CIIFAD maintains five important programs that support interaction between Cornell students and faculty and the broader community of international agricultural development. For complete information about each, click on a tab below.
The goal of the Stimulating Agricultural and Rural Transformation (StART) initiative is to encourage and facilitate faculty and graduate students with strong disciplinary expertise to interact, and where appropriate to actively collaborate, at the high-return intersections between fields of study in a way that develops strategically valuable "connective tissue" among related, cutting-edge research programs and between Cornell research groups and external practitioners who can both implement scientific discoveries and identify and pose important researchable questions. We assemble flexible working groups of faculty, students, visiting scientists and external partners organized in specific integrative themes of strategic importance to agricultural and rural transformation.
2009-10 WorkplanIn its initial year of operation, StART is launching four specific workgroups and undertaking several catalytic activities that will cut across the workgroups, including supporting the new NSF IGERT PhD training program on Food Systems and Poverty Reduction.
The first workgroup will have a focus on Making Markets Work for Smallholder Farmers. This program takes a two-track approach. One group (led by Ralph Christy and Ed Mabaya) focuses on firm behavior and capacity development in order to stimulate commercial innovations that can engender more inclusive agricultural growth. This group proposes a research agenda that seeks to explore and evaluate the effectiveness of pull strategies in creating market access for smallholder farmers in Africa through the development of commercially viable agro-industries. Support to this group this year will lead to multiple proposals for external funding, and to deepened institutional collaborations with universities in east and southern Africa. The second group (led by Miguel Gomez and Chris Barrett) looks at the entire production-to-consumption continuum to assess the multidimensional sustainability of smallholder food systems and to establish where there exist tradeoffs or synergies among distinct socioeconomic, commercial and environmental objectives that motivate stakeholders involved in smallholder-based food systems. Support to this group this year will support a small workshop that will generate a white paper for foundations and development agencies, a policy perspective paper for a high-profile journal (e.g., Science), and probably one or more external funding proposals.
The other three workgroups are in the process of being formed. The Pests, Disease and Food Security group will focus on mycotoxins and interactions between agriculture and health in East African maize systems. A Water Education and Research Network will focus on improving water availability and quality, especially in the Blue Nile basin in Ethiopia. StART funding will help develop external funding proposals to scale up the work. A group will also be formed around Managing Climate Risk in Rural Areas. This group will develop new techniques to model adaptation to increased climate risk.
The StART initiative also includes funding for catalytic activities, including bringing visitors to Cornell to work with faculty and students, developing a graduate systems thinking course and supporting student research through informal advising.