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A picture paints a thousand words for Smart Tree-Invest project

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Getting behind the camera enables farmers to express their perspectives and assess their land in a creative and engaging way. 

The Climate-smart, Tree-based Co-investment in Adaptation and Mitigation in Asia (Smart Tree-Invest) project focused on improving the livelihoods and resilience of smallholder farmers through the promotion of climate-smart, tree-based agriculture in three countries by reducing their vulnerability to climate change.

The World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF) project, supported by the CGIAR Research Program on Forests, Trees and Agroforestry (FTA) and the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), recently completed its three-year journey.

Among the most innovative aspects of the project was Photovoice, a participatory research method that saw cameras provided to farmers in the project’s field sites.

Read more: Smart use of trees: Co-investment scheme improves livelihoods, maintains ecosystem services

“The main objective was to help in identifying and understanding the vulnerability and adaptive capacities of smallholder farmers to climate change and variability in Ho Ho-subwatershed as a project site, through photos that reflect local perceptions and knowledge on vulnerability,” said Tran Ha My, communications staff member for Smart Tree-Invest in Vietnam.

“Photovoice is also a different approach to share farmers’ insights and experiences, which helped the project and local stakeholders to develop more appropriate solutions for enhancing livelihood and environmental resilience in the subwatershed,” she added.

The benefits of the approach were twofold. The farmers had a creative way to express their perspectives, could better understand their vulnerabilities and capacities and more actively participated in discussing issues related to their land. Meanwhile, the researchers also collected baseline photographs of the landscape in the process.

See the baseline photographs for Buol in Indonesia, Huong Lam in Vietnam and three sites in the Philippines

“Using photos in focus groups and a video baseline survey puts faces to the once-anonymous ‘stakeholders’ of a project. They give a more personal dimension to all the figures and statistics and help show what farmers really need and how researchers can help,” Amy Cruz, communications staff member for ICRAF in the Philippines, wrote early in the life of the project.

The personal dimension was clear in the results, which showed smallholders’ land through their own eyes. Later, impact photos displayed improvements in the farmers’ livelihoods through knowledge gained from the project.

“Photovoice is a process that allows more nuanced capturing of the important elements in a landscape by letting farmers themselves decide specific areas to photograph. We asked them to capture two of their areas that were most vulnerable to climate change, two of their resources and two of their coping strategies. Aside from documentation of the landscape and the farmers’ perspectives, the photos were used in discussion groups to further draw out opinions of the landscapes in their respective villages,” Cruz explained.

“Nearly all the farmers identified sloping areas on their farms as the most vulnerable — they were usually flooded during rains — and the crops as their resources. There was, however, a variety of coping strategies mentioned by the farmers when discussing the photographs.

“Some said they did not do anything when the land flooded; they just waited for the waters to recede. Others said that they did, or planned to, use contouring on their fields to counter erosion. Quite a few also used trees as boundaries and windbreaks,” she added.

See the impact photos from Indonesia and Vietnam

The photographic results were used in focus group discussions with participants and with other farmers who did not take photos themselves. Through conversations over the results, the farmers were all able to agree on common issues that they faced.

“Photovoice provides an initial glimpse of the vulnerabilities of the farmers,” Cruz said in a separate blog. “While it is not enough to give a complete measure of vulnerability, it is an effective way to start the discussion. The farmers analyze and express their perceptions, while the researchers draw evidence from the photos and discussions with the farmers. Literature review and quantitative methods of vulnerability assessment could then be used to validate these findings.”

By looking at the bigger picture, smallholders and researchers worked creatively and more effectively toward climate-smart farming systems.

Read more:

By Hannah Maddison-Harris, FTA Communications and Editorial Coordinator. 


This work forms part of the CGIAR Research Program on Forests, Trees and Agroforestry (FTA). We would like to thank all donors who supported this work through their contributions to the CGIAR Fund. This project was  supported by the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD).

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  • Smart use of trees: Co-investment scheme improves livelihoods, maintains ecosystem services

Smart use of trees: Co-investment scheme improves livelihoods, maintains ecosystem services

A woman inspects buds on a tree as part of the Climate-smart, Tree-based, Co-investment in Adaptation and Mitigation in Asia project. Photo by ICRAF
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A woman inspects buds on a tree as part of the Smart Tree-Invest project in Indonesia. Photo by ICRAF

The World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF) recently marked the end of its Climate-smart, Tree-based Co-investment in Adaptation and Mitigation in Asia (Smart Tree-Invest) project with a closing event in Jakarta. 

Smart Tree-Invest, supported by the CGIAR Research Program on Forests, Trees and Agroforestry (FTA) and the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), worked in watersheds in Buol, Central Sulawesi, Indonesia; Lantapan municipality, Bukidnon province, the Philippines; as well as Ha Thinh and Quang Binh provinces in Vietnam.

The project, which ran from 2014 to 2017, aimed to improve the livelihoods and resilience of smallholder farmers through the promotion of climate-smart, tree-based agriculture in the three countries, aimed at reducing their vulnerability to climate change.

It did so by developing co-investment models that involve smallholders as ecosystem service providers while local governments and the private sector invest as ecosystem service beneficiaries.

Based on diagnostic studies of needs and opportunities in each country, the project introduced novel tree-planting schemes to improve the quality of home gardens, smallholders’ plantations, riparian and sloping land — and ultimately the quality of the environment and local livelihoods.

The process of identifying opportunities as well as new schemes for using resources available locally have been adopted by local governments in the three countries, overcoming their initial skepticism based on past ‘project’ experience. Moreover, toward the end of the project, private sectors were eager to join in initially monitoring ecosystem services in their sites in Indonesia, supporting market access for smallholders in Vietnam, and starting the initial incentive flow in the Philippines.

FTA researcher Beria Leimona speaks at the Smart Tree-Invest project’s closing event. Photo by Sidiq Pambudi/ICRAF

Smart Tree-Invest was the first project to explicitly pilot the development of Co-investment in Ecosystem Services (CIS) schemes, a concept that emerged from earlier Payment for Ecosystem Services (PES) ideas. More than 600 farmers from the three countries were involved in co-investment activities.

Watch: An introduction to the Smart Tree-Invest project

FTA researcher and ICRAF ecosystem services specialist Beria Leimona, who was the overall leader of Smart Tree-Invest, noted the similarities between the three countries.

“We chose these sites because we work closely with the International Fund for Agricultural Development or IFAD [which had established a presence in the areas through previous projects] and all of the sites are remote, and they are more or less the ‘poorest of the poor’,” she said.

The Lantapan watershed had previously hosted an investment in environmental services project. There was also investor interest in the areas in terms of the private sector, including a major hydropower company in the downstream. It was the first time co-investment had been implemented on the ground.

The area “had been degraded to some extent,” Leimona said. ICRAF has had a presence in Lantapan for quite some time, she explained, beginning with the Landcare initiative in the 1990s.

“With Landcare, we saw the potential: we gave the awareness [about tree planting], but what sort of incentives would make them want to sustain the pilot?”

Following that was the Rewarding Upland Poor for Environmental Services (RUPES) project with its incentive system for farmers.

Researchers subsequently “added information about what type of ecosystem services farmers and outside beneficiaries could get if they planted trees on their farms, which was in this case the watershed functions — increasing water quality for the company and also reducing erosion from farmland.”

“Through Smart Tree-Invest, we wanted to get more stakeholders involved in linking development programs with well-measured conservation objectives to result in green-growth scheme in their jurisdictions, including IFAD as the development agency and particularly the district and provincial government,” Leimona said.

Read also: 

A farmer shows off cacao pods growing on a tree as part of the project. Photo by ICRAF

Buol in Indonesia and Ha Tinh in Vietnam were more remote than the Philippines site. There was “almost no private sector,” Leimona said, adding that there was also less interest from business and infrastructure was less supportive.

She put this down to the area not being “sexy” or high-profile like locations such as Kalimantan, leading to almost no projects occurring there.

The silver lining was that “the enthusiasm of the local government was very high because they were quite eager to see what happened.”

Among the other notable differences between the sites were that in terms of the landscape structure, Vietnam did not have a mixed system or agroforestry. That stemmed from land-use policy, said Leimona, whereby farmers must follow government requirements on what to plant on their land.

In Buol, agroforestry existed with crops such as cacao, coconut and candlenut, Leimona explained. However, it had not been commercialized and was not well managed. “People didn’t think it could be a source of future profits,” she said, adding that farmers previously concentrated more on their patchouli or paddy fields.

Among other approaches, the project used the Capacity Strengthening Approach to Vulnerability Assessment (CaSAVA) framework, which ICRAF developed. The participatory approach of CaSAVA helped the collection of local ecological knowledge from smallholders in Lantapan, according to researcher Kharmina Anit in the Philippines, and increased their awareness of the issues in their landscapes, encouraging practical adaptation solutions at the community level.

The project also provided best practices in support of the implementation of policies in each country.

In Buol, the local administration has committed to replicating Smart Tree-Invest activities including farmers’ learning groups and watershed and tree-planting monitoring. The project was implemented in two subdistricts in the Buol watershed, and the district administration is set to expand activities to the Mulat-Lantika Digo watershed, using its own funding.

FTA scientist Meine van Noordwijk (left) poses for a photograph with members of the Smart Tree-Invest Vietnam team. Photo by Sidiq Pambudi/ICRAF

The administration has requested ICRAF’s support through continued technical assistance as it replicates the project activities after the project’s end.

Watch: Impacts of Smart-Tree Invest project after 3 years

In summing up the project’s impacts and its relation to greater goals at the closing event in Jakarta, FTA scientist Meine van Noordwijk said it was “not only about healthy food but also healthy farmers and healthy forests […] in the frame of climate change.”

Unlike management systems that require results to be outlined beforehand and achieved, Van Noordwijk added, Smart Tree-Invest made a commitment and then awaited the impacts. The “open-ended” learning approach fit into existing structures of regulations and funding mechanisms, as well as working within local contexts.

“[This] provided food for thought on how we may see one object from different perspectives, and end up with different results,” said ICRAF ecosystem services specialist Sacha Amaruzaman. “Professor van Noordwijk reflected on the different characteristics of three country sites; how the similar start in each site through the application of the CaSAVA framework ended up with different co-investment schemes.”

“Clarification of the issues, weighting the trade-off between options and considering context are the three actions required to achieve development goals,” he added.

The partnerships formed with governments and other stakeholders stand as testament to this, as does the continued commitment in the sustainability of the project.

By Hannah Maddison-Harris, FTA Communications and Editorial Coordinator. 


This work forms part of the CGIAR Research Program on Forests, Trees and Agroforestry (FTA). We would like to thank all donors who supported this work through their contributions to the CGIAR Fund. This project was  supported by the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD).

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  • Impacts of Smart-Tree Invest project after 3 years

Impacts of Smart-Tree Invest project after 3 years

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The Climate-smart, Tree-based Co-investment in Adaptation and Mitigation in Asia (Smart Tree-Invest) project from the World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF), supported by the CGIAR Research Program on Forests, Trees and Agroforestry (FTA) and the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), introduced novel tree planting schemes in Indonesia, Vietnam and the Philippines, based on a co-investment mechanism, to improve the quality of home gardens and sloping land — and ultimately the quality of the environment and local livelihoods. The new schemes have already been widely adopted and appreciated by local people and government officials.

Originally published at worldagroforestry.org.


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

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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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  • Building trust to smartly invest in trees in the Philippines: A visit to the Tala-andig tribe

Building trust to smartly invest in trees in the Philippines: A visit to the Tala-andig tribe

Explaining Smart Tree-Invest somewhere else in Lantapan. Photo: World Agroforestry Centre
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By Amy Cruz, originally published at ICRAF’s Agroforestry World Blog

Datu Migketay of the Tala-andig was critical of some aspects of development and research projects. Photo: World Agroforestry Centre/Amy Cruz
Datu Migketay of the Tala-andig was critical of some aspects of development and research projects. Photo: World Agroforestry Centre/Amy Cruz

Research and development aim to benefit local communities but how should researchers and indigenous people work together in projects? Four researchers from the World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF) met with members of the Tala-andig tribe in Indonesia to discuss solutions. Amy Cruz watched and learned.

The Smart Tree-Invest project under the CGIAR Research Program on Forests, Trees and Agroforestry has been generally well-received in Indonesia, Vietnam and the Philippines. Yet, team members in the Philippines wanted to know what local communities think of the project. They met representatives from the Tala-andig tribe in Songco, Lantapan in Bukidnon Province in the southern Philippines.

ICRAF’s work in Lantapan is part of the Climate-smart, Tree-based, Co-investment in Adaptation and Mitigation in Asia (Smart Tree-Invest) project, which aims to help communities create local solutions to cope with climate-change risks.

ICRAF had identified the Tala-andig as important custodians of a critical watershed that was increasingly threatened by the impact of climate change. Smart Tree-Invest is funded by the International Fund for Agricultural Development. IFAD stresses the importance of participation of marginalized groups, including women, youth and indigenous peoples; and the empowerment of smallholding farmers.

For the Tala-andig, the possibility of a ‘co-investment scheme’—in which all people interested in a watershed work together to ensure its benefits are sustainable—would not only mean an additional source of financial support but is also seen as way of strengthening their culture and introducing it to others.

Map of Lantapan in Bukidnon province, Philippines. Source: Wikipedia
Map of Lantapan in Bukidnon province, Philippines. Source: Wikipedia

According to Victorino Saway, known to the Tala-andig as Datu Migketay, ‘The project could be seen as co-investment in the culture of our tribe because it is part of our culture to preserve the environment’.

If a co-investment scheme can preserve the tribe’s culture then the people can in turn contribute to improving environmental conservation.

Yet, the elders remained cautious. Datu Migketay talked about the importance of first building trust between the project team and the tribe. He emphasized how respecting their culture was important for the sustainability of any project.

Different understanding of development

There was often a disjunction, he explained, between some developers and his people because, for example, the tribe’s definition of development differed from the definition used by some of the organizations implementing projects in their area.

He gave the example of cementing roads in their village, which could be considered as a welcome development providing faster access all year round but these same roads also contributed to the fragmentation of their tribe by allowing individuals and families to disperse far from the central group.

Datu Migketay says of such development: “To be honest, I am tired. Tired of projects that only benefit those implementing them: projects that do not have any positive impacts for our people.”

Explaining Smart Tree-Invest somewhere else in Lantapan. Photo: World Agroforestry Centre
Explaining the benefits Smart Tree-Invest somewhere else in Lantapan. Photo: World Agroforestry Centre

This was not meant to altogether discourage development projects or to say that research in development would not achieve anything. However, if institutions involved in development and research in development, such as ICRAF, wanted to truly improve people’s lives then an open, respectful approach was needed.

Researchers, in particular, should be ready to challenge standardized ways of thinking—even their own—and change inappropriate practices. Putting this to the test, researchers took the first step in growing mutual respect with the Tala-andig by obeying the directive to undergo the ritual.

Building trust

As a result, the elders allowed researchers to return and conduct a participatory cultural impact assessment with the whole tribe to ensure that everyone, including women and young people, can identify their roles in the project. All members of the tribe shall also further discuss potential benefits and disadvantages of Smart Tree-Invest and decide as a group if they want to continue or not.

And so whether the project will continue with the Tala-andig is in the hands of the tribe themselves. Researchers may be hopeful as, during the special ceremony, the tribal leaders had asked for guidance from their highest god, Magbabaya, and spirits. Afterwards these elders noted that it seemed that Smart Tree-Invest could benefit their people.

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  • Making farms sustainable and climate-smart with agroforestry: two stories from Smart Tree-Invest

Making farms sustainable and climate-smart with agroforestry: two stories from Smart Tree-Invest

Agroforestry in Songco, Lantapan, Bukidnon, Philippines. Photo: Eduviges S. Saway/ICRAF
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Adapted from two Agroforestry World Blogs

Agroforestry in Songco, Lantapan, Bukidnon, Philippines. Photo: Eduviges S. Saway/ICRAF
Agroforestry in Songco, Lantapan, Bukidnon, Philippines. Photo: Eduviges S. Saway/ICRAF

Farmers are facing more challenges than ever: the need to feed a growing world population, land degradation and the effects of climate change – to only name a few. The situation calls for stakeholders to put all hands on deck, and researchers have to play an important part here. Scientists working under the CGIAR Research Program on Forests, Trees and Agroforestry (FTA) are keen to see that their work has an impact. One example for this impact can be witnessed on farms in several Asian countries, under the research program Climate-smart, Tree-based Co-investment in Adaptation and Mitigation in Asia (Smart Tree-Invest). Smart Tree-Invest is supported by the International Fund for Agricultural Development and FTA. The program comprises projects as divers as watershed management in Sulawesi, Indonesia, and tree-based farming in the Philippines and Vietnam. The stories are told by Sacha Amaruzaman and Amy Cruz.

Indonesia: Combining ecosystem services and sustainable farming

Photo: World Agroforestry Centre
Photo: World Agroforestry Centre

An inspiring story comes from Sulawesi, Indonesia. To help maintain the health of watersheds in Buol District, Central Sulawesi Province, a working group has been established to oversee ‘co-investment’ schemes that will be implemented through a collaboration between the World Agroforestry Centre, Buol district government and villages.

Co-investment is one of the key features of the Smart Tee-Invest model. The concept of ‘co-investment in ecosystem services’ stems from research into schemes that reward people for managing ecosystem services. Such schemes typically see poor farmers and communities compensated with financial and non-financial rewards for managing, and improving, the services provided by ecosystem services under their care. Rather than simply being a market-based instrument, ‘co-investment’ has more flexible contractual conditions that are based on collaboration and mutual trust between the people involved.

In the special situation of Buol, the working group opted for a publicly financed system, because most of the direct beneficiaries of ecosystem services in these watersheds are poor and there are no beneficiaries from the private sector. Hence, co-investment by the public sector was more feasible rather than payments from direct users of the ecosystem services.

Watershed in Buol district. Source: World Agroforestry Centre
Watershed in Buol district. Source: World Agroforestry Centre

In a series of workshops in 2015, the working group in Buol designed an organizational structure, goals, working areas, coordination mechanism, and a work plan for the scheme that is relevant for six main watersheds, two of which are also Smart Tree-Invest research sites.

Led by the district development planning office (Bappeda), the group consists of representatives from government bodies responsible for watershed management, such as the forestry, agriculture, plantations, environment, extension, sea and fisheries, public works, and energy and mining agencies.

The Buol and Matinan watersheds have priority for the project. They cover upstream to coastal areas of Buol District and provide important ecosystem services, yet are threatened because forests are cut down to make way for monocultures and other unsustainable agricultural land use.

In the project’s first year, FTA researchers were busy identifying socio-economic and biophysical conditions. Based on their data, the co-investment schemes are developed that will encourage climate-smart, tree-based agriculture. The main scheme being developed is better tree-and-crop management, particularly for cocoa and rice, but the project also looks at the rehabilitation of degraded mangroves.

This will ultimately improve the livelihoods of smallholding farmers in the watersheds and make them more resilient to the effects climate change.

Philippines: Smart farmers adopt agroforestry for climate-smart farming

Vulnerable area in Kibangay, Lantapan, Bukidnon, Philippines. Photo: - Ophelia Rosario/ICRAF
Vulnerable area in Kibangay, Lantapan, Bukidnon, Philippines. Photo: – Ophelia Rosario/ICRAF

To make its research on agroforestry more effective, the World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF) is committed promote agroforestry practices among farmers and practitioners. The researchers are convinced that training farmers in sustainable, tree-based farming can help them adapt to climate change.

A key approach here is Conservation Agriculture With Trees (CAWT) is a which combines the principles of Conservation Agriculture with Agroforestry.

Conservation agriculture is characterized by three principles namely minimum tillage, maximum soil cover and crop rotation and/or association. The emphasis is on the protection of the top soil layer which is responsible for sustaining crop life but is also the most vulnerable to erosion and degradation.

Agroforestry can be defined as the inclusion of trees in farming systems and their management in rural landscapes to enhance productivity, profitability, diversity and ecosystem sustainability.

Under Smart Tree-Invest, farmers and agricultural practioners in general are trained in tree-based farming systems such as


 

vegetable agroforestry
vegetable agroforestry

rubber agroforestry
rubber agroforestry

cocoa agroforestry
cocoa agroforestry

Rainwater harvesting. Photo: International Rivers
Rainwater harvesting. Photo: International Rivers

Conservation agriculture with trees. Photo: Agustin Mercado Jr/ICRAF
Conservation agriculture with trees. Photo: Agustin Mercado Jr/ICRAF

and the use of animal-built embankments and animal-drawn scrapers.

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Watch: Conservation Agriculture with Trees in the Philippines


A typical such workshop took place in Lantapan, Bukidnon Province, in the Philippines in 2015. Some 35 farmers, some of them representatives of their organizations, and agricultural practitioners were trained in tree-based agriculture so that they, or rather their practices, became “climate-smart” and could plan how integrate the hew systems into their own farms and villages.

Listening to the farmers voices showed that they understand the crucial role of agroforestry: “For me, trees on farms are important because they help in conserving nutrients in the soil and protecting our cash crops,” one of them stated. And others were so convinced that they promised: “I will practice what I learned from this training and share it with the other farmers in my village.”


Read the original blogs:

Stronger collaboration for co-investment in ecosystem services

More sustainable and climate-smart farms with agroforestry

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  • Jump-starting co-investment in Philippine watershed

Jump-starting co-investment in Philippine watershed

3D-mapping session in the training workshop. This activity helped people identify the potential ‘sellers’ for the co-investment schemes. Photo: World Agroforestry Centre/Kharmina Evangelista
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FTA

Originally published at Agroforestry World Blog

The area of Lantapan, Bukidnon, is vulnerable to erosion. Photo: World Agroforestry Centre/Carminsita Canales
The area of Lantapan, Bukidnon, is vulnerable to erosion. Photo: World Agroforestry Centre/Carminsita Canales

Payment for Ecosystem Services (PES) is a known feature in the research and development worlds. Co-Investment, an instrument that aims at the same goal, still needs some explaining. Amy Cruz, Communication Officer for the World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF) in the Philippines, went to a workshop in Lantapan, Philippines, to find out more about this initiative under the CGIAR Research Program on Forests, Trees and Agroforestry (FTA).

Most markets in the world don’t really trade in ‘watershed protection’ and ‘water provision’. However, a project in the municipality of Lantapan, southern Philippines wants to improve smallholders’ livelihoods and resilience in the face of climate change and market shocks through creating markets for watershed protection services, an idea also known as co-investment in watershed protection.

Co-investment schemes, which are very similar to payments for ecosystem services, may be seen as a cost-effective way of improving environmental management by rewarding communities for their efforts in providing ecosystem services. It is, in a way, communities ‘selling’ ecosystem services, such as watershed protection, to other communities or organizations that benefit from them.

Lantapan, Philippines. Source: Google Maps
Lantapan, Philippines. Source: Google Maps

In the case of the Lantapan sub-watersheds, farmers are involved as ‘sellers’ of watershed protection services in co-investment schemes developed as a part of the Climate-smart, Tree-based, Co-investment in Adaptation and Mitigation in Asia (Smart Tree-Invest) project. Implemented by the World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF), Smart Tree-Invest is supported by the International Fund for Agricultural Development and the CGIAR FTA, with other sites in Indonesia and Viet Nam.

Researchers from ICRAF Philippines met with leading farmers and local government units of Lantapan to create a strategy for implementing a co-investment scheme in the municipality. They agreed to involve local people’s organizations as ‘sellers’. Representatives from the Association of Lantapan Sustainable Agroecological Zone, Tala-andig Tribal Organization and members of the Payments for Ecosystem Services Working Group would then be involved in developing business cases.

Preparing a business case

3D-mapping session in the training workshop. This activity helped people identify the potential ‘sellers’ for the co-investment schemes. Photo: World Agroforestry Centre/Kharmina Evangelista
3D-mapping session in the training workshop. This activity helped people identify the potential ‘sellers’ for the co-investment schemes. Photo: World Agroforestry Centre/Kharmina Evangelista

‘A business case is basically like a proposal. It includes profiles of the watershed and the sellers, the environmental services that could be offered, the list of activities for providing the services and the costing’, said Kharmina Evangelista, the project coordinator for Smart Tree-Invest Philippines.

During a training workshop in May 2016, farmers and members of the working group learned about the concept of PES and co-investment schemes and in the end successfully drafted their business case for the sub-watershed clusters in Lantapan.

Although the participants were very interested in the new concept, the workshop was not without challenges. The researchers found that the participants were not familiar with areas of the watershed and, thus, had some difficulty with three-dimensional mapping of the watershed. A follow-up workshop is needed for the participants from the Tala-andig Tribal Organization who were somewhat reserved in participating in the discussions. This will allow for the finalization of the costing of the business cases.

After all this is completed, and the business cases packaged, the participants will be able to present their offer to potential ‘buyers’ of the services and also to the Bukidnon Watershed Management Council.

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  • From knowing to reaping benefits from trees in the Philippines

From knowing to reaping benefits from trees in the Philippines

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FTA

By Amy Cruz, originally published at Agroforestry World Blog

1557-12Capacity-building programs are recommended for enhancing farmers’ awareness of the ecosystem services trees provide in the Molawin-Dampalit Watershed, Philippines. A heightened awareness would then influence the farmers to integrate trees in their farms.

A team of researchers from the University of the Philippines Los Baños Institute of Agroforestry and the World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF) Philippines found that farmers in the Molawin-Dampalit Watershed in the province of Laguna recognize the ecological and economic value of integrating trees into their production systems. However, the researchers also recommended capacity-building programs to enhance the benefits farmers and others get from trees.

The study was conducted as a part of the ICRAF-led project, Documenting Adaptation Strategies and Coping Responses of Smallholder Farmers and the Role of Trees in Enhancing Resilience at Selected Watersheds in the Philippines, with support from the CGIAR Research Program on Forests, Trees, and Agroforestry. Focus-group discussions and semi-structured interviews were used to identify the socio-demographic characteristics of the farmers and their knowledge of ecosystem services.

Out of the 104 farmer respondents from six ‘barangays’ or communities representing the upland, lowland and coastal ecosystems of the watershed, 59% were aged 51 years-old and above. Most of the farms (75%) were located on public land, with of 90% of these sized 3 hectares or less. Farmers from the lowland areas usually grew annual crops while upland farms had more trees, with only a few annual crops on their farms.

In the discussion groups, the farmers identified ecosystem services they received from the trees planted on- and off-farm. They identified provisioning, regulating, cultural and supporting services, as categorized by the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment. The research team then classified the provisioning services (such as sources of food and firewood) as the economic role of trees. The regulating (for example, providing shade and oxygen, and regulating microclimates) and supporting services (for example, controlling soil erosion) made up the ecological role of trees.

To enhance the ecosystem services that the farmers recognized through their experience with trees, research, extension and development programs that strengthened the capabilities of the farmers could be carried out.

 

Read full blog at Agroforestry World Blog

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  • More sustainable and climate-smart farms with agroforestry

More sustainable and climate-smart farms with agroforestry

Posted by

FTA

By Amy Cruz, originally posted at Agroforestry World Blog

bFarmer leaders and technicians from the agriculture office in the municipality of Lantapan, Philippines are learning about sustainable, tree-based farming that can help them adapt to climate change.

A group of 37 farmer leaders and agricultural technicians from Lantapan, Bukidnon Province attended a training workshop on various sustainable, tree-based farming systems, as promoted by the World Agroforestry Centre. This was one of the activities during the second year of the Climate-smart, Tree-based Co-investment in Adaptation and Mitigation in Asia (Smart Tree-Invest) project in the Philippines. Smart Tree-Invest is supported by the International Fund for Agricultural Development and the CGIAR Research Program on Forests, Trees and Agroforestry.

Farmer leaders from 11 of the 14 villages of Lantapan and technicians from the Municipal Agriculture Office visited the Conservation Agriculture with Trees (CAWT) Center in Claveria, Misamis Oriental Province, 13–14 July 2015. Some of the participants were also representatives of active farmers’ and irrigators’ organizations and the Talaandig tribe in Lantapan.

The participants learned about different farming systems and practices, such as vegetable agroforestry, rubber agroforestry, cocoa agroforestry, conservation agriculture with trees, rainwater harvesting and the use of animal-built embankments and animal-drawn scrapers. Dr Agustin Mercado Jr, the World Agroforestry Centre research manager at CAWT, discussed these systems along with the role of trees in climate-change adaptation.

Read full blog here

 


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