Issue 8 - January/February 2006

Agricultural technology management

In this issue

Message from the Director of Asia and the Pacific Division

It is unlikely that we will reduce rural poverty without sustained additional income, and this hinges on increases in productivity. Access to productive resources such as land and water, financial services and markets are unquestioned prerequisites for increased income; but without technology such productive resources will not do much for small farmers and other rural producers. Better technology increases productivity and this enhances income and reduces poverty.

When the Millennium Development Goals have been achieved, in 2015 the remaining half of Asia and the Pacific's poorest people are most likely to live in remote, upland and less favoured areas. They will overwhelmingly be indigenous people. Most of them will be women with productive potential. This poses a complex technology challenge: technology for fragile ecosystems, managed by vulnerable women living with a risk-averse mindset in an indigenous knowledge context.

The primary poverty reduction strategy must be to enable these poor producers to harvest the untapped potential of the production technology available for less favoured areas. Diversification into other high value crops and energy crops, or medicinal herbs and aromatic plants, which tend to be less environmentally invasive, constitute the subsequent opportunity. Organic farming and biotechnology as well as genetically modified organisms are options for the future when food requirements will exceed the supply potential of available technology.  Technology choices that promote soil and water conservation and sustain biodiversity are also part of the equation. Finally, as developing country incomes grow, changing consumption patterns will also influence technology demands.

In order to deliver on this technology challenge, institutions must play a central role. The institutional model to be adopted is pluralistic, serving a variety of needs and purchasing powers in an appropriate way. Producer-driven research is entrusted on a competitive basis to international and national research centres, public and private sector institutions, and civil society organizations. The dissemination of research outcomes is secured by the producers' ownership of the research agenda, and is managed by a wide range of institutions, most of them recovering some of their costs of non-public good interests. The approach is to offer technology choices and for farmers to decide for themselves. The supply of inputs, the essence of technology, is most efficiently handled by private sector entities that also supply technological solutions for processing and marketing, further down the value chain, as a commercial service. Poverty and remoteness often inhibit supply response, and there is a place for public sector management of such market failure. Institutions that reduce risks as well as the risk transfer mechanisms are crucial. This new business model for agricultural development and technology management has clearly evolved from the model of the 1980s and internalizes lessons learned from the failure of the old model and from the subsequent liberalization and privatization model.   
Policies adopted by governments influence technology development and producers' technology choices. Energy prices, input subsidies, cost recovery, floor prices, parastatal marketing and tariffs are only a few examples of policies that influence technology development and adoption in favour or against the small producers. Most of the remaining policy biases are still against the smallholder agricultural producers.

Through its loan and grant-funded programmes, IFAD supports customer-oriented research in the agricultural, livestock, fisheries and forestry sectors by a wide network of institutions. Extension, technology knowledge management and adoption are supported through equally pluralistic approaches. Processing technology, in the hands of the private sector, is increasingly mobilized in support of the small producers. Sustaining such services after projects end is a central preoccupation, and this focuses IFAD's work on the policy prerequisites for technology management.

Partnerships are the only solution for reaching such duly ambitious goals. Country and local ownership of the technology management agenda is critical. Beyond this, IFAD is also forging partnerships with centres of excellence such as the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR), the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR), the International Center for Agricultural Research in the Dry Areas (ICARDA), the International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD), the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI), the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) and the World Fish Center (WFC), as well as national research institutes. For the policy requirements of technology development and productivity enhancement, IFAD works with the regional office of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO); and for the financing requirements IFAD collaborates with the World Bank in India and the Asian Development Bank in the Greater Mekong Subregion. IFAD is also designing a strategy for engaging the private sector more proactively by developing a private sector investment fund, in collaboration with bilateral donor authorities, in France and Thailand for example, and with private investment companies and foundations.

Thomas Elhaut
Director, Asia and the Pacific Division

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IFAD's research grant strategy for Asia and the Pacific

IFAD's research grant strategy for Asia and the PacificSince its establishment in 1978, IFAD has provided grant support to a number of international, regional and national agricultural research centres to develop and disseminate appropriate technologies for small and marginal farmers in Asia and the Pacific. Some of IFAD's grant-supported research initiatives have generated benefits to small-scale farmers in the region. However, in the uplands and unreliably watered drylands new technologies have largely by-passed farmers and their crops like sorghum, millet and barley, on which the poor farmers depend for their livelihoods.

Based on its experience in the region, as well as that of other organizations, IFAD has formulated the Agricultural Research Grant Strategy for Asia and the Pacific Region. The strategy focuses on small and marginal farmers in less favoured areas such as remote uplands and mountains, marginal coastal areas and unreliably watered drylands. It establishes strategic research areas and criteria for prioritizing research topics. The strategy will guide IFAD's future investments in the region for agricultural technology development and dissemination through technical assistance grants for regional programmes and loans for country investment projects.

Martina Spisiakova, Newsletter Coordinator

For more information on the research grant strategy, please contact  Ganesh Thapa, Regional Economist

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Agricultural technology development and transfer to poor farmers in Bangladesh

BangladeshIFAD has been supporting the generation and dissemination of agricultural technologies for poor farmers in Bangladesh for many years, with a special emphasis on more marginal agro-ecosystems where rural poor people are particularly in need of assistance. To support poor farmers through improved technologies, IFAD has developed partnerships with a number of international agricultural research centres such as the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI), International Fertilizer Development Center (IFDC) and the World Fish Center (WFC).

For example, a recent partnership between IFAD and IRRI has led to major advances in rice technologies for farmers in flood-prone rice agro-ecosystems by supporting the adaptation and sharing of technologies between South Asia and South East Asia. One example from the IFAD/IRRI programme is the recent introduction of drum seeder technology from Viet Nam into Bangladesh. (A drum seeder is a simple, low cost roller for direct seeding of rice.) The programme helped to import the drum seeder and to have it tested in farmer fields across ten districts by the Bangladesh Rice Research Institute (BRRI) and the Department of Agricultural Extension (DAE). The results were exceptional. Paddy yields from a popular rice variety (BRRI dhan 29) increased by an average of 12.7 per cent and in some districts they increased by as much as 30 per cent. The growth duration decreased by an average of 11 days. This additional benefit of early harvest has tremendous implications in terms of reducing the risk from flooding. Given these promising results, BRRI/DAE imported a further 2,500 drum seeders for a demonstration programme in 2005.  Private companies are reportedly importing a further 6,000 drum seeders to be sold for next season.

To speed up the transfer and dissemination of pro-poor agricultural technologies in Bangladesh, the World Bank and IFAD are currently formulating a major investment programme entitled the National Agricultural Technology Project. The Asia and the Pacific Division will present the project to IFAD's Executive Board in September 2006.

Read more about the drum seeder and many other technologies from the IFAD/IRRI programme
Read more about Bangladesh

Nigel Brett, Country Programme Manager

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Working with the World Bank to support agricultural technology innovations in India

indiaIn November 2005, IFAD participated in the pre-appraisal mission of the World Bank's National Agricultural Innovation Project in India. The overall objective of this project is to support collaborative development and implementation of innovations by farmers, the private sector, civil society and public sector organizations.

IFAD will provide a grant of US$1 million to support the National Agricultural Innovation Project in India. The goal of the IFAD-financed programme is to improve the livelihoods of rural poor people in disadvantaged areas by supporting agricultural innovations. The IFAD-financed programme will:

  • provide Indian agricultural researchers with an opportunity to adopt and implement international best practices for poverty-oriented research
  • benefit poor farmers by improving their livelihoods and enhancing their incomes through improved productivity and value addition
  • help reduce women's drudgery
  • document traditional knowledge on crop and livestock production

The Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) will implement the IFAD programme while the World Bank will provide supervision.

Martina Spisiakova, Newsletter Coordinator

For more information please contact Mattia Prayer-Galletti, Country Programme Manager
Read more about India

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Transferring improved upland rice-based technologies to the Lao People's Democratic Republic  

LaosIFAD is supporting the efforts of the Government of the Lao People's Democratic Republic to reduce poverty and increase productivity of rice and food and income security in remote upland areas in ways that are both sustainable and environmentally friendly. The incidence of poverty in these areas is very high relative to the national level. Rising population pressure and shorter rotations are forcing farmers to reduce the fallow period. This has led to low rice productivity, food insecurity, high incidence of poverty, land degradation and encroachment of forests as farmers strive to meet their food requirements.

The experience in the uplands of Thailand, Viet Nam and the Yunnan province of China demonstrates that improved agricultural technologies in upland areas can increase productivity of rice, food security and farmers' time for engaging in income-generating activities. Improved agricultural technologies can also encourage conservation of natural resources by reducing the area under shifting cultivation and protecting the forests.

In cooperation with the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) and the Chinese Government through the Ministry of Agriculture and Yunnan Academy of Agricultural Sciences (YAAS), IFAD will support the transfer of improved upland rice-based technologies in the Oudomxai and Sayabouri provinces in the northern part of the Lao People's Democratic Republic under the IFAD-supported Oudomxai Community Initiative Support Project and the Rural Livelihoods Improvement Programme in Attapeu and Sayabouri. With support from IRRI and YAAS, the provincial authorities will identify agricultural technologies suitable to upland rice-based systems and develop strategies for their rapid transfer to farmers. This includes technologies developed by the National Agricultural and Forestry Research Institute of the Lao People's Democratic Republic and technologies found successful in neighbouring countries. The provincial authorities of Oudomxai and Sayabouri will work closely with the Chinese scientists from YAAS and IRRI, which will jointly manage the project. This will enhance regional collaboration and “learning across the boundaries” by facilitating exchange and transfer of technologies and approaches within the Greater Mekong Subregion. The project participants will be farmers who do not have or cannot develop favourable paddies in a cost-effective manner.

To achieve higher productivity of rice and food and income security in the uplands, the project will provide farmers with:

  • upland rice seeds that are responsive to inputs and will be used in the sloping uplands
  • options for crop diversification and fallow improvements
  • information about application of moderate quantities of fertilizers in the sloping uplands
  • support for construction of terraces for upland rice production where conditions are suitable
  • information about practices for crop establishment, water and nutrient management and weed control
  • information about market access and linkages

The project will also examine biophysical and socio-economic conditions for the adoption of improved technologies through:

  • collecting data on the adoption of these technologies by farmers
  • utilizing the available data to conduct an economic analysis of the feasibility of various technological components taking into consideration yield, yield stability and economic gains
  • analysing farmers' perceptions regarding the suitability of the technologies

Finally, the project will develop strategies to make improved technologies available to the wider farming population. Farm-level data from Yunnan and current research work in the Lao People's Democratic Republic indicate that improved upland rice-based technologies can increase the current production of upland rice from the same area by at least 40 per cent. If successfully tested and replicated, the food security of at least 700,000 people in the uplands can be improved as a result.

Martina Spisiakova, Newsletter Coordinator

For more information please contact Youqiong Wang, Country Programme Manager

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Promoting organic agriculture in IFAD projects in the Pacific

Organic agricultureIn 2005, IFAD's Office of Evaluation conducted a thematic evaluation on organic agriculture in China and India. The evaluation team clearly noted that the promotion of organic agriculture among small farmers can contribute to poverty alleviation. Its value does not rest merely in the fact that it can provide higher incomes, but in that it can potentially contribute to long-term resilience and stability, particularly in terms of resource conservation, crop diversification, food security and a number of positive environmental externalities.

The potential of organic agriculture in the Pacific emerged during the preparation of the Sub-Regional Strategic Opportunities Paper (SRESOP), approved by the IFAD Executive Board in December 2004. The SRESOP acknowledged that the potential of organic agriculture was undermined in the Pacific by a number of constraints such as the high cost of certification, and limited processing capacity and marketing linkages. Consequently, in 2005 IFAD prepared a regional programme to promote the adoption of organic agriculture in the Pacific, to address these constraints and to contribute to the reduction of rural poverty. The programme will:

  • enable producers to obtain the certification of their organic agriculture products at an affordable cost
  • build the capacity of public and/or private institutions to certify organic agriculture products
  • develop a set of regional standards for organic agriculture products
  • analyse organic agriculture and fair-trade products to identify future strategic interventions

The programme will be implemented by the International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements (IFOAM) in partnership with a number of local, national and regional institutions such as the Pacific Association of Producers of Organic Agriculture and the Secretariat of the Pacific Community.

In September 2005, IFAD presented this initiative at the World Congress of IFOAM in Adelaide, Australia, and received enthusiastic feedback from the participants from the Pacific Island countries and from Australia and New Zealand. This programme is the start of a long-term engagement by IFAD in organic agriculture in the Pacific.

Mattia Prayer-Galletti, Country Programme Manager

For more information please contact Ariko Toda, Country Programme Manager
Read more about Organic agriculture: a promising alternative for small farmers

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IFAD's agricultural research partnership for the rainfed drylands of Pakistan

PakistanIFAD is helping to develop and disseminate pro-poor technologies that can conserve natural resources while increasing farm productivity and income in marginal rainfed areas in Pakistan. The work is being carried out by an ongoing agricultural technology research partnership that includes:

  • an IFAD investment project – the Barani Village Development Project
  • the International Center for Agricultural Research in the Dry Areas (ICARDA)
  • national research and development institutions
  • NGOs
  • farmers' organizations

The research approach is community-based, participatory and multi-disciplinary, with a focus on scaling up and scaling out successes as they emerge. In this regard, the involvement of the Barani Village Development Project is greatly facilitating the scaling up of successful technologies.

The benefits from this ongoing research partnership are significant. Simple and cost-effective water-regulating structures adapted to local farmer conditions by the research project proved their worth during the 2004 monsoon season by guiding runoff flow, maximizing water infiltration, and minimizing flow rate and speed. The structures effectively controlled the critical problem of soil erosion and at the same time increased crop yield by 30 per cent and farmers' income by 50 per cent. This technology, developed at three sites, has now been disseminated over more than 75 sites and farmers are readily adopting the technology. Crop improvement technologies (both new crop varieties and new agronomic practices) tested with farmers in the project have increased rainfed maize yield by 50 per cent for grain and 63 per cent for fodder. Yield for groundnut and barley increased from 40 to 100 per cent.

Building on the lessons from this partnership, and in response to a request from the Government of Pakistan for assistance in support of the smallholder livestock sector, IFAD is currently preparing a new research programme in partnership with ICARDA. The programme was presented to IFAD's Executive Board in December 2005. This programme will be implemented in a number of countries in Central and South Asia, including Pakistan, and will be supported by an IFAD grant of US$1.2 million.  The programme will develop and promote community-based activities to support productive and sustainable livestock systems, access to market opportunities and sustainable management of the natural resource base in the region. 

Nigel Brett, Country Programme Manager
Read more about Pakistan

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IFAD's partnership with the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research

PartnershipIFAD provides strategic leadership within the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR). It also helped to establish the Global Forum on Agricultural Research, thereby bringing a wide range of key stakeholders in the global agricultural research system into a single forum. From amongst the research centres supported by CGIAR, IFAD has provided grants to:

  • Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR)
  • Centro Internacional de Agricultura Tropical (CIAT
  • Centro Internacional de Mejoramiento de Maíz y Trigo (CIMMYT)
  • Centro Internacional de la Papa (CIP)
  • International Center for Agricultural Research in the Dry Areas (ICARDA)
  • International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT)
  • International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI)
  • International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI)
  • International Rice Research Institute (IRRI)
  • World Fish Center (WFC)
  • World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF)

IFAD provides valuable support to programmes and technologies adopted by CGIAR scientists. These programmes and technologies are designed to help meet future world food requirements and to protect the natural resource base upon which food production depends. Many of these grants have led to widespread impact on small-scale agriculture throughout Asia as two examples illustrate.

Partnership with the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics

ICRISATIFAD has provided three research grants to the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) for participatory research in Asia. Early research focused on the development and testing of new genotypes and cultivation practices in farmer fields. It produced high yielding lines with resistance to major stress factors, including pests, diseases and unreliable rainfall patterns. The programme proved that it was possible to increase yields through improving the management of inputs such as fertilizers. Specifically, the IFAD grant number 330 to ICRISAT – Development of Integrated Pest Management Programme for the Management of Pulse-pests in Southern Asia – led to a six-fold increase in yields through better management of pests with a 6 to 93 per cent reduction in pesticide usage and an increase in cash savings. Overall, the three research grants:

  • identified various pulse production constraints and developed and evaluated available integrated pest management options for chickpea and pigeonpea crops especially to contain an important pest pod borer (helicoverpa)
  • developed a tool box of potential integrated pest management technologies including development of host plant resistance, cultural control (manual shaking of pigeonpea), improved crop management and exploiting natural insecticides (neem seeds)
  • encouraged farmer participation and revitalized and popularized over a larger area several indigenous technologies
  • strengthened capacity building of national partners through training of integrated pest management trainers

Partnership with the World Fish Center

PartnershipIFAD has supported the World Fish Center (WFC) in Asia with four research grants over the past decade, focusing on technology development for inland fish farming. The focus of these research programmes has evolved from an initial emphasis on pond-based aquaculture technology towards a much more pro-poor approach based on community management of in-land fisheries.

Initial pond aquaculture research illustrated that while aquaculture technologies were often profitable, ensuring accessibility by the poor remained a great challenge. In fact, some of the technologies developed in earlier programmes, such as monoculture of faster growing fish species, proved unsuitable for the living circumstances of rural poor people. Recipients of extension messages returned to carp based polyculture instead of adopting the “silver barb” monoculture recommended by the project, which was regarded as too risky. In project areas, impact reports indicated increases in the number of fish traders and the availability and volume of fish in local markets, and higher incomes for pond owners. However, these benefits were skewed in favour of richer households. In some project areas, the availability of small indigenous floodplain fish species usually eaten by poor people actually decreased.

As a result of these early findings over a decade ago, IFAD shifted its approach away from pond aquaculture towards research into pro-poor institutional arrangements for community management of in-land fisheries. Subsequent IFAD research grants to WFC, such as a recent grant in support of the Community-based Fisheries Management (CBFM) Programme in Bangladesh and Viet Nam, specifically aim at testing innovative institutional co-management arrangements. They focus on achieving sustainable fish harvests and equitable access to the natural fishery resources especially for local poor and landless households. IFAD is currently working to develop linkages between the CBFM research programme and IFAD investment projects in Bangladesh such as the Sunamganj Community-Based Resource Management Project. The CBFM programme received CGIAR's “Outstanding Partnership Award-2004”.

Nigel Brett, Country Programme Manager
For more information please contact Carla de Gregorio, Grant Coordinator

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Rural poverty portal version zero was launched at the World Summit on Information Society held in Tunis, Tunisia in November 2005. Powered by the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), the rural poverty portal is a web site where rural poor people, policy-makers, donors, research institutes, non-governmental organizations and other development partners can share information about eradicating rural poverty.

On the Rural poverty portal you can:

  1. Browse information by topic, region or country
  2. Read about what works in rural development projects and what doesn't
  3. Listen to farmers, development practitioners and decision-makers as they explain the challenges of rural poverty eradication
  4. Join an electronic community committed to making rural poverty history

Why a portal?
The goals of the portal are to position rural poverty as a global, regional and national priority, and to streamline the search for information on rural poverty by providing access to millions of links from a single entry point.

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Dear readers,

Thank you for participating in the newsletter survey. Your valuable comments and suggestions will help the Asia and the Pacific Division to improve the content of the newsletter and to deliver more interesting information by covering a wide range of topics of your preference. The survey will remain open until March 2006. The Division would therefore welcome everybody who has not participated yet to do so at the following link:

Thank you,

Martina Spisiakova
Newsletter Coordinator


Useful links

About IFAD

The International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) is a specialized agency of the United Nations, dedicated to eradicating poverty and hunger in developing countries. Its work in remote rural areas of the world helps countries achieve the Millennium Development Goals. Through low-interest loans and grants, IFAD develops and finances projects that enable rural poor people to overcome poverty themselves.

IFAD tackles poverty not just as a lender, but as an advocate for the small farmers, herders, fisherfolk, landless workers, artisans and indigenous peoples who live in rural areas and represent 75 per cent of the world's 1.2 billion extremely poor people. IFAD works with governments, donors, non-governmental organizations, local communities and many other partners to fight the underlying causes of rural poverty. It acts as a catalyst, bringing together partners, resources, knowledge and policies that create the conditions in which rural poor people can increase agricultural productivity, as well as seek out other options for earning income.

IFAD-supported rural development programmes and projects increase rural poor people's access to financial services, markets, technology, land and other natural resources.





Martina Spisiakova
Tel: 3906-54592295

Making a Difference in Asia and the Pacific

Issue 7: November/December 2005 - Pro-poor policies

Issue 6: September/October 2005 - Gender & MDGs

Issue 5: July/August 2005 - Partnership

Issue 4: May/June 2005 - Rural Finance

Issue 3: March/ April 2005 - Donor Harmonization

Issue 2: January/ February 2005

Issue 1: November/ December 2004

Upcoming events:

Bangladesh: COSOP workshop, Dhaka, February 2006

Loan signing – Market Infrastructure Project in Charland Regions, Rome, 6 February 2006

Bhutan: Start-up workshop –Agriculture, Marketing and Enterprise Promotion Programme, Thimphu, March 2006

China: Global Environmental Facility (GEF) launching workshop, Beijing, February 2006

Project Management Office annual workshop, Hubei province, March 2006

DPR Korea: Participatory Rural Appraisal Training – Uplands Food Security Project, DPR Korea, February 2006

India: Start-up workshop – Livelihoods Improvement Project in the Himalayas, early March 2006

Pakistan: Loan signing – Microfinance Innovation and Outreach Programme, Rome, 18 January 2006

Sri Lanka: Start-up workshop – Dry Zone Livelihood Support and Partnership Programme, Colombo, February 2006

Upcoming missions:

Evaluation-cum-supervision mission – Regional Gender Programme, early 2006


Project completion review mission – Second Eastern Zone Agricultural Project, January 2006


Inception follow-up mission – Modular Rural Development Programme, January 2006

Evaluation of the IFAD's Regional Strategy in Asia and the Pacific – mission to China, 13 – 23 February 2006

Formulation mission – Modular Rural Development Programme, March 2006

DPR Korea

Formulation mission – Coastal Community Livelihoods Support Project, March 2006


Mid-term review mission – Jharkhand-Chattisgarh Tribal Development Programme, 22 January – 4 March 2006


Country programme review mission, 17 February - 10 March 2006


Monitoring and evaluation mission – Rural Livelihoods Improvement Programme in Attapeu and Sayabouri, 5 – 9 February 2006

Results and Impact Monitoring System (RIMS) mission – Rural Livelihoods Improvement Programme in Attapeu and Sayabouri, 5 – 9 February 2006


Pre-implementation mission – Post-Tsunami Agricultural and Fisheries Rehabilitation Programme, January - February 2006


Follow-up mission – Rural Poverty Reduction Programme, March 2006

Pacific Islands

Start-up mission – Mainstreaming of Rural Development Innovations Programme in the Pacific, 19 January - 28 March 2006


Country visit to Pakistan by the IFAD Regional Strategy Evaluation Team, 23 January – 2 February 2006

Sri Lanka

Pre-implementation mission – Post-Tsunami Coastal Rehabilitation and Resource Management Programme and Post-Tsunami Livelihood Support and Partnership Programme, January - February 2006

Viet Nam

Formulation Mission – Linking Markets to the Poor, February – March 2006