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  • CATIE continues to improve people's wellbeing across Latin America and Caribbean through education and research

CATIE continues to improve people’s wellbeing across Latin America and Caribbean through education and research

A family poses with their agricultural produce. Photo by CATIE
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CATIE provides families with information about climate-smart agriculture. Photo by CATIE

Ever since its inception in 1973, CATIE (the Tropical Agricultural Research and Higher Education Center) has supported countries to enrich their rural populations’ quality of life, as well as addressing agricultural issues and improving natural resources management.

Celebrating its 45th anniversary this year, CATIE continues to remain focused on generating and disseminating knowledge, putting it into practice and encouraging the adoption of relevant ideas, which has led to it being known as a regional research platform and an internationally recognized higher education institution.

As a CGIAR Research Program on Forests, Trees and Agroforestry (FTA) partner institution, CATIE provides the program with a solid science-based approach across the diverse communities in which it engages, as well as the applicability and transference of knowledge to countries and communities through the development of projects and pilot programs.

CATIE works in food security, forest management, gender, agroforestry, value chain and agribusiness, sustainable livestock production, environmental economics, and territorial approaches. Providing solutions for development, sustainable agriculture and natural resources management in Latin American and Caribbean territories, and improving human wellbeing, have been the driving force behind CATIE’s work in the region over the past 45 years, in coordination with key national, regional, and international partners, combining post graduate education, research and innovation.

“CATIE has become an ally to the region’s countries as it constantly generates new knowledge, making it available, with the finality of facing existing challenges and achieving acquired commitments at an environmental, economic and social level,” said CATIE Director General Muhammad Ibrahim.

In terms of higher education, CATIE has seen 2,530 professionals graduate with master’s and doctoral degrees, and has trained more than 70,000 people in various fields related to sustainable agriculture development and natural resources conservation.

Through our students’ thesis and graduation projects, we make important contributions to countries of the region, giving an answer to problems and real necessities; additionally, once they have graduated and become professionals, they go back to their countries willing to work for the most vulnerable populations,” said Isabel Gutiérrez, Dean of the Postgraduate School of CATIE.

CATIE has supported cocoa producers with training. Photo by CATIE

The research itself has also had important results, positively affecting the quality of life of thousands of rural families. CATIE is seen as a pioneer institution in terms of encouraging agricultural production that at the same time allows for the conservation of ecosystem services through agroforestry systems.

CATIE has spread sustainable forest management throughout Latin American countries generated knowledge for the establishment of forest plantations, worked to simplify national policies to encourage the forest sector and provided the region with high quality forest seeds.

It has also promoted water management and conservation, working on the governance of water basins. Knowledge generated on the subject of silvopastoral systems is being used in the region as a base for Nationally Appropriate Mitigation Actions (NAMAs) and livestock policies for lower greenhouse gas emissions.

CATIE has conserved thousands of genetic resources for coffee, cocoa and other crops that are great importance for food security in its germplasm collections. In the case of coffee and cocoa, some of the resources have been used to generate new varieties that are more tolerant to disease, more productive and of higher quality.

CATIE has supported the elaboration of policies for countries in the region on issues related to REDD+, climate change adaptation and mitigation, and agriculture and sustainable livestock. It has generated tools and knowledge related to the environmental economy that promote policies and incentives to conserve natural resources and capture carbon.

Francisco Alpízar, Director of the Research Directorate for Green and Inclusive Development, said the role CATIE plays had been developed jointly with local and international partners in a participative and interdisciplinary way.

Meanwhile, Ibrahim noted that CATIE’s vision over the coming years would focus on offering leadership in the generation of ‘agents of change’ and in search of answers to multiple challenges facing region and the world, which have been emphasized in the Sustainable Development Goals and the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.

For more information, contact CATIE communicator Karla Salazar Leiva at [email protected].

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  • Think landscapes, think climate-smart agriculture

Think landscapes, think climate-smart agriculture

Ardenio Lozano, a farmer in Lantapan, Bukidnon province of the southern Philippines, has planted more trees to enhance water flow. Photo: World Agroforestry Centre/Amy Cruz
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Ardenio Lozano, a farmer in Lantapan, Bukidnon province of the southern Philippines, has planted more trees to enhance water flow. Photo: World Agroforestry Centre/Amy Cruz
Ardenio Lozano, a farmer in Lantapan, Bukidnon province of the southern Philippines, has planted more trees to enhance water flow. Photo: World Agroforestry Centre/Amy Cruz

By Amy Cruz, adapted from ICRAF’s Agroforestry World Blog

Despite impressive economic growth in Asia and the Pacific, the region still has to address the food insecurity of over half a billion of its people. Climate-smart agriculture (CSA), including agroforestry and other diversified farming practices, has huge potential to improve food security and address climate change at the same time. At a Forum, organized by the Asian Development Bank in June 2016 in the Philippines, researchers, policymakers and farmers discussed what should be done to expand such practices and bring greater benefits to more people. Amy Cruz, Communication officer with the World Agroforestry Centre, followed the discussions. This is part 2 of a CSA special, read part 1 here.

Various studies in Southeast Asia by the World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF) (see Agroforests expanding across landscapes in Northwest Viet NamAgroforestry having an impact on farmers in eastern Indonesia, Farms with trees and crops recover quicker from natural disastersWhich agroforest for which farm under changing climates?)  have shown that integrating trees on farms has multiple benefits, including securing food supply in the face of climate extremes. But for a greater number of people to benefit, such practices must be scaled up.

But can the world’s farmers and governments successfully expand climate-smart agriculture and agroforestry? To understand how this can be done, the Asian Development Bank organized the Food Security Forum: Safe, Nutritious, and Affordable Food for All, 22–24 June 2016 in Manila, Philippines.

Landscape thinking and CSA

It became clear at the Forum that people’s mindsets need to change if climate-smart agriculture shall be expanded. From looking at the management of the environment and natural resources separately, people have to shift to seeing whole landscapes.

Looking at the whole landscape may help promote CSA. Photo: ICRAF
Looking at the whole landscape may help promote CSA. Photo: ICRAF

Looking at the whole the landscape rather than at individual farms or groups of trees or livestock would help people appreciate the potential of climate-smart agriculture practices, such as agroforestry, to integrate not only crops but also farms, communities and whole ecosystems. This approach plays a key role for the CGIAR Research Program on Forests, Trees and Agroforestry because it addresses multiple challenges in a holistic way.

Landscape management can protect local and indigenous communities and can provide food, fuel and incomes. These benefits are recognized by more and more governments and communities worldwide.

One example comes from the coastal villages in the municipality of Guinayangan in the Philippines, which have started rehabilitating mangrove systems in their areas through a project supported by the CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security. Fishers say these mangroves help improve their livelihoods and at the same time protect their communities from storms.

ICRAF researchers have also been promoting integrated agroforestry systems, which include mangroves, to connect coastal communities to lowland and upland communities. Such integrated systems view communities and livelihoods as part of a landscape that extends from ridge to reef.

Aside from protection and fast recovery from natural disasters, integrated agroforestry systems can also be sources of biofuel and feed for livestock.

CSA needs communication

Communication is key to raise awareness on climate-smart technologies. Photo by: World Agroforestry Centre/ Anang Setiawan
Communication is key to raise awareness on climate-smart technologies. Photo by: World Agroforestry Centre/ Anang Setiawan

Increasing farmers’ awareness of the benefits of trees and integrated systems is one way of expanding the scale of such beneficial strategies. This could be achieved if governments and donors supported communication projects connecting farmers with researchers and agricultural advisory services.

Integrated landscape management wasn’t the only thing emphasized during the Forum. Takehiko Nakao, President of the Asian Development Bank, highlighted the social and political dimensions of food security. Policies that support communities also help increase inclusiveness, which then increases the likelihood that farmers will adopt climate-smart agriculture.

Sunny Verghese, executive director of Olam International Limited, Singapore, said public-private-plural society partnerships should also be prioritized. Collaboration between organizations can connect communities to those who can help them tackle food security and climate change. Improved information sharing, whether it is farmer-to-farmer, farmer-to-extension or development worker or farmer-to-policymaker, is crucial in such collaborations.

Learning farms

One example of successful information sharing to expand the scale of climate-smart agriculture is the ‘learning farm’ initiative of JonJon Sarmiento, known online as Farmer Jon. He is the sustainable agriculture program manager of the Pambansang Kilusan ng mga Samahang Magsasaka (PAKISAMA), a national farmers’ federation in the Philippines, which helps farmers to set up ‘learning farms’.

Guided by plans they develop themselves in training sessions, the farmers employ climate-smart agricultural practices and become ‘farmer technicians’. Their ‘learning’ farms are visited by other farmers who can see how these practices actually work.

This way, a ripple effect could be created so that more and more farmers adopt these innovative practices. Having multiple learning sites in a certain area could then lead to establishing ‘learning communities’: groups of villages that implement different climate-smart and integrated farming practices.

In the municipality of Lantapan in the southern Philippines, ICRAF has been building the capacity of upland communities to establish agroforests and other climate-smart practices that not only help people adapt to climate change but also allow the watershed to provide more water for irrigation. The research team is now looking to connect the farmers with private and public groups that could help them implement such systems through ‘co-investment’ schemes.

 

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  • A virtuous cycle of virtually no waste: Climate-smart agriculture featured at Food Security Forum

A virtuous cycle of virtually no waste: Climate-smart agriculture featured at Food Security Forum

Trees as windbreaks on a farm in Lantapan, Philippines. World Agroforestry Centre/Andy Ortega
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One of the many agroforest plots of Henry Binahon of Lantapan, Bukidnon province in southern Philippines. Photo: World Agroforestry Centre/Amy Cruz
One of the many agroforest plots of Henry Binahon of Lantapan, Bukidnon province in southern Philippines. Photo: World Agroforestry Centre/Amy Cruz

By Amy Cruz, adapted from ICRAF’s Agroforestry World Blog

Despite impressive economic growth in Asia and the Pacific, the region still has to address the food insecurity of over half a billion of its people. Climate-smart agriculture (CSA), including agroforestry and other diversified farming practices, has huge potential to improve food security and address climate change at the same time. At a Forum, organized by the Asian Development Bank in June 2016 in the Philippines, researchers, policymakers and farmers discussed what should be done to expand such practices and bring greater benefits to more people. Amy Cruz, Communication officer with the World Agroforestry Centre, followed the discussions.

Environmental degradation is only one of the issues the Asia-Pacific region is facing that has a direct impact on ensuring a sustainable food supply. The growing populations and economies demand that agricultural production keeps up. Farmers thus turn to new methods, which often can result in greater yields but can also lead to greater degradation and depletion of natural resources.

At the Forum Food Security Forum: Safe, Nutritious, and Affordable Food for All in Manila, Mahfuz Ahmed, technical advisor for rural development and food security with the Asian Development Bank pinpointed large-scale migration as one of the top threats to food security. Rural–urban migration reduces the number of people working in agriculture. Another top threat is extreme weather, a corollary of climate change, which further compounds these threats and results in often huge losses in production.

Enter: CSA

More communities, organizations and governments are recognizing the potential of climate-smart agriculture in addressing both food security and climate change. CSA was highlighted during the Food Security Forum as one of the most innovative technologies for tackling resource constraints and climate change.

According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, ‘CSA aims to tackle three main objectives: sustainably increasing agricultural productivity and incomes; adapting and building resilience to climate change; and reducing and/or removing greenhouse-gas emissions…’. As an approach, CSA is locally specific: what might be considered a CSA practice in one community might be different in another.

Agroforestry and diversified farming are examples of CSA practices that communities can adopt and adapt to their own conditions. Much of the research on agroforestry is supported by the CGIAR Program on Forests, Trees and Agroforestry.

Trees as windbreaks on a farm in Lantapan, Philippines. World Agroforestry Centre/Andy Ortega
Trees as windbreaks on a farm in Lantapan, Philippines. World Agroforestry Centre/Andy Ortega

Integrating trees on farms provides additional sources of income for farmers, ensuring they can still have income and food from tree products even if their other crops fail. In addition, when the right tree species are planted they can provide shelter for annual crops, improve the micro-climates of farms and even increase production or yields of other crops. Agroforestry in Vietnam has proved to help farmers recover more quickly from natural disasters.

Learning from Farmer Jon

A case of diversified farming was presented during the Forum. JonJon Sarmiento, known online as Farmer Jon, is the sustainable agriculture program manager of the Pambansang Kilusan ng mga Samahang Magsasaka (PAKISAMA), a national farmers’ federation in the Philippines. Farmer Jon is advocating what he calls, ‘integrated, diversified, organic farming systems’. These systems help farming communities withstand the impacts of climate change, including more intense typhoons.

Diversified farming gives farmers diversified sources of income, helping them become less reliant on only one crop for their food and livelihoods. Rice farms do not only produce rice but also have fruit trees on the side, cash crops, fisheries and livestock.

Integrated farming, on the other hand, would maximize crop and livestock interactions to improve agricultural production. According to Farmer Jon, “Ideally, integrated systems should be able to stand on their own. One plus one equals four, five, six, seven… Nutrient recycling is the main strategy.”

An example from his farm is how he can make organic fertilizers for his rice crops from the waste of his pigs and bananas. Then the rice straw from his fields is used to feed livestock. A virtuous cycle of virtually no waste.

Farmer Jon argues that farmers employing such strategies help feed their families sustainably with their diverse produce. “I say we can combat hunger and poverty within three to six months after calamities with integrated, diversified, organic farming systems.”

Inspirational and practical farmers like Jon represent a future in which food is not only plentiful and can feed all the hungry mouths but is also nutritious and providing solid, regular incomes to the people who produce it.

Read more about the Forum, CSA and Farmer Jon’s ‘learning farm’ in part 2 of the blog.

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  • Climate Smart Agriculture in the landscape

Climate Smart Agriculture in the landscape

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10814888884_694fc72df1_zCATIE is an implementing partner of this year’s Global Landscape Forum, hosting a discussion forum that deals with Climate Smart Agriculture (CSA), together with the Association of International Research and Development Centers for Agriculture (AIRCA). Under the title Climate Smart Agriculture for healthy landscapes and livelihoods, CATIE and AIRCA want to show where and how CSA approaches have contributed to healthy landscapes and improved livelihoods.

Only 2 weeks to go until GLF 2015 will take place in Paris, as the biggest event on the sidelines of the COP21. We spoke to CATIE’s Bastiaan Lourmann about landscapes, CSA and why the GLF is a good place to start.

Why do Climate Smart Agriculture (CSA) and landscape approaches go together well?

CSA requires an integrated and collective approach, since it is inserted in a landscape with many other actors. Many of the CSA interventions are at farm level – and what one does well in one farm can be completely undone by poor agricultural practices of neighbors, or by unthoughtful practices in other sectors.

Recent examples of these are the climate-driven rapid expansion of coffee rust in Central America, or the increasingly common conflicts over water use between agricultural producers, hydroelectric power plants and local fish breeders in several tropical countries.

Other examples of the need for integrated and collective action are the large-scale ecological processes that sustain agriculture: the hydrological cycle, soil formation, and components of the reproductive cycles of plants and animals.

All of these require larger spaces and often a diversity of habitats to function, and therefore knowledge is needed of different disciplines and actions of different stakeholders. In addition, collective action that considers potential impacts of climate change needs guidance and informed decision making.

Landscape approaches, such as the Climate Smart Territorial approach applied by CATIE, or the Climate Smart Villages approach applied by ICIMOD, create platforms that will strengthen local capacity for informed decision making and that facilitate interdisciplinary, multi-stakeholder collective action.

vn-rice-farmsHow does CSA contribute to healthy landscapes?

Healthy landscapes require implementation at different scales beyond the landscape level (for example policies that promote best practices) – but also within those landscapes (farm and household).

The CSA framework not only suggests best crop, animal and farm management practices under a changing climate; it also helps the adoption of a more holistic view of the farm, identifying the different natural resources and ecosystem services on which farming is built, as well as the different outputs of the farms that may affect the natural and human environment. It thus provides a natural link between landscape and agricultural practices on the farm.

climate-smart-agWhy do you bring the topic to the Global Landscapes Forum? What do you hope to gain from your event?

One of the global development goals is zero hunger, and the potential for producing sufficient food of good (i.e. nutritional) quality is very much related to climate. Nevertheless, agriculture and food production are not very high on the climate change negotiation agenda.

With this session, we hope to be able to show that integrating climate smart agriculture into a landscape approach not only addresses future food problems, but also contributes to achieving the national commitments to the UNFCCC and to several of the global development goals (e.g. poverty reduction [1], gender equality and empowerment of women and girls [5], clean water and sanitation [6], affordable clean energy [7], decent work and economic growth [8], responsible consumption and production [12], climate action [13], life on land [15], and partnerships [17]).

We hope to provide negotiators and decision makers with enough evidence for them to pay more attention to agriculture, agroforestry and livestock in the context of landscape management as part of the solution to climate change adaptation and mitigation.

We think the Global Landscapes Forum is the right place for that, since it links with the COP 21 and has become probably the most influential event outside the COP that deals with land use (expected to attract over two thousand participants, including high level decision makers and scientists).

climatesmart-agriculture-1-638What was your experience from previous GLFs? Did the event benefit your work and mission?

The GLF in Lima helped promote the landscape approach, an important element of the work of AIRCA members. AIRCA as such did not participate, but some of its members did: CATIE organized a discussion forum on landscape management where ICIMOD a partner member of AIRCA also shared its experiences.

Together with WRI and IUCN, CATIE coordinated a Launchpad on the 20×20 initiative to restore degraded lands in Latin America and the Caribbean. In particular the Launchpad seemed to have had an impact, with more countries committing themselves to landscape restoration. However, intensive follow up was necessary to achieve that.

INBAR was present with a stand while CABI also participated in the GLF. It seems that, if the discussion forums and launchpads are part of existing initiatives, they work very well to create greater awareness and support additional efforts to obtain commitments towards the implementation of landscape approaches from the national governments.

In times when it is necessary to have visible collective impacts to address common challenges, the GLF has also become an event that has promoted collaboration among partners from different parts of the world, all sharing the same vision that it is time to act together.


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