Exploring solution spaces for nutrition-sensitive agriculture in Kenya and Vietnam
Timler, Carl ; Alvarez, Stéphanie ; DeClerck, Fabrice ; Remans, Roseline ; Raneri, Jessica ; Estrada Carmona, Natalia ; Mashingaidze, Nester ; Abe Chatterjee, Shantonu ; Chiang, Tsai Wei ; Termote, Celine ; Yang, Ray Yu ; Descheemaeker, Katrien ; Brouwer, Inge D. ; Kennedy, Gina ; Tittonell, Pablo A. ; Groot, Jeroen C.J. - \ 2020
Agricultural Systems 180 (2020). - ISSN 0308-521X
Agrobiodiversity - Dietary diversity - FarmDESIGN - Nutrition - Synergies - Trade-offs
Smallholder agriculture is an important source of livelihoods in South Asia and sub-Saharan Africa. In these regions the highest concentrations of nutritionally vulnerable populations are found. Agricultural development needs to be nutrition-sensitive, and contribute simultaneously to improving household nutrition, farm productivity and environmental performance. We explored the windows of opportunities for farm development and the potential of crop diversification options for meeting household dietary requirements, whilst concurrently improving household economic performance in contrasting smallholder farm systems in Kenya and Vietnam. Farm and household features and farmer perspectives and priorities were integrated into a farm-household model that allowed quantification of a diverse set of nutritional, labour and productive indicators. Using a multi-objective optimization algorithm, we generated ‘solution spaces’ comprising crop compositions and management configurations that would satisfy household dietary needs and allowed income gains. Results indicated site-specific synergies between income and nutritional system yield for vitamin A. Diversification with novel vegetables could cover vitamin A requirements of 10 to 31 extra people per hectare and lead to greater income (25 to 185% increase) for some households, but reduced leisure time. Although the Vietnamese sites exhibited greater nutrient system yields than those in Kenya, the household diets in Kenya had greater nutrient adequacy due to the fact that the Vietnamese farmers sold greater proportions of their on-farm produced foods. We conclude that nutrition-sensitive, multi-method approaches have potential to identify solutions to simultaneously improve household income, nutrition and resource management in vulnerable smallholder farming systems.
Data for: A model to examine farm household trade-offs and synergies with an application to smallholders in Vietnam
Groot, Jeroen ; Timler, Carl ; Chatterjee, Shantonu Abe ; Chiang, Tsai Wei ; Komarek, Adam M. ; Estrada Carmona, Natalia ; Kennedy, Gina ; Alvarez, Stephanie ; Raneri, Jessica ; Ditzler, Lenora - \ 2019
Wageningen University & Research
Rural development - Cropping system - Modelling - Farming system
FarmDESIGN Model with the case study farms and their data for the paper "A model to examine farm household trade-offs and synergies with an application to smallholders in Vietnam"
A model to examine farm household trade-offs and synergies with an application to smallholders in Vietnam
Ditzler, Lenora ; Komarek, Adam M. ; Chiang, Tsai Wei ; Alvarez, Stéphanie ; Chatterjee, Shantonu Abe ; Timler, Carl ; Raneri, Jessica E. ; Carmona, Natalia Estrada ; Kennedy, Gina ; Groot, Jeroen C.J. - \ 2019
Agricultural Systems 173 (2019). - ISSN 0308-521X - p. 49 - 63.
FarmDESIGN model - Farmer livelihoods - Labor - Multi-objective optimization - Nutrition - Soil organic matter
Farm models have the potential to describe farming systems and livelihoods, identify trade-offs and synergies, and provide ex-ante assessments of agricultural technologies and policies. We developed three new modules related to budget, labor, and human nutrition for the bio-economic whole-farm model ‘FarmDESIGN’. The expanded model positions the farming enterprise within the farm household. We illustrate the model's new capabilities for farm households in two villages in Northwest Vietnam, where we conducted multi-objective optimization to identify options for improving the farm households' current performance on key sustainability and livelihood indicators. Modeling results suggest trade-offs between environmental, economic, and social objectives are common, although not universal. The new modules increase the scope for modeling flows of resources (namely cash, labor, and food) between the farm enterprise and the farm household, as well as beyond the farm gate. This allows conducting modeling explorations, optimization routines, and scenario analyses in farming systems research.
Capturing farm diversity with hypothesis-based typologies : An innovative methodological framework for farming system typology development
Alvarez, Stéphanie ; Timler, Carl J. ; Michalscheck, Mirja ; Paas, Wim ; Descheemaeker, Katrien ; Tittonell, Pablo ; Andersson, Jens A. ; Groot, Jeroen C.J. - \ 2018
PLoS ONE 13 (2018)5. - ISSN 1932-6203
Creating typologies is a way to summarize the large heterogeneity of smallholder farming systems into a few farm types. Various methods exist, commonly using statistical analysis, to create these typologies. We demonstrate that the methodological decisions on data collection, variable selection, data-reduction and clustering techniques can bear a large impact on the typology results. We illustrate the effects of analysing the diversity from different angles, using different typology objectives and different hypotheses, on typology creation by using an example from Zambia’s Eastern Province. Five separate typologies were created with principal component analysis (PCA) and hierarchical clustering analysis (HCA), based on three different expert-informed hypotheses. The greatest overlap between typologies was observed for the larger, wealthier farm types but for the remainder of the farms there were no clear overlaps between typologies. Based on these results, we argue that the typology development should be guided by a hypothesis on the local agriculture features and the drivers and mechanisms of differentiation among farming systems, such as biophysical and socio-economic conditions. That hypothesis is based both on the typology objective and on prior expert knowledge and theories of the farm diversity in the study area. We present a methodological framework that aims to integrate participatory and statistical methods for hypothesis-based typology construction. This is an iterative process whereby the results of the statistical analysis are compared with the reality of the target population as hypothesized by the local experts. Using a well-defined hypothesis and the presented methodological framework, which consolidates the hypothesis through local expert knowledge for the creation of typologies, warrants development of less subjective and more contextualized quantitative farm typologies.
Identification of beef production farms in the Pampas and Campos area that stand out in economic and environmental performance
Modernel, P. ; Dogliotti, S. ; Alvarez, S. ; Corbeels, M. ; Picasso, V. ; Tittonell, P. ; Rossing, W.A.H. - \ 2018
Ecological Indicators 89 (2018). - ISSN 1470-160X - p. 755 - 770.
Carbon footprint - Grazing - Livestock - Multivariate analysis - Nutrient balance - South America - Sustainability
Worldwide, native grasslands are being converted to non-native pastures and cropland. This process threatens local grassland biomes as well as the livelihoods of farm families that utilize these grasslands. In the Río de la Plata grasslands region meat production and multispecies native grasslands have coexisted for more than 400 years. Low levels of meat productivity and farm income, however, trigger replacement of native grasslands by crops and leys and threaten the survival of local beef farming systems. We studied the economic and environmental performance of beef farming in the region based on interviews and field measurements on 280 case study farms with the following aims: (a) to identify the multi-functional economic and environmental performance of beef farms across the Rio de la Plata grasslands biome; (b) to identify farms with ‘outstanding’ multi-functional performance; (c) to compare performance levels with those found in other regions; and (d) to discuss the implications of the outstanding farms for the development of new systems of meat production. The representativeness of the case study farms was ascertained by comparing them with a farm typology constructed from survey data of 15,448 beef farms situated predominantly on native grasslands in Argentina, Brazil and Uruguay. We identified seven farm types on the basis of farm size, labour, farm specialization, land use and stocking rate. We identified positive deviant farms based on Pareto-ranking and compared these with a classification based on threshold values provided by experts. Out of the 280 farms, 41 were ranked as Pareto-optimal, i.e. outperformed other farms in one or more indicators without being outperformed in other indicators. Out of these, 5 were positive deviants, achieving on average 192 kg LW ha−1 yr−1 of livestock productivity and 201 US$ ha−1 year−1 farm income, having most favourable values for fossil energy consumption, phosphorus balance, carbon footprint and having over 95% of their land under native grassland as a proxy for biodiversity conservation value. Four of these farms belonged to farm types that together represented 55% of the population, suggesting scope for widescale improvement. Compared to the values reported for the OECD countries the beef farming systems of the Río de la Plata grasslands region consume less energy and positive deviant farms demonstrated approximately average livestock productivity and carbon footprint. Increasing livestock productivity in the Rio de la Plata grasslands region resulted in a stronger decline of the carbon footprint without compromising the current negligible levels of fossil fuel energy use. Further elucidation of management practices that lead to positive deviant performance will require modelling of the interaction of pasture and herd dynamics at farm level and is needed to support targeted policy support for sustainable natural grassland-based beef production in the region.
Exploring options for sustainable intensification through legume integration in different farm types in Eastern Zambia
Timler, C.J. ; Michalscheck, M. ; Alvarez, S. ; Descheemaeker, K.K.E. ; Groot, J.C.J. - \ 2017
In: Sustainable Intensification in Smallholder Agriculture / Oborn, Ingrid, Vanlauwe, Bernard, Philips, Michael, Thomas, Richard, Brooijmans, Willemien, Atta-Krah, Kwesi, Earthscan (Earthscan Food and Agriculture ) - ISBN 9781138668089 - p. 196 - 209.
In Zambia maize is the main staple food crop and, with a share of 52% in the daily calorie intake of the local population, it is critical for ensuring the national food security (FAOSTAT, 2013). Of the total maize consumed in Zambia, smallholder farmers produce 80% in rain-fed systems under low soil fertility, frequent drought and with a limited use of high yielding varieties or inorganic fertiliser (Sitko et al., 2011). In eastern Zambia, the livelihoods of small-scale farmers depend largely on maize-legume mixed systems characterised by low productivity, extreme poverty and environmental degradation (Sitko et al., 2011). Thus, there seems to be a great need for sustainable intensification of these farming systems, for instance through promoting best practices in maize–legume integration. Maize–legume cropping provides protein-rich food for humans, residues for animal feed, composting and soil amendments and nitrogen inputs through symbiotic fixation by the legume. Sustainable intensification of farming systems can take place through changes in resource use and allocation that increase farm productivity while reducing pressure on local ecosystems and safeguarding social relations. According to Pretty et al. (2011), this entails the efficient use of all inputs to produce more outputs while reducing damage to the environment and building a resilient natural capital from which environmental services can be obtained. Sustainable intensification results from the application of technological and socio-economic approaches that may be categorised into genetic, ecological and socio-economic intensification (The Montpellier Panel, 2013).
Integrated systems research in nutrition-sensitive landscapes : A theoretical methodological framework
Groot, Jeroen C.J. ; Kennedy, Gina ; Remans, Roseline ; Estrada-Carmona, Natalia ; Raneri, Jessica ; DeClerck, Fabrice ; Alvarez, Stéphanie ; Mashingaidze, Nester ; Timler, Carl ; Stadler, Minke ; Río Mena, Trinidad del; Horlings, Lummina ; Brouwer, Inge ; Cole, Steven M. ; Descheemaeker, Katrien - \ 2017
In: Sustainable Intensification in Smallholder Agriculture / Oborn, Ingrid, Vanlauwe, Bernard, Phillips, Michael, Thomas, Richard, Atta-Krah, Kwesi, Brooijmans, Willemien, New York : Routledge / Earthscan - ISBN 9781138668089 - p. 259 - 274.
South Asia and sub-Saharan Africa are two regions of the world with the highest concentration of nutritionally vulnerable populations that depend to a large extent on agriculture as an important source of livelihood (Gillespie et al., 2015). The vast majority of farmers in these regions have small landholdings due to land fragmentation (Jayne et al., 2014; Valbuena et al., 2015) and are often constrained in their access to resources and agricultural inputs (Herrero et al., 2010), especially women (e.g., Cole et al., 2015). As a consequence, productivity levels are low, and because income sources are also limited, dependence on surrounding landscapes and ecosystem services is high in terms of safeguarding supplies of clean water, human and animal foods, construction materials and fuel wood. People shape their physical landscapes (Ellis, 2015), influenced by cultures, values and livelihood opportunities (Horlings, 2015). People’s utilization of their physical landscapes is shaped by various conditions such as soil properties, topography, climate and flooding patterns. People’s dependence on their physical landscapes is strong and expected to increase due to climate change, resulting in gradual but persistent changes including adjustments in frequency, timing and severity of anomalies such as droughts and floods (Naylor et al., 2007; Gornall et al., 2010).
Combining farm typology and yield gap analysis to identify major variables limiting yields in the highland coffee systems of Llano Bonito, Costa Rica
Bhattarai, Sanjeeb ; Alvarez, Stéphanie ; Gary, Christian ; Rossing, Walter ; Tittonell, Pablo ; Rapidel, Bruno - \ 2017
Agriculture, Ecosystems and Environment 243 (2017). - ISSN 0167-8809 - p. 132 - 142.
Boundary-line analysis - Coffee (Coffea arabica L.) - Costa Rica - Farm diversity - Farming systems - Yield limiting factor
Yield variability in space and time is a well-known phenomenon in the highland coffee production systems of Costa Rica. Our objective was to systematically unravel variations and gaps in yields due to the combined effects of farm resources and major production variables in a region of premium quality highland coffee. We surveyed 40 coffee producing farms varying in size from small to large in Llano Bonito, Costa Rica to examine their diversity based on their resources. We further conducted an agronomic diagnosis and yield estimates in 97 individual measuring plots in 63 coffee fields over two cropping years (2013–2014 and 2014–2015). We categorized farm diversity through a resource endowment typology built by combining direct observation with the use of multivariate analysis and clustering techniques. This resulted in four farm types: large farms depending on external labour (Type 1, 25%), large farms with livestock (Type 2, 20%), small farms dedicated to coffee (Type 3, 38%), and small farms with an off-farm income (Type 4, 17%). We then analysed coffee yield variability and yield gaps through a boundary line approach. The mean yields for two cropping years fluctuated between 2.5 ± 0.18 and 1.6 ± 0.12 t ha−1 on farm types 1 and 2 respectively. Though the yields did not differ strongly across farm types, there was a weak tendency (p = 0.10) towards yield variability between study years. The combined use of farm typology and yield gap analysis revealed multiple farm‐specific production variables that were significantly related to gaps in attainable yields. For any intervention to improve and stabilize yields in the future, the heterogeneity of farm orientation, management practices, production geographical context and soil properties must be given proper attention and integrated into crop, shade tree and soil management practices.
Economic assessment of conservation agriculture options in mixed crop-livestock systems in Brazil using farm modelling
Alary, V. ; Corbeels, M. ; Affholder, F. ; Alvarez, S. ; Soria, A. ; Valadares Xavier, J.H. ; Silva, F.A.M. Da; Scopel, E. - \ 2016
Agricultural Systems 144 (2016). - ISSN 0308-521X - p. 33 - 45.
Direct seeding mulch-based cropping (DMC) systems are often considered as an efficient way of combining ecological sustainability and economic viability while maintaining or increasing agricultural productivity. This paper describes a modelling analysis of the functioning of family farms in rural settlements of the agrarian reform in the Cerrados of Brazil. The aim was to assess the impact of the introduction of DMC systems with and without cover crops on crop-livestock management and net household income. A bio-economic farm model based on optimization of a utility function under multiple constraints was developed, capturing the interactions between livestock activities and the introduction of DMC systems. The model was run for six farms representing three farm types in the study area: 1) subsistence-oriented mixed crop-livestock farms; 2) market-oriented dairy farms; and 3) mixed crop-livestock farms, oriented to meat marketing. The following maize-based DMC systems were evaluated: a DMC system with mulch from residues of the previous maize crop and no cover crop, and two DMC systems with a fodder species, Brachiaria brizanta or Cajanus cajan, as cover crop. The simulated adoptability of DMC systems by farmers of the assentamentos depended to a large extent on the yields and feed quality of the fodder species. The modelling results suggested that DMC with C. cajan as cover crop was the best suitable option for all simulated farm types. This was mainly explained by its high feed value (expressed in crude protein content). Furthermore, in the process of intensification and specialization in dairy production, farmers were likely to shift from using maize for pig husbandry to feeding it to the dairy cows. The introduction of cover crops in the farm systems was a source of additional animal feed during the dry season that was cheaper than the purchase of feed concentrates, when the size of the dairy herd did not exceed a certain threshold.
Characterising the diversity of smallholder farming systems and their constraints and opportunities for innovation : A case study from the Northern Region, Ghana
Kuivanen, K.S. ; Alvarez, S. ; Michalscheck, M. ; Adjei-Nsiah, S. ; Descheemaeker, K. ; Mellon-Bedi, S. ; Groot, J.C.J. - \ 2016
NJAS Wageningen Journal of Life Sciences 78 (2016). - ISSN 1573-5214 - p. 153 - 166.
Diversity - Farming systems - Ghana - Multivariate analysis - Typology
Typologies may be used as tools for dealing with farming system heterogeneity. This is achieved by classifying farms into groups that have common characteristics, i.e. farm types, which can support the implementation of a more tailored approach to agricultural development. This article explored patterns of farming system diversity through the classification of 70 smallholder farm households in two districts (Savelugu-Nanton and Tolon-Kumbungu) of Ghana's Northern Region. Based on 2013 survey data, the typology was constructed using the multivariate statistical techniques of principal component analysis and cluster analysis. Results proposed six farm types, stratified on the basis of household, labour, land use, livestock and income variables, explaining the structural and functional differences between farming systems. Types 1 and 2 were characterized by relatively high levels of resource endowment and oriented towards non-farm activities and crop sales respectively. Types 3 and 4 were moderately resource-endowed with income derived primarily from on-farm activities. Types 5 and 6 were resource constrained, with production oriented towards subsistence. The most salient differences among farm types concerned herd size (largest for Type 1), degree of legume integration (largest for Types 2-4), household size and hired labour (smallest household size for Types 4 and 6, and largest proportion of hired labour for Type 4), degree of diversification into off/non-farm activities (highest for Type 1 and lowest for Type 5) and severity of resource constraints (Type 6 was most constrained with a small farm area and herd comprised mainly of poultry). It was found that livelihood strategies reflected the distinctive characteristics of farm households; with poorly-endowed types restricted to a 'survival strategy' and more affluent types free to pursue a 'development strategy'. This study clearly demonstrates that using the established typology as a practical framework allows identification of type-specific farm household opportunities and constraints for the targeting of agricultural interventions and innovations, which will be further analysed in the research-for-development project. We conclude that a more flexible approach to typology construction, for example through the incorporation of farmer perspectives, might provide further context and insight into the causes, consequences and negotiation of farm diversity.
A comparison of statistical and participatory clustering of smallholder farming systems - A case study in Northern Ghana
Kuivanen, K.S. ; Michalscheck, M. ; Descheemaeker, K. ; Adjei-Nsiah, S. ; Mellon-Bedi, S. ; Groot, J.C.J. ; Alvarez, S. - \ 2016
Journal of Rural Studies 45 (2016). - ISSN 0743-0167 - p. 184 - 198.
Farming systems - Heterogeneity - Northern Ghana - Participatory research - Typology
Typologies are often used to understand and capture smallholder farming system heterogeneity, and may be derived using different approaches and methods. This article aims to compare a quantitative, statistical typology based on a survey dataset and multivariate analysis, with a qualitative participatory typology based on informal group sessions and activities with local stakeholders from three communities in Northern Ghana. The statistical typology resulted in six clusters, with farm households categorized on the basis of their structural (resource endowment)- and functional (production objectives/livelihood strategies) characteristics. The participatory typology identified five farm types, based primarily on endowment (farm size, income investment), gender and age-related criteria. While the entire household was adopted as the unit of analysis of the statistical typology, the participatory typology provided a more nuanced differentiation by grouping individual farmers; with possibly several farmer types per household (e.g. 'small' and 'female farmers') as well as 'farm-less' individuals as a result. Other sources of dissimilarity which contributed to limited overlap between the typologies included changes that occurred in the communities between the two data collection efforts and inaccuracies in the data. The underlying causes of the latter seemed to mainly relate to socio-cultural issues that distorted information collection in both typologies; including power and status differences between both the researchers and farmers, as well as the farmers themselves. We conclude that although statistical techniques warrant objectivity and reproducibility in the analysis, the complexity of data collection and representation of the local reality might limit their effectiveness in selection of farms, innovation targeting and out-scaling in R4D projects. In addition, while participatory typologies offer a more contextualized representation of heterogeneity, their accuracy can still be compromised by socio-cultural constraints. Therefore, we recommend making effective use of the advantages offered by each approach by applying them in a complementary manner.
Exploration of windows of opportunity for improved nutrition, productivity and resource management at the landscape level
Groot, J.C.J. ; DeClerck, F. ; Remans, R. ; Estrada-Carmona, N. ; Alvarez, S. ; Mashingaidze, N. ; Termote, C. ; Yang, R.Y. ; Raneri, J. ; Kennedy, G. - \ 2015
- p. 19 - 20.
Systems analysis in nutrition sensitive landscapes
Groot, J.C.J. ; Alvarez, S. ; Timler, C.J. ; Paas, W.H. ; Descheemaeker, K.K.E. ; Brouwer, I.D. - \ 2015
- p. 11 - 12.
|Hypothesis based typologies for capturing diversity
Alvarez, S. ; Paas, W.H. ; Descheemaeker, K.K.E. ; Groot, J.C.J. - \ 2015
- p. 18 - 19.
A comparison of farm typology approaches in northern Ghana
Kuivanen, K. ; Michalscheck, M. ; Alvarez, S. ; Groot, J.C.J. ; Descheemaeker, K.K.E. ; Adjei-Nsi, S. ; Bedi, S.M. - \ 2015
- p. 32 - 32.
Acknowledging the complex, multi-facetted nature of smallholder farming systems is a pre-requisite
to successfully promoting activities leading towards sustainable intensification. Typologies are used
as tools for navigating and making sense of farming system diversity by the Africa RISING project
(Research in Sustainable Intensification for the Next Generation). This is achieved by classifying
farms into groups according to their structural and functional features. The resulting ‘farm types’
may then be considered to constitute ‘recommendation domains’, to which project support may be
targeted, thus maximizing the efficiency and scalability of interventions. Such a grouping exercise
may be performed using various methods, depending on the purpose of the research and the
underlying theoretical approach. Where quantitative techniques can provide reproducible and
generalizable results, qualitative methods provide greater depth of understanding and are useful for
contextualizing heterogeneity within the rural landscape. Because it is important that typologies
meet the standards of science in which accuracy and objectivity are central, as well as the
standards of project outcomes, which are dependent on the different needs and perceptions of
stakeholders, assessing the value and (non-) complementarity of typology approaches is a vital step
in ensuring that future work in the field remains both reliable and relevant. Therefore, this study
aims to compare approaches to typifying the diversity of smallholder farming systems in northern
Ghana, drawing on the results of an etic, researcher-defined classification and an emic, farmerdefined
classification. The former was developed for Africa RISING ‘intervention communities’ in
Ghana’s Northern Region. The types were statistically generated using multivariate analysis, based
on selected variables extracted from recent (2013) survey data. Results suggest six clusters, with
farmers categorized on the basis of resource endowment and production strategies among other
factors. The resulting farm types were validated in the field and compared to a second typology
developed through joint analysis with local farmers. Participatory methods were used to ensure that
the sense-making process was grounded in the perceptions and interests of the farmers and the
resulting categories of farmers a recognizable reflection of local reality.
Climate Change in Southern Africa: Farmers’ Perceptions and Responses
Kuivanen, K. ; Alvarez, S. ; Langeveld, C.A. - \ 2015
Wageningen UR - 46
climatic change - farmers - attitudes - knowledge systems - adaptation - rural communities - southern africa - klimaatverandering - boeren - attitudes - kennissystemen - adaptatie - plattelandsgemeenschappen - zuidelijk afrika
Southern Africa is characterized by natural climate variability onto which human-induced climate change is being superimposed. Rural communities that depend heavily on rain-fed agriculture for their livelihood are particularly vulnerable to the effects of climate-related change. This report takes stock of existing perceptions of- and responses to climate change among smallholder farmers in the region, in the hope of contributing to a better understanding of the complexities of local knowledge- and adaptation systems.
Construcción de tipologías, una forma de manejar la diversidad de las fincas: directrices generales para Humidtropics : Informe para el Programa de Investigación del CGIAR sobre Sistemas Integrados para los Trópicos Húmedos
Alvarez, S. ; Paas, W.H. ; Descheemaeker, K.K.E. ; Tittonell, P.A. ; Groot, J.C.J. - \ 2014
Wageningen UR - 39