Cereal Systems Initiative for South Asia (CSISA) Phase II Evaluation Report
This report is the Phase II Evaluation of the Cereal Systems Initiative for South Asia (CSISA). Building on 20 years of research and development (R&D) work in the Rice-Wheat Consortium, CSISA is likely to be one of the most productive investments in the agricultural R&D portfolios of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF).
The CSISA Initiative is complex. It is composed of different management across countries and a diversity of innovation and adoption processes, involving many diverse international and national stakeholders. This complexity made it challenging for the Evaluation Team (ET) to capture all aspects evenly, in all places. On the other hand, this complexity also makes CSISA a powerful, holistic research and development model that can, and does, bring about changes in sustainable intensification and strategic farm-level diversification. Complexity should be understood as a positive dimension, regardless of the difficulties in appraising CSISA’s “Big Tent” (projects across the Initiative) performance and impact.
Multi-component impact pathways are bringing together pioneering solutions to constraints and opportunities that cannot be harnessed by reductionist research approaches. CSISA is mostly about well-focused ‘production-systems’ research and concomitant development. Addressing mechanization constraints within a production system, for example, facilitates rapid turnaround time between harvesting and replanting crops within a calendar year and permits meaningful strides toward sustainable intensification of smallholder production systems. Likewise, irrigation and water management innovations enable new varieties and agronomic practices to be harnessed for sustainable intensification. There is strong inclusion of the private sector, including a new, powerful farmer-cum-service provider who uses new mechanization innovations on his/her farm and also on his neighbors’ farms via a contractual service. Public institutions, especially at the state level, are pivitol and have empowered members of the Initiative. CSISA also strategically encompasses rice and wheat breeding as well as policy research focused on CSISA’s goals. Rice and wheat breeding efforts are targeted at the needs of evolving production systems and the mitigation of climate change impacts. Policy-level research provides insights on opportunities and constraints, informing decision-makers on implications of externalities on the innovation pathways and informs policy-makers about available choices and their consequences.
Please read the report for an in-depth description of findings and for selected recommendations moving forward.