Agroforestry is on the verge of great things

Speaking at what he termed his “last address as the Chief here in Nairobi” Garrity sincerely thanked his staff - who are meeting in Nairobi as part of the Centre’s annual Science Forum - and spoke about the strength of the Centers research areas.

“We are the champions of tree domestication around the world,” said Garrity. “The world has given us a mandate to collect and store tree germplasm and this is an area which does not receive nearly enough recognition”. He explained how under the new CGIAR arrangements tree seed storage is finally receiving attention.

Garrity believes the Allanblackia project with Unilever will demonstrate just what tree domestication can achieve. The project involves domestication this indigenous African tree the seeds of which contain oil that is highly valued by the food company for spreads such as margarine. “Let’s make Allanblackia a flagship species of the Centre”.

The Centre’s research into the productivity of agroforestry systems is something dear to Garrity’s heart. He believes the work on Evergreen Agriculture – integrating trees into food and livestock production systems - will provide a foundation for 21 countries which are now implementing or planning agroforestry food security programs.

“This will continue to build the evidence base for a vision that is truly worthy of this Centre,” Garrity added. “I envisage a time when many of our food crops will be grown under a canopy of trees”.

Garrity commended Centre scientists who have pioneered techniques for assessing land health and soil analysis. “Tree cover and land health assessments are in high demand,” said Garrity. “I urge you to grab the opportunity to show the effectiveness of this technology”.

There is now widespread recognition of how central agroforestry is to climate change adaptation and mitigation. In his address, Garrity pointed to a recent briefing publication for African agriculture ministers on ‘Climate Smart Agriculture’ which contains numerous mentions and examples of agroforestry. “This clearly shows that we’ve finally made it in highlighting the importance of agroforestry to agriculture in the future”.

Garrity highlighted how the RUPES program in Asia (Rewarding Upland Poor for Environmental Services) and PRESA (Pro-poor Rewards for Environmental Services in Africa) are now well-recognized governance efforts that are undertaking groundbreaking work.

“One of the Centre’s proudest achievements is the long-standing ASB network that has been in operation for 20 years. It has become the go to place for information on land-use change and carbon storage in landscapes.”

Garrity went on to discuss the work that is occurring on the ground in all six of the global regions where the Centre works. He highlighted how in Malawi, Southern Africa, the team has worked with the government to implement a highly successful national program for food security through agroforestry; a program he strongly believes needs to be shared with other regions.

“In East Africa there has been tremendous progress in recent years and the region is poised for many up-scaling efforts in coming years,” said Garrity. “Right now there is an exciting move to further extend into dryland areas, especially expanding the successes of rejuvenating Acacia woodlands in Shinyanga, Tanzania”.

Garrity spoke of the opportunities in West and Central Africa to further advance agroforestry in the wet humid tropics. “The planned future work on cocoa with Mars In could be phenomenal,” he said. “Then there is the Great Green Wall which could be the greatest agroforestry project for the region, combining re-greening with enormous livelihood benefits”.

He saluted the Centre’s South Asia team for their ability to build large research programs through partnerships with other organization. He congratulated the Latin America staff on building up a dynamic team that works in countries across the Amazon.

Lastly to Southeast Asia where Garrity worked for many years, and which he believes continues to be the leader in many respects for the Centre, especially in the area of environmental services. “I am particularly pleased to see how our work in China has progressed and the impressive record of publishing in high-profile journals”.

“The World Agroforestry Centre is now poised to mainstream agroforestry in the broader global context. Agroforestry is in the midst of dialogue and debate in relation to all of the major environmental conventions. We must capitalize on this and use our influence to mainstream the messages and outcomes that can be so important to achieving our mission.”

“It has been a wonderful privilege to serve as your head coach for these last 10 years,” he concluded.

After some leave, Garrity will remain at the World Agroforestry Centre as a Senior Distinguished Fellow appointed by the Board of Trustees to further his vision for Evergreen Agriculture.