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Over 50 LBDC project team members and stakeholders gathered for a week of reflection in Bulawayo Zimbabwe at the half way point of the LBDC. The group included researchers, senior government officials, development partners and young professionals, whom together took stock of progress to date, emerging findings and mapped the way forward. Two days of the Reflection meeting were devoted to science presentations from each project.

Recalling a vision from the 2011 Reflection Workshop that the LBDC develop into viable network capable of continuing together, the group now sees itself as the Limpopo R4D Consortium. Our progress and future success depend mainly on the strength and resilience of engagement and dialogue platforms from community up to regional levels—and beyond. The LBDC network was strengthened by participation in the reflection meeting by FAO, AGRITEX (Zimbabwe’s Agricultural Extension Agency), and other regional experts who will help translate research for impact to different target audiences.

The LBDC Young professionals were once again challenged to make their voices heard by clearly articulating what they expect from their supervisors and the mentoring process. They have been given a platform at the 2012 FANRPAN Annual High Level Regional Policy Dialogue to be held in Dar es salaam, Tanzania in September.

This year’s Reflection devoted significant resources to articulating, interrogating and evaluating science at researcher, project and basin scales. The week included a field trip where researchers joined farmers to share perceptions and reactions to rainwater harvesting experiments at household and field levels.

LBDC researchers presented preliminary findings at the reflection workshop. Among the issues highlighted were:

  1. The under-appreciated aspects of program design and delivery in the success and failure of agricultural water management interventions. Development professionals often attribute  farmers’ reluctance or inability to adopt technologies to a lack of understanding or capacity, yet emerging findings from the LBDC suggest that community buy-in and support are necessary pre-conditions for any wide spread adoption. A thorough understanding and diagnosis of the socio-technology nexus is a necessary pre-condition for impact.
  2. The role of different types of livestock in mixed production such as those found in the Limpopo Basin. More accurate diagnosis of farming systems in the Limpopo Basin are uncovering farmers’ decision making processes, priorities, and strategies for risk reduction. This understanding helps better tailor research and interventions to meet household and community needs—such as the use of goats and other small stock to cover recurring expenses while cattle remain an asset accumulation strategy.

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