To become a central element of institutional, national and international development efforts, scaling up demands political and organizational leadership, vision and values, and a mindset focused on incentives and accountability, say Arntraud Hartmann and Johannes F. Linn of the Brookings Institute (2008).
The United States Agency for International Development’s (USAID) Bureau for Food Security wants practical agricultural technologies to reach more people in more places. To that end, the agency organized the “Feed the Future Scaling Agricultural Technologies Global Learning & Evidence Exchange (GLEE)”, for representatives of USAID missions from Cambodia, India, Bangladesh, Nepal, Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan and Latin America, USAID Headquarters in Washington, international agricultural research centers, universities, and private sector firms from 7-9 January 2014 at USAID’s Asia Regional Training Center in Bangkok, Thailand. The participants shared their perspectives on the issue of scaling up to provide insight to the missions on how best to apply decision support tools to design effective and sustainable scaling up activities. The event was opened by Julie Howard (Chief Scientist, USAID Bureau for Food Security) and Richard Greene (Senior Deputy Assistant Administrator, USAID Bureau for Food Security).
Jackie Hughes, AVRDC Deputy Director General – Research attended the technical sessions and spoke on “AVRDC’s approach to scaling agricultural technologies.” Extensive discussions followed on scaling up as a USAID priority. She noted the importance of carefully selecting processes for scaling up that have a high chance of success, and of focusing on enabling environments and mechanisms to implement initiatives to scale up adoption of agricultural technologies.
The technical sessions were complemented by a field trip on 10 January 2014 to Kamphaeng Saen to see first-hand some of the technological innovations discussed at the workshop.
Robert Holmer, Regional Director for East and Southeast Asia, welcomed more than 20 participants to AVRDC’s Research and Training Station in Kamphaeng Saen and introduced the technologies the Center promotes for scaling up. Three technologies were selected for practical hands-on exercises. Willie Chen, Assistant Specialist in Global Technology Dissemination from headquarters, guided participants in methods for vegetable grafting and saving vegetable seeds. Somchit Pruangwitayakun, Vegetable Research and Training Assistant, and Supunsa Phethin, Research Assistant – Breeding, demonstrated a method of rearing of parasitoids against the legume pod borer (Maruca vitrata) developed by Sopana Yule, Research Assistant – Entomology. Rob Bertram, Director of USAID‘s Office of Agricultural Research and Policy in Technology in the Bureau for Food Security, showed particular skill in grafting tomato scions on eggplant rootstocks.
After completing the technology-sharing sessions with AVRDC and touring the Center’s demonstration garden, the group proceeded to USAID’s Horticulture Innovation Lab Regional Center at Kasetsart University’s (KU) Department of Horticulture, where several technology innovations were on display. Poonpipope Kasemsap, Director of the Horticulture Innovation Lab and KU Vice President for International Affairs, Jingtair Siripanich, Head of KU Postharvest Technology Center at Kamphaeng Saen, and Britta Hansen, Regional Centers of Innovation Specialist, Innovation Lab for Collaborative Research on Horticulture, University of California – Davis led the participants in a discussion of scaling up agricultural technologies for fruit and vegetable production, such as solar dryers, a CoolBot for affordable cold storage, solar-powered irrigation systems, zeolite drying beads for drying seed, compost-making machines, an essential oil extractor, and soil nutrient test kits.
During the wrap-up session, John Bowman, Senior Agriculture Advisor, USAID Bureau of Food Security, thanked AVRDC and Kasetsart University for sharing the technologies and is looking forward to disseminating the technologies on a wider scale. In her concluding remarks, Julie Howard observed that not only were the technologies showcased, but also the excellent collaboration between an international agricultural research center (AVRDC), a local university partner (Kasetsart University) and a US university (University of California – Davis, HortCRSP).
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Rob Bertram (Director, Office for Agricultural Research and Policy, Bureau for Food Security) visited AVRDC headquarters on 12-13 January 2014, where he continued informal discussions from the GLEE with Jackie Hughes on opportunities for AVRDC within the USAID horticulture funding portfolio. On 13 January he gave a presentation to AVRDC staff entitled “USAID’s Feed the Future Strategy: Science and Technology to Reduce Malnutrition and the Role of Horticulture.” Feed the Future aims to sustainably intensify agriculture by enhancing productivity, transforming key production systems, and improving nutrition and food safety. “The emphasis is on nutrition-sensitive agriculture,” Bertram said. “Horticulture is essential to decreasing poverty and stunting, but it is complex. We need to reach out to small-scale farmers with technologies, and promote greater adoption of these technologies to increase farmers’ productive capacity and integration with value chains.”
Representatives from Taiwan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) and Council of Agriculture (COA) also attended Rob’s seminar: Terry G.C. Ting, Director General, Southwestern Taiwan Office, MOFA; Jen-Pin Chen, Deputy Director General, Agriculture and Food Agency, COA; Tzu-Yu Richard Fu, Section Chief, International Cooperation Section, Department of International Affairs, COA; Chang-Tsern Chen, Specialist, Research and Development Section, Department of Science and Technology, COA; San-Tai Wang, Researcher and Head, Department of Vegetable Crops, Fengshan Tropical Horticultural Experiment Branch, Agriculture Research Institute, COA; and Shyh-Shyan Dennis Wang, Director, Tainan District Agricultural Research and Extension Station, COA. Rob toured the genebank, demonstration garden, and fertigation greenhouse, and also sunk roots in Taiwan by planting a tree in the Center’s Green Drive.