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Cathy Watson

Cathy Watson

Cathy Watson is chief of programme development at the World Agroforestry Centre in Nairobi. Before joining ICRAF in November 2012, she founded and ran two NGOs in Uganda -- Straight Talk Foundation and Mvule Trust. She was made a senior Ashoka fellow for social entrepreneurship in 2006. She has also been a foreign correspondent, working for The Guardian and the BBC, among others. A graduate in biology and Latin American Studies from Princeton, she has almost 30 years of work experience in Africa with a focus on trees, youth, HIV, families, and communication for social change. She holds a certificate in agroforestry from the University of Missouri.

Agroforestry with refugees in Uganda: overwhelming demand and a huge desire to plant

Developing agroforestry models for refugees and host communities to meet their energy, construction and food needs. “There is space for trees in refugee settlements,” Clement Okia told officials, NGOs, donors and UN agencies on 30 June 2018, as...

Put Soils First, African Soil Seminar concludes

For three days, the World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF) was abuzz with stakeholders concerned about the state and fate of Africa’s soils. Over 150 government, UN and NGO officials, researchers, agricultural technology providers and human rights advocates were attending...

Alex Oduor and Malesu Maimbo, water engineers from the World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF), talk with Khat farmers in Embu. Khat cultivation is severely impacting water availability yet is lucrative for farmers. Photo D Odhiambo/ICRAF

Resolving the khat conundrum: when a profitable crop has downsides

With European markets closed to the khat grown in one Kenyan county, khat grown in another county is making inroads into coffee, tea and forest. Environmental damage is escalating. Fortunately, researchers from the World Agroforestry Centre have a...

Dr Happiness Osebele, geneticist and mother of five, one of 29 senior plant breeders from around Africa attending the African Plant Breeding Academy in July 2016 at ICRAF. Photo: World Agroforestry Centre/Catharine Watson

How Happiness is breeding plants for Africa’s future

  Plant breeders are improving food plants and building a more food-secure future for Africa. One has been working at it all her life despite early challenges.   A plant breeder called Happiness spent 17 months trying to...

Promoting early-maturing, oil-rich shea trees and holding off the charcoal threat

In Europe and the US, shea butter or oil is a famous skin cream. But shea is even more important as the main cooking oil for the band of 21 African countries that stretches West to East from...

Forest people of DR Congo guide orphan crop research

Dr Benjamin Dowiya Nzawele, 42, arrived at the World Agroforestry Centre, also known as ICRAF, in Nairobi with an important brief from his national agricultural research institute: To “identify orphan crops not currently taken into account by INERA, their...

Coffee growing under forest remnants in Ladalia. Dispersed in crop fields and pastures or planted in lines, trees are a conspicuous element in agricultural landscapes. Photo C Watson/ICRAF

In Nicaragua, a staggering diversity and density of trees on farms

Nicaragua is making progress. Although it is among the poorest countries in Latin America by GDP, its economy has grown by 4% a year for a decade. It is also ranked the sixth-safest country on the sub-continent. To...

Agroforestry leads as investors and governments support land restoration in Latin America

The global land restoration movement launched in Bonn five years ago is gaining steam. It’s big and it’s ambitious. In Latin America and the Caribbean, where it is called Initiative 20X20, it aims to bring 20 million hectares...