Improving facilitation of soft skills development to strengthen grassroots rural institutions
Tuesday, July 30, 2013
The Strengthening Rural Institutions (SRI) project facilitated a five days successful facilitators’ write shop at Brackenhnurst hotel, Limuru, Kenya from 26th-31st May 2013 to develop a facilitator’s manual to support group dynamics and soft skills development amongst grassroots rural institutions. The write shop brought together skilled site level facilitators including ICRAF staff from the East African Region to develop a manual for facilitators to build group soft skills.
Mieke Bourne, the SRI project Coordinator highlighted on the overall objective of the write shop as aiming at developing a facilitators manual be used at the project sites to foster the building of soft skills within our groups and the growth of which will be monitored by the maturity tool. “Soft skills in groups” are simple skills which are required to build social capital and make groups grow stronger. These include leadership, governance, Conflict management, Resource mobilisation, communication, partnership development and maintaining Record keeping, vision setting and sustainability as well as negotiation, lobbying and advocacy. These skills are often missing in group work plans and yet are essential in group development and therefore need to be addressed with skilled facilitators.
The write shop was conducted following a participatory process and engagement of site level facilitators through use of open discussions, stories based on experiences form the sites, drawing pictures and group work sessions after plenary discussions to establish ownership of the manual. Topics identified during the capacity needs assessment workshops which cuts across all the groups in the project sites were discussed in details. These topics included facilitation, governance, leadership, partnership identification and management, Conflict management, negotiation, entrepreneurship resource mobilization, financial management, and record keeping skills. “Facilitator’s tips” were also summarized on each topic based on the stories and experiences from the sites as well as lessons learnt and how to facilitate and develop groups to encourage building of soft skills amongst their group members. This Manual is still being reviewed and will be shared with stakeholders and availed on the Link once it’s completed.
Evergreen and Strengthening Rural Institutions represented at the East African Farmer Innovation Fair.
Tuesday, July 30, 2013
Agricultural innovation is a key pillar when developing strategies that would alleviate the food security crisis that has persistently burdened emerging economies. Farmers still grapple with a myriad of challenges as they struggle to solve two puzzles; How to promote food security and how to raise additional income in their different agricultural activities.
In a bid to ensure that the two questions are tackled using minimal investment, some farmers engage in innovative ventures that guarantee increased output. This has seen major global dilemmas ultimately get local solutions.
Scores of farmers, researchers, students and government officials drawn from Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania and Ethiopia converged at the Kenya Agricultural Research Institute (KARI), National Agricultural Research Laboratories at Kabete in Nairobi for the two-day East Africa Farmer Innovation Fair (EAFIF) that opened on 28th May, 2013.
ICRAF was represented by Staff from the Evergreen Agriculture and the Strengthening Rural Institutions (SRI) projects. The team utilized the opportunity to interact with relevant farmer innovators and institutions while learning contemporary applications of Agroforestry.
Dr. Bell Okello, an agricultural and rural development specialist from Prolinnova Kenya says that “Until recently, there has been a belief that technological innovations can only be generated in research institutes by scientists. The reality, however, is that farmers are everyday trying out new innovations or improving on innovations already in place by making them practical and adaptable to their needs and circumstances”
Simon Musila, a cereal farmer from Kalama division in Kenya’s Machakos County has shifted to a new way of cultivating finger millet. Musila raises the millet in nurseries before transplanting them to his farm during the onset of the rain season.
He takes advantage of nitrogen flush which promotes crop growth and eventually increases harvest.
Musila has extended his love for conservation agriculture to train three women groups namely; Ngomeni, Ikonge and Kyavyalu Self Help Group which are part of the farmer groups that are actively engaging in Evergreen Agriculture, supported by ICRAF and the Kenya Network for Dissemination of Agricultural Technologies (KENDAT). Adopting the innovation has helped him promote food security through the use millet flour to make nutritious products for his customers.
Gerald Kibugi, a software developer participated in the fair to demonstrate the missing link between information technology and agriculture, two sectors that are often considered to be the ‘backbones’ of modern economies. He has created an information sharing application dubbed ‘Green House Do it yourself (DIY)’ software which, he says, can guide farmers interested in green house farming to monitor the progress of their crops without the need for consulting with extension officers.
Kenya is the largest producer of Avocado fruits in Africa and one farmer is not taking this for granted. Jack Rware, an organic farmer from Embu County in Kenya has adopted grafting as a way of improving the locally available avocado species. This initiative has led to the development a unique variety which he proudly nicknamed the ‘Jack II’
The Fair attracted a host of local and international organizations dealing in agricultural research and innovations which included; Practical Action, Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security, World Neighbors, USAID-Kenya and AgriProFocus, among others.
Tracing carbon in forests: how degradation could speed up the carbon cycle
Monday, July 29, 2013
Take two very different tree species from Ethiopia’s Munessa-Shasamene Forest: one an evergreen conifer called ‘zigba’ and one a deciduous broadleaved tree. Do they both use carbon in the same way? New research shows that these trees cycle and store carbon very differently and this could change our understanding of forest degradation’s impact on carbon balances.
Scientists from the World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF), the University of Erlangen-Nuremberg and partners have performed an experiment called ‘pulse-labeling,’ the first of its kind in a tropical ecosystem. They sealed entire individual trees in a plastic cover into which they injected carbon-13 – heavy carbon atoms which act as tracers to follow the path of carbon all the way from photosynthesis through to incorporation by wood tissues.
By analyzing tree rings for this trackable ‘carbon signature,’ the scientists discovered a big difference between the two tree types: the deciduous tree, Croton macrostachyus, stored new carbon for only six months, while the zigba, Podocarpus falcatus, retained carbon for three full years in wood storage tissues.
Carbon that is not stored in wood tissues is used for energy production and released back into the atmosphere, either directly or via roots, fungi and bacteria and the decomposition of organic matter in soil.
“The fact that these two tree types have such different carbon storage strategies has implications for plant-soil-atmosphere carbon balances of degraded forests,” said Aster Gebrekirstos, a scientist with ICRAF’s Climate Change Unit and one of the paper’s lead authors.
When an old growth forest suffers human disturbance such as logging, it creates canopy gaps that favour pioneer species like Croton macrostachyus. These species increase their abundance at the cost of climax species such as zigbas. If disturbance is persistent, changes to species composition could mean a much faster turnover of carbon from plants to soil and back to the atmosphere, depleting carbon at the ecosystem scale.
“We’re seeing that degradation may have an additional carbon footprint we hadn’t considered before,” said Gebrekirstos. “It’s crucial that we understand how degradation from human pressure – like timber extraction or forest grazing – can affect carbon cycling in these ecosystems so we can better manage carbon in tropical landscapes worldwide.”
This study is just one example of the kind ofresearch to be carried out by ICRAF scientists and partners, aided by a newly-launched dendrochronology lab at ICRAF’s headquarters in Nairobi, the first of its kind in Africa. Set up by Gebrekirstos and funded by the CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS), the lab will help scientists extract information from tree rings that could significantly impact policy decisions on climate change and food security on the continent.
Dendrochronology, the science of analyzing and dating tree rings, can allow scientists to map a tree’s age, unearth the climatic conditions that a tree grew in and provide insight into the hydrology of an area in order to better predict future drought and other stress conditions related to food security. This work is cutting edge in Africa, where climatic data only dates back 30 to 40 years.
For example, Gebrekirstos and other dendrochronology scientists in Ethiopia have been able to determine a cyclical pattern in Ethiopia’s drought, have discovered that drought frequencies are increasing and that Ethiopia’s climate is influenced by the El Niño Southern Oscillation.
“For a long time, scientists have avoided tree ring studies in the tropics because it can be challenging to date tree rings with confidence,” said Gebrekirstos. “We want to change that because African decision-makers have a lot to gain from the knowledge stored in trees.”
Five priority underutilised trees identified for domestication in West Java
Friday, June 14, 2013
Manglietia glauca, Parkia speciosa, Durio zibethinus, Gmelina arborea and Sandoricum koetjape have been identified as the top five priority species for a participatory tree domestication programme for smallholders in West Java. This is according to a journal article by Narendra et al, published in Small-scale Forestry, which also states that these species are promising components of agroforestry systems and can enhance smallholder livelihoods.
There are more than 4,000 tree species in Indonesia, but less than ten per cent of those have been studied in relation to wood properties and utilisation. Smallholders and forest industries tend to utilise only a few timber species. These species are promoted by government, non-government and development organisations, in high demand, easy to propagate and manage, their wood properties are well known, and their germplasm is easily available.
Lack of high quality planting material and the absence of adequate germplasm supply systems are common constraints for smallholders. Tree domestication—the accelerated anthropogenic evolution that brings species into wider cultivation through a farmer-driven or market-led process—is one way to enhance access to germplasm. Tree domestication involves species selection, production, management and adoption of desirable germplasm, and then marketing of the product. The result is enhanced tree performance in terms of improved tree products or environmental services, and increased species awareness and market orientation.
Lesser known tree species are generally overlooked in tree domestication programs. ‘Underutilised species’ refers to species that may be exploited in commercial sectors but do not currently approach their potential in smallholder agroforestry systems. There is little information regarding their use and little, if any, research has been conducted on them. They occur in the wild or are grown as scattered trees in tree garden systems. They are an invaluable source of genes for related crop species, and hold promise for economic development. The productivity of smallholder agroforestry systems can be significantly enhanced through the domestication of these underutilised species. Improving smallholder production systems, markets, productivity, sustainability and incomes is a key focus of the CGIAR’s Collaborative Research Project 6 on Trees, Forests and Agroforestry—of which the World Agroforestry Centre is a key partner.
The question arises: Out of thousands of underutilised tree species, which ones should we select for tree domestication programs? This tree prioritisation study set out to answer exactly that, aiming to identify priority underutilised tree species for a participatory tree domestication programme for smallholders in Indonesia.
The study was carried out in three villages of Nanggung sub-district, Bogor district via farmer surveys, focus group discussion, SWOT analyses, and evaluation of markets and germplasm sources. Respondents prioritised 27 tree species, which included fruit, spice and timber trees. For domestication, farmers prioritised M. glauca, P. speciosa, D. zibethinus, G. arborea and S. koetjape. All five species hold promise for multi-species, multi-product agroforestry to enhance smallholder livelihoods and can grow under the low management conditions common in smallholder systems. P. speciosa, D. zibethinus and G. arborea are well-known species with commercial value but are not fully exploited at the smallholder level. M. glauca and S. koetjape are indigenous species that are underexploited at all levels. D. zibethinus and S. koetjape primarily produce fruit. P. speciosa produces a spice. M. glauca and G. arborea are long- and short-rotation timber species respectively.
Furthering the domestication and utilisation of these species requires the identification and dissemination of high-quality germplasm sources, and the development of farmer-friendly propagation and tree management practices. Farmers will need to take an active role in marketing the products of these five species, starting with the production of reliable quantities of high-quality products. This is best addressed through a participatory domestication approach in which farmers and researchers collaborate to develop and implement a species-specific tree domestication program. That process has already begun through the prioritisation process reported in this paper.
Narendra BH, Roshetko JM, Tata HL and Mulyoutami E. 2012. Prioritizing Underutilized Tree Species for Domestication in Smallholder Systems of West Java. Small-scale Forestry. . : P. 1-19.
Lake Kivu Pilot Learning Sites Project Partners Planning Meeting
Thursday, June 13, 2013
The Lake Kivu Pilot Learning Sites (LKPLS) project being implemented in Uganda, Rwanda and DRC has received funding for 2-year second phase. . The LKPLS project is led by CIAT working with several partners including ICRAF Uganda, National Agricultural Research Organisation in Uganda (NARO), Makerere University, Biomass, Huntex industries, Rwanda Agricultural Board (RAB), MECREGO and ICRISAT as well as a number of district local governments and farmer organisations.
This project works through the innovation platforms (IPs) approach and it seeks to prove the IAR4D concept and develop a framework for institutionalisation of IAR4D into African systems through developing methodologies and models for scaling up the impact. The project is funded by Forum for Agricultural Research in Africa (FARA) and will be implemented in Uganda, Rwanda and Democratic Republic of Congo(DRC).
Between 7th May to 11thMay 2013, the LKPS project partners held a partners interaction and planning meeting at Beausejour Hotel in Kigali. The objectives of the meeting were to facilitate substantially greater impact from AR4D leading to improved livelihoods, increased food security and sustainable natural resource management throughout Sub-Saharan Africa and to bring all stakeholders into full understanding of the modalities to streamline all the activities for the completion of IAR4D proof of concept with integration of the humid tropics programme into the LKPLS. The meeting was officially opened by Professor J. J. Mbonigaba the Director General of Rwanda Agricultural Board.
FARA was represented by Dr. Wole Fatoumbi who highlighted on the second phase funding and expected outputs. Partnerships, reporting and out scaling issues were discussed in this meeting. In his remarks, Sospeter Nyamwazo the CIAT representative highlighted this meeting as one of the important meetings to understand the status of the innovation platforms and design a way forward for the next phase of the project. Wole Fatoumbi emphasised that funding for the second phase of the project will be mainstreamed into the humid tropics programme which will be linked to CRP 1.2 through the strategic Research Teams (SRT’s) using the innovation platforms. The meeting ended by developing 2013 work plans based on Task Force levels (Task Force 1: Productivity, Taskforce 2: Natural Resource Management and Taskforce3). ICRAF will be involved in all the three task forces.
Facilitating Monitoring and Evaluation Activities: Experience from Kapchorwa, in Uganda
Thursday, June 13, 2013
As part of the Strengthening Rural institutions (SRI) project, groups across 6 sites in East Africa have prepared and are implementing work plans to guide their activities as a group. The SRI project team in partnership with Focal Point Persons (FPPs) at each site have developed a participatory monitoring and evaluation (M&E) tracking system that monitors group achievements as well as changes in maturity level and site level trainings. ICRAF staff Rick Kamugisha and Sid Mohan conducted a 5 day field visit to Kapchorwa in Uganda from 19th-25th May 2013, and visited eleven groups to follow-up on the M&E tracking. The FPP for Kapchorwa was guided on how to fill the monitoring and evaluation tools to be used by the groups, how to collect additional information on the groups, as well as updated on the 3 components of the project: capacity building enterprise development and development of platforms for knowledge sharing. During discussions with the FPP and group members, common activities by the groups were identified including zero grazing, milk production for sale, grass management for fodder, micro saving credit schemes through SACCOs, coffee production, and sunflower harvesting. Soil and water conservation activities, tree bed establishments for sale, and bee keeping were mentioned in addition to bio-gas plants construction.
Some of the challenges mentioned by the groups were low incomes, pests and diseases, lack of management skills, lack of materials to build shelters for their zero grazing cattle, poor record keeping, reporting and own monitoring, distance from markets, and paucity of raw materials and other inputs. Low transparency in some groups leading to conflicts amongst the members and other governance issues was also mentioned as a challenge and this is what the project will be looking at in terms of capacity building among groups and the indicators will be monitored using the monitoring tracking sheet.
On the last day of the visit the ICRAF team with the FPP visited the Director of the Management Training and Advisory Centre (MTAC), and the CEO of the Eastern Private Sector Development Centre Ltd (EPSEDEC) in Mbale, to explore the possibility of a partnership with those two organizations to provide capacity building training short courses for the groups in Kapchorwa. A similar activity will be conducted in Masindi, the second project site in Uganda in June 2013 as well as other sites in Kenya and Tanzania in the project sites. The first round of reporting by the groups using the Monitoring and evaluation tools will be done end of this June to be able to monitor what has changed in groups since the development of the works plans
Re-thinking bioenergy: value chains that put farmers first
Tuesday, June 11, 2013
"Biofuels have the potential to address all 3 sustainability pillars – social, economic and environmental. The trick is how to execute this and it requires a change of frame and change of lens." So said Navin Sharma of the World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF) at a side event "The IFAD-ICRAF Biofuel Program," held alongside the Bonn Climate Talks.
Biofuels – renewable fuels derived from biomass – will need to provide 26% of total transport fuel by 2050 if we are to restrict global temperature to non-devastating levels. Yet the so-called food-versus-fuel debate argues that the use of food crops as feedstock can compete with food production, drive land conversion and contribute to rising food prices that cut into the limited purchasing power of the poor.
But Sharma wants to change the way we view biofuels, by developing non-food and multifunctional biofuel crops, by using smart agroforestry systems and by addressing the food and energy needs of small farmers, as part of ICRAF's newly launched Programme for the Development of Alternative Biofuel Crops. The recent side event brought together potential partners from research, government and business and presented remarkable examples of successful biofuel programs in India, Brazil and Mozambique.
India's Biofuel Park program, which to date has trained roughly 106,500 farmers (40% women), yields diverse benefits to farmers, including improved soil productivity, protection from insects and pests and new sources of energy and income from oil-bearing seeds. "It is nothing new or novel - we only rewired the past," said Balakrishna Gowda, Professor and Coordinator of the program, which encourages farmers to plant trees along borders, in backyards and on community lands.
The program's market network – built on a proven model for milk distribution in the state – provides links to user industries, assures price and purchase of biodiesel and yields maximum benefits to the farming community. The major by-product, de-oiled cake, is partially converted to animal feed, used to produce biogas for farmers' kitchens, and ultimately goes back to the land as manure, reducing the need for chemical fertilizers.
According to Gowda, a village with 100 households and 2000 trees can produce about 30 tonnes of seeds annually by the 10th year - enough to meet the electricity requirement of the village for 300 days in a year, supply water for the village, and support school and primary health care.
In Brazil, the National Program for Production and Use of Biodiesel (PNPB) has rapidly increased biodiesel production since the program's inception in 2005. Manoel Souza, Director-General of Embrapa Agroenergy, part of the Brazilian Agricultural Research Corporation, credits this rapid production success to having a huge technology package, production scale and distribution logistics in place for soybean.
Yet biodiesel is only the fourth most important product coming out of the soybean chain, behind grain, cake used for animal feed and oil used in the food industry. "With the biodiesel program, [we] created a market, [we] strengthened the chain of soybean production and [we] still keep as a priority the production of food," said Souza.
Brazil invests roughly 12 billion dollars each year to support and promote the inclusion of family agriculture and uses social stamps to encourage industries to buy biodiesel from family agriculture. To date over 100,000 families have seen their income doubled through the biodiesel program.
Brazil has more than quadrupled its agricultural productivity over the last 40 years, with only a 20% increase of land, yet at 2.7 billion litres per year it's at only 40% of its biodiesel production capacity. Embrapa is now planning to use the residues of agricultural production chains to increase efficiency, as well as to develop alternative feedstocks for the North and Northeast regions, where soybean is not produced and poverty rates are higher.
In Mozambique, CleanStar Ventures has developed a small-scale program focused on increasing food and energy security through smallholder-based agroforestry. "We wanted to build a commercial venture that could be profitable in the long term, even be environmentally restorative in the long term and help meet these needs for food and energy," said Sagun Saxena, Managing Partner of the company.
Their business plan spans at least three steps in the value chain, all the way from primary agricultural production and processing of cassava, through marketing and distribution to supply the urban population with an ethanol-based cooking solution as an alternative to charcoal. Simple agroforestry techniques improve soil productivity, diversify income sources and reduce farmer's vulnerability to climate change through a diversity of crops.
"...we can help play that last gap [between agricultural research centres and farmers] and that really provides a set of benefits that currently farmers are struggling to see," said Saxena.
Despite the variation in scale, all three biofuel systems share the themes of vertical integration, a focus on agricultural sustainability and an emphasis on the livelihoods of smallholder farmers. As Ravi Prabhu, Director-General – Research at ICRAF puts it: "Biofuels are a by-product. Livelihoods are the main product."
Watch the presentations:
Agroforestry approach to sustainability in biofuel value chain - Balakrishna Gowda
The Programme for the Development of Alternative Biofuel Crops was conceptualized and funded by the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), with additional funding from the Government of India. It will be implemented by ICRAF in India and later expanded to other areas in Southeast Asia, Africa and Latin America, developing country- and region-specific strategies through strong partnerships.
"The IFAD-ICRAF Biofuel Programme" side event was held on June 5, 2013, alongside the thirty-eighth session of the Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice (SBSTA 38) in Bonn, Germany.
Biofuel Park (India)
Embrapa Agroenergy (Brazil)
Tree rings link climate and carbon in Africa
Friday, June 7, 2013
“Trees are history books,” says Aster Gebrekirstos, a scientist with the World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF). “Just ask a tree what conditions were like in the past and it can tell you about rainfall, temperature, river flow, the frequency of wildfires, and about how much and how fast it grew.”
Using dendrochronology—the science of analyzing and dating tree growth rings—Gebrekirstos and colleagues at ICRAF and partner institutions are capitalizing on the knowledge stored in trees to both learn about the past and plan for the future.
A brand-new laboratory facility at ICRAF’s Nairobi headquarters, set up by Aster Gebrekirstos under the auspices of the Climate Change research program and funded by the CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS), will allow other ICRAF scientists and partners in Africa to apply dendrochronology to carry out exciting new research, such as:
“By understanding what climate was like in the past, we’re better positioned to predict and plan for the future,” says Gebrekirstos. “Dendrochronology can help us predict which agroforestry tree species will do well into future climates so that we choose the right trees for the right place.”
Tropical dendrochronology has long been viewed as having limited potential. In temperate and boreal regions, where there is an annual halt in growth during the winter, trees produce distinct annual rings. But in the tropics, tree ring formation is controlled by changes in moisture brought on by dry and wet seasons. Periodic bushfires and climate fluctuations within seasons can cause false rings, unclear ring boundaries, incomplete rings and missing rings, greatly complicating analysis.
Yet there are several ways to prove the formation of annual rings in the tropics and there are even new techniques to date trees without rings, says Gebrekirstos. Research in Ethiopia’s highlands has shown that there is potential to reconstruct several centuries of growth history for Podocarpus falcatus, a conifer known locally as zigba, using dendrochronology. The authors discovered that zigbas – unlike broadleaved trees – could re-activate growth at any time of the year given sufficient rain.
The study, a partnership between ICRAF and the University of Erlangen-Nuremberg in Germany, used specialized instruments called dendrometers which measure variations in tree diameter. These measurements were then combined with analyses of tree core samples to distinguish between swelling due to water uptake and actual formation of new wood cells. The dendrometers were also used to monitor tree growth rates and examine the formation of tree rings in a particular year.
Based on annual rings counted from stem disks, the scientists estimated the age of a particular zigba at 500 years, and confirmed it by carbon dating – a method that uses changes in the amount of radioactive carbon to estimate the age at which a tree died.
“This species is one of the oldest dated trees known from East Africa. If we can date it confidently, we should be able to reconstruct its entire growth history, along with associated environmental changes on Ethiopia’s highlands over the past several centuries,” explains Gebrekirstos.
Other ICRAF scientists have already started applying dendrochronology in a number of ways in Africa. A recent study, for instance, was able to determine the amount of biomass produced by West Africa’s savanna trees in years past.
“This finding holds important implications for climate change mitigation interventions that require us to monitor the carbon sequestered by trees,” says Cheikh Mbow, senior climate scientist with ICRAF’s climate change unit and lead author of the study.
“If we understand the relationship between climatic conditions and tree growth, we can develop models that estimate carbon sequestration over entire landscapes based just on climate data.” Mbow is enthusiastic about the potential to use dendrochronology on the continent.
In southern Senegal, Mbow and other scientists have managed to reconstruct the complete growth histories of nine tree species using dendrochronology. They did so by developing equations that allowed them to relate tree ring size to annual biomass production.
According to Mbow, these models could help overcome the high effort and high cost of carbon accounting, which are major obstacles for developing countries. More frequent reporting of carbon stocks could potentially allow projects to receive carbon income before year 5 – the usual certification period, he adds.
African ecosystems have a pivotal role to play in climate change mitigation, yet they are also home to some of the world’s most vulnerable rural populations. “Dendrochronology can help us unpack the information held in trees,” says Gebrekirstos. “It can give us the hard evidence we need to make decisions on how best to mitigate and adapt to future climates.”
Potential of dendrochronology to assess annual rates of biomass productivity in savanna trees of West Africa – Cheikh Mbow, Sophan Chhin, Bienvenu Sambou, David Skole in Dendrochronologia 2013
Growth dynamics and potential for cross-dating and multi-century climate reconstruction of Podocarpus falcatus in Ethiopia – Julia Krepkowski, Achim Bräuning, Aster Gebrekirstos in Dendrochronologia 2012
Visit the Dendrochronology Lab page
Climate–growth relationships of the dominant tree species from semi-arid savanna woodland in Ethiopia – A Gebrekirstos, R Mitlöhner, D Teketay, M Worbes, Trees 22 (5), 631-641
Cambial growth dynamics and climatic control of different tree life forms in tropical mountain forest in Ethiopia – J Krepkowski, A Bräuning, A Gebrekirstos, S Strobl, Trees 25 (1), 59-70
World Environment Day: Reducing our foodprint with trees
Wednesday, June 5, 2013
5 June 2013—Today is World Environment Day. The theme “Think, Eat, Save: Reduce Your Foodprint,” aptly captures the ethos of sustainable consumption, which must go hand in hand with sustainably intensified agricultural production if we are to feed a population of 9 billion by 2050. This type of agriculture will allow farmers to produce more with less water and inputs in ways that are ecologically acceptable.
“We must ensure access to adequate nutrition for all, double the productivity of smallholding farmers who grow the bulk of the food in the developing world, and make food systems sustainable in the face of environmental and economic shocks,” said UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in his World Environment Day statement.
Farming with the right trees and shrubs—agroforestry—is key to sustainable agricultural intensification, as numerous trials, long-term evaluations, and pilot studies have proven, and farmers themselves attest. The World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF) and partners have shown, for instance, that growing maize with nitrogen-fixing 'fertilizer trees' nourishes degraded soils to raise and stabilize maize yields, lessening the need for large doses of manufactured fertilizers. The right trees on farms have also been shown to build the soil’s organic matter content, water-holding capacity and resistance to erosion.
Crucial environmental services such as cycling of nutrients and regulating and filtering water and air are performed by trees. Furthermore, trees satisfy human cultural needs such as art and recreation, which are part of the “transition to more sustainable activities and lifestyles,” that the UN Environment Programme calls for this World Environment Day.
Trees serve as giant carbon stores, playing a critical role in climate change mitigation. Managed or primary forests sequester the most carbon (100–300 Mg C per hectare), and widespread agroforestry systems, which store around 50–75 Mg C/ha, can be powerful in the global climate change mitigation effort. Indeed, the recent climate change conference in Doha recognized trees on farms and agricultural landscapes as key to mitigation and adaptation, under the REDD+ process.
In two projects in Southeast Asia and Africa—RUPES (“Rewards for, Use of, and Shared Investment in Pro-poor Environmental Services) and PRESA (Pro-Poor Rewards for Environmental Services in Africa) respectively—ICRAF and partners have found that co-investment in schemes that reward farmers for maintaining or restoring the environment can bring gains to both people and the environment. Well managed PES schemes can support livelihoods and reduce vulnerability to climate change even as they foster critical environmental services like watershed protection and biodiversity conservation.
Knowledge is key to the success of environment-related programmes, and on this year’s Environment Day, ICRAF is partnering with two NGOs to support environmental education and conservation:
ICRAF Director Dr. Tony Simons points out that farming with useful trees and shrubs provides products such as food, fuel, timber, fruits, nuts, vegetables, and animal fodder. “This reduces our foodprint, woodprint and fuelprint,” he states.
To harness the multiple benefits of agroforestry in helping limit our individual and collective toll on the environment, appropriate national policy frameworks are needed. To this end, ICRAF, FAO and CATIE recently released a policy guide titled Advancing agroforestry on the policy agenda: Guide for decision-makers to help countries support conditions that would optimize agroforestry’s contribution to national development.
UNEP World Environment Day 2013 http://www.unep.org/wed/
The thirty-eighth session of the Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice, 3-14 June 2013
Friday, May 31, 2013
The World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF), together with partners and collaborators, convened, co-convened and participated in various events at the thirty-eighth session of the Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice (SBSTA 38), held from 3 -14 June 2013 in Bonn, Germany.
Our side event, “The IFAD-ICRAF Biofuel Program,” brought together panelists from research, governments, donors and business to discuss how the program supports environmental sustainability, climate change mitigation, and food security and livelihoods goals for the poor.
ICRAF, together with the ASB Partnership for the Tropical Forest Margins (ASB) and the Center for Development Research (ZEF) of the University of Bonn, also co-hosted “Drivers of deforestation: leverage points and REDD+ efficiency.” The event explored drivers as they relate to leverage points, baselines, REDD strategies and incentives and presented some preliminary results of pan-tropical research on the same from Columbia, Indonesia, Viet Nam and the Congo Basin.
Finding sustainable, pro-poor ways to produce biofuels and applying knowledge of drivers of deforestation are just small aspects of ICRAF’s cross-cutting research on climate change. Our Climate Change Science Domain focuses on how agroforestry can help vulnerable rural communities manage risks associated with climate change, adapt to climate change and enhance livelihoods and ecosystem resilience.
Other areas of research include the potential effects of climate variability and change on trees, agroforestry systems and landscapes; the potential impacts of agroforestry on climate change mitigation; and the institutional arrangements, policies and approaches needed to enhance pro-poor benefits from initiatives with climate funding.
The SBSTA provides scientific and technological advice relevant to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and the Kyoto Protocol, with a focus on:
Read blogs from the events:
Press Release: Alternative biofuel crops to fuel the future of the poor
Partners and collaborators: