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MARCH JUNE 2010 PARTNERS
World Development Report 2008, which showed
that investment in agriculture has delivered an
average rate of return of 43% in 700 projects
that were evaluated.
The ACIAR-funded 'Cattle in Cambodia'
project, now in the third year of its 4-year
funding agreement, is one such example.
Research partners report that the outcomes
for farmers who have lifted productivity
through better forage crops have exceeded
their "wildest dreams", due to the spirit of
cooperation and the ability to build on
the gains of previous projects through the
continuity provided by a CGIAR centre.
In partnership with the Laos-based
International Center for Tropical Agriculture
(CIAT) and in conjunction with the Royal
Agricultural University and Department of
Animal Health and Production in Cambodia, the
Cattle in Cambodia project follows successful
projects in Laos and earlier trials in Cambodia
with similar aims---that is, to improve feed
availability and quality throughout the year
while reducing labour.
ACIAR research program manager for animal
health Dr Doug Gray says the production
systems and social conditions vary greatly
between Laos and Cambodia, but lessons learnt
in Laos mean change can be effected much
faster in Cambodia.
Australian animal nutritionist Dr Darryl
Savage, from the University of New England,
has been involved on the ground in Cambodia.
He says it is an advantage being able to capture
knowledge and skills already created on
previous CIAT-managed projects.
When this project was launched, Dr Werner
Stür and Dr Sorn San---the Cambodian-based
leaders of an earlier program funded through
other international agencies---were able to
come on board immediately through CIAT 's
involvement, picking up where earlier work left off.
One of the first techniques employed was
to develop collaborative partnerships and
a learning alliance of all non-government
organisations (including those from religious
ministries and business-sponsored projects)
and government employees working on cattle
production in Cambodia.
This, Dr Savage says, allows everyone to
move in the same direction and avoid project
duplication, while also giving an indication of
the projects likely to be of assistance. " We don't
pay for them to travel to the alliance meetings,
so if they can't afford to get there it is likely
they won't have the resources to help with this
project," he says.
But the most important aspect is that the
alliance provides a measurement of project
relevance. "These people have limited time
and if the workshops or research we run are
not providing them with something they can
use with the farmers, they will not participate,"
Dr Gray says. "Our research work then becomes
driven by the demands of rural development."
The second important lesson learnt from
Laos is to allow farmers to be involved in every
level of research, thus making information
sharing easier and guaranteeing the production
techniques are achievable using local resources.
"That farmer-driven model has been
successful in Laos with cattle, buffalo and pigs
so it is a method easily adopted in Cambodia,
despite the different conditions," Dr Gray says.
The project has three trial sites: Prey Chhor
(established in the earlier work), Tbong Khmum
and Kang Meas (the only site where trial pastures
are irrigated). In 2003 the CIAT-managed
'Livelihood and Livestock Systems Project'
introduced forages to Prey Chhor farmers, which
could be grown near their homes in 'banks' to
supplement the rice straw diet of their cattle
(usually two to five head), saving them 8 hours'
work a day collecting native grasses.
Project surveys in 2008 found the average
Cambodian cattle enterprise was 1 hectare,
with four cattle supporting five or six family
A sign of the success is that Prey Chhor
farmers are already selling cuttings of the
forage to farmers from other regions. Other
farmers are starting to fully use the forage crops
by buying-in cattle for fattening, turning them
over more quickly.
"If you can walk away from a project and
your work is continued by the farmers then that
is success," Dr Savage says. "Never in our wildest
dreams did we anticipate this would happen
so quickly or that the level of adoption---often
with farmers who have had nothing to do with
the trials---would be as great as it has been."
THE ROLE OF POLICY
The Washington-based International Food
Policy Research Institute (IFPRI), a CGIAR centre,
seeks to end hunger and poverty through
The two premises of this mission are that:
nsound and appropriate local, national and
international reform of public, domestic
and trade policies are needed to achieve
sustainable food security and nutritional
nthe dissemination of results is critical to
raising the quality of food-policy debate and
formulating sound and appropriate policies.
ACIAR funded two recent projects to help
farmers in developing nations capture more
income from the opening up of world trade,
particularly to China and India.
One explored alternative futures for
agricultural knowledge, science and technology
through a collaboration between the World
Bank, the Australian Bureau of Agricultural and
Resource Economics, the Center for Chinese
Agricultural Policy and the National Council of
Applied Economic Research in China.
The project made an up-to-date analysis
of the world food and environmental
situation for the current debate on world
food prices, security and climate change,
with individual assessments for China and
India. This information was then provided to
the International Assessment of Agricultural
Science and Technology for Development
(IAASTD) secretariat. ACIAR policy adviser
Dr Simon Hearn says the project was influential
as it provided factual information that
influenced the food security debate.
" You can't have an informed debate without
good research and this research takes place
without concern about the political impact
of policy---it just spells out the positives and
negatives of policy change options," he says.
"Good policy helps gain value from science.
For example, if fertiliser subsidies are removed
or reduced, farmers might use fertiliser
more carefully, benefiting the environment
and in some cases enhancing sustainable
The true impact of economic and trade
policy is well understood through IFPRI
projects, such as one that examined the impact
A forage fodder bank can mean that a child can attend school
rather than spending 8 hours a day cutting native grasses.
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