November 2008

vicki-wildewas the underlying theme of this year’s much loved Gender and Diversity Event at the CGIAR Annual General meeting. This year we are in Maputo, Mozambique. A place, a country I am appreciating every day more. A country that came out of civil war only 15 years ago and has come a long way… But for now back to the Gender and Diversity event which every year brings together women (and starting a couple of years ago men as well) in the CGIAR and offers an opportunity to learn and network. Every year there is a different theme. I also had the opportunity to share my own personal experience 3 years back when I was asked to tell the many participants how I balanced my job with my personal life….those of you who were there I am sure remember the event well 🙂 But this year was about asking our young staff to express what they expect from the organization. “We all love working for an organization whose mandate we believe in…even better if we have an organization well run”, were the opening words of my dear friend Vicki Wilde, the Director of the Gender and Diversity Program.

So here was the space to contribute to that…

img_0565Meet Isilda Nhantumbo, an inspiring Mozambican lady, among the very few women who made the first round of selection for the 2008 AWARD program (the recently launched Gates-funded initiative to support young women researchers in Africa managed by the Gender and Diversity Program of the CGIAR.
Her heartwarming story of how her grandfather encouraged her to study, despite the fact that Mozambique had recently emerged from war….was a good frame to some very tangible ideas of what we can do in the CGIAR to support women and support young people. First: she reminded us how in the CGIAR we publish a lot of very good science…but…how accessible is this to young students, young professionals especially in developing countries. Well this point struck a chord to me…as only today we run a 2 hour workshop with 40 participants on “How to make our research outputs accessible” (more on this later…). Second coach, encourage, challenge young professionals. Give them the opportunity to lead, to interact, to experiment. Encourage internships, co-authorship, placements…Third: capitalize on the growing opportunities offered by ICT to give access to resources. Fourth: encourage publishing in local peer-review journals as a good starting point for young scientists. Fifth: A plea to senior management: “Do not fear competition, give space to young professionals…help them become as good as you are”. Powerful words!

img_0556Then meet Balasubramanian Ramani (known by all as Bala),  coordinator of the Young Professionals’ Platform for Agricultural Research for Development (YPARD), a global platform through which young professionals can express their ideas and realise their full potential towards a dynamic agricultural research for development. Bala’s story was one of Christmas and presents…we are all going to buy something for our loved ones…but chances are then the day comes that we give the presents our loved ones do not like the presents. We can try and change them but by then everything will be sold out….the moral…..involve those you care for in the decision making…..create the space for the young professionals to walk with you. Again an important reminder as we reshape the CGIAR.

img_0560Last speaker of the night: our own Nadia Manning-Thomas, the leader of the Knowledge Sharing in Research Project and her river of life. “Someone believed in me, someone gave me a chance” was how she started her story. A journey from her native island of Barbados, to Vancouver Island, to the mid-west of the United States, to the UK, to Tanzania, to Namibia, to Sri Lanka and now to Ethiopia. An honor student in archeology who found a new passion during her life journey…when being in touch with local communities helped her “heart make a shift to get to try and help with problem closer to people lives”. Hers is a story of a capable, committed young lady who was given a chance. Someone believed in her, gave her the space to grow. And look at her now! I will let her tell you her story in details!

An inspiring evening, among many participants in our Annual general meeting who came together to celebrate young, committed, capable individuals and their achievements. But also to celebrate the space our organization gives us to grow. As we continue to restructure the CGIAR, we should make sure we remind ourselves of these good stories and what made them possible. Let’s take some time to reflect and celebrate.

The Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research, or CGIAR, is facing unprecedented challenges. Today, rural communities across the developing world are suffering from sky rocketing food prices, the grave threat of climate change, energy shortages and unstable global financial markets. To continue to be relevant, the CGIAR has to adapt to the changing times and this video is about the revitalization process which is currently underway.

This video has been produced by the Institutional KS Project as a contribution to the socialization of the CGIAR change process. The script was done in collaboration with the CGIAR Secretariat. The multimedia was produced by a CIAT team and the original video style idea is from The Common Craft Show who kindly authorized us to use it.

The ICT-KM Program is pleased to announce that CGMap, a System-wide application developed in collaboration with  IRRI and CIAT, and in consultation with the Alliance of CG Centers, the CGIAR Secretariat and the Science Council is now up and running and can be accessed at                                                                                                                        CGMap provides a “map” that allows easy navigation through information on research and research-related activities that the CGIAR Centers and Challenge Programs publish in their Medium Term Plans (MTPs) every year. Spanning over a three-year period, MTPs describe the research agenda of each Center and Program in relation to CGIAR System priorities.

CGMap will help you find answers to questions like:  What Centers are conducting research on chickpea in Central Asia?  How many projects are contributing to genetic enhancement of selected species?

Visit the site to discover the useful functionalities that are available. You can identify projects and view fact sheets with scientific and financial information; search for outputs and output targets in project logframes; and map projects by countries where research is planned, and by potential beneficiary countries.

Finding your way around is as easy as … well, following a map.

If you have any questions regarding CGMAP please contact:

FInd photos from the recently held Knowledge Sharing in Research project Synthesis Workshop on the KS project’s Flickr site.

Directly via:

Or click on the PHOTOS tab on the top of the KS website home page (–which will take you to the Flickr site page showing all the sets of KS Project photos available–and go to the KSinR Synthesis workshop Photo set–shown in image below.


In the Most Significant Change story approach it is usual for the participants as a whole to listen to the stories and make a selection of that story or those stories which they consider to be most significant for the group or the program.

In the recently held Knowledge Sharing in Research Synthesis workshop, the review and selection of stories was done in a different way. Instead of the participants judging the stories themselves as a group, two people, somewhat outside of the direct KSinR project, were asked to listen to the stories and make comments and selections. These were:ksinr-synthesis-workshop-164

  • Meredith Giordano (IWMI)-Senior Researcher involved in Impact work at IWMI and supervising the Project Leader of KSinR
  • Debbie Bossio (IWMI)- Senior Researcher and Theme Leader of Productive Water Use Theme–not involved in the KSinR Project at all

And instead of them making their comments and selection just between the two of them (in private), the workshop used a fishbowl technique which involved Meredith and Debbie sitting in the middle of a circle made up up of all the other participants of the workshop.


Meredith and Debbie then commented on all the stories, indicating things they liked about stories, important points, key elements of packaging stories and their thoughts on the importance of particular changes indicated. They also talked about how well these could be ‘sold’ to their research Centres and projects. Everyone was asked to listen to them without interrupting first–and only after they finished their ‘internal’ discussion was it opened up to the wider group.

Some key points made in the fishbowl were:

  • Need to focus on ONE significant change–not tell everything about the project
  • To show significant change would be good to indicate what was done before/how things were done before–so that a difference can be seen–as Alessandra did in her story
  • Give evidence of or demonstrate with an example the change you are talking about–like in Phillip’s story
  • Interesting to indicate change in one’s own knowledge, skills, experience as the most significant change–this is very real and important–as shown in Natasja’s story
  • Ben’s story showed the importance of finding common interest
  • Liked how some stories showed the implications and consequences–what would happen next as a result
  • Use of numbers is appealing for scientists–Tonya’s story gave some numbers of farmers and percentage of adoption which made the change seem more concrete
  • Debbie pointed out that she couldn’t take anything in particular that she heard to the donors–need to consider target groups when developing stories
  • Should indicate what the impact has been or could be due to the change–Alexandra indicated this in her story
  • Need to feel free to tell ‘negative’ stories as alot cna be learned from these as well
  • Should consider the language we use in our stories
  • …and much more!

“Mobile Telephony in Rural Areas” COME IN AND FIND OUT!

JOIN our Latest Forum on “Mobile Telephony in Rural Areas” 17-28 November 2008


… over 150 active participants from 50 nations …

… contributions from small farmers, private sector and NGO workers, scientists and academics, and governmental representatives …

This Forum examines the challenges that rural communities face in enhancing the benefits of mobile telephony, and looks at some examples of interesting initiatives and good outcomes from around the globe.

Here’s what some of the participants are saying…

“Today, mobile telephony are being used for providing information to the farmers on pest advisory system, branchless banking, agricultural market arrivals and prices through SMS and multimedia supported system in many Asian countries. […] However, there is a lot more we can do in this field to improve the plight of small and marginal farmers with the help of innovative products/technologies customized for rural sector. This is an important forum where we can all discuss the challenges and strategies for the implementation of mobile telephony in rural areas.” – Sapna A. Narula, Assistant Professor of the G. B. Pant University of Agriculture & Technology, Pantnagar, India.

“The forum has provided a great opportunity to hear about creative uses for mobile phones from people across the world. From college professors in Uganda to farmers in Bangladesh, everyone is reporting that phones have indeed become a ubiquitous source of information reaching even remote rural areas. Their potential is really captured by all of the suggestions being made for their use and the participation of many field experts will likely make them happen.” – Hélène Martin, Grameen Foundation Technology Center,

Subject Matter experts include:
· Pete Cranston, ICT and New Media in Development Consultant;
· Laura M. Drewett, Partner Director, BusyLab Ltd.;
· Jawahar Kanjilal, Global Head of Emerging Market Services, Services & Software, Nokia;
· Christian Kreutz, Consultant, Knowledge Activist;
· AHM Sultanur Reza, Additional General Manager and Head, Community Information Center, Grameenphone Ltd.;
· Luca Servo, Communication for Development Consultant, Research and Extension Division, Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations;

· Nigel Scott, Gamos Ltd.
With Charlotte Masiello-Riome, Communications Expert and Coordinator; and Michael Riggs, Information Management Specialist for the Asia-Pacific region, Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations.

Join in this exciting forum!
If you haven’t yet registered on the platform,
click here.
Go to, log in, and click on the forum section!
Any questions, please write to

IFPRI has recently issued a call for nominations for a new initiative on “Millions Fed: Proven Successes in Agricultural Development.” To submit a nomination or nominations, please visit

Also check out the flyer:millions-fed-flyer-pic1


The Millions Fed project, supported by The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, will document evidence on “what works” in agriculture—what sorts of policies, programs, and investments in pro-poor agricultural development have had a proven impact on hunger and food security.

We invite nominations highlighting interventions that have had a significant impact on food security, including those that have empowered women and vulnerable groups to improve their livelihoods. Nominations may include, for example, research and extension programs that have improved on-farm yields and outputs for small-scale farmers; public investment programs that have helped food-insecure consumers meet their daily nutritional requirements and accumulate assets; community-led efforts that have conserved soil, water, forests, and biodiversity; or market-based interventions that have strengthened the ability of small-scale farmers and food-insecure consumers to gain access to production inputs, rural services, and agricultural commodities.

Please submit your nominations by December 31, 2008. Nominated interventions will be reviewed by a panel of international experts and, if selected, highlighted in the Millions Fed global communications initiative.  For more information on the selection criteria, nomination process, and the Millions Fed project in general, please see the attached flyer or visit

We encourage you to share this call for nominations with colleagues in your organization and networks. Please feel free to contact the IFPRI Millions Fed team at if you have any questions or would like further information.

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