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  • What are the priorities for relevant, legitimate and effective forest and tree research? Lessons from the IUFRO congress

What are the priorities for relevant, legitimate and effective forest and tree research? Lessons from the IUFRO congress

A pisciculture research station is seen in Yaekama, DRC. Photo by A. Fassio/CIFOR
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A pisciculture research station is seen in Yaekama, DRC. Photo by A. Fassio/CIFOR

We can all agree that forests and trees play a vital role in sustaining life on earth. Addressing climate change – both mitigation and adaptation, something that few sectors can do simultaneously – ensuring food security and nutrition, and preserving biodiversity will not be possible without the full spectrum of solutions that forests, trees and agroforestry offer.

At the International Union of Forest Research Organizations (IUFRO) 125th Anniversary Congress, held on Sept. 18-22 in Freiburg, Germany, by one of the world’s oldest international scientific institutions, more than 40 scientists affiliated with the CGIAR Research Program on Forests, Trees and Agroforestry (FTA) presented their latest results and findings.

Among them were Bimbika Sijapati Basnett from the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) and Marlène Elias from Bioversity International, who launched the Earthscan Reader on Gender and Forests, a major reference to ground future research, as well as to inform curricula worldwide.

FTA senior scientist Ramni Jamnadass of the World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF) presented on safeguarding forest food tree diversity in a session on food trees in forests and farmlands, while her colleague Sonya Dewi presented about ICRAF’s work on combining remote sensing, crowdsourcing big data and multi-objective modelling to inform landscape approaches, during a session on forest restoration policy assessment in the tropics.

One of the major subplenary sessions – Changes in Forest Governance: Implications for Sustainable Forest Management – involved FTA scientists Pablo Pacheco and Paolo Cerutti of CIFOR, who presented on changes in forest governance in South America and Africa, respectively.

In a significant joint effort on the final day of the congress, IUFRO and FTA cohosted a subplenary session titled Research for sustainable development: Forests, trees and agroforestry, aimed at discussing main research and knowledge gaps in forest and tree science in relation to the sustainable development goals (SDGs), and how to address them.

The IUFRO 125th Anniversary Congress took place in Freiburg, Germany, from Sept. 18-22. Photo © FVA.

Forest and trees are central to many of the challenges of our time. This raises new questions every day, as the IUFRO congress showcased. But this makes the prioritization of issues both more difficult and more necessary. What is needed most and where we should start? How should we, as researchers and research institutions, conduct research in order to best enable impact?

We faced the same issue when constructing the second phase of FTA, with a very long shortlist of 100 critical knowledge gaps and key research questions, from genetic resources to value chains and institutions.

I wonder if this centrality of forests and trees to so many challenges could not be an overarching guide to orient research prioritization. We need to fully embrace the fact that forest and tree research has to address a complex set of objectives, because forests and trees are not only concerned with SDG15 on life on land, but also with the 16 other goals. Integration is key. So the overarching issue might be how we can integrate the different dimensions of sustainable development and different objectives into the research questions, research methods and solutions we develop in practice.

For example, thanks to the integration of the work of very different scientific disciplines – tree biology, atmospheric biogeochemistry, climatology, hydrology and dendrology – there is now convincing convergent evidence on the role of forests in atmospheric water circulation, at continental scales. Forests enable rain to occur downwind at continental scales, and can help to preserve so-called bread baskets.

But we still need more work on the science base and, at the same time, on the types of institutions, policies and economic instruments to be developed so that action leads to outcomes for farmers in the field. This shows the need for integration between disciplines, scales and actors. In this particular domain, the Global Expert Panel on Forests and Water launched by IUFRO will be of tremendous use and I am particularly glad that it is being co-led by former FTA senior scientist Meine van Noordwijk, who recently retired but brought so much to FTA.

This question of the integration of objectives, of research domains and across scales, has important methodological implications, in terms of the solutions to be developed, how, with whom and for whom. It can, for a program as broad as FTA, lead to deciding to orient the priority support toward work that constructs linkages between research domains and system approaches.

The Rupa Lake cooperative improves farmers’ livelihoods and helps preserve the lake’s ecosystem. Photo by B. Saugat/Bioversity

There are two other critical dimensions to integrate:

First is the requirement to work on the full continuum from technical options to management, policy, governance and appropriate institutional arrangements. Looking at the enabling environment, such as institutional arrangements, incentive schemes and adapted business models, will facilitate upscaling and outscaling of technical options.

Second is the need to work on the “research for development” continuum, from upstream research to how the actors use this, and integrating stakeholders from the framing of questions to the development and implementation of solutions.

This implies, as spearheaded by Brian Belcher, FTA’s monitoring, evaluation and learning and impact assessment head, the need to revisit what we mean by “quality of research”, enlarging it to four dimensions. The traditional dimensions of relevance and scientific credibility need to be completed by legitimacy and effectiveness.

  • Legitimacy means that the research process is fair and ethical, and perceived as such, with consideration of the interests and perspectives of the intended users.
  • Effectiveness means that research has high potential to contribute to innovations and solutions. It implies that research is designed, implemented and positioned for use, which implies work along what we call a “theory of change”.

We can complement CGIAR by embracing this framework to define and measure the quality of research for development. This requires building appropriate partnerships, starting with development actors, and working on the enabling environment to translate knowledge to use. In FTA, for a substantial part of our research, we embed research in development projects. We aim at doing research “in” development, rather than research “for” development.

To enable this, FTA aims at playing the role of a boundary institution:

  • To understand the frontiers of science, working with universities, research institutions
  • To understand the need of beneficiaries, working with local stakeholders, governments
  • To understand the priorities of funders
  • To organize the dialogue between the three, and provide packages that bring them all together

This is a good reason why, in the future, we at FTA would like to further strengthen our relations with IUFRO.

By Vincent Gitz, FTA Director

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  • Gender-responsive participatory research for social learning and sustainable forest management

Gender-responsive participatory research for social learning and sustainable forest management

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Abstract

Participatory research on forests has been commended for fostering social learning, innovation, community empowerment, social inclusion, and leading to more sustainable resource management. Yet, critiques of participatory approaches – and of the simplistic ways they are, at times, employed to address gender and social exclusion – also abound. These call for new strategies to meaningfully engage socially differentiated men and women in research on natural resource management.

This special issue focuses on the nexus between gender and participatory research in forest and woodland management. It examines: (1) the diversity of stakeholders’ forest-related knowledge, skills, needs and priorities in forest-dependent communities through the use of gender-responsive participatory approaches, and (2) choices in research design that can foster inclusive participation, knowledge sharing and social learning within and among social groups.

In this introductory paper, we position the special issue in relation to critiques regarding the lack of attention to gender in participatory research. We then summarize the authors empirical findings, contextually rooted across four African and Asian countries, and their importance for understanding the value, opportunities and challenges of working with participatory methods, both from the perspective of the researchers and of the research participants. The papers illustrate that traditional ecological knowledge is neither homogeneously distributed within communities nor concentrated among socially more powerful groups who, in the absence of a gender-responsive approach, are often the ones selected as research participants.

The authors offer an optimistic view of the potential participatory methods hold, when applied in a gender-responsive way, for sharing knowledge and promoting inclusive social learning on forests and tree resources. Papers demonstrate the need to carefully consider when to create segregated or mixed spaces – or indeed both – for participants to create situations in which social learning within and across diverse social groups can occur.

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  • Tropical fruit tree diversity: Good practices for in situ and on-farm conservation

Tropical fruit tree diversity: Good practices for in situ and on-farm conservation

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Farmers have developed a range of agricultural practices to sustainably use and maintain a wide diversity of crop species in many parts of the world. This book documents good practices innovated by farmers and collects key reviews on good practices from global experts, not only from the case study countries but also from Brazil, China and other parts of Asia and Latin America.

A good practice for diversity is defined as a system, organization or process that, over time and space, maintains, enhances and creates crop genetic diversity, and ensures its availability to and from farmers and other users. Drawing on experiences from a UNEP-GEF project on “Conservation and Sustainable Use of Wild and Cultivated Tropical Fruit Tree Diversity for Promoting Livelihoods, Food Security and Ecosystem Services”, with case studies from India, Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand, the authors show how methods for identifying good practices are still evolving and challenges in scaling-up remain.

They identify key principles effective as a strategy for mainstreaming good practice into development efforts. Few books draw principles and lessons learned from good practices. This book fills this gap by combining good practices from the research project on tropical fruit trees with chapters from external experts to broaden its scope and relevance.

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  • Moving toward a sustainable cocoa sector in Ghana

Moving toward a sustainable cocoa sector in Ghana

Cacao pods are collected and heaped on the forest floor, where fermentation begins. Photo by J. Raneri/Bioversity International
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A farmer in Ghana prunes a Carabobo cacao tree, which is originally from Venezuela. Photo by R. Markham/Bioversity International

Ghana is the second-largest producer of cocoa in the world and in recent years has emerged as the world’s principal supplier of Fairtrade-certified cocoa — about 6% of national production falls under that scheme. Multisector collaboration is needed to address persistent challenges and to support Ghana’s overall move to a sustainable cocoa sector.

The world’s favorite treat has never been more popular. In the past decade, the chocolate industry’s demand for cocoa has increased by 12% and production has barely been able to keep pace. Growing demand, particularly from emerging economies like China and India, is good news for the industry.

At the same time, about 6 million cocoa producers — more than 90% of them smallholders — face significant challenges: low productivity, poverty in the producing communities, and limited infrastructure to connect producers with buyers. Improved and diverse planting stock that can resist pest and diseases, thrive in poor soils and grow in changing climatic conditions is in short supply.

With an annual production of about 750,000 to 1 million tons, Ghana is the second-largest producer of cocoa in the world. In recent years, Ghana has also emerged as the world’s principal supplier of Fairtrade-certified cocoa, with about 6% of national production falling under that scheme.

Yet a new report carried out for Fairtrade Africa by the World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF) and Bioversity International, supported by the CGIAR Research Program on Forests, Trees and Agroforestry (FTA), concludes that monetary benefits derived from Fairtrade cocoa remain low, contributing on average an additional 2% of cocoa income for certified farmers. At the same time, cooperatives use part of the Fairtrade Premium to provide their members with farming inputs and training, and to fund overall community development.

Read more: Fairtrade cocoa in Ghana: taking stock and looking ahead

Cacao pods are collected and heaped on the forest floor, where fermentation begins. Photo by J. Raneri/Bioversity International

This relates to the fact that only part of the Fairtrade Premium of US$200 per ton is channeled through the cooperatives to the producers as a cash bonus (16 to 65% of the premium), while the remainder is given as farming inputs like fertilizers, agrochemicals and planting materials (up to 38%), or allocated to fund trainings, cooperative administration, and certification fees (20 to 84%) and overall community development (up to 15%).

One way that voluntary standards like Fairtrade try to empower producers is through the creation of new business organizations such as rural cooperatives. These efforts can go hand-in-hand with those of the cocoa industry, which supports farmers in rejuvenating their aging cocoa plantations.

For the cocoa sector to become sustainable, it will also be critical to attract younger farmers to become cacao producers, empowering them to generate enough income to sustain their families and communities. Rural cooperatives can support this aim but, as the report points out, increased membership of these organizations is only sustainable if sales under Fairtrade terms grow at least at the same rate, which is currently not happening.

The report also points at the importance of diversified production systems, allowing the farmers to be less reliant on cocoa as a principal source of income. Cacao can be planted together with other crops, in particular fruit and timber trees that provide shade for the young cacao saplings and help improve nutrition and income.

Cacao pods are seen on a tree in Ghana. Photo by J. Raneri/Bioversity International

Such diversification makes for more resilient production and livelihood systems. For example, a study* of the relationship between cocoa cultivation and the conservation of biological diversity found that “cacao farms with diverse shade have the potential to support greater local diversity and act as a more effective refuge for some tropical forest organisms than alternative lowland tropical crops, particularly annual crops and cattle pasture.”

The third main finding was that Fairtrade farmers have improved access to training compared to non-members — 99% of cooperative members reported having received training on good agricultural practices, such as pruning and replanting, versus 51% of non-members.

Still, average productivity on Fairtrade-certified farms is within the range of the national average and additional efforts are needed to increase cacao productivity.

Read also: Sweeter deals: Prospects for expanding Fairtrade cocoa in Ghana

Dietmar Stoian from Bioversity International, one of the authors of the study added: “This study provides Fairtrade International, the four recently Fairtrade-certified cocoa cooperatives sampled, and other stakeholders in Ghana’s cocoa sector with a baseline for future impact assessments. The indicators developed for household- and cooperative-level measurements point at potential areas of impact and allow for continuous improvement.”

“In a follow-up study in Ghana, we are now taking a broader look at the country’s move toward a sustainable cocoa sector by identifying the actual and potential role of impact investment, social lending and other responsible finance schemes and their interactions with diverse certification systems to ensure environmental and social impact in addition to financial returns.”

The report was well received by Fairtrade International, and their management’s response concludes that: “We recognize that the coops have many support needs and we agree that key challenges include growing sales, increasing cocoa productivity, supporting agricultural diversification, and strengthening of cooperatives to be able to achieve greater member engagement and gender equality.”

As a result of this study, Fairtrade International will be reviewing the Fairtrade Premium.

Originally published on the website of Bioversity International


The report Baseline for Assessing the Impact of Fairtrade Certification on Cocoa Farmers and Cooperatives in Ghana, jointly elaborated by the World Agroforestry Centre and Bioversity International, is based on data gathered from 422 households belonging to four Fairtrade-certified cooperative unions, and 80 households from non-certified cooperatives. Data was collected based on indicators from Fairtrade’s Theory of Change and the 5Capitals methodology for assessing the poverty impacts of value chain development developed by the Tropical Agricultural Research and Higher Education Center (CATIE), the World Agroforestry Centre and Bioversity International.

This research is part of the CGIAR Research Programs on Forests, Trees and Agroforestry (FTA) and Policies, Institutions and Markets (PIM) and is supported by CGIAR Fund Donors. We thank Transfair Germany and Fairtrade International for funding the project and the donors who support FTA and PIM through their contributions to the CGIAR Funds. We extend our gratitude to reviewers from Fairtrade International, the Fairtrade Foundation, Fairtrade Africa and Transfair Germany. We also appreciate the willingness of representatives of Cooperative Unions and Licensed Buying Companies COCOBOD, who generously shared their insights and experiences.

*Rice, R.A. and Greenberg, R., 2000. Cacao cultivation and the conservation of biological diversity. AMBIO: A Journal of the Human Environment 29 (3): 167-173.

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  • Gender responsive value chain development and the conservation of native fruit trees through an inclusive learning process: a case study in Western Ghats, India

Gender responsive value chain development and the conservation of native fruit trees through an inclusive learning process: a case study in Western Ghats, India

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Author: Lamers, H.; Hegde, N.; Hermanowicz, E.; Elias, M.

Bioversity International and LIFE Trust (a local NGO) conducted a sequence of participatory research activities in Kalagadde-Kanchigadde to improve incomes earned from forest resources and make in situ conservation activities more gender and socially inclusive.

Publisher: Bioversity International

Publication Year: 2017

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  • FTA event coverage: FTA scientists at CBD COP13 in Mexico

FTA event coverage: FTA scientists at CBD COP13 in Mexico

Chilli diversity on display during a tasting session for food industry entrepreneurs in Ucayali, Peru. Photo: Bioversity International
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Chilli diversity on display during a tasting session for food industry entrepreneurs in Ucayali, Peru. Photo: Bioversity International
Chilli diversity on display during a tasting session for food industry entrepreneurs in Ucayali, Peru. Photo: Bioversity International

From 4-17 December 2016, the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) is holding its Thirteenth Conference of Parties (COP13) in Cancun, Mexico. With an emphasis on agriculture, forestry, fisheries and tourism, the meeting aims to dismantle sectoral silos by bringing together the range of local, public and private stakeholders who play a key role in managing and safeguarding the world’s biodiversity.

During CBD COP13, about 10,000 participants, including state representatives and international organizations, will meet in Cancun to negotiate agreements and commitments for the conservation of biodiversity, and its sustainability into the future.

The CGIAR Research Program on Forests, Trees and Agroforestry (FTA) is bringing the latest scientific research, insights and experiences to discussions held alongside the negotiations. CIFOR scientists will be attending and presenting important and innovative research regarding landscape restoration, food security, gender in forestry and REDD+.

In parallel, the Rio Conventions Pavilion (RCP), which is hosted by the Secretariats of the Rio Conventions and the Global Environment Facility (GEF), serves as a platform for knowledge sharing about research and practice around biodiversity, climate change and sustainable land management.

On 9 December, the RCP will host a Forest and Agriculture Day, organized by the CBD Secretariat in collaboration Bioversity International, CIFOR and ICRAF and various other partners.

Gender will be a cross-cutting theme, with FTA scientists playing a key role in the discussions on gender and forest biodiversity.

Terry Sunderland, Team Leader – Sustainable Landscapes and Food at the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) will be delivering a keynote on the “Gender-differentiated Impacts of Forest Tenure Reforms and Implications for Sustainable Forest Management”.

Dietmar Stoian, Director of the Commodity Systems and Genetic Resources programme at Bioversity International will bring a gender perspective to discussion of the agriculture-forest continuum.

On 14 December, the RCP will further host a half-day on Mainstreaming Gender Equality and Social Inclusion. CIFOR scientist Amy Duchelle will present on the opportunities and challenges to reconciling social and environmental outcomes in conservation initiatives.

Keeping gender and social inclusion on the agenda is essential for achieving the Aichi Biodiversity Targets, the SDGs and a harmonious human-environment relationship to the benefit of all.

For more information on the sessions visit cifor.org

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  • Robert Nasi: Partnerships make forests, trees and agroforestry program work

Robert Nasi: Partnerships make forests, trees and agroforestry program work

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Robert Nasi. Photo: CIFOR
Robert Nasi. Photo: CIFOR

The CGIAR Research Program on Forests, Trees and Agroforestry (FTA) is entering its next phase in 2017; this is an opportunity to take stock of the partnerships that made this research program a success and to look at the new partners who will come on board. In several upcoming blog posts and interviews, we are showcasing partnerships that can serve as examples, in the knowledge that it took hundreds of partners to make it work: donor agencies, research institutes and universities, government bodies, nongovernmental organizations and farmers on the ground. For our first blog, we asked the previous FTA Director Robert Nasi about the FTA partnership model and what worked well. You can find more stories on partnerships here.

Partnerships are key to the delivery pathways of FTA; also we have many different levels and types of partnerships within the program, spanning research, capacity development, outreach, implementation, and more.

The core management partnership is between the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR), Agricultural Research for Development (CIRAD), Bioversity InternationalTropical Agricultural Research and Higher Education Center [Centro Agronómico Tropical de Investigación y Enseñanza], (CATIE), the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT) and the World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF).

This partnership has been effective although we had a rather difficult starting point in 2011 when centers were essentially competing for leadership of the different Research Programs.


Also read: CGIAR Research Program on Forests, Trees and Agroforestry has new Director


Developing and implementing FTA research gave us the opportunity to sit and plan together, to exchange knowledge and ideas and to learn to value each other. And now, after five years, we can see an increased level of solidarity between partners in developing and getting over the various hurdles during the joint preparation of the proposal for the next phase.

In South Sulawesi, the two FTA partners CIFOR and ICRAF collaborate in the successful AgFor project. Photo: Tri Saputro/CIFOR
In South Sulawesi, the two FTA partners CIFOR and ICRAF collaborate in the successful AgFor project. Photo: Tri Saputro/CIFOR

We can honestly say that we have moved from a competitive to a more collaborative approach. Of course there still is and will be some level of competition because of the nature of the work and the funding context but we are becoming more and more collaborative in our fundraising efforts.

We now have a mature partnership so we can address hard issues up front and solve them together. For me, this is real success and proof of a real partnership.

New partners joining

The fact that new partners, such as Tropenbos International and the International Network for Bamboo and Rattan (INBAR) want to join us demonstrates the value and reputation of the FTA as a partnership. They want to come on board as core partners for the new phase because they are interested in the research agenda and because FTA as a program adds value to their work. Partners are interested because of the things we do and because of the added value of being part of an integrated effort more than for the prospect of getting a huge amount of money.

Bigger than the sum of its parts

The Tropical managed Forest Observatory is a product of partnerships within FTA.
The Tropical managed Forest Observatory is a product of partnerships within FTA.

We have developed specific partnerships within FTA that are bigger than the program, for example the Tropical managed Forests Observatory (TmFO), led by CIRAD which has 22 institutions working in it. The Partnership for the Tropical Forest Margins (ASB) and the Sentinel Landscapes project are other partnerships within FTA.

Working through the difficulties

During the last 24 months, we have had some issues with commitment to our partners because of unplanned budget cuts but thanks to the maturity of the partnership we have managed to overcome these and keep people on board (even after cutting their budget by more than 50% in some cases).

There is still some room for improvement. It is not always easy for people in one institution to understand what is happening in another in terms of budget management or internal procedures. It is often challenging for non-CGIAR partners to respond to specific CGIAR requests.

This has created some practical issues, but we’ve always managed to sort it out. So, all in all, FTA in a short number of years and in a difficult budget environment, has managed to gather up six competitive organizations at the top of their field in forest, trees, agroforestry and land use research, to work together in a real collaborative way. And the decision by the CGIAR System Council to continue this vast integrated program for another six years confirms that FTA phase 1 was a real success story.

More partnerships stories:

Long-term relationships and mutual trust—partnerships and research on climate change

The best science is nothing without local voices: Partnerships and landscapes

Influence flows both ways: Partnerships are key to research on Livelihood systems

Connecting with countries: Tropenbos International to join CGIAR Research Program on Forests, Trees and Agroforestry

Partnership increases number of academically trained foresters in DR Congo from 6 to 160 in just ten years

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  • FTA event coverage: How can we use trees and conserve them, too?

FTA event coverage: How can we use trees and conserve them, too?

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prunus-africana
Prunus Africana bark harvest can kill the trees if not done properly. Credit: T. Geburek

Laura K Snook, Bioversity International, writes about the challenges and opportunities for rural populations in continuing to use the trees they depend on for food and other products while conserving them, too.

Can rural populations in developing countries continue to use the trees they depend on while conserving them, too? As human populations grow in rural areas of the tropics, the populations of wild trees that provide them with food, fuel, medicines and construction materials are diminishing due to overharvesting and forest and woodland degradation and loss. These declines are closing off future options for sustaining or domesticating these valuable resources.

The challenges and opportunities for making conservation compatible with use were showcased at a workshop sponsored by Bioversity International during Tropentag 2016: Solidarity in a competing world — fair use of resources in Vienna, Austria.

The well-attended event explored approaches, tools and arrangements that could promote both conservation of trees and forests and their better use. Four research projects in Africa and Latin America were highlighted, led by Bioversity International and funded by Austrian Development Cooperation and the CGIAR Research Program on Forests, Trees and Agroforestry.

The event, described as a ’highlight‘ of Tropentag, explored approaches, tools and arrangements that could promote both conservation of trees and forests and their better use.

Laura Snook, Leader, Forest Genetic Resources Programme, Bioversity International, gave a keynote address, which was followed by four short presentations from panelists and discussions moderated by Judy Loo of Bioversity International.

Thomas Geburek
Thomas Geburek: Photo: Tropentag

Thomas Geburek of the Austrian Research Center for Forests shared innovative approaches for prioritizing which tree populations to conserve across Sub-Saharan Africa.

Presenting research on African cherry (Prunus Africana), which is threatened due to demand for its medicinal bark, he showed how genetic information and climate change modeling revealed which stands of trees, across multiple countries, should be prioritized, both because they conserved the most unique or diverse populations and because the sites would not become inhospitable for this montane species as a result of projected climate change.

Barbara Vinceti, of Bioversity International, noted how local preferences and understanding of rules for access to trees as well as changing land uses affected options for conserving and enhancing use of the important food tree, Parkia biglobosa, in Burkina Faso.

Dietmar Stoian of Bioversity presented insights into the enabling conditions for community forestry that both conserved forests and CITES-listed mahogany trees (Swietenia macrophylla). In the Maya Biosphere of Guatemala, harvesting and processing timber provides income sufficient to pull participants out of poverty. He contrasted this situation with the constraints that inhibit the development of community forestry in Nicaragua.

Timber harvesting, processing and sale in Guatemala has conserved the forest and mahogany trees of the Maya Biosphere Reserve. Credit: Bioversity International/L. Snook
Timber harvesting, processing and sale in Guatemala has conserved the forest and mahogany trees of the Maya Biosphere Reserve. Credit: Bioversity International/L. Snook

Camila Sousa of IIAM, Mozambique described how relearning traditional harvesting techniques based on the use of repellent plants and tree climbing, in lieu of setting fires and felling hive trees, made wild honey harvesting compatible with conservation in the Niassa Reserve of Mozambique. In contrast, uncontrolled logging had left too few standing trees of commercial species to provide a resource base for the kind of community forestry that has so successfully sustained forests, trees and livelihoods in Guatemala.

A lively discussion ensued among the academics, students, development agency professionals and donors from around the world who attended the event, about ways research could effectively support development.

A synthesis at the end of the event drew out several key points.

1) One was that different kinds of science are complementary: modern genetic tools do not replace, but complement provenance trials and other traditional approaches to biodiversity research. We need to understand the limitations of what we can learn from different research approaches.

For example, while some kinds of genetic variation can be seen (larger or sweeter fruit or faster growth), genetic diversity is invisible; laboratory analysis is needed to be able to set conservation priorities that will ensure that this diversity and its associated adaptive capacity is safeguarded.

Similarly, in landscapes managed by farmers who select and protect certain individuals for their traits, they steer evolution; while this leads to better or more desirable yields, it also reduces diversity. Conservation needs to focus on retaining diversity and reproductive processes to allow for continuing genetic recombination so that trees, which may live for centuries or even thousands of years, can adapt to change throughout their lifetimes, as well as passing on sufficient diversity to their offspring to allow future generations to thrive.

The participants discussed if rural populations in developing countries can continue to use the trees they depend on while conserving them, too. Photo: Tropentag
The participants discussed if rural populations in developing countries can continue to use the trees they depend on while conserving them, too. Photo: Tropentag

2) Another key point was that people are central to both conservation and use. It is crucial to involve them and understand their benefits and incentives to promote the kinds of practices and policies that are needed to make conservation and use compatible.

Using participatory research methods allows local people to learn from researchers and share their own knowledge. This empowers everyone to recognize or develop management choices that benefit both people and their resource base.

Several participants described the benefits of developing monitoring tools that local people could use to evaluate the impacts of their management practices. Another point raised was the value and importance of donors’ contributions, both in supporting research and in creating opportunities for “learning by doing”, such as implementing community forestry or supporting second tier organizations that can in turn support communities.

These transformations take time – support may be needed for decades, not just the three year term of a typical research project. Follow up is needed to ensure that research results reach their full potential through adoption of recommendations and changes in policy.

For more information, please contact [email protected]

This research is also funded by the Austrian Development Cooperation.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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  • Negotiating across difference: gendered exclusions and cooperation in the shea value chain

Negotiating across difference: gendered exclusions and cooperation in the shea value chain

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Author: Elias, M.; Arora-Jonsson, S.

Shea butter, derived from the African shea tree, has acquired a pivotal position in global agro-food and cosmetics industries. In Burkina Faso, public and private actors as well as civil society are converging upon the product to boost the incomes of rural female producers. As a result of these trends, the shea value chain is increasingly segmented; shea nuts are sold in a low-return, conventional market and simultaneously enter an alternative, high-value niche market.

In the latter strand of the value chain, some producers are improving their prospects by forming an association. Tracing relationships across the two strands, we demonstrate how ‘horizontal’ relations based on gender, ethnicity, age and geography contribute to shaping participation and benefit capture in the shea value chain. We argue that processes of social inclusion and exclusion operate in parallel, as differentiated actors both cooperate and compete to secure their place within the chain.

While collective organizing brings positive social and economic benefits, we show that producers’ associations need not be empowering for all women. The significance ofcollective enterprises, but also their drawbacks must be considered when valorising pathways to women’s empowerment. Our study reinforces calls for greater integration of horizontal elements in value chain analyses.

Download full text here

Journal or series: Environment and Planning D: Society and Space

 

Publication Year: 2016

Also available at Bioversity International

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  • Piloting gender-responsive research tool 5Capitals-G in three countries

Piloting gender-responsive research tool 5Capitals-G in three countries

Conducting interviews according to 5Capitals-G training. Photo: Bioversity International
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Adapted from Bioversity International

Gathering Kokum. Photo: Eva Hermanowicz/Bioversity International
Gathering Kokum in India. Photo: Eva Hermanowicz/Bioversity International

A new tool to assess poverty in a gender-responsive way is set to prove its value in a pilot phase, starting mid-2016 in India, Peru and Guatemala. To prepare for the launch of the methodology called 5Capitals-G, field researchers from three parts of India were trained in a workshop in April. The training was co-funded by the CGIAR Research Program on Forests, Trees and Agroforestry.

Over the past decade, value chain development (VCD) involving smallholders has become more and more important for actors who want to reduce rural poverty. Donors, governments and private sector have invested millions of dollars in value chain development, but fairly little is known to what extent such initiatives effectively reduce poverty. This is partially due to the fact that appropriate methodologies and tools for assessing the impacts of value chain development on poverty are not readily available.

Researchers from the World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF), Bioversity International, CATIE and multiple partners around the globe addressed this gap by developing the learning tool 5Capitals. It uses an asset-based approach for assessing the poverty impacts of value chain development at the level of both smallholder households and the enterprises that link these farmers with processors and buyers downstream the value chain. The data will be obtained through, for example, key informant interviews, household surveys and analysis of secondary information.

To take into consideration gender in this methodology, Bioversity International and the World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF) are developing 5Capitals-G, which will be piloted mid-2016 in India, Guatemala and Peru.

5Capitals-G assessment methodology.
5Capitals assessment methodology

5Capitals-G looks at the poverty levels of both smallholder households and enterprises, collecting data from both women and men. Researchers assess household and business assets, as described in this table from the 5Capitals handbook.

The training was held in Karnataka, where students from the College of Forestry in Sirsi will be testing the 5Capitals-G tool to study the value chains of three forest fruit species: Garcinia indica (kokum), Mangifera indica (mango), and Garcinia gummi-gutta (brindleberry).

The workshop laid out the conceptual foundation of an asset-based approach to value chain development and the importance of applying a gender lens to identify the access to and control over assets. Access and control differ between women and men.

The participants pre-tested the different elements of the tool for final refinement, visiting the farmers’ cooperative society Kadamba in Sirsi, which has more than 2,000 members from across Karnataka. For many of the participating students, this was a first experience in conducting key informant, household and enterprise interviews.

They interviewed the CEO and several female and male employees and learned that the cooperative provides diverse income-earning opportunities by purchasing close to 30 agricultural and forest products cultivated or collected by their members. One of the products the cooperative buys is kokum, which they process into fresh juices and powered juice crystals.

Leaders of three Village Forest Committees explained how they manage sustainability issues linked with the collection and commercialization of forest products.

For the household assessments, participants asked women and men smallholders in their homes to understand their experiences with marketing kokum and the ways their involvement in the kokum value chain ties in with the many other activities they pursue to make a living.

Conducting interviews according to 5Capitals-G training. Photo: Bioversity International
Conducting interviews according to 5Capitals-G training. Photo: Bioversity International

Participants grouped into mixed teams of men and women interviewers to first interview the male and female households jointly. Then the women interviewers continued with the female respondents and the male interviewers with the male respondents to appreciate differences in the perspectives and realities of women and men. Some of them were surprised to learn how a man and a woman of the same household may differ in their perception of who makes decisions on what.

The main takeaways from the workshop were:

  • It is critical to account for diverse and even conflicting views and needs of women and men in both the households and smallholder enterprises.
  • The design and monitoring of value chain interventions requires specific engagement with men and women to ensure that both benefit form value chain development in an equitable way.

Shambhavi Priyam, a young researcher working with Action for Social Advancement in Madhya Pradesh, reflected that “it was amazing to see the nitty-gritties which have to be considered when designing a tool with gender consideration. There is no ‘one size fits all’ system for social research”.

The introduction of young researchers in India and elsewhere to the concepts of gender-responsive research in relation to value chain development will allow them to increase the depth of their work and their capacity to develop gender-equitable solutions for eliminating poverty.

This blog draws on the experience of

  • Dietmar Stoian, Principal Scientist, Value Chains and Private Sector Engagement,
  • Gennifer Meldrum, Research Fellow, Nutrition and Marketing Diversity
  • Marlène Elias, Gender Specialist, Conservation and Management of Forest Genetic Resources

The training was implemented as part of the project ‘Innovations in Ecosystem Management and Conservation (IEMaC)’ with support from the CGIAR Research Program on Policies, Institutions and Markets (PIM). The IEMaC project is funded by the InFoRM (Innovations in Forest Resource Management) program of USAID, which aims to reduce forest degradation in India, with co-funding from the CGIAR Research Program on Forests, Trees and Agroforestry (FTA). Participants in the workshop also included partners of the project ‘Linking agrobiodiversity value chains, climate adaptation and nutrition: Empowering the poor to manage risk’ that is supported by IFAD, the European Union and the CGIAR Research Program of Climate Change Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS) promoting value chain development of minor millets.

 

 


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