Crucially, IM4FS is building on the strength of the CASCAPE project, which has been carried out in close cooperation with the Agricultural Growth Programme (AGP) of the Ethiopian government. CASCAPE designed and implemented site-specific combinations of crops, soils and farming practices, enabling around 200,000 farmers to boost their harvests above the Ethiopian average (yields increasing threefold for wheat and doubling for Tef and Faba bean), and start becoming self-sufficient by applying these best-practice interventions.
Whilst existing land evaluation approaches are focused on improving agricultural productivity, CASCAPE combines data with stakeholder engagement to ensure proposals will work in practice. To ensure this, farmers, extension workers, local experts and planners are engaged from the start, bringing an understanding of the realities on the ground to any approaches.
This data and information is then fed into the GIS3-based tool, which then matches the best farming practices with bio-physical and socio-economic conditions in a given area. The tool will then create ‘recommendation maps’ that highlight areas most suitable for specific innovations. Local stakeholders will then verify the recommendation against their specialist knowledge and expectations.
IM4FS takes these learnings one step further through its unique ability to offer a scenario planning function that informs decisions in agri-landscapes and food insecure areas. This ultimately creates a more dynamic and interactive tool to provide simulations and aid stakeholder engagement. Combined, this was central to the judges awarding the US$75,000 prize.