“It’s time to stop talking and start acting” : Agroecological farming for people and the planet

Back in 2009, the International Assessment of Agricultural Knowledge, Science and Technology for Development (IAASTD) issued a clarion call for a deep reform of agriculture globally.

“Business as usual is not an option,” the comprehensive, evidence-based global series titled Agriculture at Crossroads, stated boldly.

The IAASTD report urged, among other things, for global agriculture to respect the agroecological principles that had served farmers and nature well since the dawn of farming; practices such as organic farming and agroforestry which supply the nutritional needs of people without harming the natural resource base on which all life depends. Read  more. . .

To Paris COP21 with an agroforestry message

Our changing climate and burgeoning population urgently needs agricultural techniques that can produce more on less land and with fewer inputs, while keeping the environment healthy. As such, sustainable agriculture that brings climate adaptation and mitigation benefits is one of the issues to be tackled at the 21st UN climate conference (COP 21), which kicks off in Paris today, 30 November. (See www.worldagroforestry.org/cop21 for the full program of ICRAF’s activities at Paris COP21).

Agroecological practices such as agroforestry, which involves integrating the right trees and woody shrubs into agricultural landscapes— are an important part of the solution. The trees to use for agroforestry can be selected so they deliver products and services that improve not only farmers’ lives and countries’ economies, but also the environment. Read more. . .

Why food waste is a concern for tropical forest conservation

Does wasting food lead to the loss of tropical forests?

Sacred wood in Cote d'Ivoire. Photo by Emilie Smith/ICRAF
Sacred wood in Cote d’Ivoire. Photo by Emilie Smith/ICRAF

Though not obvious at first glance, researchers say clear links exist between food loss and wastage, and deforestation. This is because clearing intact forests to produce both commodity crops and subsistence crops is one of the main factors (or drivers) that lead to their depletion, particularly in the tropics and subtropics.

“If food waste is not abated, then the land required to produce food is going to increase, especially in view of a sharply increasing global population,” warned Lalisa Duguma, scientist, Sustainable Landscapes and Integrated Climate Actions, at the World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF) and the ASB Partnership for the Tropical Forest Margins. Lalisa was presenting at a well attended side event of the XIV World Forestry Congress, Durban, 7-11 September 2015. Read more. . .

The right tree for the right place: vegetationmap4africa v2 includes smartphone app

Tree enthusiasts on the move can now identify species as they go, and at the same time gain a deeper understanding of their natural environment, thanks to a new version of vegetationmap4africa (www.vegetationmap4africa.org).

Field testing of the new vegetationmap4Africa App. Photo by Roeland Kindt/ICRAF
Field testing of the new vegetationmap4Africa App. Photo by Roeland Kindt/ICRAF

The new version of the map (ver. 2.0), which has been developed by the World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF), the University of Copenhagen and partners, was launched on 7 September 2015 at the XIV World Forestry Congress in Durban. The map is expected to help those involved in landscape restoration to make better decisions on suitable tree and shrub species to.. Read more…

First ‘fruit tree portfolios’ established in Kenya, in a novel approach to improved year-round nutrition

World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF) researchers have launched a novel approach to tackle the problem of micronutrient deficiencies, also known as ‘hidden hunger.’ The fruit tree portfolio approach involves cultivating a set of fruit trees on farms, which is carefully designed to supply nutritious fruits to eat throughout the year, for diverse diets and improved health.

The fruit tree portfolio for a particular locality gives the optimum number and combination of ecologically suitable agroforestry tree species to provide for year-round fresh fruits for households’ requirements of vitamin C and pro-vitamin A, both essential nutrients. Because the trees in the portfolio have different harvest seasons spanning the entire calendar year, they provide a year-round supply of at least one fruit species per month for the household. Read more…

Agroforestry among ‘100 Under $100’ tools for women’s empowerment

In her new book ‘100 Under $100’, Betsy Teutsch rounds up a hundred innovative yet affordable tools and practices that can make a huge difference in the lives of poor women in low-income countries. Agroforestry is among these innovations.

Fertilizer trees raise and stabilize maize yields in Malawi. Photo: ICRAF
Fertilizer trees raise and stabilize maize yields in Malawi. Photo: ICRAF

Many of the tools featured, like childhood immunization, handwashing, and clean birth kits—are lifesaving. Others, like agroforestry, rainwater harvesting and beekeeping, ease labour and drudgery and provide income-generation options for women. Others still, like the internet and voting rights, give women a voice and open up their world. Read more. . .

More money and less risk for African eco-farmers

Rose Koech at her farm in Kembu, Kenya. She has a mixed farm with trees, crops, fodder species and vegetables. Photo by Sherry Odeyo/ICRAF
Rose Koech at her farm in Kembu, Kenya. She has a mixed farm with trees, crops, fodder species and vegetables. Photo by Sherry Odeyo/ICRAF

A Greenpeace study in Malawi and Kenya has revealed that chemically-intensive farming hurts the bottom line of small-scale farmers; agroecological farming is more profitable.

Agroecology refers to a suite of sustainable farming practices that use few or no external chemical inputs. The approaches, often rooted in traditional farming techniques, include sustainable land management, water harvesting, agroforestry, biological control of pests and weeds, intercropping, organic farming, permaculture, and several others. Read more..

Livestock: A true friend of land regeneration

Livestock keeping—in particular of cattle and goats—has often been painted as the enemy of sustainable land management in Africa. But a closer look shows that when well managed, livestock can be one of the most powerful agents of land regeneration and prosperity for livestock keepers.

Infact, well managed large herds of cattle, goats and sheep bring benefits to soil and plants that cannot be achieved by plants on their own; livestock, for instance, cycle nutrients, transport seeds, and enrich the soil with manure. Read more. . .

Empowering farmers with knowledge and skills changes lives

To visit with Cameroonian farmer Louis-Marie Atangana is to witness first hand how farmers’ empowerment with knowledge and skills can change lives and landscapes.

Louis-Marie-seedlings-blog
Cameroonian farmer and nursery owner Louis-Marie Atangana checks allanblackia seeds he plans to grow into seedlings. Photo by Daisy Ouya/ICRAF

Until 4 years ago Atangana, 45, was a cassava farmer struggling to feed his family of 14 children. But in 2010 he and several members from his village self-help group decided to join an agroforestry training offered by the World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF)-Cameroon, through a Rural Resource Centre. He has had three such trainings to date, dealing with different aspects of tree nursery establishment and management.

He has put the knowledge and skills gained to good use, establishing a tree nursery next to his house soon after his first training. Atangana’s home nursery in Nkenlikok village, deep inside the forest zone that surrounds Yaounde, Cameroon’s capital city, is now serving his community’s needs for accessible and affordable good quality tree seedlings. Read more. . .

Evergreen, Nipa and ‘push-pull’ presented at global innovations forum 2015

Agriculture as practiced in most parts of the world today will simply not feed a human population of 9 billion by 2050. Innovation in food production is needed, and it needs to be adopted on a wide scale.

Indeed, the purpose of the ongoing Global Forum for Innovations in Agriculture (GFIA) 2015 has been to bring together global leaders, policy makers, researchers, manufacturers and community leaders to showcase and discuss the best agricultural innovations.The high-profile event was opened with keynote speeches by HH Sheikh Mansour Bin Zayed Al-Nayan of the United Arab Emirates, HRH King George Rukidi IV of Toro, Uganda, HRH Charles, the Prince of Wales,  and US Vice President John Kerry. Read more…