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  • Reshaping the terrain: Landscape restoration in Africa factsheets

Reshaping the terrain: Landscape restoration in Africa factsheets

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The Global Landscapes Forum (GLF) published a series of factsheets in August 2018 ahead of GLF Nairobi, focusing on Burkina Faso, Ethiopia, Ghana, Tanzania, Kenya, Uganda and Cameroon.

GLF is the world’s largest knowledge-led multisectoral platform for integrated land use, bringing together world leaders, scientists, private sector representatives, farmers and community leaders and civil society to accelerate action towards the creation of more resilient, equitable, profitable, and climate-friendly landscapes.

Brief 1: Reshaping the terrain: Forest and landscape restoration in Burkina Faso

Brief 2: Reshaping the terrain: Landscape restoration in Ethiopia

Brief 3: Reshaping the terrain: Forest landscape restoration efforts in Ghana

Brief 4: Reshaping the terrain: Landscape restoration in Tanzania

Brief 5: Reshaping the terrain: Forest and landscape restoration in Kenya

Brief 6: Reshaping the terrain: Forest landscape restoration in Uganda 

Brief 7: Reshaping the terrain: Forest and landscape restoration in Cameroon

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  • Workshop on social and gender dynamics aims to improve resilience and livelihoods in Ghana

Workshop on social and gender dynamics aims to improve resilience and livelihoods in Ghana

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Restoration of landscapes in Ghana requires men and women to work together. Photo by Joan Baxter/ICRAF

Raising awareness of gender equity and equality is critical for Africa’s future, with workshops like one held recently in Ghana an important contribution.

Almost two dozen representatives from Ghanaian development agencies working in partnership with the World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF) in northern Ghana gathered in the city of Bolgatanga on Nov. 13, 2018 for a training workshop titled Social and Gender Dynamics and their Importance for Improving Resilience and Livelihoods.

The participants expressed a strong interest in learning more about gender equity and equality so that they could integrate the concepts into agricultural and natural resource management. Given the often-sensitive nature of the issues and that male participants outnumbered females at 15 to 11, discussions were at times lively.

A few of the men said they were uneasy with the notions of gender equity and equality, if that meant women would have the ‘same status as men’ or expect their husbands to take on household tasks such as bathing children or cooking, or abruptly challenge traditional and cultural values.

ICRAF gender specialist Ana Maria Paez, who facilitated the workshop, explained that ‘gender equity’ was a ‘process of being fair to women and men’ through strategies and measures that ‘compensate for women’s historical and social disadvantages that prevent women and men from otherwise operating on a level playing field’.

“Gender equity leads to equality,” she told participants, distinguishing it from gender equality, which is a ‘state, an ideal outcome’. “Gender equality refers to equal enjoyment by women, girls, boys and men of opportunities, resources and rewards. A critical aspect of promoting gender equality is the empowerment of women, with a focus on identifying and redressing power imbalances.”

The workshop was hosted by Emilie Smith Dumont, coordinator of the West Africa Forest–Farm Interface (WAFFI) project in Burkina Faso and Ghana. She is also the Ghana focal point for the ambitious, five-year Regreening Africa project funded by the European Union.

The WAFFI project is led by the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) in collaboration with ICRAF and Tree Aid with support from the International Fund for Agricultural Development. WAFFI aims to identify practices and policy actions that improve the income and food security of smallholders in Burkina Faso and Ghana through integrated forest and tree management systems that are environmentally sound and socially equitable.

Workshop participant work on a drawing of an ‘ideal man’. Photo by Emilie Smith Dumont/ICRAF

Regreening Africa seeks to reverse land degradation among 500,000 households across 1 million hectares in eight countries in Sub-Saharan Africa. Incorporating trees into crop land, communal land and pastoral areas can reclaim Africa’s degraded landscapes. In Ghana, the work is led by World Vision in collaboration with ICRAF and Catholic Relief Services.

“Our purpose was to bring people together to find ways to fully integrate and promote gender issues and transformation into projects,” said Smith Dumont. “The context is land restoration at the forest–farm interface because there is a very strong gendered role around trees in landscapes.

“This kind of collaboration is extremely important for improving livelihoods: we know that trees contribute greatly to livelihoods. We have found from our work that family cohesion increases resilience of households and that all goes back to more balanced gender relations.”

Among other themes, participants engaged in extensive, and often intensive, discussions about the difference between gender, which is a social construct, and sex, which pertains to physical characteristics, as well as on processes of gender transformation and, thus, societal change.

One of the more colorful sessions involved male participants drawing and describing what they would consider the ‘ideal woman’ and female participants doing the same for an ‘ideal man’. This led to animated discussions, closely analyzing some of the stereotypes of men and women revealed by the drawings.

But the over-arching theme of the workshop and the key messages that emerged had most to do with analyses of gender in agriculture, including divisions of labour, access to, and control of, resources and their benefits, based on findings from WAFFI.

The discussion revealed how gender influences many aspects of the management of farms, households, trees and forests in communities.

Participants also looked at specific issues that were particularly relevant for their project work in northern Ghana, including tree management and landscape restoration, soil and water conservation, and ways to ensure equitable representation of men and women in project planning, implementation and monitoring.

They also examined how gender awareness is, or is not, already integrated into their activities in community forestry, value chains and market access, local governance, and agricultural productivity.

A woman views a gulley on her farm in Mwingi, Kenya. Photo by Ake Mamo/ICRAF

From the discussions, they distilled some tangible ways to be more responsive to gender issues in their activities.

For community forestry, participants proposed several actions. First, bush fires are an annual and serious problem in northern Ghana. More sensitization and training should be undertaken with women to empower them to prevent, control and manage burning. Second, policies are needed to grant access to land and natural resources to women, starting at the community level.

For local governance, instead of inviting chiefs, heads of departments or their representatives to public meetings and paying no attention to how many of these were male or female, women’s groups should be expressly invited.

For agricultural productivity, the Ministry of Food and Agriculture needs to train more female agricultural extension officers to ensure that there are enough appropriate staff to provide female farmers with the advice they need, noting that when new technologies are passed on to farmers, women tend to follow protocols more diligently than their male counterparts. Second, the ministry should ensure that when demonstration plots are set up in a district at least one should be managed by a woman; and ensure women had access to farm inputs, such as high-quality germplasm and, indeed, also become leaders in the field.

For access to market and value chains, the workshop proposed that women’s production and processing groups need help to build their sustainability through village savings and loans groups, which would allow them to mobilize funds to invest in labour-saving technologies, such as threshers. Second, women should be encouraged to take up leadership roles in community-based organizations.

By Joan Baxter, originally published at ICRAF’s Agroforestry World


Partners supporting the gender workshop included CIFOR, Catholic Relief Services, Economics of Land Degradation, the European Union, Tree Aid and World Vision.

This story was produced with the financial support of the European Union. Its contents are the sole responsibility of the Regreening Africa project and do not necessarily reflect the views of the European Union.

Produced by World Agroforestry Centre as part of the CGIAR Research Program on Forests, Trees and Agroforestry (FTA), which is supported by the CGIAR Trust Fund.

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  • Workshop on social and gender dynamics aims to improve resilience and livelihoods in Ghana

Workshop on social and gender dynamics aims to improve resilience and livelihoods in Ghana

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FTA COMMUNICATIONS TEAM

Restoration of landscapes in Ghana requires men and women to work together. Photo by Joan Baxter/ICRAF

Raising awareness of gender equity and equality is critical for Africa’s future, with workshops like one held recently in Ghana an important contribution.

Almost two dozen representatives from Ghanaian development agencies working in partnership with the World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF) in northern Ghana gathered in the city of Bolgatanga on Nov. 13, 2018 for a training workshop titled Social and Gender Dynamics and their Importance for Improving Resilience and Livelihoods.

The participants expressed a strong interest in learning more about gender equity and equality so that they could integrate the concepts into agricultural and natural resource management. Given the often-sensitive nature of the issues and that male participants outnumbered females at 15 to 11, discussions were at times lively.

A few of the men said they were uneasy with the notions of gender equity and equality, if that meant women would have the ‘same status as men’ or expect their husbands to take on household tasks such as bathing children or cooking, or abruptly challenge traditional and cultural values.

ICRAF gender specialist Ana Maria Paez, who facilitated the workshop, explained that ‘gender equity’ was a ‘process of being fair to women and men’ through strategies and measures that ‘compensate for women’s historical and social disadvantages that prevent women and men from otherwise operating on a level playing field’.

“Gender equity leads to equality,” she told participants, distinguishing it from gender equality, which is a ‘state, an ideal outcome’. “Gender equality refers to equal enjoyment by women, girls, boys and men of opportunities, resources and rewards. A critical aspect of promoting gender equality is the empowerment of women, with a focus on identifying and redressing power imbalances.”

The workshop was hosted by Emilie Smith Dumont, coordinator of the West Africa Forest–Farm Interface (WAFFI) project in Burkina Faso and Ghana. She is also the Ghana focal point for the ambitious, five-year Regreening Africa project funded by the European Union.

The WAFFI project is led by the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) in collaboration with ICRAF and Tree Aid with support from the International Fund for Agricultural Development. WAFFI aims to identify practices and policy actions that improve the income and food security of smallholders in Burkina Faso and Ghana through integrated forest and tree management systems that are environmentally sound and socially equitable.

Workshop participant work on a drawing of an ‘ideal man’. Photo by Emilie Smith Dumont/ICRAF

Regreening Africa seeks to reverse land degradation among 500,000 households across 1 million hectares in eight countries in Sub-Saharan Africa. Incorporating trees into crop land, communal land and pastoral areas can reclaim Africa’s degraded landscapes. In Ghana, the work is led by World Vision in collaboration with ICRAF and Catholic Relief Services.

“Our purpose was to bring people together to find ways to fully integrate and promote gender issues and transformation into projects,” said Smith Dumont. “The context is land restoration at the forest–farm interface because there is a very strong gendered role around trees in landscapes.

“This kind of collaboration is extremely important for improving livelihoods: we know that trees contribute greatly to livelihoods. We have found from our work that family cohesion increases resilience of households and that all goes back to more balanced gender relations.”

Among other themes, participants engaged in extensive, and often intensive, discussions about the difference between gender, which is a social construct, and sex, which pertains to physical characteristics, as well as on processes of gender transformation and, thus, societal change.

One of the more colorful sessions involved male participants drawing and describing what they would consider the ‘ideal woman’ and female participants doing the same for an ‘ideal man’. This led to animated discussions, closely analyzing some of the stereotypes of men and women revealed by the drawings.

But the over-arching theme of the workshop and the key messages that emerged had most to do with analyses of gender in agriculture, including divisions of labour, access to, and control of, resources and their benefits, based on findings from WAFFI.

The discussion revealed how gender influences many aspects of the management of farms, households, trees and forests in communities.

Participants also looked at specific issues that were particularly relevant for their project work in northern Ghana, including tree management and landscape restoration, soil and water conservation, and ways to ensure equitable representation of men and women in project planning, implementation and monitoring.

They also examined how gender awareness is, or is not, already integrated into their activities in community forestry, value chains and market access, local governance, and agricultural productivity.

A woman views a gulley on her farm in Mwingi, Kenya. Photo by Ake Mamo/ICRAF

From the discussions, they distilled some tangible ways to be more responsive to gender issues in their activities.

For community forestry, participants proposed several actions. First, bush fires are an annual and serious problem in northern Ghana. More sensitization and training should be undertaken with women to empower them to prevent, control and manage burning. Second, policies are needed to grant access to land and natural resources to women, starting at the community level.

For local governance, instead of inviting chiefs, heads of departments or their representatives to public meetings and paying no attention to how many of these were male or female, women’s groups should be expressly invited.

For agricultural productivity, the Ministry of Food and Agriculture needs to train more female agricultural extension officers to ensure that there are enough appropriate staff to provide female farmers with the advice they need, noting that when new technologies are passed on to farmers, women tend to follow protocols more diligently than their male counterparts. Second, the ministry should ensure that when demonstration plots are set up in a district at least one should be managed by a woman; and ensure women had access to farm inputs, such as high-quality germplasm and, indeed, also become leaders in the field.

For access to market and value chains, the workshop proposed that women’s production and processing groups need help to build their sustainability through village savings and loans groups, which would allow them to mobilize funds to invest in labour-saving technologies, such as threshers. Second, women should be encouraged to take up leadership roles in community-based organizations.

By Joan Baxter, originally published at ICRAF’s Agroforestry World


Partners supporting the gender workshop included CIFOR, Catholic Relief Services, Economics of Land Degradation, the European Union, Tree Aid and World Vision.

This story was produced with the financial support of the European Union. Its contents are the sole responsibility of the Regreening Africa project and do not necessarily reflect the views of the European Union.

Produced by World Agroforestry Centre as part of the CGIAR Research Program on Forests, Trees and Agroforestry (FTA), which is supported by the CGIAR Trust Fund.

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  • Gender equality and forest landscape restoration infobriefs

Gender equality and forest landscape restoration infobriefs

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Forest Landscape Restoration (FLR) aims to achieve ecological integrity and enhance human well-being in deforested or degraded landscapes. Evidence shows that addressing gender equality and women’s rights is critical for addressing this dual objective. Against this backdrop, CIFOR and a number of partners hosted a Global Landscapes Forum workshop on FLR and gender equality in Nairobi, Kenya in November 2017. The objective of the workshop was to identify and discuss experiences, opportunities and challenges to advancing gender-responsive FLR in East African countries, as well as to join together various stakeholders working at the interface of gender and FLR as a community of practice. This brief set is a tangible outcome of this collaboration, featuring a number of useful lessons and recommendations rooted in the experience and expertise of partners in civil society, multilateral organizations, research community and private sector – all working in different ways to enhance the gender-responsiveness of restoration efforts.

Brief 1: Enhancing effectiveness of forest landscape programs through gender-responsive actions

Brief 2: Role of capital in enhancing participation of women in commercial forestry: A case study of the Sawlog Production Grant Scheme (SPGS) project in Uganda

Brief 3: The impacts of gender-conscious payment models on the status of women engaged in micro-forestry on the Kenyan coast

Brief 4: Mobilizing indigenous and local knowledge for successful restoration

Brief 5: Gender-responsive Restoration Opportunities Assessment Methodology (ROAM): Engendering national forest landscape restoration assessments 

Brief 6: Enhancing Women’s Participation in Forestry Management Using Adaptive Collaborative Management: The Case of Mbazzi Farmers Association, Mpigi District Uganda

Brief 7: What women and men want: Considering gender for successful, sustainable land management programs: Lessons learned from the Nairobi Water Fund

Brief 8: Understanding landscape restoration options in Kenya: Risks and opportunities for advancing gender equality

Brief 9: Building farmer organisations’ capacity to collectively adopt agroforestry and sustainable agriculture land management practices in Lake Victoria Basin

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  • Landscape Restoration in Kenya: Addressing gender equality

Landscape Restoration in Kenya: Addressing gender equality

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Unlocking the potential of forest landscape restoration (FLR) to achieve both social and environmental outcomes rests critically on the support, contributions and cooperation of a wide range of stakeholders at all levels, including women and men. In Kenya, the government has committed to restoring 5.1 million hectares of land by 2030. At the same time, Kenya’s commitment to promoting gender equality and women’s empowerment is enshrined in its Constitution, various national laws and policies as well as international conventions, including the Sustainable Development Goal framework. The purpose of this study was to provide empirically grounded lessons on opportunities and challenges for addressing gender in landscape restoration in Kenya, as well as to share recommendations for making sure Kenya’s ambitious restoration efforts do not repeat the mistakes of past gender-blind restoration initiatives, but make sure both women and men are able to enjoy the opportunities and benefits generated through landscape restoration.

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  • GLF session acknowledges difference between tree and land tenure, aims to enhance landscapes

GLF session acknowledges difference between tree and land tenure, aims to enhance landscapes

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A woman roasts shea nuts, before grinding them into a fine paste, in Burkina Faso. Photo by O. Girard/CIFOR

Tenure rights to trees are entangled with, but different from, those to land, meaning both must be acknowledged to incentivize stewardship of the landscape by local communities, said delegates at the Global Landscapes Forum (GLF) in Nairobi on Aug. 29-30.

Thus, land tenure rights, which are widely recognized as being central to advancing sustainable development goals, are only one part of the picture.

This was one of the main takeaways from the panel Rights, access, and values: trees in shifting economic and political contexts – new insights from sub-Saharan Africa, cohosted by the CGIAR Research Program on Forests, Trees and Agroforestry (FTA) and the CGIAR Research Program on People, Institutions and Markets (PIM) at the forum. The panel was chaired by Frank Place, PIM Director.

“We need to do more work to differentiate tree tenure from land tenure,” said Andrew Wardell, senior research associate at the Center for International Forest Research (CIFOR) and coauthor of a study exploring shifts in shea tenure in Burkina Faso.

ACCESS TO SHEA

Claiming tenure over the trees one has planted is a widespread convention across Africa, but shea trees grow wild, so farmers have historically selected and protected them on their lands.

Researchers questioned whether a shea tree belongs to the family that first selected and saved the tree, the family that protected and managed it afterwards. Considerations also included determining whether shea belongs to the wild tree category, in which case, access to the tree is closely linked to access to land.

How these concerns are addressed determines who stands to gain access to, and reap benefits from, a natural resource. Particularly, since customary institutions that formerly regulated access to land and trees are being weakened by new, and rapidly-changing social and economic contexts.

Shea nuts dry after being freed from their pulp and washed in Burkina Faso. Photo by O. Girard/CIFOR

“Internal migration driven by climate change, and a boom in the shea trade are two of the key issues playing out in Burkina Faso as a key shea producer country,” explained Wardell. Traditionally, the kernels were seen as an abundant communal resource, which women collected to derive a reliable year-round source of income.

Yet, customary rules are now failing to keep pace with the new, highly competitive context, noted Wardell. In southwestern Burkina Faso, men increasingly claim ownership of the trees growing in their fields; there are fewer communal areas where access to shea is open to all; and access to an increasingly scarce and marketable resource is pitting first-settlers against new-comers, internal migrants that flee desertification in northern regions of the country.

Researchers observed that “first-comers” try to link access to shea with access to land, which they control. In response, “late-comers” claim access to the trees they protect and manage, or argue shea’s wild nature makes it a communal resource as part of their strategies to re-negotiate their rights of access.

NEW POWER RELATIONSHIPS

Women’s access to trees is also changing in Uganda. “Youth are cutting shea to obtain timber and fuelwood regardless of customary rules and a government ban,” said Concepta Mukasa, representative of the Association of Uganda Professional Women in Agriculture and the Environment.

“The more marketable shea becomes, the bigger the threat to the trees and to women’s livelihoods, so we are helping them come together to advocate for their access rights,” Mukasa explained.

On the bright side, women from the Baganda community in central Uganda are now starting to gain access to Natal fig or “Mutuba” (Ficus natalensis). “The tree used to signal chief-tenancy, so they were not allowed from to plant it or even harvest its fruits; women in that area are not supposed to climb trees,” she pointed out.

Panelists from Ghana (Alberg Katako representing Civic Response) and Kenya (Ben Chikamai representing the Network for Natural Gums and Resins in Africa) echoed similar challenges at the intersection of tenure rights to land and to trees – a tension which increases with the commoditization of natural resources and population pressure. Additional welcome comments on the panel discussion were provided by Ruth Meinzen-Dick from PIM who has a long history of working on land tenure rights and collective action.

Over 70 percent of people in sub-Saharan Africa depend on forests and woodlands for their livelihoods, but two thirds of the continental land-mass are degraded. In this context, a more nuanced approach to tenure rights will have to be part of the equation to build resilient landscapes and livelihoods, agreed the panelists.

By Gloria Palleres, originally published at GLF’s Landscape News

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  • A personal take on forest landscapes restoration in Africa

A personal take on forest landscapes restoration in Africa

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  • Plant breeders contribute to achieving food security across Africa

Plant breeders contribute to achieving food security across Africa

Participants take part in a practical session during the course. Photo by ICRAF
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The third class of graduates from the UC Davis Africa Plant Breeding Academy pose for a group photo. Photo by ICRAF

Thirty-four plant breeders from 18 countries graduated from the UC Davis African Plant Breeding Academy in May 2018.

The advanced plant breeding course was delivered by the Seed Biotechnology Center of the University of California Davis, in collaboration with the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) and the African Orphan Crops Consortium (AOCC).

The course, hosted by one of the CGIAR Research Program on Forests, Trees and Agroforestry’s (FTA) partner institutions — the World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF) — in Kenya, equips practicing African plant breeders with advanced theory and technologies in plant breeding, quantitative genetics, statistics and experimental design to support critical decisions. This was the third cohort of the course, with participants drawn from Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Egypt, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Malawi, Mali, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, South Africa, Sudan, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

The program was delivered by a team of tutors and complemented by guest speakers, including Leena Tripathi of the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) who covered banana improvement through transformation and gene editing, Damaris Achieng Odeny of the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-arid Tropics (ICRISAT) on finger millet genomics, Dusty Vyas of LGC Genomics on genotyping sequencing and DNA analysis, and Alex Lipka of the University of Illinois on genomic selection. Participants also visited the International Livestock Research Institute’s Trepathi lab and glasshouse.

The plant breeders presented various proposals, explaining how they would put their newly acquired skills into practice. Mayada Beshir of the Agricultural Research Corporation in Sudan and Ermias Abate Desta of the Amhara Agricultural Research Institute of Ethiopia were each awarded US$5,000 from Mars Incorporated and Illumina for their winning proposals.

“Sorghum is the most important crop for us in Sudan and is widely produced by smallholders. We are experiencing the effects of climate change, as everywhere, and are observing new traits or stresses that have not been seen before. Sorghum productivity is declining yet the government is working hard to avail land, water and inputs,” said Bashir.

“As a breeder going through this training, my role is to help the farmer. The farmer will consume part of the harvest and sell the rest for income. I will produce a better variety of sorghum that is resistant to the stresses we are seeing right now and add nutrient value with better yield.”

Read more: Orphan crops for improving diets

Tef is a staple crop and is grown only in Ethiopia,” said Desta. “It is an orphan crop because it hasn’t captured the attention of the international scientific community. My work is to identify varieties of tef that are tolerant to soil acidity, a common problem in highly productive areas of the country. I will use my prize money to produce soil acidity-tolerant genotypes of tef. Smallholders cannot afford the lime that needs to be applied to acidic soils for amelioration. Acid-tolerant varieties of tef will help as a management strategy and improve their yields.”

“The UC Davis African Plant Breeding Academy is part of the African Orphan Crops Consortium,” explained Allen van Deynze, a primary instructor at the academy. “The goal of the consortium is to make nutritious crops productive for Africa. The plant breeding academy is delivering food security in the continent. The people here today are the ones who are going to make the difference. Those who have passed through the academy are the ones who have taken on the challenge to make sure that everyone has nutritious food on their table.”

Participants take part in a practical session during the course. Photo by ICRAF

“When you go back, remember all that you have learned will be wasted if you fight, compete or do not collaborate,” said Tony Simons, director general of ICRAF. “It is a great honor to partner with all the institutions that support this program, because out of all the initiatives that ICRAF has implemented in the last 40 years, this has been one of the most impactful.”

Recounting the start of the consortium that led to the UC Davis African Plant Breeding Academy, Howard Shapiro, chief scientist at Mars Incorporated, acknowledged the organizations and individuals who contributed to the consortium. Of the 101 crops that were selected for sequencing, 47 are trees and the remainder are annual crops.

“No one had ever considered to do this amount of research on crops,” noted Shapiro. “Major foundations and organizations chose one crop — cassava, maize — and that is all they work on. Our idea was that we could fix the nutritional productivity of 101 food crops that are not only the backbone of rural Africa, but are also important in urban centers. An idea of paradise is that we can end chronic hunger and malnutrition by improving the nutritional quality and productivity of the 101 food crops. All those who have passed through the academy are the ones who will deliver this paradise.”

“We have sequenced 10 species for the AOCC,” noted Xin Liu of BGI. “We are trying to release data as soon as possible. You can combine this data for better application and breeding processes for all the crops. We made a commitment three years ago to sequence 101 crops. We have our own sequencers that can be used to generate more data and we would like to contribute all the science and technology we can to this consortium.”

The Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) is a primary partner of the academy and has sponsored 31 plant breeders of the second and third cohorts. It also funded master and doctoral courses for over 400 of the 500 plant breeders in Africa. So far, 18 countries have released over 600 varieties of crops.

Read more: Tree seed selection, genome sequencing, improvement of priority species and more

“We realized that the breeding field keeps changing. This course has helped us keep up and modernize our breeding efforts,” said Rufaro Madakadze, program officer of AGRA’s Africa Seed System. “We fund training to develop technologies that people will use.”

Speaking on behalf of the class, Maureen Atemkeng of Nigeria expressed gratitude to the academy, particularly for the opportunity to interact with international experts. She added that the course helped in building principles of efficiency, responsibility and sustainability for the next generation.

“Hunger and malnutrition can be eliminated in our lifetime,” said Rita Mumm, director and primary instructor of the academy. “The vision of the African Plant Breeding Academy is to train 150 plant breeders. Graduates, you will continue to work together, contribute your talent to teams, and join the African Association of Plant Breeders. I exhort you to mentor the next generation of plant breeders. Share your knowledge and experience.”

In closing, Ramni Jamnadass, coleader of ICRAF’s Tree Productivity and Diversity research unit that hosts the AOCC, encouraged the graduates to contribute to breeding programs that will banish food and nutrition insecurity in Africa.

The course is delivered in three two-week sessions spread over 18 months at the ICRAF campus in Nairobi. Since its inception in 2013, 89 plant breeders have successfully completed the course and covered more than 99 species, of which 57 are African orphan crops.

By Susan Onganyo, originally published at ICRAF’s Agroforestry World


This research forms part of the CGIAR Research Program on Forests, Trees and Agroforestry, which is supported by CGIAR Fund Donors.

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  • Observatory addresses urgent need to monitor forests in East Africa

Observatory addresses urgent need to monitor forests in East Africa

A tropical forest landscape in Uganda. Photo by D Sheil/CIFOR
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A tropical forest landscape in Uganda. Photo by D Sheil/CIFOR

East Africa is home to some of the world’s most diverse forests: montane forests, which include some of the highest and oldest mountains in Africa; coastal forests; Miombo woodlands; tropical rain forests; and mangrove forests.

Like many forested areas around the globe, they are increasingly threatened by agricultural expansion and deforestation for fuelwood and timber purposes.

Although regional authorities, governments, NGOs and international organizations are working hard to protect these forests, without an accurate dataset, there is no effective way to monitor the ecological, environmental and social aspects of these forests.

Today, there are a number of observatories in East Africa monitoring forest activities. However, they lack precise country and regional level data that will help determine future strategies for protecting forests, reporting on countries’ obligations under the Paris Agreement, and evaluating the success of their initiatives under Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD+) schemes.

Read also: Trait-based approaches for guiding the restoration of degraded agricultural landscapes in East Africa

ALL ABOUT THE DATA

Experts from the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) are now working with the Regional Center for Mapping Resources for Development (RCMRD) and the French Agricultural Research Center for International Development (CIRAD), including researchers from the CGIAR Research Program on Forests, Trees and Agroforestry (FTA), to lay the groundwork for a new regional observatory in East Africa.

Throughout the year, scientists will be conducting a comprehensive study to gather forestry data and assess the status of forests, REDD+ activities, institutional systems and monitoring capabilities across four East African countries – Kenya, Mozambique, Tanzania and Uganda.

In February, a meeting was held in Nairobi, Kenya, with government representatives from the four countries to get the ball rolling. This new project will draw upon the experience of Observatoire des forêts d’Afrique Centrale (OFAC), a similar observatory now operating in Central Africa.

CIFOR scientist Paulo Cerutti, who helped establish OFAC, says the biggest advantage of having an observatory is that the information can be verified by the government.

“The data collected is more reliable because it focuses on a smaller scale, rather than on a global scale.”

Experts like Cerutti point out that global datasets, which are meant to compare larger regions, are not always effective when it comes to smaller regions because they can contain disparities.

People work in a field in Kenya. Photo by Tim Cronin/CIFOR

ON THE SAME PAGE

Before the new observatory can become fully operational, all four countries need to have the same capacity and expertise level to effectively contribute to the platform. Currently, the countries have different levels of technical skills, scientific equipment and data collection methods. Even the terms used to describe the types of forests can vary across borders.

The availability of data is another key issue for experts to overcome. For example, in Uganda, information on taxes and revenues from non-timber forest products is not available because they are not formally traded. Meanwhile, in Mozambique, remote sensing data on forests is only available at the national level. In Tanzania, there is a lack of remote sensing data for forest monitoring.

The new observatory would offer the region a more compatible, streamlined data system that would unite the four countries. It would also provide a new avenue for regional collaboration.

“The observatory will provide strong opportunities for synergies between the different focal points in each country and strengthen national capacity to monitor the forests,” says Alfred Gichu, head of the Climate Change Response Program at the Kenya Forest Service.

Countries in the region would be able to access a platform for sharing, exchanging and accessing data and information related to regional forests and REDD+. It would also provide a unified system for reporting on each country’s obligations to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).

Stakeholders agree that regional cooperation gives everyone an opportunity to share their experiences and challenges and to build a stronger platform for the entire region.

“The observatory will help bring East Africa together as a collective working group to give it a voice in high-level discussions,” says Joaquim Macuácua from Mozambique’s Department of Inventory of Forest Resources.

Experts point out that the current lack of coordination is resulting in different agencies producing the same data.

“The observatory will help avoid this duplication of efforts across the region, and even within individual countries,” says Mugisa Micheal, the executive director of Uganda’s National Forestry Authority.

Read also: Forest tenure reform implementation in Uganda: Current challenges and future opportunities

NEXT STEPS

The project will be carried out through March 2018. Upon its completion, a database and website for the regional forestry observatory will be developed. This data will be made available to the public through the observatory.

Additionally, a thorough analysis of the state of forests and REDD+ activities across the four countries will be completed.

If these above objectives are successfully met, a five-year project will then be initiated to bring the observatory to life as part of the project’s second phase.

By Esther Mwangi and Laura Vanessa Mukhwana, originally published at CIFOR’s Forests News

For more information on this topic, please contact Esther Mwangi at [email protected] or Laura Vanessa Mukhwana at [email protected].


This initiative is supported through the ReCaREDD project, which is led by the European Commission’s Joint Research Centre.

This research forms part of the CGIAR Research Program on Forests, Trees and Agroforestry, which is supported by CGIAR Fund Donors.

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Informality, global capital, rural development and the environment: Mukula (rosewood) trade between China and Zambia

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FTA COMMUNICATIONS TEAM

Informal economic activities across much of sub-Saharan Africa provide crucial cash income and employment for both rural and urban populations. Governing the informal economy is recognised as a key policy challenge due to its contribution to local livelihoods and its common association with illegality, tax evasion and negative environmental impacts. In addition, because of the increasingly globalised trade in commodities, parts of the informal economy can also be supported by global sources of capital.

This report focuses on the international mukula (or rosewood) trade in Zambia, interrogating the role of global capital (in particular that of Chinese origin) and its impacts on rural livelihoods and the environment. We find that rural villagers are increasingly forging direct links with foreign investors, producing innovative business models that accelerate the rate of small-scale production and extraction of resources.

This ‘globalised’ rural informal economy urgently calls for innovative policies, which maximise the benefits of global capital flowing directly to rural populations, while minimising the negative impacts associated with the environment, revenue losses and resource governance.


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