Issue 1: June 2009

  Issue 1 - June 2009

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Our new Transformations eNewsletter will provide regular and timely reports on topical issues where agroforestry is involved as well as highlighting events and activities across the six tropical regions where we work. We welcome your input to

Happenings Turning the tide on farm productivity in Africa:
An agroforestry solution

By combing the best of agroforestry practices in Malawi with conservation agriculture activities in Zambia – both using fertilizer trees - scientists from the World Agroforestry Centre believe it is possible to double or even triple maize yields without an increase in labour or the need to apply mineral fertilizers.

"Such a system has the potential to transform the lives of millions of farmers. It also shows tremendous promise for addressing global challenges of food security and climate change,” says Dr Dennis Garrity, Director General of the World Agroforestry Centre.

For a long time, crop yields have remained stagnant in Africa, closely linked to declining soil fertility and degraded land. The addition of mineral fertilizers cannot be sustained in the long term, neither environmentally nor economically, and for this reason farmers in Malawi and Zambia have been applying the benefits of fertilizer trees.

Research in Malawi has seen maize yields increase threefold with the use of fertilizer trees. Increased Nitrogen-rich organic matter is going into the soil and weeds are being suppressed. The weakness is that there is a generally a greater labour investment in managing these trees.

In Zambia, farmers are improving soil condition through digging planting basins for fertilizer trees rather than hoeing. This has greatly reduced labour during planting and seen crops reach their full yield. Unfortunately, more labour is needed for hand-weeding later in the season and there is no additional nutrient cycling.

"If we can take the best of what is being practiced in both Malawi and Zambia and combine them, the weaknesses of each system will be cancelled out. Soil condition can be greatly improved while keeping labor requirements at a minimum,” Dr Garrity said.

"Not only will this increase maize yields and provide greater food security, the increased growth of trees will improve drought resilience and build Carbon sequestration, thereby contributing to climate change adaptation.”

The challenge for the future is in working with the Centre's partners to upscale this technology.

"With the right type of political thinking and institutional support, we can strive for at least two million farmers in Africa having access to this technology by 2012,” believes Odd Arnesen from the Norwegian Embassy in Lusaka, which has supported conservation agriculture in Zambia since the programme began.

To read the full story, visit : this story our website

2 nd World Congress of Agroforestry
23-28 August 2009 - Nairobi, Kenya
Register now for this unique opportunity to share research, lessons, experiences, and ideas that will help influence decisions that impact on livelihoods and the global environment.
Carbon Benefits Project launched
United Nations Environment Program, the World Agroforestry Centre and other key partners launched the Carbon Benefits Project on 11 May in Nairobi, Kenya. Scientists will study projects in a range of developing countries to develop a reliable method for accurately measuring, monitoring, reporting, and projecting how much carbon each kind of land use system can store.
The Rubber Juggernaut
Dr. Xu Jianchu from World Agroforestry, China Program, was published in Science, the world's leading journal of original scientific research, global news, and commentary. The paper, which he co authored, The Rubber Juggernaut looks at the environmental consequences of massive rubber expansion in the uplands of China, Laos, Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia, and Myanmar.
REDD-ALERT launched
Launched in Bogor, Indonesia on 25 May 2009, the Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation through Alternative Land uses in Rainforests of the Tropics or REDD-ALERT project seeks to better understand the socio-economic drivers and impacts of deforestation and provide policy options for emissions reduction.

Transformations is produced by the World Agroforestry Centre Communications Unit.
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