Your Input Requested: USAID Survey on Research Needs in Horticulture
Horticulture is renowned for its unique contributions in three key areas: 1) economic growth and income delivery through intensive production on small plots of land; 2) connectivity to the commercial private sector; and 3) nutrition delivery. There is an inherent development challenge to support the establishment of sustainable horticultural systems, and the many benefits associated with them, in farming systems where rural poverty and undernutrition are concentrated. Research can contribute to fulfilling horticulture’s potential to drive inclusive economic growth by contributing to smallholder participation in horticulture and to improve nutrition through expanded access to, and consumption of, safe, affordable and nutritious fruits and vegetables. USAID is seeking input to prioritize research areas for a new investment to add and/or expand future horticulture opportunities within farming systems. We request your feedback through a brief survey found at the end of this post.
Research undertaken in an eventual program would contribute to the implementation of the Global Food Security Act Research Strategy (GFSA RS). Under the GFSA RS, research outputs are sought and developed that: reduce extreme poverty, reduce risks and increase resilience, and advance human outcomes––specifically in improving nutrition, gender equity, and economic opportunity, especially for low-income groups such as youth. In addition, USAID and Feed the Future research investments follow operational research principles, which include both “public goods” research aligned with the above objectives, and “field-driven” research, which directly supports and contributes to USAID partner country and regional priorities.
Feed the Future investments are generally purposed towards delivering scalable, sustainable impact with smallholder farmers, with a special emphasis on reaching, benefiting, and empowering women, including young women. Research investments are intended to advance development objectives through the generation of relevant technologies and resource management practices, understanding the constraints to delivery and adoption of the technologies and practices, and advancing economic approaches that respond to market failures, reduce risks, and foster inclusive and smallholder engagement in horticultural production and market systems.
Given these precepts, USAID is seeking input on how to prioritize research on horticulture, in farming systems that are of high interest to the Feed the Future Initiative in the timeframe of 2021-26. A“farming system” is defined as follows:
“...a population of farm households, generally of mixed types and sizes, that as a group have broadly similar patterns of resources, livelihoods, consumption, constraints and opportunities, and for which similar bundles of development strategies and interventions would be appropriate. Often, such systems share broadly similar agroecological and market access conditions. There are inherent patterns of heterogeneity in any particular farming system, for example the interdependence between small and large farms.” (From: Dixon et. al., Farming Systems and Food Security in Africa, 2020)
USAID is highly interested in farming systems-specific research priorities for smallholder development in commercially-oriented horticulture. Successful development of commercial horticultural enterprises by smallholder farmers in key farming systems can provide significantly higher incomes, greater connectivity to markets and finance, increased resilience through enterprise diversification, and improved nutrition for producers and consumers through greater availability and affordability of fruits and vegetables. Smallholder farmers face many challenges in developing sustainable commercial horticultural enterprises that complement their other farm enterprises. These challenges also often differ between farming systems resulting in the need to identify and address farming systems-specific research priorities.
The five key farming systems of interest to Feed the Future include:
- Rice and Rice-wheat systems of South and Southeast Asia
- Agro-pastoral systems of West Africa
- Cereal-root crop mixed systems of West Africa
- Maize-mixed systems of East and Southern Africa
- Highland perennial and mixed systems of East and Central Africa
We would like you to provide input on priorities for research to support adding and/or expanding horticultural activities within these existing five key farming systems that are of interest to USAID. Please share your views by completing this brief SURVEY by June 19, 2020. Please only address those questions posed in farming systems where you have sound knowledge and personal expertise.
Thank you for your valued input!