Issue 17: June 2012

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The main feature of this issue of Transformations Online is the publication of the book Integrated Natural Resource Management in the Highlands of East Africa - From Concept to Practice. Upcoming events include the Rio+20 conference to be held in Brazil on 20-22 June 2012, as well as the IUFRO-FORNESSA Regional Congress, 25-30 June 2012, and the ITTO/AFF Forest Policy Day, 28 June 2012, both of which will be hosted on the ICRAF campus.
World Agroforestry Centre's Road to Rio+20

The World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF) supports Rio+20’s focus on sustainable development and hopes the conference will establish a sound development basis for the rest of the 21st Century by adopting as a guide, strategies agreed upon at the 1992 United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED), agreements from the World Summit on adopting Sustainable Development (WSSD) and other high profile sustainable development meeting proceedings such as from COP17. The Centre hopes Rio+20 will seek to position all stakeholders to collectively address current and emerging global challenges especially global food security.

Agroforestry is not rocket science but it might save DPR Korea

There is more going on in DPR Korea than rocket science: local people in collaboration with natural resource scientists are taking control of their food supply through agroforestry. This is according to a report published in Agroforestry Systems journal. Xu Jian Chu, lead author of the report and head of the East Asia Node of the World Agroforestry Centre, says that, “The emergence of agroforestry as a way of managing sloping land highlights how food technology innovations can take root once social and institutional constraints to land access have been reduced."

African agriculture ‘Dirt Poor’ but will inorganic fertilizer make it rich?

Many agricultural developmental agencies either support the idea of farmers using more inorganic fertilizer or very little or none at all. Some scientific literature supports the use of inorganic fertilizers while others refute the claim. However, a review of the scientific literature shows a strong synergy between inorganic fertilizers and soil organic matter. It claims the two can work symbiotically to produce and sustain more productive soils, particularly for resource poor smallholders.

Upcoming events
The first IUFRO-FORNESSA Regional Congress and ITTO/AFF Forest Policy Day will be held from 25 to 30 June 2012 in Nairobi, Kenya. The Congress theme is: Forests and Trees Serving People of Africa and in the World.
Unity aspirations give birth to Global Landcare Alliance
Through its rapid and inexpensive ways of disseminating agroforestry practices among thousands of farmers, the Landcare voluntary community movement has been growing exponentially. It has since been expanded from Australia to New Zealand and the Philippines, and continues to spread to other countries including the United States, South Africa, Uganda and Tanzania among others. Key Landcare bodies saw it necessary to have one umbrella body that can unify and guide future direction. The culmination of a series of meetings resulted in the formation of the Global Landcare Alliance (GLA).

ICRAF Scientist wins 2012 National Geographic/Buffett Award for Conservation Leadership

The creator of a grassroots environmental movement in Mexico and a forestry/agroforestry conservationist in Cameroon are this year’s winners of the National Geographic Society/Buffett Award for Leadership in Conservation. Dr. Zacharie Tchoundjeu, principal scientist and regional director for West and Central Africa of the World Agroforestry Centre, wins the National Geographic Society/Buffett Award for Leadership in African Conservation.

Integrated Natural Resource Management in the Highlands of East Africa – From Concept to Practice

A view of the Kenyan landscape

In the past four decades, the eastern African highlands have seen rapid population growth and unprecedented land-use changes, increasing the challenge of sustaining resources while providing for a growing population that is dependent on these same quickly depleting resources.The poor coordination among development initiatives and agencies which leads to duplication of efforts, missed opportunity for synergy and lack of sustainability presents a challenge that undermines rural development. This problem is further compounded by decentralization of governance in some eastern African countries.

The World Agroforestry Centre recently launched a book, Integrated Natural Resource Management in the Highlands of East Africa - From Concept to Practice which attempts to address some of these challenges. The publication compiles the main findings of more than a decade of work in Tanzania, Kenya, Uganda, Ethiopia and Rwanda through the Africa Highlands Initiative. It seeks a solution through a new model that addresses the need to manage complex natural resource in densely settled landscapes where people are highly dependent on diminishing resources.

With 80% of smallholders in Africa owning less than two hectares of land, integrated natural resource management becomes more important to the future of Africa’s population.

According to the authors, population growth and inheritance practices contributed to very small household landholdings, reducing incomes and food security and in turn undermining farmers’ capacity to invest in conservation activities, often characterized by delayed returns.

“There had been various attempts to introduce technologies to tackle problems such as soil erosion and low yields, but these largely failed as farmers were reluctant to adopt them," says Dr Jeremias Mowo, the World Agroforestry Centre's Regional Coordinator for Eastern Africa and a co-author of the book. "In addition to wider livelihood, equity and sustainability aims, one of our principal aims was to get farmers to use practices they had previously rejected, largely because they considered them too labour intensive," Dr Mowo adds.

This book demonstrates that efforts to achieve sustainable agricultural development in challenging environments is a complex one, and can only be effectively achieved through combined efforts and commitment of individuals and institutions with complementary roles.

“By acknowledging divergent interests and fostering negotiations on solutions acceptable to each party, site teams were able to solve previously intractable problems as diverse as inequitable technology access, crop destruction from invertebrate pests and excess runoff, degradation of springs and waterways, and boundary conflicts,” says Laura German, one of the authors.

Being an eco-regional programme of the CGIAR, the AHI provides an excellent example of research institutions working closely together – precisely as envisaged under the CGIAR Research Programmes , and doing so with an experiential learning process involving farmers and other stakeholders.

The World Agroforestry Centre collaborated with six other CG Centres as well as scientists from a range of national agricultural research institutes in Ethiopia, Kenya, Madagascar, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda, all employing a multidisciplinary approach to their research.

AHI was generously supported by several donors including: the International Development Research Centre (IDRC), the Swiss Development Cooperation (SDC), the European Commission, the Government of Italy, the Government of Netherlands, the Collective Action and Property Rights Program of the CGIAR, the Department for International Development (DFID) – UK, Aus-AID (Australia), the Rockefeller Foundation and the Government of Norway.

The book was launched during the Beating Famine Conference held in Nairobi in early April. Special thanks to IDRC for supporting the publication of the book and other AHI knowledge products. The authors would also like to recognize the contributions of the late Ann Stroud, AHI Regional Coordinator (1998-2006); the late Lynus Navarro of IDRC (donor, fellow researcher, mentor and AHI friend) and the late Chris Opondo who was one of the contributing authors of the book.

CLICK here to access the book

For more information, contact: Yvonne Otieno Email: y.otieno(at)cgiar(dot)org


Transformations is produced by the World Agroforestry Centre Communications Unit.
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