African plum (Dacryodes edulis) for sale in a village market in Cameroon. The plum is one of the trees domesticated through the ICRAF project. Photo by Charlie Pye-Smith/ICRAF

‘Don’t throw money at farmers’, and other lessons in sustainable multi-functional agriculture

To overcome poverty, hunger and malnutrition as well as their close bedfellow environmental degradation, we would all do well to heed the dozen principles discussed in a new article by Roger B. Leakey. Instead of giving farmers cash handouts, for instance, we would empower them with skills and knowledge. And instead of telling them what […]

Sacks of pulses in a market in Kathmandu, Nepal. Photo courtesy of Didi via Flikr

Legumes: a unified solution for food, fodder, and soil fertility in Africa

Humans love them, herbivorous animals thrive on them, the earth benefits from their presence, but not enough are being grown. From the vegetarian platters of Ethiopia, to Githeri in Kenya, Saka Madesu in the DR Congo and neighbouring countries, and the ubiquitous groundnut, legumes continue to sustain people across the African continent. The paradox, however, […]

cocoa, agroforestry, Cameroon, extension

How to reduce, and adapt to, climate change at the same time

Researchers now understand the conditions necessary for reducing the rate of climate change and those needed to help humans and ecosystems adapt. Both can be done together, thanks to a new ‘analytical framework’   By Elizabeth Kahurani   It has become clear that linking mitigation of, and adaptation to, climate change is a more effective […]

Young rubber tappers trained by the ICRAF and the Rubber Research Institute of Nigeria. Photo: Cathy Watson

Rubber agroforestry in the Niger Delta – hope for youth

To fly into the Niger Delta is to marvel at seemingly endless trees. Africa’s moist equatorial forest stretches from Congo to Gabon. Much is still pristine in Nigeria, the canopy closed. However, vast swathes have been despoiled by oil seepage and flaring. Joblessness and insecurity abound. “The young boys are punching holes in the oil […]

Agroforest on peat in Tanjung Jabung Barat

Migrants, land and deforestation in Indonesia

Internal migrants in Indonesia have shifted land arrangements, resulting in both social and ecological damage: land conflicts increase along with deforestation. This complex relationship has been underplayed in the REDD debate, say Gamma Galudra, Meine van Noordwijk, Putra Agung, Suyanto and Ujjwal Pradhan   By Masayu Vinanda   Conflicting claims over land ownership have occurred […]

Pic3 Farewell Ambassador Heinz

Switzerland, ASEAN and social forestry: a labour of love

At a farewell event for the outgoing Swiss ambassador to ASEAN, it became clear that his involvement with social forestry was personal as well as effective   By Robert Finlayson   His Excellency Heinz Walker-Nederkoorn, ambassador of Switzerland to Indonesia and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, revealed at a farewell dinner held in his […]

Digital Camera

Low yields, high emissions and writings on walls: Time for a major shift in cocoa management in Southern Cameroon?

Steps to increase cocoa yields in Southern Cameroon have often led to the encroachment of cocoa plantations into forested areas, with the alarming risk of deforestation and increased carbon emissions. Disturbingly, studies show that such expansion does not necessarily lead to increased profitability for farmers. In a study published in Agroforestry Systems, Magne et al […]

Peat drain

Peat’s lagging knowledge chain

Lack of understanding of peat is not the weakest link in the chain, say Meine van Noordwijk and colleagues   By Amy C. Cruz   The high emissions of greenhouse gases from tropical peatlands caused by changing their land use have become a problem for policymakers that they can no longer deny, as their own […]

Photo: K Traumann CCAFS

Is planting trees for carbon worth it?

With increasing interest in the capacity of agroforestry systems to remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, farmers might look to planting trees in order to earn money from carbon credits. But would it be worth their while? “Planting trees for carbon alone really isn’t viable for smallholder farmers in developing countries, but the associated benefits […]

Female farmer in cocoa garden

Female farmers might increase greenhouse gases

Decisions by women can lead to more changes in land use because of their willingness to accept offers from outsiders. To avoid deforestation, the value of natural ecosystems needs to be instilled   By Tess Beyer   Indonesia is the world’s third largest producer of greenhouse gas, with 85% of its emissions coming from the […]

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