Oil cake from biofuel extraction further supports India’s ‘smokeless’ villages

In partnership with the University of Agricultural Sciences (UAS) in Bangalore and the District Panchayath of Hassan in India, a program to support the integration of oil-bearing trees in agricultural landscapes1 is contributing to energy security amongst communities in five villages in more than one way.

The Biofuels project, led by World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF) is providing smallholder farmers in energy-stressed villages with quality plant material and technical assistance to grow native or locally adapted oilseed trees such as pongamia (Pongamia pinnata), simarouba (Simarouba glauca), mahua (Madhuca longifolia), neem (Azadirachta indica), and other suitable species. The oil-bearing seeds are extracted for their oil, a biofuel which is used to run generators and other machinery. Expelling oil from seeds leaves behind an oil-rich fibrous mass known as an oil cake. Read more. . .

Forests and society a major theme at the XIV World Forestry Congress

Forest give food and oxygen, stabilize land, improve water quality and availability, reduce the effects of climate change, and provide spaces for cultural activities, reflection and enjoyment.

Convened by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and hosted in Durban by the Government of South Africa, the XIV World Forestry Congress (#Forests2015 on twitter) 7-11 September 2015, will have a strong focus on young people, women and local communities in defining a vision for a sustainable future of forests and forestry. 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…

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…

Empower Women for a Sustainable Africa: 2015 Africa Environment Day/ Wangari Maathai Day

“You do not need a diploma to plant a tree.”

This was Professor Wangari Maathai’s smart response to people who were questioning her decision to train illiterate rural women on how to grow and nurture trees.

To celebrate Africa Environment Day and Wangari Maathai Day, World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF), in collaboration with the African Union Commission (AUC), the Government of Kenya, the Green Belt Movement (GBM) and the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), hosted a day-long Women and Environment Forum. The event at ICRAF Headquarters in Nairobi, 4 March, brought together over 60 participants from 6 countries. 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. . .

‘Don’t throw money at farmers’, and other lessons in sustainable multi-functional agriculture

To overcome poverty, hunger and malnutrition as well as their close bedfellow environmental degradation, we would all do well to heed the dozen principles discussed in a new article by Roger B. Leakey. Instead of giving farmers cash handouts, for instance, we would empower them with skills and knowledge. And instead of telling them what to do, we would ask them what it was they needed.

The 12 principles are distilled from the operations of a long-term, World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF)-led project in Cameroon, West Africa. Initiated in 1998, the project revolves around training communities in agroforestry for the rehabilitation of degraded land, and participatory domestication and commercialization of fruits and nuts from indigenous trees. The project won the prestigious Equator prize in 2012.Read more. . .

Complexity lives at the tree–people–planet interface

Photo montage by World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF) via Flikr
ICRAF photo montage via Flikr

In their editorial review for a special edition of the journal Current Opinion in Environmental Sustainability, Mark Stafford Smith of CSIRO and Cheikh Mbow of World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF) give compelling examples of the complex challenges the agroforestry researcher works through in analyzing the interactions between people, trees and agriculture. The complexity arises in large part because the interactions happen within dynamic landscapes that are also influenced by policy decisions, market forces, and climate change.

“These social–ecological interactions are not mutually exclusive and require systemic approaches,” say the authors, who based the editorial on the 23 articles published in the special journal edition.Read more. . .

Wake up now to make agriculture sustainable

UNCTAD Trade and Environment Review 2013
UNCTAD Trade and Environment Review 2013

“The world needs a paradigm shift in agricultural development … to an ‘ecological intensification’ approach,” states the UNCTAD Trade and Environment Review 2013 released yesterday (18 September 2013) in Geneva. “The required transformation is much more profound than simply tweaking the existing industrial agricultural system.”

The new report, titled Wake up before it is too late: Make agriculture truly sustainable now for food security in a changing climate,” is a clarion call for drastic changes to agriculture globally in order to combat hunger and curb further damage to the environment in the face of a changing climate. Read more. . .

From species extinction to family planning: Vulnerability and adaptation to climate change in the West African Sahel

By John C. Weber and Carmen Sotelo Montes

Participatory analysis of vulnerability and adaptation to climate change in the Sahel
Participatory analysis of vulnerability and adaptation to climate change in the Sahel

According to most climate forecasts, people in the West African Sahel— an arid to semi-arid belt stretching across northern Africa—can expect a hotter, drier and more variable climate this century. Already, environmental stresses are being felt and farming is increasingly more difficult in the region. But what do rural people in the Sahel perceive to be the reason for this changing climate? How vulnerable do they feel themselves to be? And, most importantly, what do they plan to do different in order to cope with the threats posed by the coming climate?

As part of an IFAD-funded project titled ‘Parkland trees and livelihoods: adapting to climate change in the West African Sahel’, we carried out a participatory analysis of vulnerability and adaptation to climate change involving approximately 500 men, women and children from 36 villages in the West African Sahelian countries of Mali, Burkina Faso, and Niger. The analysis yielded some expected results, and some surprising insights. Read more. . .