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On Thursday, 29 October 2009

The Workshop on Knowledge and Technology Exchange for Enhanced Quality of IFAD/ICARDA Operations in the NENA region concluded its deliberations in Aleppo, Syria today with a “Retreat” that discussed the Medium Term Management Plan 2010-2012 of IFAD’s Near East and North Africa Division (PN). The participating staff of IFAD and IFAD-supported projects deliberated the operational priorities of PN, including means of improving implementation and impact of country programmes and ways to expand and strengthen the lending and grant programmes while improving efficiency in portfolio and project development. The participants also discussed PN’s Contribution to IFAD-wide results by means of enhancing partnerships, expanding co-financing and intensifying knowledge sharing and dissemination.

The participants then broke into four separate roundtables working group discussions focusing on four aspects of the division’s work, namely, the Annual Work Programme and Budget (AWPB), Monitoring and Evaluation (M&E), Procurement and Financial Management.

The AWPB Working Group predominantly consisted of country program managers of IFAD supported projects. Along with IFAD staff in the Working Group, the participants identified a number of constraints, including the quality of AWPBs. The group expressed the need to develop a model of reference for greater consistency. Another major impediment to AWPB planning and implementation is the often incongruence of financial administration between government and IFAD funds particularly due to the fact that government funds are usually not flexibly tuned to the annual format of AWPBs. The group recommended approaching governments with the idea that they should administer their funds through a local project account for the implementation period with the flexibility necessary to carry over government funds.

Another pressing and fundamental issue is the lack of synergy or fine tuning between AWPB and the Logframe. Implementing the AWPB often reduces the projects into its activities without enhancing appropriate linkages of these activities for impact. The group recommended that the Logframe should be the steering course of AWPBs and that it should be updated continuously. This also was linked directly to another issue, the flexibility of AWPB. The AWPB should be adjustable more frequently and less constrained by current restrictions. Often there are also stalls in the planning and delivery of AWPB particularly due to the national procedures for approval and the participants emphasized the need for early proactive planning. The group also recommended that capacity building in preparation for implementation of AWPB should be a concentrated continuous effort. The fact that the planning of the project is imbedded in the AWPB under the overall Logframe makes it fundamental to implementation and impact making capacity building all the more crucial.

Finally the last issue raised was that knowledge management and innovation is not reflected in the AWPBs. This lack of reflection reduces the effectiveness of knowledge management and innovation support to the project. This support can go someway in enhancing capacity of project management units and supporting innovative management and intervention, which all fundamentally contribute to greater impact of projects.

The M&E working group discussed the impediments to more effective M&E systems in the IFAD-supported projects. Chief among them are dissymmetric perceptions with regard to the importance of M&E. Some Governmental officials tend to pay more attention to physical progress (i.e. output) than to measurements of outcomes and impacts. Another reported issue is pertaining to the M&E design itself whereby too many indicators, some of them are not relevant to the country context, are being monitored. Furthermore, there seems to be a disconnect in some Project Management Units between M&E staff and the rest of the project staff. A list of suggestions for M&E improvement was proposed:

  • Sound and pertinent M&E system should be devised at the project design stage and not during start-up as it seems to be the case in most of the projects

  • Empowering M&E staff through capacity building aimed at fostering the Monitoring for Evaluation approach

  • Work with the Governments to foster awareness related to the necessity to measure impact

The Procurement working group addressed the need for capacity building at the PMU level with a view to strengthening the skills of PMU staff in managing procurement. The group made a series of recommendations to improve procurement performance by resolving the most common procurement challenges currently facing the on-going IFAD–assisted projects.

During the day, the workshop participants toured research stations within the ICARDA headquarters compound, where they were able to inspect some laboratories, facilities and filed experiments in areas of soil conservation and water harvesting. The participants had the opportunity to interact with the researchers at these well equipped facilities and discuss practical solutions to problem facing IFAD’s going projects. This includes a wide range of released technologies and services offered by the GIS department that are suitable to improve interventions in the agro-climatic zones where IFAD is active.

Nadim Khouri, Director of PN closed the workshop with a presentation in which he highlighted the major achievements of three decades of cooperation between the IFAD and ICARDA, during which the Fund provide US$37 million in grants to the centre. He highlighted the sectoral distribution of these grants, of which 76 percent was allocated for applied research and technology transfer, 12 percent for management of natural resources, nine percent for value chain and three percent for capacity-building. He emphasized the importance of further enhancing cooperation with ICARDA building an even stronger strategic alliance between the two institutions. He again thanked the Government of the Arab Republic of Syria and ICARDA for hosting this important learning event.

On Wednesday, 28 October 2009

Participants at the IFAD-ICARDA workshop on Knowledge and Technology Transfer in Aleppo Syria have dedicated this day to field visits to sites of three IFAD-supported projects in Syria, the closed Jebel el-Hoss Agricultural Development, the on-going Idleb Rural Development Project and the on-going Badia Rangeland Development Project.

Participants who visited the Badia Rangelands Development Project reported that implementation of the project activities are being carried out by some 200 herder cooperatives. Each cooperative has about 100 members. The cooperatives collaborated with the BRDP in rangeland rehabilitation. The process works like this: the cooperative identifies the land that they would like to rehabilitate and discuss it with the management of the BRDP. Cooperatives usually allocate 500 Ha for rehabilitation. The characterisation of the plot of land takes place and the most appropriate method for rehabilitation is selected either through direct seeding of palatable range varieties or through the cultivation of forage trees. Where range reserves are being established, the cooperative provides the land and manages the grazing rights in the reserve; whereas the project provides the land preparation, cultivation and guarding for a period of 4 years.

The results are impressive. Despite the extended drought over the past years, and thanks to the selection of appropriate range varieties, implementation of high quality land preparation and cultivation practices, and very proactive project management, the results are generating more demand among cooperatives for replication. Key elements that we need to consider in the course of replication or adaptation of this methodology are:

  • the land tenure and the grazing rights and whether these are vested in homogeneous social units (tribes, sub-tribes);
  • the “representativity” of the herders’ cooperatives, their legal status and whether they include all users of a given geographic area; and
  • strict government enforcement of environmental rules and support to environmental development.

Participants in the field trip to the IFAD-supported Rural Development Project in Idleb were able to examine some of the major achievements of the project in helping about 42,000 beneficiaries in 140 of Syria’s poorest villages improve their food production and incomes.

At the total cost of almost US$45 million, the project has already reclaimed some 20,000 ha of rocky mountainous land plots turning them into productive small agricultural holdings. It has been highly successful in increasing the area cultivated with fruit trees and different seasonal crops, supporting agricultural extension and developing water resources and water harvesting techniques. The project has been particularly successful in reaching out to landless and poor rural women and men with microfinance and vocational training helping them develop their own micro enterprises and, thereby, generating incomes for themselves and contributing to job creations for others.

A good example of the many micro enterprises supported by the project is the mushroom farm of the 45 year old small producer, Abdulaziz Ismael, who received vocational training and technical support from the project. With an initial investment of US$2000, Abdulaziz has been able to initiate a mushroom farm in his underground garage. The Mushroom farm has come to represent a reliable source of income for Abdulaziz and his family, which consists of six members, granting it a comfortable standard of living.

As one of the most successful microfinance experiences in the Arab region, the so called “Village Funds” developed and supported by the Idleb project in 22 villages are yielding some extraordinary results with 100% repayment of all small loans by micro-entrepreneurs and a zero failure rate of on-going enterprises. IFAD will be developing some of the success stories of this project and its Village Funds in various communication products that will tell some of the most amazing successes of poor rural women and men in charting a better future for their families.

The “Knowledge and Technology Exchange for Enhanced Quality of IFAD/ICARDA Operations in the Near East and North Africa Workshop” was opened by Mahmoud El Solh, Director-General of the International Centre for Agricultural Research in Dry Areas (ICARDA) and Nadim Khouri, Director of the Near East and North Africa Division of IFAD in Aleppo, Syria, last evening (Monday, 26/10/09). About 70 workshop participants, including staff members of the two institutions and other experts and resource persons from IFAD supported projects in NENA, attended the opening ceremony.

In his opening speech, Mahmoud El Solh, Director General of ICARDA said the workshop will deepen the strategic partnership between ICARDA and IFAD. “This is our opportunity to learn from IFAD colleagues on the sustainable agricultural development aspects because our research agenda should target such aspects, El Solh said.” “At the same time,” he added, “I am happy to see so many Country Programme Managers who can see what ICARDA has to offer of technologies that may facilitate their work in development.” He affirmed that there are many technologies that are winning grounds quickly, some others are really new and some technologies that need more fine tuning to meet the needs of the ultimate target group, which is the resource poor farmers.

On his part, the Director of IFAD’s Near East and North Africa Division, Nadim Khouri, thanked the Government of the Syrian Arab Republic and ICARDA for hosting and organizing the workshop. He said “the objective of this learning event is to update our knowledge on enhanced rainfed agricultural production systems.” “About 80% of cultivated land in the world is rainfed while about 60% of the food produced is produced by systems that do not rely on irrigation,” he said. Large numbers of resource-poor rural people live in dry areas, with limited opportunities to enhance their capacities to improve food production and standards of living. He added: “We understand that poor people have their own strategies to move out of poverty and the best strategy we can have is to understand their strategies and help them realize them and multiply their assets.”

Khouri further stated: “We basically have US$ 300 million that are going to come out of IFAD funds for the region over the next three years.” On the basis of 1:1 dollar cofinancing, IFAD could attract a similar investment from co-financiers of its projects, bringing the total external funding to US$ 600 million. Kouri said: “Normally, the largest co-financing comes from the recipient countries and beneficiaries of development projects themselves. So if our investment starts with US$300 million by the end we will have about US$1 billion basically entrusted in us and our partners to decide how to allocate in the next three years.”

Khouri emphasized that helping the most vulnerable, IFAD’s target group, requires greater efforts to make best use of available resources, knowledge and technologies to enhance the quality of the Fund’s interventions in the region, which is facing increasing challenges under climate change conditions. The learning event should help the staff of the Near East and North Africa Division further enhance their capacity to reflect upon the newly acquired knowledge and to boost the impact of IFAD’s operations.

The opening ceremony was followed by a dinner reception, which provided and initial opportunity for the experts and staff members of the two institutions and participating resource persons from IFAD-supported projects to meet and exchange views on various issues under consideration.

Most of the participants expressed satisfaction that the workshop will strengthen country capacities in the NENA region on the latest agricultural packages available from research. Many indicated that it would also would help align ICARDA operations with the Country Strategic Opportunities Papers (COSOPs) and IFAD loan projects. The workshop should also help foster a strategic partnership between IFAD and ICARDA country programmes and take stock of joint initiatives and assess future collaborations.

On Tuesday, 27 October 2009

The first day for the workshop started with a PowerPoint presentation by the Director General of ICARDA, Mahmoud El Solh on research outputs and approaches to enhance food security and improved livelihoods in dry areas. The presentation dealt with constraints leading to food insecurity and poverty in Dry Areas; technologies towards food security and better livelihoods; approaches for technology transfer; and ICARDA’s Strategic Plan 2007-2016 on Agricultural Research for Development in Dry Areas. He underlined that the severest impact of climate change will be in the NENA region. He underlined the need for new technologies to face the challenge of ever scarcer water resources. In this regard, El Solh highlighted the importance of developing more drought tolerant varieties of crops; improved management of water resources; and alternative solutions to traditional irrigation including the use of supplementary irrigation methodologies in rainfed areas.

Following a plenary discussion, a group photo was taken for all participants who then broke into four working groups dedicated to discussing in depth the following areas of work:

• Group 1: Improved agricultural productivity and food security – Crops
• Group 2: Improving agricultural productivity and food security – Livestock
• Group 3: Water and natural resource management and climate change
• Group 4: Value chains, microfinance and market diagnostics

Each of the four groups attended and discussed presentations by ICARDA scientists, IFAD experts and resource persons. Following a couple of hours of discussions, the working group formulated their findings and presented brief reports to the plenary.

Focusing on crops, the first group presented what has been identified as the main challenges in this area. This includes, among others, the challenge of enhancing research for development and expanding its coverage to larger scale projects as well as the challenge of scaling up innovation and technology dissemination and outreach. The group also identified a number of constraints to overcome, such as the need for expanding the lack of awareness and “buy-in” at the national level; lack of capacity to indemnify products and creating enabling system of support linked to markets and a disconnect between National Agricultural Systems (NARs) and the national priorities. The group also highlighted the weakness of marketing systems and trade issues as well as the need to develop alternative crops, including alternatives to the cultivation of poppies, and the need for policy reforms to enable small farmers to compete for market opportunities.

The report of the second group, which focused on livestock, indicated that the discussion was based on the experience of the IFAD-supported Mashreg-Magreb project, which has developed animal feed technologies and helped establish community development organizations and approaches. The group outlined the needs for improved feeding technologies and alternative fodder and feed resources, improved milking and cheese processing with a focus on shifting market demand. Among others, a range of approaches were discussed for enhanced adaptation rate of such technologies.

Addressing water and natural resources issues, the third group affirmed that a new water productivity concept has emerged with the climate change challenge and increase severity of water scarcity. It recommended that new policies and strategies at different levels should be accommodated to improve farmers and nomads productivity ensuring good life quality and livelihood. Land productivity and water productivity concepts are to be seen together during the design and implementation phases of projects. The group also underlined the importance of mapping of resources and management of natural resources using GIS, indicating that ICT is important to have a role in transfer of technologies to farmers and nomads within search Institutes and projects. The development of technologies for scaling up and adoption requires engagement of research and development projects to fill in the gaps in production.

Dealing with value chains, markets and diagnostics, the fourth group focused its discussions on the analysis of the value-added chains of Onions and Pomegranate and the constrains facing small producers. It concluded a series of recommendations, including, among others, the possibility of increasing the use of seed capitals and start-up capital to introduce and develop the activity, institutionalization of small farmer groups and their role in processing, transfer of resources and empowering of small growers in the value-chain.

Following this first half a day of brain storming, the workshop participants moving their debates to the field visiting three ICARDA supported projects.

Monday, 26 Ocober 2009

With emphasis on rainfed agriculture, a three day regional information exchange and knowledge sharing workshop starts in Aleppo, Syria this evening. Some 70 staff members of IFAD, IFAD-supported projects in the Near East and North Africa region (NENA) and the International Centre for Agricultural Research in Dry Areas (ICARDA) are expected to participate. The “Knowledge and Technology Exchange for Enhanced Quality of IFAD/ICARDA operations in the NENA region” workshop aims at strengthening PN’s capacity to incorporate the latest research-generated agricultural Science and Technology (S&T) packages and other up-scalable innovations in its future operations in the region.

The learning event will take place at ICARDA headquarters with several field sessions at the sites of IFAD-supported development projects and ICARDA research stations. It will provide learning opportunities for the participants to identify and discuss major needs and priority areas that could benefit the design of development projects for NENA countries. The field work should provide ample opportunity to demonstrate the technological packages in the areas of:

• improving agricultural productivity and food security
• adaptation to climate change and natural resource management
• upgrading pro-poor untilization of value chains and markets
• diagnostics for targeting pro-poor research and development investments

The workshop will reach its objectives through wide application of several KM activities & tools, including round table discussions, focus groups (World Café), informal meetings, and direct interviewing of beneficiaries from IFAD and ICARDA projects. The participants will select specific themes (out of a list of 22 themes extending from themes like rangeland rehabilitation and water harvesting to the themes like biodiversity, gene management and biofuels) as the main focus of their work during the workshop. Designated staff will facilitate plenary sessions, contribute as resource persons, lead the field visit groups, and generate success stories from the field. The event will end with a divisional PN retreat that will examine a number of deliverables including the Divisional Management and Medium Term Plans.

Besides the benefits of cross fertilization and lifting of the overall team spirit, the workshop is expected to yield concrete deliverables, including:
• 20 learning notes on available technologies and approaches in rain-fed agriculture
• 6 success stories (human stories) from the field
• validated Divisional Management Plan 2010 and a PN Medium term plan 2010-2012
• strengthened networking and systematic knowledge sharing mechanisms between the country programme and IFAD HQ
• Outlines of 2-3 specific projects that would build on ICARDA’s knowledge and expertise in areas relevant to IFAD’s thematic priorities in the NENA region

On Wednesday, 21 October 2009, a team of United Nations (UN) staff from the Rome-based International Fund for Agricultual Development (IFAD) and World Food Programme (WFP), plus the United Nation Resident Cordinator (UNRC), joined President Gloria Magapagal Arroyo and several cabinet ministers of the Philippines Government during a one day visit to the flooded homes of the victims of the recent tropical storm Ondoy (international name Ketsana) and typhoon Pepeng (Parma) in the central Luzon island town of Candaba, Pampanga, the Philippines. The IFAD delegation was led by Assistant President Jessie Rose Mabutas and included Sana F. K. Jatta, Philippines Country Programme Manager, Asia and the Pacific Division. The WFP Executive Director Ms. Josette Shareen led a large contingent that included, in particular, the Philippines Country Director Steven Anderson and the WFP Goodwill Ambassador Miss K. C. Concepcion (a local celebrity television/movie star). Also the United Nations Resident Coordinator, Ms. Jacqui Badcock joined the UN delegation. On the Government side President Arroyo was joined notably by the Secretary of Agriculture, Authur Yap, plus the Secretaries of Social Welfare and that of Health, plus many more senior staff of the government.

The devastation in the town is still overwhelming and heartbreaking even several weeks after the flooding occured. Homes and streets remain submerged as there is apparently no where high enough to pump the excess water without it rushing right back; Candaba being located in the lowest point of central Luzon, while evaporation will take time as the cloud cover is still high during the rainy season!

The WFP Executive Director and her staff distributed several truck loads of food aid donated by Australia and several other countries. And during an improvised press conference, Ms. Mabutas emphasised that IFAD's contributions will be forthcoming from the recently approved Rapid Food Production Enhancement Programme (RaFPEP), notably its first sub-project, the Rapid Seeds Supply Financing Project (RaSSFiP), whose approval in December 2008 and subsequent implementation start-up in mid 2009 coincides with the urgent need to provide valuable resources for the acquisition and distribuion of paddy seeds for farmers who lost all their crop during the floods. RaSSFiP will provide no less than 803,500 bags of 40 kg bags of paddy seeds for the farmers with resources from IFAD and the European Commission.
The occassion allowed the UN family, particularly the Rome-based food agencies (IFAD and WFP), to show solidarity with the plight of the victims of the double natural disasters, while the country was brazing itself for another typhoon warning expected to hit the northern parts of Luzon island during the weekend.

Picture 1 shows Ms. Mabutas right behind President Arroyo, on whose left is the WFP Executive Director and on whose left is the local TV/Film star Ms. K. C. Concepcion;

Picture 2 shows some children of Candaba, Ms. Mabutas, and Sana F.K. Jatta, trying the floating bridge on a flooded street of Candaba;

Picture 3 shows two children and a woman, in the far background, wading through waist-deep water on a street of Candaba right infront their of houses;

Picture 4 shows Ms. Mabutas and some children in front of a flooded house that still has much mud in the front yard;

Pictures 5 and 6 are the new-improvished and former flooded homes of the same family, with the head of the household shown on the picture to be still able to smile despite the disaster.

This blog was posted by Sana F. K. Jatta, Country Programme Manager, Asia and the Pacific Division, IFAD, temporarily using the authorship rights of Roi Avena, Philippines Country Programme Management Team member.

Green is the New Black

Posted by Roi Avena Wednesday, October 21, 2009 2 comments

Green is the new black. This was stressed during the sharing session on “Designing Product and Process for the Bamboo Industry” as presented by Carmelita Bersalona, Livelihood and Economic Coordinator and Production Specialist of the International Network for Bamboo and Rattan (INBAR), during the 3rd IFAD-Philippines Knowledge and Learning Market (KLM 3).

“Bamboo is acknowledged to be one of the greenest materials around, and the eco movement has put the bamboo in the spotlight once again,” said Bersalona.
In the Province of Abra, Philippines, 1,500 households are involved in bamboo covering 6 municipalities, 18 villages, and 4,500 individuals.
“We looked at bamboo veneer promoted by the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) with resin and turned them into structural component for furniture. This will open opportunities for community based enterprises to sub-contract components for furniture makers especially exporters,” she added.

Bersalona also stressed that they have partnered with an inventor and has adopted his technology where bamboo is used as reinforcement in a low cost building system. They have even commissioned an environmental architect to envision the bamboos use for resort rooms.

“We found that the new plastic and metal technologies have displaced natural fibers woven into furniture. Resort owners are willing to pay for weather resistant and maintenance free products, specifically for decks and outdoor furniture, leaving the bamboo behind,” she added.

“We took the bamboo pole, cut it to 2 to 3 inch widths, cleaned out the nodes and the stomach, bent them into desired shapes with the help of blank holes, heat, moulds and clamps. Once shaped and cooled, the components were laminated together with resin, further milled, assembled with KD hardware and finished with weather resistant resins, putting bamboo furniture outdoors as lounges, as folding chairs and recliners, as decking boards, as stackable dining chairs and classroom desks. Moreover, we took bamboo mats and had them woven into specific sizes, laminated them into seats replacing molded plastic and plywood altogether. Bamboo is further used as lighting diffuser, bathroom tiles and counter tops,” she explained.

“We are looking to make bamboo boats in the future,” she said as she ended her presentation.
Please click on the link for the presentation: http://www.slideshare.net/vcnmciremp/philippine-innovation-in-partnership-with-inbar
By: Vherns Castilla, NMCIREMP & Ems Abasolo, ICRAF

The Assistant Regional Director for Operations of the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) Regional Office IX, Engr. Agnes Y. Maata, presented the topic “Calamansi: The Green Jewel of Nazareth” during the Knowledge Learning Market 3 at SM Megamall, Mega Hall Trade 3, Mandaluyong, Metro Manila, Philippines. The session that started at 3:30pm ended at 4:00pm; Knowledge Facilitators Amina Bidin of WMCIP and Evy R. Elago of NMCIREMP on October 20, 2009 served as hosts.

She talked about the green jewel Calamondin or Calamansi (scientific name: Citrofortunella microcarpa), a bitter-sour fruit serving as a life saver to the women’s group of Barangay Nazareth in the Municipality of Kabasalan, Province of Zamboanga Sibugay, Philippines. The group testifies how this manna from heaven greatly contributes to their daily living.

The over-supply of the highly perishable calamansi was the farmers’ dilemma – do they sell it cheaply or do they just let it rot? This dilemma led them to dream of an added value for their produce. They wanted to process the calamansi and command a better price. Along with this dream came the realization that the women’s association needed to revitalize and strengthen itself as an organization.

ARDO Agnes Y. Maata said that the different interventions of DAR through the IFAD-funded Western Mindanao Community Initiatives Project (WMCIP), such as the provision of infrastructure support, technology transfer training, enterprise development, capacity building, microfinance and marketing linkages, enabled the association to effectively manage its Calamansi Processing Center.

During the open forum, a question was raised on other interventions undertaken by DAR for the women’s association even after the WMCIP project was completed in 2007. ARDO Maata answered that DAR continues to provide training on organizational capability building, accounting, and bookkeeping.

In response to the query on the shelf life of the
calamansi concentrate being produced by the association, ARDO Agnes Y. Maata said that the product could last for six months.

Aside from being a great source of Vitamin C and an effective cough remedy, the calamansi fruit is also good for removing stains in clothes and can be used as deodorant and shampoo to eliminate itching and promote hair growth. Rubbing the juice on the affected part of insect bites helps diminish the itching and irritation. Also, calamansi can be used to bleach freckles and help clear up pimples and acne.

The session ended with a big smile by everyone as the presenter gave out free drinks of calamansi juice to the audience.

Reported by: Amor Grace B. Babaran, KLM3 Knowledge Facilitator

“What? We are going to SM Megamall, are you sure?” – delightedly exclaimed the participants to the “Knowledge Learning Market 3” with a theme on “Rural Poor Amidst Crisis” when informed that they will participate and share testimonies and learnings on their successful implementation of their poverty alleviation funded sub-projects on hogs, commercial-scale native chicken raising, ethnic handicraft, goat raising, and convenience store operation.

Enthusiastic and filled with excitement, the session started with the sharing of Charito Cadorna, the NMCIREMP-PFO Project Economist on the project background and highlights and technical facilitation, project intervention and processes of the Poverty Alleviation Fund (PAF) and on mechanisms on scaling-up of livelihood projects to suitable, eligible and sustainable agri-/rural enterprises and the way forward for these community initiatives. This was followed by a sharing of testimonies by Felita Banjao, an SHG Leader of Barangay San Martin, Prosperidad, Agusan del Sur. The highlight of her sharing is on the difficulties in the initial start-up and establishment of the project and strict adherence to agreed standards. But in the end it strengthened the operations and implementation of their livelihood projects. Another personal testimony was given by Orlando Bonita, Chairperson of the Community Institution in Barangay Mahayahay, Kitcharao, Agusan del Norte which focused on challenges in keeping the livelihood project free from any forms of interventions. The final sharing was given by Raul del Agua, Municipal Project Manager of Kitcharao, Agusan del Norte who stressed and reiterated that the local government units are mandated to provide support and services to covered communities. He further stressed that their municipal government is ready to sustain the project gains and benefits of NMCIREMP target sectors.

There were questions raised by several participants such as a question from ANGOC on a) where the PAF will go be if extended and what were the effects to the members and LGUs from the PAF sub-projects; b) from WMCIP, are the members ready for loans; and c) from PAKISAMA, what are some activities being conducted? To these questions the presenters elaborated that a) the PAF sub-projects will expand
to more enterprises; b) yes, they are now starting on lending activities but still at lesser amounts; and c) activities conducted are on agro-forestry, root crop and vegetable production, tree farming, convenience store operation and commercial scale native chicken production. As a whole, the session added learning posts for both presenters and participants on how does one turn a simple livelihood into becoming a thriving business enterprise from an initial capitalization of 2,000 pesos per household resulting to household incomes for food, school and health needs of family members, clothes and new investments to improve further their productivity.

Most importantly, were lessons learned on strategies for sustainability where tripartite commitments were generated to sustain project gains and benefits from among the local government units, government agencies and community institutions.

The participation of other project stakeholders to this session who were Evelyn Nonato, Municipal Project Manager, Prosperidad, Jessica Unson, Provincial Project Coordinator, Agusan del Sur, Rofel Cabaltera, Provincial Project Coordinator, Agusan del Norte, Mayor Aristotle Montante, Kitcharao, and Governor Maria Valentina G. Plaza, Agusan del Sur was made possible through the “Northern Mindanao Community Initiatives and Resource Management Project (NMCIREMP)”, a project assisted by the IFAD; executed by the Department of Agrarian Reform; supported by the Department of Agriculture, Department of Environment and Natural Resources and National Commission on Indigenous Peoples; in collaboration with government agencies, their respective local government units, NGOs and community institutions; and facilitated through the Project Facilitation Office (PFO).

The session was facilitated by the IFAD-trained KFs Evie Elago of DAR-NMCIREMP and Amina Bidin of DAR-WMCIP whose experience in knowledge management took a step further in their journey as Knowledge Facilitators of KLM 3.

By: Badeen Verora, NMCIREMP & Robert Domoguen, CHARMP2


The IFAD Philippines website and IFAD/ENRAP book on inspiring stories were launched today as part of the KLM-3 opening activities.

The launching for both events were spearheaded by Ms. Jessie Rose Mabutas, Assistant President, IFAD; Mr. Sana F. K. Jatta, Country Program Manager; and, Mr. Rolando Tungpalan, NEDA Deputy Director General. Some 100 guests and participants of the 3rd KLM coming from IFAD, ENRAP, the Philippine government, field projects, non-government organizations and civil society groups witnessed these momentous developments.

Entitled “The Poor in Times of Crises, Voices from IFAD-funded Projects in Southern Philippines,” the IFAD/ENRAP book is a compilation of interesting and inspiring stories arising from the implementation of IFAD supported development projects in the Philippines and the Asia-Pacific region by its partner institutions.

The nicely laid and readable book gives IFAD’s development thrust in the Philippines a discernible face, beautiful not only to the beneficiaries but the general public as well. It presents IFAD’s support to poverty alleviation and rural development from the point of view of the project implementers in the field and the beneficiaries of their projects.

The website allows you to enter this new world of knowledge and information. Welcome to the exciting world of IFAD and its partners in rural development in the Philippines. The website is dedicated to the poor and marginalized sectors of society who battle daily for every bit of grain of food and a good shelter for comfort. There is not much grace that earthly life shells out to them, reason why IFAD invests its precious resources for them to uplift the quality of their existence. The poor, living and overcoming of life’s challenges, and IFAD investments and support extended to improve their quests for the good life, promises to yield an array of wonderful stories worth telling, learning from, and inspired of.

The launching of the IFAD website does not only highlight the plight of the poor but also provides a venue for Filipinos and all those who visit the website to participate in the exchange of ideas, lessons learned, best practices, or simply share inspiring stories that uplifts, and guides our quest to give a human face to rural development. A face that is kind and cares!

By: Robert Domoguen, CHARMP2 & Badeen Verora, NMCIREMP

The 3rd IFAD knowledge and learning market (KLM) for the Philippines opened today at the Mega Trade Hall, SM Megamall, Ortigas Complex, EDSA.

At the Megatrade Hall here, the excitement of the knowledge sharing of lessons learned from IFAD’s field supported projects dampened the threat of typhoon Ramil’s expected land fall in the Philippines this week. Ramil has no right to be here. He has not registered as a participant to the KLM-3. Filipinos battered by Ondoy and Pepeng in the past two weeks wanted Ramil to change course or get lost in the Pacific. The KLM-3 participants and organizer agree in favor of the successful staging and completion of this important event.

The KLM was planned by the IFAD Philippines Country Program in partnership with its field project implementers from the government and non-government sectors since last year. Before PAGASA warned of the threat of Ramil, some 80-100 participants from around the country and guests from India are expected to participate in the event.

Before the end of the opening program, this morning, 111 individuals have already registered as participants. It is hoped that all confirmed guests and participants will come and be part of this two-day event before it closes in the afternoon of October 21.

The KLM’s staging this year, opened with the theme: “Rural Poor Actions Amidst Crises.” It showcases an exhibition of project initiatives for the poor and a series of sessions and forums on micro-enterprise development; agriculture and climate change; good governance and rural development; environmental services, among others.
Today’s events also saw the launching of the IFAD/ENRAP Book of inspiring stories and the IFAD-Philippines website, and the start of a series of plenary sessions.

By: Badeen Verora, NMCIREMP & Robert Domoguen, CHARMP2

IFAD Partners Join in Opening the 3rd KLM in Manila

Posted by Roi Avena Tuesday, October 20, 2009 1 comments

A budyong (a trumpet made of shell) sounded off the formal opening of The 3rd Knowledge and Learning Market of the International Fund for Agricultural Development. The event is a two-day activity which started on October 20, 2009, with the theme “Rural Poor Amidst Crisis” at the Megatrade Hall 3, 5th Floor, SM Megamall, Ortigas Complex, Mandaluyong City, Philippines.

The following agencies and organizations attended the event:
1. National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA)
2. Commission on Audit (COA)
3. Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR)
4. Department of Trade and Industry (DTI)
5. Department of Agriculture (DA)
6. Northern Mindanao Community Initiatives and Resource Management Project (NMCIREMP) - Exhibitor
7. Western Mindanao Community Initiatives Project (WMCIP) - Exhibitor
8. Rural Micro-Enterprise Promotion Program (RuMEPP) - Exhibitor
9. Second Cordillera Highland Agriculture Resource Management (CHARMP2) - Exhibitor
10. Pambansang Kilusan ng mga Samahang Magsasaka (PAKISAMA) - Exhibitor
11. World Agro-Forestry Center (ICRAF) - Exhibitor
12. Southeast Asian Regional Center for Graduate Study and Research in Agriculture (SEARCA) - Exhibitor
13. International Network for Bamboo and Rattan - Exhibitor
14. Asian Non-Government Coalition for Agrarian Reform and Rural Development (ANGOC)
15. Livelihoods Improvement Project for the Himalayas (LIPH) – an IFAD-funded project in India

Ms. Jessie Rose Mabutas, Assistant President of IFAD led the cutting of ribbon during the opening program.

There were 9 exhibits installed for the event.

NMCIREMP: NMCIREMP Staff with Sana F. K. Jatta, Rose Bistoyong, Yolando Arban, and Jessie R. Mabutas. The booth depicts the journey to alleviating rural poverty in Northern Mindanao by showcasing the products from NMCIREMP-covered areas like banana chips, cassava chips and meat products.

ICRAF: Rose Bistoyong, USEC for Support Services Office – Department of Agrarian Reform with ICRAF Staff.

SEARCA Exhibit: SEARCA was established by the Southeast Asian Ministers of Education Organization (SEAMEO) and aims to lead in the science and practice of agriculture and rural development in Southeast Asia.

WMCIP Exhibit: The exhibitors, Grace Babaran (left) and Amina Bidin showing the calamansi product of WMCIP.

RuMEPP Exhibit. RuMEPP is a DTI and SBC implemented project funded by IFAD. The Project provides micro-finance and technical assistance services to rural micro entrepreneurs. In the picture are Yolando C. Arban and Melanio J. Macabale.

RaFPEP Exhibit. DA staff with Mr. Ed Queblatin .The Programme’s goal is to reduce poverty and improve the quality of life of paddy farming households in participating rainfed and irrigated areas. This is implemented by the Department of Agriculture through the Ginintuang Masaganang Ani (GMA) Rice Program.

INBAR Exhibit: Manning the booth is Mr. Norman Mina, an INBAR Member. The network does innovation using bamboos for mainstream products thereby contributing to the upgrading of livelihood opportunities for sustainable development in rural areas.

PAKISAMA Exhibit: PAKISAMA envisions humane, gender sensitive and environmentally sound rural societies where people control and own the basic means of production and exchange, critically and actively participate, and live the values of authentic humanism in a Philippine society characterized by justice, freedom, democracy and national sovereignty.

CHARMP2 Exhibit: The newly started IFAD funded Project implemented by the Department of Agriculture.

By Vherna Castilla (NMCIREMP) and Emma Abasolo (ICRAF), Knowledge Facilitators

With the theme ‘Rural Poor Actions Amidst Crisis’, International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) Assistant President Jessie Rose Mabutas served as keynote speaker during the opening of the 3rd Knowledge and Learning Market (KLM3) on 20 October 2009 at the Megatrade Hall 3 of the SM Megamall in Mandaluyong City, Philippines.

She said that the KLM, pioneered by the IFAD Philippines Country Programme Management Team, became a permanent fixture in the annual calendar of the Philippines country programme and became a source of inspiration for other IFAD country programmes in the Asia and the Pacific region.

However, the most recent back-to-back typhoons have devastated the country most especially Metro Manila and Northern Luzon. In this regard, IFAD support to the Philippines will further be strengthened and shall persist in its goal of enabling the rural poor to improve their incomes and food security, and provide better food, education and health care for their families.

She added that IFAD’s more than 30 years of helping the rural poor in the Philippines has indeed generated inspiring stories, and it is hoped that the next 30 years will generate more.
“Knowledge sharing and learning lessons must not end in the KLM but should be the beginning of a long and extended virtual conversation. And with the launching of the IFAD website, it would be a convenient way of providing and obtaining information as well as another system that would complement the IFAD poverty portal.”

Vilma Sarmiento & Mary Ann Virtudes, KLM3 Social Reporters

National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) Deputy Director-General Rolando Tungpalan gave the welcome remarks on the occasion of the opening of the 3rd IFAD-Philippines Knowledge and Learning Market (KLM 3).

In his remarks, Tungpalan congratulated IFAD in spearheading the event as a venue where development partners can exchange ideas, share experiences and good practices and inspire each other in enabling the rural poor to improve their incomes and food security, and provide better food, education and health care for their families.

He also acknowledged the stakeholders who ventured into programs, projects and activities aimed at improving the living conditions of the rural poor in a sustainable way.

With the global crisis, Tungpalan said that the KLM3 is a timely response taking off from such experiences as how farmers, indigenous people and women supported by IFAD projects in the Philippines withstood the global food and financial crisis. He then urged the active participation of the stakeholders in the plenary and interactive sessions of the two-day event in order to gain new insights, ideas and learnings.

Meanwhile for the IFAD side, Country Programme Manager Sana F.K. Jatta gave the welcome remarks.

“I am glad that so many of you can join this 3rd staging of IFAD and ENRAP’s Knowledge and Learning Market. The IFAD delegation is indeed very glad to be here as we celebrate another round of fruitful knowledge-sharing,” said Jatta.

He said that the KLM has been a trailblazing endeavor within IFAD so much so that other countries wish to replicate this model.

On the recent calamities that hit Manila and Northern Luzon, Jatta said that IFAD will provide sustainable support particularly for those project areas which were hard-hit by the typhoons.

# Vilma Sarmiento & Mary Ann Virtudes, KLM 3 Social Reporters

Barrio Fiesta brings to mind the many festivals celebrated in the Philippines! And yes, it is a celebration of knowledge here at the 3rd Knowledge Learning Market.

While the impact of climate change and worsening poverty bring in the ominous dark clouds, the silver lining of successes and inroads into improving people’s lives and improving services by government and NGOs, lights up the venue and is a big reason for celebration. This optimism is reflected in the theme Rural Poor Actions Amidst Crisis and the slogan Kaya Nato! (We can do It!)

Officials from IFAD, led by Ms. Jessie Rose Mabutas, Assistant President Finance and Administration, the Philippine Government, representatives from the communities, the academe, the private sector, NGOs, and the media promise a well-attended fiesta! And before I forget we have guests from India; most probably looking into ways how they can stage a fiesta celebration in their country!

This is the 3rd year of celebrating KLM in the Philippines. And being in its 3rd year it has to be better than the previous KLM celebrations. Well, there is certainly a promise to that.

As if not contented with the interesting and timely topics lined up and the sharing of rich experiences that will serve as beacons in these dark times…there was a book launching, yes a launching of a book in CD form rich with contributions of IFAD partners coming from all over the country. And of course, the launching of the IFAD Philippines website. This will be a pilot of the new IFAD corporate-wide endeavor towards establishing country websites all linked to the IFAD main web address.

The two-day event will provide a venue for discussion of inroads in terms of poverty alleviation as well as an appreciation of the changes in our environment that brings climate changes.

The sharing includes knowledge sharing sessions from rural community organizations, partner agencies and including the Local Government Units.

Notable in KLM3 is an attempt to go the whole nine yards of using computers more than just modified typewriters, but as tools in knowledge sharing. It promises to bring on the internet, social blogs and digital media, mirroring existing social sites.

In this effort, catastrophies notwithstanding; discussions, photos, footages and blogs will be reflected in the IFAD Social Blog Site as close to real time as possible. With this, we welcome your blogs, photos, footages. We certainly will learn from you too.

So, celebrate with us! Enjoy the Knowledge Learning Management fiesta celebrations! Kaya nato!

-Isidoro S. Lagahit, Knowledge Facilitator, IFAD-Phil. TWG

Following his visit to the IFAD supported SPEAR project in the earthquake area in Sichuan province - China, the President continued to Beijing to meet with the Vice Premier , Minister of Finance , various Vice Ministers and other high ranking Government officials, Chinese Poverty Reduction Experts and the UNCT. The long list of high level Chinese politicians mirrors the attention and appreciation of the Chinese government to the President and to IFAD.

Besides President Nwanze, IFAD was presented by Thomas Elhaut, Director of the Asia and Pacific Division, Thomas Rath, Country Program Manager , Sun Yinhong , Country Presence Officer and David Paqui , Communications Officer.

The absolute highlight was the meeting with Vice Premier Hui Liangyu on October 11. The Vice Premier appreciated the long standing cooperation with IFAD and its contribution to the poverty reduction in China and globally. The Vice Premier expressed China’s support to the President and to IFAD. He also assured that China will continue borrowing from and actively working on poverty reduction with IFAD in the near future.

Throughout the meetings, the GOC representatives stressed their interest in engaging in an intensive South-South cooperation with IFAD’s country programs in Africa, Asia and Latin America. The cooperation should follow a tripartite constellation including the recipient country, China and IFAD to warrant ownership and contribution of each partner. The cooperation would include knowledge sharing, joint financing, technical assistance, support to institutions building and pro-poor policy development. China and IFAD agreed also on setting up a financial facility in support of knowledge sharing.

IFAD plans to develop 2 large loans with China for the coming PBAS cycle (2010-2012), similar to other large IFAD country programs like India. The purpose of larger loans is (i) to deepen the poverty impact, (ii) to ease the scaling-up of projects, whilst (iii) reducing overhead costs and lastly (iv) increasing efficiency of IFAD operations.

During his meetings with Chinese government officials, IFAD President Nwanze stressed the importance of the China – IFAD cooperation, in view of the impact achieved with reportedly some 30 million people benefiting from 23 loan projects. He stressed the leading role of China for the developing world as China’s success is unparalleled and highlights the importance of a strong government commitment , institution building from grassroots to national levels, participation of local communities and lastly, conducive policy frameworks for poverty reduction . The example of China shows clearly the pivotal role of agriculture for poverty reduction and rural development. Nevertheless, the President stressed the need to continue investing in agriculture to meet the world’s challenges for the future of which the most important ones will include food security of a growing world population, shrinking natural resources especially water. These last issues are particularly overshadowed by the effects of the climate change.

The President met almost daily with media. An interview with China’s international TV channel will be aired on the World Food Day. The interview with NBC was posted on the NBC web on 13 October will be also included in a one hour NBC programme as the run off for the Copenhagen meeting. The other interviews held with international and Chinese media are expected to be published in due course.

President Nwanze left China on October 13, heading for the World Food Prize’s
Borlaug Dialogue, in Des Moines , USA.

(Posted by Thomas Rath, David Paqui, Sun Yinhong)

Update on the Writeshop in Viet Nam

Posted by Martina Spisiakova 3 comments

Today is the last day of the writeshop for Knowledge Management Officers (KMOs) working in the IFAD-supported projects in Viet Nam. A lot has been achieved. The participants are just finalizing their case studies and success stories. The facilitators are guiding them. Everybody is concentrating and trying to do their best. So when they go back to their provinces, they can share their work with other project staff and their articles can soon be published.

What we have done since the last post…

During the ‘Reader-centred writing’ session, the participants learned how to write in Plain English and ‘Plain Vietnamese’. They now know how to present information clearly and concisely to get a message across to their readers. The participants were divided into two groups – English and Vietnamese speaking to ensure that the facilitators follow and guide each participant during practical sessions.

The session on editing was interesting. By reading some articles from projects written in Vietnamese, the participants realized that they cannot understand them. Imagine us in IFAD reading the English translation! We are now discussing whether the KMOs, that are present at this writeshop, can edit articles in Vietnamese or the Country Office in Hanoi will have to recruit a Vietnamese editor before they get translated to English. So when we receive articles in Rome for processing – whether to include them in newsletters, publications or as basis for our IFAD success stories – they are clearly written and require minimal clarifications from their authors.

Processing data from project reports to produce a success story

One of the needs of project staff assessed prior to this writeshop was to learn how to process data from project reports for case studies and success stories. Often, when they are asked to write an article, they read progress reports which are full of numbers with little qualitative analysis. During the writeshop, the trainers gave the participants a progress report of the Programme for Improving Market Participation of the Poor in Tra Vinh Province.

The participants had to read the report and choose an angle for their article. Once they finished reading and chose the angle, the trainers held a ‘press conference’. They asked three project staff from Tra Vinh province to help the participants clarify the data which was not clear. After the conference, the participants had sufficient information to analyse the data and complete their articles with the guidance of the trainers.

The reason why we had the ‘press conference’ was that just by looking at the report data, a detailed analysis which was needed to complete the articles would not have been possible. Therefore, face-to-face question and answer session with concerned project staff was necessary. As a result, the participants were able to analyse and present complicated data so that the final outcome (article) was not full of numbers but also qualitative analysis. There was a general agreement that progress reports should improve to provide a basis for writing success stories for KMOs, since it might not always be possible to have a ‘press conference’.

The Viet Nam Country Team is planning to organize more writeshops in the future including more staff from the projects. We believe that building the capacity of project staff in different areas, including communication and knowledge management, can really make a difference to the country programme.