Farmers and funders need to open their eyes to the benefits of integrated landscapes
Focussing only on the commercial value of crops leaves farmers and funders poorer. The services provided by integrated agro-ecosystems offer greater benefits to all.
‘The first challenge is to make smallholders aware that they can contribute to the provision of ecosystem services, beyond productivity for commercial or subsistence’, said Dr Beria Leimona at the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) Asia and Pacific Workshop in Bali, Indonesia on 27 October 2015, ‘by linking them to conservation incentives from beneficiaries and the public sector through co-investment in ecosystem services’ schemes’.
Dr Leimona is the regional coordinator of the Climate-Smart, Tree-Based, Co-Investment in Adaptation and Mitigation in Asia (Smart Tree-Invest) project, which is funded by IFAD and implemented by the World Agroforestry Centre, 2014–2017. She shared lessons learned from Smart Tree-Invest and its predecessor projects about how co-investment in ecosystem services through agroforestry helps farmers adapt to a changing climate and provides multiple benefits of both financial and non-financial kinds.
To help make a stronger link between farmers and conservation, the first step that Smart Tree-Invest took was helping farmers become aware of the condition of their farms within the wider landscape and the impact that climate change would have on their wellbeing and livelihoods.
‘It’s important to recognise the buffering capacity of a landscape, which supports smallholders’ resilience’, she said. ‘In the countries we work in—Philippines, Viet Nam and Indonesia—the pressure is high for smallholders to convert their land to commercial, monocultural agriculture. Doing so, and ignoring the services provided by the natural ecosystems, can result in severe negative impacts on not only farm productivity but also sustainability and human health’.
The Smart Tree-Invest teams in the three countries are promoting agroforestry as a defence against climate change and as an enhancer of ecosystem services. Trees and crops together in a landscape mosaic provide multiple benefits for smallholders’ livelihoods and the environment.
‘The second challenge is that IFAD needs to recognize the potential of its own grant projects to complement its investment projects in developing countries’, said Dr Leimona. ‘In the case of Smart Tree-Invest, the World Agroforestry Centre as a research organization could provide the technological options while IFAD investment projects could provide the technology for adaptation through climate-smart agriculture. More synergy needs to be found between the two types of IFAD funding’.
IFAD provides loans to governments for agricultural development and smaller grants to research organizations. Making stronger links between the two would complement the objectives of each and produce results more effectively, according to Dr Leimona.
At the workshop, the work of Smart Tree-Invest was also highlighted in a photographic exhibition that was an output of the PhotoVoice component of the project. PhotoVoice is a participatory visual approach to collating and analysing data on farm and landscape risks and opportunities.
This work is supported by the CGIAR Research Program on Forests, Trees and Agroforestry