Just coping: Farmers’ responses to climate variability in Malawi

The recent devastating floods in southern Malawi and surrounding areas brought into sharp focus the reality of climate change and its effects on ordinary people in this landlocked southern African country.

Besides floods, delayed rains and droughts have become increasingly common in the Shire River Basin of Southern Malawi. Off-season and insufficient rainfall means that more and more smallholder farmers in the region are facing crop failure. Read more. . .

“Shallow” private-sector engagement a major concern for integrated landscape initiatives

Integrated landscape initiatives in Latin America, the Caribbean and Africa are investing heavily in institutional planning and coordination, but they have had mixed results engaging different stakeholder groups, especially the private sector. This key stakeholder group was almost always missing from a selection of landscape initiatives surveyed recently.

“Incomplete” or “shallow” stakeholder engagement was the most frequently reported challenge by the nearly two hundred landscape initiatives from 54 countries (33 African and 21 from LAC region) that participated in the study. African initiatives were the most affected. Read more. . .

Climate-smart agriculture needs knowledge, cooperation and a healthy dose of trust

Smallholder farms in Kamonyi District, Southern Rwanda. Photo by A. Sigrun Dahlin
Smallholder farms in Kamonyi District, Southern Rwanda. Photo by A. Sigrun Dahlin

The UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) has been at the forefront of climate-smart agriculture for the past decade, advocating for and supporting farmers to adopt this type of sustainable land use worldwide. This support is only set to grow with the relocation, starting in 2015, of FAO’s facilitation unit for climate-smart agriculture unit to the organization’s headquarters in Rome.

Eduardo Rojas Briales, Assistant Director-General, Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), said climate smart agriculture offers “an integration of food and nutritional security, higher productivity and increased incomes, while at the same time reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Read more. . .

A new alliance to spread climate smart agriculture among millions of smallholder farmers in Africa

African smallholder farmers have a new ally in their effort to adopt farming practices that raise food production, build resilience to climate change, and create healthier and more sustainable landscapes—that is, practices that are climate smart.

The aim of a new initiative, the Africa Climate-Smart Agriculture Alliance (ACSAA), is to see 6 million smallholder in Africa practicing climate smart agriculture within the coming 7 years. This effort contributes to NEPAD’s Vision 25 x 25, which aims to reach 25 million African farm households by 2025. Read more. . .

New book arms people with knowledge on landscapes in a changing climate

As the World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF) launched a new book — designed to arm people with evidence and tools for designing climate smart landscapes—its lead editor underscored the fact that we are a long way from achieving sustainable, climate-smart landscapes across the globe.

Dr Peter Minang, the Global Coordinator of the ASB Partnership for the Tropical Forest Margins at ICRAF, said, however, that “structured interactions, co-investments and negotiations among concerned actors can nudge landscapes towards multifunctionality.” Read more. . .

The landscape approach for meeting the climate challenge: Examples from Africa

A series of eye-opening case studies from Africa take up a 44-page section of a new ICRAF publication that brings together, for the first time, original research and syntheses on landscape approaches to climate change mitigation and adaptation.

The programmes analysed in the section seek to put the concept of Climate Smart Landscapes into practice across large productive landscapes. They cover Kenya’s premier tea-growing district, cocoa agroforestry systems in Cameroon, and the Congo Basin Forests that cover 300 million hectares and span six countries in Central and West Africa. Read more…

From ‘energy poverty’ towards sustainable tree-based bioenergy

When it comes to energy, countries—and in particular developing ones—could take a strong cue from Europe, where the use of bioenergy has been rising over the past two decades. Aware that the current reliance on fossil fuels is unsustainable from multiple perspectives, EU countries are increasing their use of renewable energy—including that stored in trees—for varied purposes, including electricity generation from biogas-fired power stations.

“All fossil energy sources have either reached or passed their peak production. Even with new discoveries of oil reserves in Africa, and technologies such as fracking for gas, we are running out of energy,” said Philip Dobie, Senior Fellow at ICRAF.Read more. . .

World Agroforestry Centre and Embrapa sign cooperation agreement

A cooperation agreement signed between the World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF) and the Brazilian Agricultural Research Corporation (Embrapa) in Brasilia builds on a longstanding relationship between the two institutions.

Ravi Prabhu, ICRAF deputy director general for research, said Embrapa’s agricultural research is internationally renowned, and “this MoU opens up great possibilities for collaboration between ICRAF and Embrapa, not just within Brazil but in other areas of mutual interest, such as Central America, the Caribbean and sub-Saharan Africa, regions where both institutions already have active programs.”Read more. . .

Positive action on gender supports sustainable development

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Members of a women’s group in Malawi in their tree seedling nursery

“Women produce up to three-quarters of the food crops grown in West and Central Africa, and their actions, for better or for worse, affect natural resources, climate change mitigation and adaptation, and ultimately shape the trajectory towards sustainable development.

Cécile Njebet, an advocate for women’s rights and currently president of the African Women’s Network for Community Management of Forests REFACOF network, said this in her invited talk at the ICRAF Science Week 2014 from 8-12 September.Read more. . .

Sustainable land management depends heavily on a farmer’s overall income

Faced with the unreliable weather patterns in a changing climate, high population, and shrinking farm sizes, subsistence farmers in Africa are turning to various coping mechanisms in order to ensure a crop and some income.

A survey in Western Kenya found that sustainable land management methods, such as terracing to control soil erosion, agroforestry, and using manure to improve soil fertility, were being financed with income from off-farm activities. Farmers often raised the money by exploiting communal land to obtain products for sale (so-called ‘Natural Resource Management-based income-generation’), or by working on others’ farms as paid labour.Read more. . .