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The IDSS training group of 65 persons received training on assessing the myriad consequences of adopting new policies and technologies

JUNE 2014, ETHIOPIA -- Farmers of Ethiopia, Ghana and Tanzania are a small step closer to boosted income through research after 65 trainees attended a Texas A&M–led training workshop in June on using the Integrated Decision Support System (IDSS.)  

The IDSS is a method for assessing the consequences of adopting new technologies and policies. It identifies constraints that limit adoption and proposes solutions. It estimates effects on many aspects including crop production, the environment and the economy – all the determining factors of improving income and enhancing nutrition for smallholder farmers. These components can be measured using the IDSS at village, watershed and regional levels.   

The workshop objective was to train country analysts on the IDSS to be able to apply it to the irrigation needs and opportunities of smallholders - part of ILSSI’s goal of having smallholder farmers make use of new, practical irrigation systems. 

Workshop participants included 45 mostly Ethiopian students, including seven females; attendees from government, international centers, and the private sector. The first half day of focused on administrators who will use the results of the IDSS; the remainder of the training was aimed at current and future analysts. 

The IDSS system is being used to assess the impact of small scale irrigation innovations for multiple locations in the FtF zones of Ethiopia.  Similar studies will be conducted in Tanzania and Ghana. But the assessment method can also be applied to future studies long after ILSSI has concluded.

One analyst of the Ethiopian Ministry of Environment and Forest, for example, has already persuaded his colleagues to use IDSS in assessing new policies for enhancing sustainable use of natural resources in the country.

The ILSSI “research to action” approach in farmer fields uses precision planning to produce relevant results that enhance adoption of outcomes. Implementation involves high participation among stakeholders at varying levels. National stakeholder meetings in Ethiopia, Tanzania, and Ghana for example included farmers, university faculty, government officials, private sector industry and USAID Missions. 

Engagement with same set of stakeholders from farm level upward to regional and national levels uses the IDSS models to scale up and out to identify areas of geographic equivalence at watershed and larger areas where the IDSS might be applied.   

A second round of advanced IDSS training took place February 2015 in Ethiopia and similar workshops will be conducted in Tanzania and Ghana throughout 2015.