The SPIA experimental impact evaluations call announced in April 2014 is close to announcing grantees. We received 21 excellent expressions of interest (EOIs), and 8 were invited to submit full proposals, external reviews for which have been completed. The first stage (EOIs) for the other SPIA call issued in September 2014 is now over - post reviews a subset of EOI proponents will be contacted soon and asked to submit full proposals.
In the meantime, here is an interesting piece from Grist on two Ethiopian farmers http://grist.org/food/from-two-ethiopians-what-small-farmers-really-want/ as a part of their series on food and hunger. Interesting not so much for its depth of content, but the key points raised by the farmers - about how labour intensive farming is (even here there is an allusion to the difference between female and male farmers), and the lack of access to technology (fertilizers, threshers, herbicides, etc.) and markets (roads, transport, etc.), reminding us again about the (potential) constraints to adoption of improved seeds and other technologies that ag. research puts out. Some approach this issue by simply attempting to fill the (imagined) shelf with labour-saving technologies that public/private sector or farmers can access. One could presumably enable access to some or most of these, but without a parallel increase in productivity - which is not always a given, farmers will dis-adopt. How do they (at least the early adopters) decide what to experiment with or invest in - to understand what a (are) critical binding constraint(s) to improved productivity is? Some of these are hardly technology investments that farmers can experiment with and gradually adopt.