Good, bad and toxic fuel woods: Trees on farms make the difference

Log fire - Timor. Photo courtesy of Prof Tony Cunningham
Log fire – Timor. Photo courtesy of Prof Tony Cunningham

Sitting next to a fire holds great pleasure for most of us. So does the smoky flavour wood-smoke brings to food. But daily use of firewood in poorly ventilated households can have hidden health consequences, particularly for women and children.

According to Professor Tony Cunningham of the School of Plant Biology, University of Western Australia, the 2.4 billion people in developing countries, notably in Africa and Asia, who use solid biomass fuels such as wood, charcoal and dung for cooking and heating are especially at risk. Read more. . .

World Agroforestry Centre and Convention on Biological Diversity enter sustainable land use pact

Ravi Prabhu and Braulio Ferreria de Souza Dias October 2012
Ravi Prabhu and Braulio Ferreria de Souza Dias October 2012 Ravi Prabhu of World Agroforestry Centre (L) with CBD Executive Secretary Braulio Ferreria de Souza Dias at MOU signing on 11 October 2012. Photo by Kara Brown

The World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF) and the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) have signed an agreement that signals a renewed commitment to the sustainable use of land resources and indigenous biodiversity, as well as ‘climate smart’ agriculture.

“Agriculture should no longer be seen as the enemy of biodiversity,” said Ravi Prabhu, Deputy Director-General for Research at the World Agroforestry Centre, during the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding at the 11th Conference of the Parties (COP11) in Hyderabad, India. Read more. . .

Do’s and Don’ts of measuring research impact

Graphic courtesy of P.J. Ferraro

“Measuring impact, particularly for research that involves people and is spread out over space and time, is never a straightforward matter. It is almost never as simple as collecting data before and after the intervention, since before-after estimates can be seriously biased by factors outside of the research. Even internally, selection biases and other confounding factors are often at play.”

Professor Paul J. Ferraro, economist at the Andrew Young School of Policy Studies at Georgia State University, said this while speaking on the issue of impact measurement at the World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF) headquarters in Nairobi on 4 September. He emphasized, however, that despite the difficulties associated with impact measurement, it is the only way to tell for sure whether or not an intervention has done what we hoped it would. Read more. . .

Money really can grow on trees, says Leakey at agroforestry book launch

Professor Roger LeakeyTrees that have been central to the lives of African people for centuries can now be widely grown on farms throughout the tropics and sub-tropics, and they can bring prosperity to the poor while helping diminish long-term environmental problems. This was the central, seminal theme of Professor Roger Leakey’s special lecture to launch his new book, Living with the Trees of Life: Toward the Transformation of Tropical Agriculture, on 3 September at the World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF).

Leakey told his audience, consisting of researchers, partners, and representatives of the media, that he wrote the book, “a personal account,” based on his three decades of work as a tropical forest biologist and research manager, in order to “raise the public profile of agroforestry.” Read more. . .

Financing a green transformation in developing countries

Nairobi, 7 September 2012

The world needs more food for its growing population and smallholding farmers produce most of it in the developing world.

But smallholders, who are often poor, find it difficult to produce more food if they don’t have enough money to buy the tools, seeds and other material necessary for the job.

Loans are often complicated to get, have high interest and have to be paid back in a short period. All of this makes it nearly impossible for poor farmers to borrow money and improve their food production and lives. Read more. . .

Leakey book says ‘trees of life’ could nourish the planet, build wealth

Maize growing under nitrogen fixing Faidherbia albidaA new book by prominent tree biologist and past director of research at the World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF) Roger Leakey boldly states that agroforestry might be the ticket out of some of the most vexing issues facing the planet today.

A new book by prominent tree biologist and past director of research at the World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF) Roger Leakey boldly states that agroforestry might be the ticket out of some of the most vexing issues facing the planet today.

In Living with the Trees of Life: Towards the Transformation of Tropical Agriculture, Professor Leakey argues that abject rural poverty, food insecurity, land degradation and climate change can all be “relatively easily addressed” through the widespread application of agroforestry, especially in the tropics and sub-tropics. And ‘The Convenient Truth’ he adds, is that we already know that agroforestry works, thanks to over three decades of research. Read more. . .

UK Environment Minister Richard Benyon visits ICRAF Hq

Minister-Benyon visit to ICRAF 18-02-2013
ICRAF DG Tony Simons (L); scientist Dr Katja Kehlenbeck; UK Environment Minister Hon Richard Beynon; and scientific staff. 19 Feb 2013

During a visit to the World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF) headquarters in Nairobi on 19 February 2013, UK Environment Minister Hon. Richard Benyon said agroforestry had many beneficial spillover effects.

“You are providing [agricultural] practitioners with the ability to increase production sustainably. This work has vast potential to unlock gains to smallholdings that go way beyond agriculture… gains such as stability, progress, and education,” said Hon. Benyon. Read more. . .