Posts Tagged ‘Agriculture’

The adoption problem; or why we still understand so little about technological change in African agriculture

Posted by gabrielamartinez on , in Journal Articles

57965Authors: Glover, D.; Sumberg, J.; Andersson, J.A.

Published in: Outlook on Agriculture, 2016, vol.45, no.1, p.3-6.


The notion of adoption is central to efforts to measure technological change in African agriculture, and plays an important role in the evaluation of return on investment in agricultural research and technology development. However, the adoption concept, as it is commonly used in both the literature and development research practice, is seriously flawed and leads to inaccurate and misleading conclusions. The authors outline a design specification for a replacement concept that would provide a better basis for robust empirical research on the economic, social and environmental impacts of investment in agricultural technology development and promotion. They propose that this new concept can contribute to a better and more nuanced understanding of the impacts of technology development interventions.

Developing local adaptation strategies for climate change in agriculture: a priority-setting approach with application to Latin America

Posted by Carelia Juarez on , in Journal Articles

Published in Global Environmental Change 29:78-91, 2014.

Lee, D.R.; Edmeades, S.; De Nys, E.; McDonald, A.; Janssen, W.

Even with substantially increased attention to climate adaptation in developing countries in recent years, there are a number of important remaining research needs: better incorporating stakeholder input; using replicable methodologies to provide comparability across different settings; assuring that stakeholder input reflects the results of climate science, not simply perceptions; and effectively linking stakeholder input with the regional and national levels at which policy changes are made. This study reports the results of a methodology for identifying and prioritizing local, stakeholder-driven response options to climate change in agriculture. The approach is based on multi-criteria scoring methods previously applied to research planning and priority-setting in agricultural and natural resource management research, public health, and other areas. The methodology is a sequential approach built around needs assessments by local stakeholders; the incorporation of climate science results; the sharing of these results and climate adaption response options with stakeholders at a series of workshops; stakeholder priority-setting exercises using multi-criteria scoring; and validation with policymakers. The application is to three diverse agroecosystems in Mexico, Peru and Uruguay. Among the many findings is that, notwithstanding the wide diversity of agro-ecosystems, there are numerous similarities in the agricultural adaptation responses prioritized by local stakeholders.

Molecular Breeding for Quality Protein Maize (QPM)

Posted by Carelia Juarez on , in Journal Articles

Molecular Breeding for Quality Protein Maize (QPM). 2014. Babu, R.; Prasanna, B.M. p. 489-505. In: Genomics of Plant Genetic Resources; Vol. 2 Crop productivity, food security and nutritional quality. Tuberosa, R.; Graner, A.; Frison, E. (Eds.). Netherlands:  Springer.

98827Maize endosperm protein is deficient in two essential amino acids, lysine and tryptophan. Several spontaneous and induced mutations that affect amino acid composition in maize have been discovered amongst which the o2 gene (opaque2) has been used in association with endosperm and amino acid modifier genes for developing Quality Protein Maize (QPM), which contains almost double the amount of endosperm lysine and tryptophan as compared to the normal/non-QPM maize. These increases have been shown to have dramatic impacts on human and animal nutrition, growth and performance. A range of hard endosperm QPM germplasm has been developed at the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT) mostly through conventional breeding approaches to meet the requirements of various maize growing regions across the world. Microsatellite markers located within the o2 gene provided opportunities for accelerating the pace of QPM conversion programs through marker-assisted selection (MAS). More recently, CIMMYT scientists are striving to develop reliable, easy-to-use markers for endosperm hardness and free amino acid content in the maize endosperm. Recent technological developments including high throughput, single seed-based DNA extraction, coupled with low-cost, high density SNP genotyping strategies, and breeder-ready markers for some key adaptive traits in maize, promise enhanced efficiency and cost effectiveness of MAS in QPM breeding programs. Here, we present a summary of QPM research and breeding with particular emphasis on genetic and molecular basis of o2, epistasis between o2 and other high-lysine mutant genes, and the recent advances in genomics technologies that could potentially enhance the efficiency of molecular breeding for QPM in the near future.

Inter-connection between land use/land cover change and herders’/farmers’ livestock feed resource management strategies: a case study from three Ethiopian eco-environments

Posted by Carelia Juarez on , in Journal Articles

Published in Agriculture, Ecosystems and Environment 188 : 150-162, 2014

Mekasha, A.; Gerard, B.; Kindie Tesfaye Fantaye;Nigatu, L.; Duncan, A.J.

We assessed land use/land cover changes from remotely sensed satellite imagery and compared this with community perceptions on availability/use of livestock feed resources and feed deficit management strategies since the 1973s in three districts representing the pastoral, agro-pastoral and mixed crop-livestock eco-environments of Ethiopia. We found that land use/land cover changes are proceeding in all eco-environments and that transitions are from grasslands, and forest lands to bush/shrub lands and crop lands in the pastoral site (Liben), from bush/shrub lands and grasslands to crop lands in agro-pastoral site (Mieso) and from bush/shrub lands, forest lands and grasslands to crop lands in the mixed crop-livestock site (Tiyo). The changes significantly affected livestock feed resources and feed deficit management strategies available to households. Over the last 30–40 years, grazing resources available to livestock keepers have been declining with resultant increase in the contribution of crop residues and other feeds from crop lands (weeds and crop thinnings) as compared to feeds from grasslands. The feed deficit management strategies of households are also changing significantly from mobility to herd management and feed conservation in the pastoral areas; from mobility to feed conservation and purchasing of feed in the agro-pastoral areas and from transhumance to feed conservation and purchase of feed in the mixed crop-livestock areas. Hence feed resources and their availability vary with time and eco-environments indicating the need for the development of eco-environment/site specific feed management strategies in order to support productive stock in the study areas and similar eco-environments.

Assessing the performance of the photo-acoustic infrared gas monitor for measuring CO2, N2O, and CH4 fluxes in two major cereal rotations

Posted by Carelia Juarez on , in Journal Articles

Published in Global Change Biology 20 (1) : 287-299, 2013

Tirol-Padre, A.; Rai, M.; Gathala, M.K.; Sharma, S.; Kumar, V.; Sharma, P.C.; Sharma, D.F.;Wassmann, R.; Ladha, J.

Rapid, precise, and globally comparable methods for monitoring greenhouse gas (GHG) fluxes are required for accurate GHG inventories from different cropping systems and management practices. Manual gas sampling followed by gas chromatography (GC) is widely used for measuring GHG fluxes in agricultural fields, but is laborious and time-consuming. The photo-acoustic infrared gas monitoring system (PAS) with on-line gas sampling is an attractive option, although it has not been evaluated for measuring GHG fluxes in cereals in general and rice in particular. We compared N2O, CO2, and CH4 fluxes measured by GC and PAS from agricultural fields under the rice–wheat and maize–wheat systems during the wheat (winter), and maize/rice (monsoon) seasons in Haryana, India. All the PAS readings were corrected for baseline drifts over time and PAS-CH4 (PCH4) readings in flooded rice were corrected for water vapor interferences. The PCH4 readings in ambient air increased by 2.3 ppm for every 1000 mg cm−3 increase in water vapor. The daily CO2, N2O, and CH4 fluxes measured by GC and PAS from the same chamber were not different in 93–98% of all the measurements made but the PAS exhibited greater precision for estimates of CO2 and N2O fluxes in wheat and maize, and lower precision for CH4 flux in rice, than GC. The seasonal GC- and PAS-N2O (PN2O) fluxes in wheat and maize were not different but the PAS-CO2 (PCO2) flux in wheat was 14–39% higher than that of GC. In flooded rice, the seasonal PCH4 and PN2O fluxes across N levels were higher than those of GC-CH4 and GC-N2O fluxes by about 2- and 4fold, respectively. The PAS (i) proved to be a suitable alternative to GC for N2O and CO2 flux measurements in wheat, and (ii) showed potential for obtaining accurate measurements of CH4 fluxes in flooded rice after making correction for changes in humidity.

Wheat crop response to liming materials and N and P fertilizers in acidic soils of Tsegede highlands, northern Ethiopia

Posted by Carelia Juarez on , in Journal Articles

Published in Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries 2 (3) : 126-135, 2013

Kidanemariam, A.; Gebrekidan, H.; Mamo, T.; Kindie Tesfaye Fantaye

A greenhouse experiment was carried out on acidic soils collected from the Tsegede highlands of northern Ethiopia, where wheat production is severely constrained by soil acidity, to evaluate wheat crop response to the applications of liming materials (Wukro lime and Sheba lime) and N and P fertilizers. Three lime sources (without lime, Wukro lime and Sheba lime) and four N and P fertilizers (without N and P, recommended N, recommended P and recommended N + recommended P) were arranged in a factorial experiment using randomized complete block design with four replications. The results indicated that yield and yield attributes of wheat showed significant (P ≤ 0.01) response to the main effects of lime and fertilizer applications. Similarly, fertilizer by lime interaction effect was significantly (P ≤ 0.05) different in grain yield, total biomass and N and P uptakes. The soils which received only recommended N + recommended P fertilizers (NP), Wukro lime and Sheba lime showed significant grain yield increment by about 78, 76 and 96% over the control, respectively. However, the applications of NP + Wukro lime and NP + Sheba lime augmented grain yield by 239 and 233%, respectively, over the control plot. Likewise, N uptakes were enhanced by about 66, 80 and 81% and P uptakes by 93, 91 and 93% in the soils which received only NP, Wukro lime and Sheba lime over the control while the application of NP + Wukro lime and NP + Sheba lime increased N uptakes by 241 and 237% and P uptakes by 451 and 471% over the control, in that order. The highest agronomic efficiency and apparent recovery efficiency were also recorded in the soils treated with Wukro and Sheba limes along with only recommended P and NP fertilizers, respectively. Hence, a combined application of adjusted lime rate and NP fertilizers are recommended to achieve sustainable wheat crop production on acidic soils of the Tsegede highlands.

Household, community, and policy determinants of food insecurity in rural Malawi

Posted by Carelia Juarez on , in Journal Articles

Published in Development Southern Africa 30 (4-5) : 451-467, 2013

Fisher, M.; Lewin, P.A.

This study examines how socio-economic characteristics of households, local conditions, and public programmes are associated with the probability that a farm household in rural Malawi is food insecure. The statistical analysis uses nationally representative data for 8350 randomly-selected households interviewed during 2004/05 for the second Malawi Integrated Household Survey. Regressions are estimated separately for households in the north, centre, and south of Malawi to account for spatial heterogeneity. Results of a multilevel logit model reveal that households are less likely to be food insecure if they have larger cultivated land per capita, receive agricultural field assistance, reside in a community with an agricultural cooperative and relatively high annual rainfall, and are headed by an individual with a high school degree. Factors that positively correlate with household food insecurity are price of maize, price of fertiliser, number of household members, and distance to markets. Implications of these findings for policy are discussed.

Gender, nutrition- and climate-smart food production: Opportunities and trade-offs

Posted by Carelia Juarez on , in Journal Articles

Published in Food Security  5 (5) : 709-721, 2013

Beuchelt, T.D.; Badstue, L.B.

Future food and nutrition security is threatened by climate change, overexploitation of natural resources and pervasive social inequalities. Promising solutions are often technology-focused and not necessarily developed considering gender and social disparities. This paper addresses issues of gender and human development opportunities and trade-offs related to promoting improved technologies for agricultural development. We examined these aspects for conservation agriculture (CA) as part of a cropping system with nutrition- and climate-smart potential. The paper is based on a literature review and field experiences from Zambia and Mexico. Findings point up situations where the promotion of CA for smallholders in developing countries may have undesired effects from gender and human development perspectives, specifically relating to drudgery, nutrition and food security, residue use, assets, mechanization and extension. The direction and magnitude of potential trade-offs depend on the local context and the specific intervention. The analysis is followed by a discussion of opportunities and pathways for mitigating the trade-offs, including gender transformative approaches; engagement with alternative or non-traditional partners with different but complementary perspectives and strengths; “smart” combinations of technologies and approaches; and policies for inclusive development.

Relay planting of wheat in cotton: an innovative technology for enhancing productivity and profitability of wheat in cotton-wheat production system of South Asia

Posted by Carelia Juarez on , in Journal Articles

Published in Experimental Agriculture 49 (1) : 19-30, 2013

G.S. Buttar, H.S. Sidhu, Vicky Singh, M.L. Jat, R. Gupta, Yadvinder Singh and Beldev Singh

 Cotton–wheat (CW) is the second most important cropping system after rice–wheat in South Asia. Sowing of wheat after cotton is usually delayed due to late pickings coupled with time needed for seedbed preparation, resulting in low wheat yield. Lack of suitable machinery is a major constraint to direct drilling of wheat into the heavy cotton stubbles. An innovative approach with much promise is the ‘2-wheel tractor-based self-propelled relay seeder’ with seed-cum-fertilizer attachment. On-farm trials were conducted at four locations during 2009–2010 and at 10 locations during 2010–2011 to evaluate the following four wheat establishment methods in CW-dominated areas of south-western Punjab, India: (1) zero till seeding in standing cotton using a self-propelled relay seeder, (2) relay seeding in standing cotton with a manual drill without prior tillage (2010 only), (3) relay broadcast seeding in standing cotton following light manual tillage and (4) conventional sowing of wheat after cotton harvest (conventional tillage and sowing with a seed–fertilizer drill). Planting of wheat under conventional practice was delayed by 20–44 days compared with relay seeding. Seed cotton yield was also significantly higher with relay seeding due to opportunity for one additional picking. Yield of wheat sown with the self-propelled relay seeder was 41.2% and 11.8% higher than with conventional practice in 2009–2010 and 2010–2011 respectively. The increase in wheat yield under relay seeding of wheat was primarily due to higher spike density and more grains per spike. The net income from the CW system was 28.2% higher for the self-propelled relay seeder than with conventional sowing.

Could farmer interest in a diversity of seed attributes explain adoption plateaus for modern maize varieties in Malawi?

Posted by Carelia Juarez on , in Journal Articles

Published in Food Policy 37 (5): 504-510, 2012

Rodney Lunduka, Monica Fisher and Sieglinde Snapp

This study uses new data from a household survey (n = 179) in Mulanje District, Malawi to examine whether the observed adoptionplateaus for modernmaizevarieties in Malawi partly reflect farmerinterest in adiversity of maizeseedattributes. Regression results for the study area indicate that specific attributes of different maizevarieties are an important influence on their use. The benefits to growing hybrid maize appear to be yield and drought tolerance. Open pollinated varieties are selected by farmers who value early maturity. Local maizevarieties are popular among farm households owing to a number of favourable processing and consumption characteristics: storability, poundability, flour-to-grain ratio, and taste. Further research using nationally representative data is needed to assess whether findings for Mulanje District can be generalized to Malawi as a whole. If future studies agree with the results herein then maize breeding research programs in Malawi should consider adiversity of traits beyond grain yield to encompass the range of production, processing, and consumption attributes that are valued by farmers.