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  • Farm-scale greenhouse gas balances, hotspots and uncertainties in smallholder crop-livestock systems in Central Kenya

Farm-scale greenhouse gas balances, hotspots and uncertainties in smallholder crop-livestock systems in Central Kenya

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  • Whole-farm GHG balances are needed to identify climate-smart options.
  • Coffee-dairy farms are mostly net sources of GHG at farm-scale.
  • Poor manure management can be a determining factor in the farm GHG balance.
  • Emissions are smoothed by zero grazing and larger soil and biomass C sequestration.
  • Improving GHG estimations requires developing EFs and site calibrations.
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  • FTA event coverage: Climate, business and landscapes: Mobilizing large-scale investment for smallholder farmers

FTA event coverage: Climate, business and landscapes: Mobilizing large-scale investment for smallholder farmers

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Smallholder farmers play a key role in the production of agricultural crops for domestic and global markets. But, smallholders remain disenfranchised, often facing economic, financial and institutional constraints that make the adoption of more efficient practices, technologies and business models difficult.

This discussion forum at the 2016 Global Landscapes Forum in Marrakesh explored the multiple perspectives of development practitioners and financiers, including impact investors, by drawing on specific cases, experience and innovative approaches.

The session was co-hosted by the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) and moderated by Pablo Pacheco, Coordinator of the theme Global governance, trade and investment of the CGIAR Research Program on Forests, Trees and Agroforestry.

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  • Blurring the boundary between forest and farm, looking at smallholder systems in West Africa

Blurring the boundary between forest and farm, looking at smallholder systems in West Africa

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Blurring the boundary between forest and farm, looking at smallholder systems in West Africa

Smallholder systems are complex mosaics, integrating diverse land uses from forestry to agriculture.

Yet policies often draw a sharp dichotomy across landscapes – forestry on one side, agriculture on the other. The resulting mismatch between policy and actual behavior can have unintended consequences for the environment and livelihoods, or mean that opportunities are missed to better support smallholders.

A new project under the CGIAR Research Program on Forests, Trees and Agroforestry, a collaboration of CIFOR, ICRAF and Tree Aid – and supported by the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) – is attempting to alleviate this discrepancy by increasing understanding of the real, ground-level integrated management systems of smallholders and facilitating dialogue between smallholders, policy makers and development practitioners.

“We are targeting the poorest smallholders and women living in mosaic landscapes that combine forestry and farm land uses in Burkina Faso and Ghana. Our research will focus on developing strategies to support adaptive processes important to households in these landscapes,” said Peter Cronkleton, CIFOR Senior Scientist and director of the project.

Smallholders living in mosaic landscapes depend on diverse environmental services and management behavior to provide food security, income and energy. They also produce large quantities of forest products that are crucial to rural populations, especially the poor and households vulnerable to climatic shocks. However, government policies that focus on specific sectors often target competing goals such as conservation or intensified production, introducing distortions or constraints that negatively impact smallholder livelihoods.

“Because conventional policy approaches do not take into account the diversity of land use and integrated production practiced by smallholders, the adaptive nature of these systems for providing resilience to rural livelihoods is underappreciated and these systems’ crucial importance for the rural poor – especially women – is missed,” Cronkleton said.

The West Africa Forest Farm Interface Project (WAFFI) project, supported by IFAD’s Agricultural Research for Development Program, will evaluate how such systems in Burkina Faso and Ghana offer livelihood options for rural people, and identify science-based strategies to strengthen the ability of those systems to supply income and secure food sources.

Cronkleton said, “The goal is to equip policy makers and practitioners with the evidence-base and practical knowledge needed to support smallholder livelihoods strategies and natural resource management systems – adapted to local mosaic landscapes.”

Property rights and access to natural resources are key issues for many smallholders, especially where state ownership overlaps with customary rights, as in Burkina Faso and Ghana. For example, women’s access to resources often depends on customary tree tenure systems that are poorly accommodated under formal property regimes. Without clear authority over important resources, the rural poor struggle to contest infringement on their land and customary rights.

And this is where informed policy becomes key.

“By facilitating greater engagement between farmers, policy makers and practitioners, the project will empower women and the rural poor to sustainably manage the forest-farm interface to improve their livelihoods and incomes,” Cronkleton said.

The project, which started in 2016 and extends to 2018, combines approaches from the biophysical and social sciences with participatory efforts to address the needs of targeted smallholders. Focusing on two multi-village sites in Burkina Faso and Ghana, the WAFFI project recognizes that landscapes that integrate cropland, forests and livestock require integrated institutions and policies.

The project will contribute to and be informed by CIFOR’s, ICRAF’s and Tree Aid’s current and previous work with smallholders in forests and on farms in West Africa, and fruitful collaborations with partners like IFAD. CIFOR is at the forefront of approaches that consider inclusive, mosaic landscapes, and the project is a component of the CGIAR Research Program on Forests, Trees and Agroforestry, allowing for scaling up to consider the contribution of trees and forests to smallholder livelihoods.

“Thanks to this collaboration with IFAD, we expect that evidence generated by this research will contribute to strategies, approaches and actions that take into account the voices of the poor and marginalized to support the livelihoods of smallholders managing the forest-farm interface for improved income, food security and equitable benefits,” Cronkleton said.

For more information about this initiative, please contact CIFOR team leaders and focal points Peter Cronkleton ([email protected]) and Mathurin Zida ([email protected]).

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  • Are smallholders really to blame?

Are smallholders really to blame?

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Doña Micaela Fachin from a shipibo community in the Peruvian Amazon shows breadfruit and wild ginger from her agroforestry system. Juan Carlos Huayllapuma/CIFOR
Doña Micaela Fachin from a shipibo community in the Peruvian Amazon shows breadfruit and wild ginger from her agroforestry system. Juan Carlos Huayllapuma/CIFOR

By Robin R Sears, Ashwin Ravikumar and Peter Cronkleton; originally published at CIFOR’s Forests News

Multiple international and bilateral agreements compel – though do not legally bind – Peru to halt deforestation in the near future. Despite these commitments, deforestation persists.

Confronting deforestation requires understanding and addressing its drivers –who cuts down forests, why they cut down forests, and where the deforestation occurs.

In a new paper in Conservation Letters, researchers under the CGIAR Research Program on Forests, Trees and Agroforestry draw attention to the complex set of drivers of deforestation in the Peruvian Amazon and analyze the origins of what they consider an overly simplified explanatory narrative for deforestation. They suggest that the common public narrative is not supported by evidence, and provide alternative recommendations for a more balanced approach to understanding the problem.

A questionable narrative

During public meetings in Lima since 2014, starting with the run-up to the 20th Conference of the Parties (COP20) of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, CIFOR scientists heard repeated public expressions of a particular narrative about the drivers of deforestation that didn’t seem quite right.

The narrative was expressed in different ways at different times, but one particularly striking example comes from a poster displayed in the public ‘Forest Pavilion’ event that ran for a whole week alongside the COP20 proceedings. The poster read:

“90% of the logging and burning of Peru’s Amazon forests occurs at the hands of peasants living in poverty who migrate from the highlands and practice subsistence agriculture.”

Based on the CIFOR team’s experience conducting political ecology and forestry research in the dynamic landscapes of the Peruvian Amazon, it struck them as odd that such a generic and singularly damning claim would be made so publicly, and with such confidence. There are diverse processes at play behind deforestation in the Amazon, and both the immediate and underlying drivers of deforestation are surely more complex than this narrative suggests.

The key premise underlying such a narrative is that the main driver of deforestation in Peru is small-scale, or so-called ‘migratory’, agriculture.

But is this really the case?

The team set out to investigate where this conclusion came from, and what evidence supported it. The results were surprising. In a nutshell, it was found that the only supporting evidence for the public narrative came from remote-sensing data, which indicated that recently deforested patches were very small in size. Period.

The studies cited to support this analysis based their assessment on the frequency of small patches of deforestation. One source reported that 75% of deforested patches were smaller than 0.5 ha, and a further 15% were 0.5 to 1.0 ha. Without any apparent assessment of what the land use was in those patches, the study used these figures to conclude that the main culprits of deforestation were subsistence farmers.

Crucially, CIFOR’s research team found that not one of the cited sources supporting this conclusion involved any field-based verification of remotely sensed data. In reality, small deforested patches can indicate any number of processes – from subsistence agriculture in sustainable rotating systems, to speculative clearing in primary forests for expansion of cash crops.

‘Ground truthing’, or verifying satellite data with facts on the ground, can reveal who the actors were, their motivations for deforestation, for what purpose it was conducted, and what kind of forest was cleared. And this information can lead to effective strategies to confront both the underlying and immediate drivers of deforestation.

Checking the facts

A study led by a different group of CIFOR scientists, on a continent-wide assessment of the drivers of deforestation, used expert human interpretation of fine-scale satellite imagery to go beyond simply measuring the size and frequency of deforestation events. These scientists aimed to determine post-deforestation land uses, which is at least another piece of the puzzle.

While the authors of that study included a caveat that small-scale land uses are difficult to classify by remote sensing, they did report with some confidence that 41.9% of deforestation events in all of Peru were followed by smallholder cropping — a far smaller figure than the 90% reported by the Peruvian government.

By not considering the complex dynamics of who is deforesting, why they are doing it, and where, the prevailing narrative is imprecise and inhibits the design of effective strategies to change behavior on the ground.

Clarifying the terms

A second source of confusion and inaccuracy in the public narrative is the use of the ambiguous term ‘migratory agriculture’. Does it refer to shifting agriculture, or agriculture by migrants? Because these can be two very different things.

‘Migratory agriculture’ is sometimes used in the narrative to refer to swidden-fallow agriculture, or shifting cultivation, wherein farmers rotate production among active fields of annual crops and regenerating forest areas, or fallows. Such cycles produce temporal and spatial mosaics of crop fields and forest that can be relatively stable and sustainable.

Other times, it refers to ‘agriculture by migrants’. For example, Che Piu and Menton use this definition in reference to the expansion of the agricultural frontier via the influx of migrants who may convert forest for agricultural use.

In other cases, the detected clearings may be the result of logging. It is feasible that poorly conducted single-tree selection logging for very large canopy emergents, such as Dipteryx spp. in western Amazonia, can result in a canopy gap as large as 0.3 ha.

The simplifying language of ‘migratory agriculture’, or even ‘small-scale agriculture’, that has pervaded contemporary discussions obscures important distinctions among classes of actors and drivers of deforestation.

Such highly generalized explanations of what drives deforestation should be discarded in exchange for a more nuanced understanding of both proximate and underlying drivers of deforestation. This information then can better inform policy.

To their credit, Peru’s national forest service (SERFOR) and regional forest authorities have made progress in recent years in carrying out participatory processes to enable government, civil society, and local communities to work together towards sustainable and equitable access to and use of the country’s forests and forest resources.

Therefore, it is a giant step backwards to place the blame for deforestation generically and uncritically on the shoulders of the most marginalized and least capitalized actors, the smallholder farmers. Instead, the strengths of the Amazonian people to achieve environmental, livelihood, and development objectives should be recognized and honored, and authorities should aim to work with them to design and implement effective policy.

The way forward

Ultimately, deforestation in undesignated natural areas must cease in Peru, including halting illegal logging and the advance of the agricultural frontier into mature forest. At the same time, authorities and NGOs should recognize that episodic deforestation is part of smallholder agricultural systems, and, furthermore, that agricultural expansion will continue to occur. It is the role of the local authorities to ensure that it occurs only in authorized areas.

To achieve these goals, while still meeting national objectives of sustainable development, a deeper, more critical analysis of the drivers of deforestation, and, importantly, how to address them, is essential.

This can be supported by rigorous mixed-methods research on the drivers of deforestation, coupled with multi-stakeholder processes to evaluate opportunities and trade-offs. Such information can be translated into action through political negotiations.

As is always the case, divergent interests will have to be negotiated. Nevertheless, understanding the realities of deforestation is a necessary starting point for such conversations. And this should be communicated to the public in a narrative that acknowledges multiple and complex causes, rather than one that blames marginalized communities and alienates the rural population of Amazonia.

Strategic planning that achieves a balance between conservation and development goals starts with better understanding of the needs and realities of multiple stakeholders.

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  • Smallholder representative explains what’s wrong with development finance

Smallholder representative explains what’s wrong with development finance

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Short anecdote about development finance told by smallholder representative Zwide Jere at the Global Landscapes Forum: The Investment Case 2016 in London.

Zwide Jere is the Managing Director of Total LandCare, improving access to finance and technology for smallholders in Southern and Eastern Africa. Zwide has 30 years of experience working with rural communities in partnership with government, non-governmental and private sector organizations. This gives him a unique privilege in handling issues that cut across these sectors. His strong capability is assessing and analyzing issues/problems of watersheds and resolving conflicts arising from resource uses by the different groups will add value to the planned program.

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  • FTA at Asia-Pacific Rainforest Summit: Empowering smallholders

FTA at Asia-Pacific Rainforest Summit: Empowering smallholders

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Originally published at CIFOR’s Forests News

Mediating the push and pull of agricultural expansion and conservation is no easy task. Add to that smallholders – who play a crucial role in producing agricultural commodities but whose economic disenfranchisement can incline to unsustainable practices – and the situation becomes even more complex.

With increasing corporate commitments to eliminate deforestation from supply chains, the integral, and precarious, situation of smallholders must be addressed. But how can companies help to empower them, disincentivizing deforestation and unsustainable practices? What must government, civil society and the financial sector do? And, what would a successful smallholder empowerment project look like?

At the upcoming Asia-Pacific Rainforest Summit in Brunei from 3 to 5 August, these questions will be discussed by diverse representatives from government, business, civil society and the research community.

Pablo Pacheco is principal scientist with the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) and coordinator of the Trade, Investment and Governance theme of the CGIAR Research Program on Forests, Trees and Agroforestry. He will be chairing the smallholder session at the summit. In an interview on the sidelines of the recent Global Landscapes Forum: The Investment Case he addressed the thorny question of smallholders, investing and sustainability.

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  • How can the financial services sector strengthen the sustainability and inclusivity of smallholder farming in the supply of global commodity crops?

How can the financial services sector strengthen the sustainability and inclusivity of smallholder farming in the supply of global commodity crops?

Also read White Paper
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White Paper for The Global Landscapes Forum: The Investment Case, London, 6 June 2016, related to the discussion forum Smallholder finance – evidence from the tropics, organized by Pablo Pacheco, coordinator of Flagship 5 of the CGIAR Research Program on Forests, Trees and Agroforestry.

Authors: Noemi Perez, FAST International; Jan Willem van Gelder, Profundo; Hans Smit, SNV; Pablo Pacheco and Sophia Gnych, CIFOR

Smallholder farmers play a key role in the production of agricultural crops for local, national and, increasingly, international markets, including high-value tree crops.1 As commercial-scale agriculture has expanded and markets have seen greater integration, smallholders are forced to compete with agribusiness to meet a rising demand for food, fiber and fuel. But smallholders remain disenfranchised, often facing economic, financial and institutional constraints that make the adoption of more efficient practices and technologies more difficult and limit productivity and local livelihoods.

A good example of this are oil palm smallholders in Indonesia, whose participation in the sector is growing rapidly. Despite their important contribution to national production, oil palm smallholders risk exclusion from global markets as agricultural standards evolve, and they struggle to adopt improved production practices.4 Finance has the potential to play a significant role in supporting the upgrading of production systems and delivering more effective resource management5 , as well as helping to fulfill a growing demand for agricultural and tree-crops that meet sustainability standards.

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