, consolidate its programmes and obtain feedback on its interventions during this week. Whether policy makers, ministers, youth, women, development agencies, agri-entrepreneurs, technicians, media etc., CTA can interface with them. What better experience is there than to meet the beneficiaries of the CTA effort all at once?"
John J. Amimo, Africa Rural & Agricultural Credit Association (AFRACA)
"The Fin4Ag Conference held in July this year in Nairobi, was the highlight of the collaboration between AFRACA–CTA. This milestone event was also my first experience with CTA, so it gave me a much better and broader insight of CTA’s work, especially in achieving the shared objective of agricultural finance development. Despite the many years in convening conferences and other high-level dialogues, a conference of this magnitude was a first for AFRACA. Working with CTA was a positive experience, not only in terms of the financial resources that CTA contributed, but the networks and partners it managed to bring on board as well as the experience of CTA staff in organizing such forums."
Agnes Akwang Obua-Ogwal, Programme coordinator, Regional Universities Forum for Capacity Building in Agriculture (RUFORUM)
"I strongly believe that giving special attention to training women in agriculture is important for national development. Women scientists currently constitute approximately 30% share of most African National Agricultural Research Systems (NARS) scientists. Increasing the numbers of female scientists will provide greater opportunity for concerns of women farmers to be addressed. Special attention is required to enable women to further their careers in science, including through training programs at postgraduate level. Women scientists also provide role models to the younger generation of girls to study and excel in sciences, and in particular, agriculture.
CTA should enhance support to women scientists, including mentorship by enabling them to participate in various national and international scientific dialogues and be part of professional networks in the ACP region. Short skill enhancement trainings are also important to improve the personal skills and competencies to enable women to compete favorably. CTA could also support women by highlighting and promoting the work of women scientists. CTA did support a conference for African women in science; this was over 5 years ago. Another such conference would go along way to profile and show visibility of women’s science achievements but also to provide analysis of issues and challenges to strengthening women’s participation in science."