In Ethiopia, ICARDA researchers led by Dr. Girma Kassie study factors that impact market access for livestock farmers and inform the government’s investments in the sector to improve smallholders’ market participation and performance to boost livestock production and productivity. The project is funded by the CGIAR Research Program (CRP) on Policies, Institutions and Markets (PIM), and CRP Livestock. One study revealed that introducing animal sheds for animals to rest and refresh can significantly improve the market price of stock and consequently smallholder farmers’ market participation. A related study investigated what market facilities farmers are most willing to pay for, whereby animals’ sheds, veterinary service posts, holding barns, water troughs, and feed selling facilities were the most valued by the farmers.
Using a sample of 621 farmers in Syria, the study (El-Shater, Mugera and Yigezu, 2020) assessed the impacts of the adoption of ZT technology on productive efficiency, input-specific resource use efficiency, and production risk. Model results showed that adoption of ZT proved to be an effective risk management strategy in dryland production systems, where it led to 95% and 33.3% reductions in the risk of obtaining wheat yield levels below 1000 kg/ha and 1500 kg/ha, respectively. A clear indication that using ZT leads to improvements in productive efficiency is a 93% reduction in the risk of obtaining efficiency levels below 40% among users of ZT. Future research will be needed to clarify whether coupling ZT with the other components of conservation agriculture will reverse some of these effects.
Another study by Drs. Mina Devkota and Yigezu Atnafe Yigezu, funded by CRP-Wheat showed how substantial scope exists for improved agronomic practices that increase wheat yields and gross margins for farmers in Morocco. It identified tillage methods and fertilizer rates as important causal factors of the yield gap in rainfed systems, followed by the quantity of phosphorus and nitrogen fertilizer, seed quality, and the type of preceding crop. In the irrigated environment, the preceding crop was the most important variable in explaining the yield gap, followed by variety, seed quality, and quantities of nitrogen and phosphorus fertilizers. Grain yield and grain price were the most important variables explaining gross margins.
A research team that included ICARDA Drs. Aymen Frija and Boubkaer Dhehibi studied the impact of investment in alternative agricultural research and development investment across fourteen African countries. The aim was to investigate how these investments can mitigate future challenges like climate change and population pressure on national economies. Results showed increased investments in agriculture could generate higher overall employment and reduce gender disparities in labor participation. Further, in eight out of the fourteen countries, female employment increased more than male employment in response to agricultural investments, and infrastructure investments had a higher impact on female employment growth than productivity scenarios.
Another study from the SEP team and funded by CRP Dryland Systems and CRP-PIM analyzes relationships between the olive oil value chain (OVC) leading operators in Tunisia and how they can be improved for better performance and resilience of the olive oil sector. Findings suggest that public-private-civil society partnerships are essential for developing technological and institutional innovations that involve more inclusive olive oil value chains. The research can help development practitioners, the research community, and the broader region design initiatives to foster practical, inclusive, and contextually relevant processes for agricultural innovation.
Dr. Boubaker was also involved in another study funded by the United States Department of Agriculture through its Economic Research Service on how along with improving water resources, investments in research can also raise productivity and release constraints on growth. The results showed that technological innovations and efficiency gains contributed significantly more to agricultural growth in Egypt than the expansion of irrigated areas or water use, and how the historical rise in total resource productivity significantly increased the value of natural resource rents in Egyptian agriculture.