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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.

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...

Cecily Muthoni with Grevillea prunnings from her farm. She sources firewood from trees on her farm or from her neighbours' farms. Photo by James Kinyua/ World Agroforestry Centre

It only takes prunings from trees on farms and efficient stoves for smallholder farmers to meet their cooking energy needs

According to the International Energy Agency (IEA), about 2.5 billion people in the world, mostly in developing countries, depend on biomass energy for cooking and heating. In sub-Saharan Africa alone, over 90% of the population rely on wood...

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Profits, plates and plots: the link between farmers’ diets and their farms

Researchers have found that smallholders participating in a payments for ecosystem services (PES) scheme in Cidanau Watershed, Indonesia had more diverse diets than farmers who weren’t participating. Food security, however, is still an issue for the watershed so...

Freshly harvested, safe, nutritious food from an agroforest in Southern Thailand. Photo: World Agroforestry Centre/Robert Finlayson

Research centres, banks, businesses, civil society and farmers join forces to fight future food shortages in Asia

The Asian Development Bank is working with the CGIAR, a global partnership for a food-secure future, as the key research partner in a broad coalition of partners to boost food production across the region.   We are faced...

Tenth annual meeting of the ASEAN Social Forestry Network. Photo: World Agroforestry Centre/Robert Finlayson

More important than ever to work together to influence agricultural and forestry policies to feed and protect the planet

With the world already feeling the impact of climate change, feeding a future population of 9 billion while also keeping trees in landscapes to soak up carbon and provide many other benefits is a huge challenge best met...

Farmers practising social forestry in ASEAN come from a wide range of ethnicities and are among the poorest in their nations. Photo: Center for International Forestry Research

Seeing swidden

Swidden aka shifting cultivation has long been criticised as an unsustainable agricultural practice in Southeast Asia. Research is revealing its complexities and benefits   Swiddening, that is, the practice of clearing forest for annual crops and then managing...