RESADE activities are centered on enhancing the productivity of saline soils and incomes of smallholder farmers in the targeted areas by introducing technologies and practices that make it possible to achieve full crop productivity while reducing water consumption and preventing further salinization. This is achieved by building capacity of farmers, extension workers and other local stakeholders on best management practices of saline soils; policy analysis and formulation, and engagement with senior decision-makers to facilitate scaling up of project results.
The project’s approach is based on a theory of change that:
- IF farmers are shown how to increase their agricultural productivity in conditions of salinity (barrier = lack of knowledge concerning salt-tolerant crops and best management practices for crops, soil and water in such conditions), and;
- IF the capacity of NARES to support farmers through extension services appropriate for such conditions is enhanced (barrier = limited knowledge concerning appropriate crops and practices), and;
- IF the farmers’ access to the necessary inputs (seeds, tools, credit, etc.) is facilitated through the establishment of seed production units and linkages to input suppliers and credit institutions (barrier = lack of access to quality seeds of salt-tolerant crops and other necessary inputs, including credit), and;
- IF the farmers’ ability to market their produce is facilitated through strengthening and/or establishment of value chain linkages (barrier = constrained access to markets or lack of demand for new crops and related value-added products), and;
- IF a conducive environment for project implementation and scaling up of its results is created through awareness raising and advocacy among policy and decision-makers, and through incorporation of new approaches in agricultural sector strategies and plans (barrier = lack of recognition among national policy and decision makers that rising salinity poses a threat to the agricultural sector in the targeted countries and lack of information regarding appropriate mitigation and adaptation strategies);
- THEN, farmers will be encouraged and enabled to adopt salt-tolerant crops and best management practices, which would lead to higher agricultural productivity and subsequently to improved food security and higher incomes in project areas, invigorating the local economy in targeted areas and beyond through forward and backward linkages.
To this end, the project’s implementation strategy comprises of the following four integrated components:
- Component 1: Assessment and mapping of salinity-affected agricultural areas, and selection of areas for project implementation. A desktop study followed by a comprehensive assessment of salinity in targeted areas, including its extent, characterization, causes and effects on agricultural productivity, and subsequently selection of areas and communities for project implementation in consultation with national stakeholders and IFAD and BADEA country program staff.
- Component 2: Participatory development of improved salinity management technologies and practices at Best Practice Hubs and related capacity building. Best practice hubs (BPH) established in each targeted area, where ICBA scientists, NARES counterparts and local farmers are testing salinity- and drought-tolerant improved lines and varieties of important local crops (e.g. rice, sorghum, millet, cowpea), as well as highly-resilient varieties and accessions of non-conventional dual purpose crops and forages (blue panicum, pearl millet, etc.) for adaptability and productivity under local conditions, prior to their dissemination to the local farming communities. Concurrently, small-scale irrigation and other innovative low-cost intensification technologies are tested and introduced. On the basis of these field trial outcomes, training packages are developed for farmers and extension workers, in addition to technical guidelines for respective Ministries of Agriculture to facilitate scaling up. Facilitators for Farmer Field Schools of Excellence (FFSE) are selected and trained through a Training and Trainers (ToT), following which FFSE are initiated in each targeted area.
- Component 3: Scaling up of climate-smart and salt-resilient agriculture from BPHs to the farming communities in targeted areas. Community-based seed production and processing units are established and/or strengthened through training and provision of the necessary equipment to enable them to produce good quality seed of the recommended crop and forage varieties for dissemination to farmers in the targeted and other areas. Likewise, the project is establishing new and/or strengthen existing farmers’ cooperatives, particularly those with a high representation of women and young people, in order to create economies of scale in production, harvesting, aggregation, processing and marketing, as well as to enhance farmers’ collective bargaining power. Linkages between farmers’ cooperatives, credit institutions, input suppliers, processors, and local/regional markets are to be established to facilitate the creation of value chains.
- Component 4: Learning, knowledge management and policy dialogue. A dedicated project website is set up to share information with project partners and external audiences. It includes links to educational videos/audios in local dialects on climate-smart agriculture, which can be watched online or downloaded and disseminated to farmers and extension workers. To enable the Ministries of Agriculture in the target countries to address salinity threats in a holistic manner, ICBA scientists and NARES counterparts are undertaking an assessment of existing irrigation and drainage infrastructure in the main irrigated areas and proposing solutions for its rehabilitation and improvement, as well as optimal irrigation and drainage allocation based on soil-water-plant modelling. In addition, a review of current water use policies, practices and institutions was undertaken and policy guidance developed. The project will be concluded with high-level seminars climate-smart agriculture and salinity management to raise awareness among policy- and decision-makers and secure their support for scaling up of project outcomes.
- Component 5: Project management. An ICBA-appointed Project Leader is responsible for the overall management of the project, under the oversight of ICBA’s senior management team. In each target country, a Project Implementation Unit (PIU) is established within NARES and a national Project Coordinator was seconded from the latter to support the Project Leader in the coordination of activities at the country level. Upon commencement of the project, an inception workshop was organized for Project Coordinators at ICBA headquarters in Dubai. Regular coordination with all partners will be undertaken through annual steering committee meetings in alternating project countries as well as biannual technical committee meetings in each country. Regular monitoring and a final evaluation will be undertaken by an ICBA-appointed specialist. ICBA’s Communication and Knowledge Management Section are support the project by managing its web portal and generating various knowledge products for dissemination to stakeholders, in addition to supporting the Project Leader with the preparation of regular project progress reports. ICBA is directly responsible for the financial management and reporting to IFAD and BADEA. Upon completion of the project, ICBA will organize a final workshop to discuss achievements and lessons learned and will also arrange an external audit to ensure full accountability for the funds received from IFAD and BADEA.