A double win for CIAT scientists

29 September, 2015 by (comments)

Crossposted from: CIAT DAPA Blog.

CIAT scientists are celebrating a double win after their new crowdsourcing approach to climate-smart agriculture (CSA) was selected for two ClimateCoLab awards.

Organized by the MIT Center for Collective Intelligence, the awards recognize the innovative use of information and communication technologies (ICTs) in Climate Change research.

The CIAT system enables farmers and scientists to continuously share their knowledge about climate change, accelerate development of best practices, and boost food production. Known as “Seeding Science Knowledge by Engaging Local Experts,” it received the Judge’s Choice and the Popular Choice Award.

The basic idea of the approach is very simple, which is probably part of the reason for its success as well, says CIAT scientist Anton Eitzinger, who designed the project. It enables farmers and scientists to continuously share their knowledge about climate change. They do this through the use of tools such as mobile phones, online sharing platforms and so-called hotspot mapping – a strategy in which we define sites that require immediate action on climate change. The tools can be linked to any ongoing CSA project, and are an inclusive way to quickly develop and test best practices across sites.”

csa_tanzaniaThe CIAT team, together with the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) and local partners, successfully trialed the system with over 900 farmers in Tanzania recently.

“It’s a great reward for the work we have been doing,” continues Eitzinger. “I think our strong point is that we combine different key factors: we make use of science-based evidence through the biophysical modeling skills of CIAT’s Decision and Policy Analysis (DAPA) research team, use a solid framework for community engagement, and work with local grassroots organizations and farm communities for CSA prioritization and testing. It’s a scientist–local expert–farmer partnership, which allows us to inform policy makers about best practices in a clear and easy way.”

The approach combines different activities, namely:

  • Identify hotspots to target CSA packages
  • Discuss the identified hotspots with stakeholders
  • Continuously improve the approach based on outputs from workshop and field experiences
  • Provide training for local technicians in the use of mobile-phone technology
  • Establish on-farm demonstration plots in the study region, which will be managed by farmers
  • Foster engagement between experts and local implementers
  • Document farmers’ feedback about CSA packages and inform national decision makers through platform reports.

“By winning these awards, we can continue to develop and scale up this powerful tool for research that could be of keen interest to the private sector, governmental institutions, NGOs, and the academia. Furthermore, it enables us to engage even more in crowdsourcing applications for agricultural development,” Eitzinger said.

For the full winning proposal, please click here.

For a summary animation on the proposal, please see below.

The project will be presented at the ClimateCoLab Conference, which will take place on 6 October. To receive live updates from the conference, follow @CIAT_DAPA on Twitter.

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Filed Under: Climate Change