Our project implementation framework utilised a centralised leadership and program management team to guide the overall program. By centralising project management, we could ensure an in-depth synthesis of our work at all levels of operation, and adapt to local contexts and policy opportunities as needed.
Annual program and partner work plans, and an ability to commission research when knowledge gaps were identified provided the flexibility required to ensure we could adapt to emerging issues as they arose.
A Steering Committee (SC) guided the work program by informing priorities, responding to high level research results, and ensuring its integration with regional policy and dialogue processes and other research efforts.
Phase 1 of the Sustainable Development Investment Portfolio (SDIP) focused on farm and community levels, and was delivered through the Sustainable and Resilient Farming Systems Intensification (SRFSI) project.
The research and development activities under the project were conducted in eight districts in the Eastern Gangetic Plains (EGP): Rajshahi and Rangpur in Bangladesh; Malda and Coochbehar in West Bengal, and Purnea and Madhubani in Bihar, India; and Sunsari and Dhanusha in Nepal.
These locations were chosen specifically to test techniques in a range of agro-ecological settings, as well as to enable cross-border comparison of results, and to explore the effects of institutional and policy settings.
Our aim was to understand local systems, and demonstrate the effectiveness of Conservation Agriculture-based Sustainable Intensification (CASI) approaches, while ensuring an enabling environment for supporting and scaling out these technologies.
Our work focused on
building an understanding of the bio-physical and socioeconomic settings in the region;
improving the productivity, livelihoods and resilience of smallholder farmers to climate variability by facilitating the adoption of gender-inclusive, productive, profitable and lower-risk farming systems by over 75,000 farmers in the EGP.
The project developed activities in five communities in each of eight districts in the EGP.
We also worked with other stakeholders and initiatives to scale relevant technologies to more farmers in the broader region in conjunction with ACIAR SDIP Phase 2.
Component 1 served as the overarching framework to ensure integration and synthesis across the program.
Component 2 involved foresight dialogue and processes, which both informed and were informed by policies and institutions in Component 3, and our field scale innovation and research in Component 4.
Underlying these components were a series of analytical studies (Component 5) which were commissioned in an adaptive manner as knowledge gaps and opportunities emerged throughout the program.
These components were designed to integrate perspectives across regions and scale to develop sustainable and resilient food systems.
Importantly, they also built on the work done in Phase 1, and contributed to the scaling of sustainable technologies across a wider geography.
Together, these activities ensured a strong flow of information and knowledge between various project levels – from individual farms and communities, to states, countries and regions, and involving policy development, institutions and technologies.
Importantly, this approach allowed the broader system to connect with how farmers are impacted by change at different levels.
These activities helped to identify future pathways within the food, energy and water sectors, identifying policy constraints, and outlining likely impacts – including impacts on the future of women in agriculture, and opportunities to enhance women’s participation.