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Biodiversity Day 2020 – Solutions in Nature

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The United Nations proclaimed May 22 The International Day for Biological Diversity (IDB) to raise awareness and increase understanding of the issues around biological diversity and its fundamental role for the planet and humanity.

But what exactly is biological diversity? Biological diversity, or in short biodiversity, is often understood in terms of an abundance of diverse plants and animals present in a specific region. However, biodiversity also includes genetic differences within species — e.g., varieties of crops — and the variety of interlinked ecosystems (lakes, forests, rivers, agricultural landscapes, etc.) giving shelter and allowing interaction between those who inhabit them (humans, plants, animals, insects, microorganisms, etc.). Biodiversity is a prerequisite for life, any loss of it, is a loss for everyone and a threat for the future.

This year’s theme is Our solutions are in nature, underlining how any activity we perform is always interconnected with mother earth. Today humanity faces an unprecedented number of ecological challenges (as the current coronavirus pandemic has made evident), but any solution we can imagine and formulate is inevitably found within the same domain: nature. And nature’s barometer is biodiversity. For example, a pathway to reduce climate shocks and increase resilience to climate change is landscape restoration, which in turn is highly correlated with biodiversity levels. Moreover, maintaining high levels of biological diversity offers protection from spillovers of diseases from animals to humans (i.e. zoonoses) such as the current one we are living through, as it has been proven that biodiversity loss is a sufficient (but not necessary) condition for the increase of zoonoes.

Biodiversity is fundamental for many aspects of our lives, not only ecological health, but also to improve livelihoods, providing income source, diets, nutrition and overall well-being.

The UN has devoted the full week 18-22 May 2020 to celebrate biodiversity through 3 themes: importance of knowledge and science, importance of biodiversity itself and a call to action for the future.

2020, dubbed the biodiversity super year, is a pivotal moment to re-think our relationship with nature. This lock-down time should push us to reformulate a new normal that should focus on resilience and a common approach towards the restoration and conservation of biodiversity, inverting the disastrous trend of biodiversity loss that we have been accumulating over many deacades.

2020 will also witness the end of the 2011-2020 Strategic Plan on Biodiversity and its 20 Aichi Biodiversity Targets, as well as the UN Decade on Biodiversity, leading to the transitional phase for the start of other new pivotal biodiversity-related decades for the period 2021-2030: the UN Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development and the UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration; and the UN Biodiversity Summit, in order to highlight the urgency of action at the highest levels in support of a post-2020 global biodiversity framework. FTA hopes that we will be indeed able to see a positive change in the coming years.

Role of trees and FTA’s work

Trees, forests and agroforestry have an enormous role to play in preserving and enhancing biodiversity and improving human and animal life. To underline this, FTA has set the safeguarding and conservation of biodiversity as one of its main priorities. In the occasion of this day we are happy to illustrate some of the activities that our partners are carrying out in this domain.

Biodiversity in tropical forests

Our lead partner CIFOR has a specific landing page for biodiversity which gathers all the most recent publications dealing with this important topic, highlighting the extreme potential for the unknown and the strong link between forests and food security and nutrition.

Recent publications include:

The Influence of Forests on Freshwater Fish in the Tropics: A Systematic Review highlighting that the majority of studies provided evidence that fish diversity was higher where there was more forest cover; this was related to the greater heterogeneity of resources in forested environments that could support a wider range of species. Read a recent blog about this.

Maize production and environmental costs: Resource evaluation and strategic land use planning for food security in northern Ghana by means of coupled energy and data envelopment analysis.

Systematic review on impact of oil palm on biodiversity – a study focusing on the impacts on species richness, abundance (total number of individuals or occurrences), community composition, and ecosystem functions related to species richness and community composition.

Some recent online blogs also put the spotlight on the work CIFOR has been carrying out on biodiversity. We highlight this interesting piece on the extreme diversity of ecological systems present in Borneo and the large scale vegetation ecological maps crucial to manage all this biodiversity at landscape level.

Biodiversity and the Trees theme at ICRAF

Our partner ICRAF develops a number of interesting studies that are strongly linked with the analysis of biodiverse elements, as they supporting biodiversity-based livelihood strategies, requiring them to characterize patterns of biodiversity in agricultural landscapes and how these are changing as farming systems and climate alter. For example: they conduct tree species diversity inventories in farmland, considering whether the trees found are of local origin or are exotic (are introduced from elsewhere), and how common individual species are in farm landscapes.

African Orphan Crops Consortium

ICRAF has just launched the new website of the African Orphan Crop Consortium which includes a fully searchable database of 101 different crops identified as important for nutrition and livelihoods in a participatory manner by Africa’s scientists, development practitioners, consumers, and producers. Together they provide a wide range of nutritious foods, including edible roots, leaves, seeds and fruit, and encompass plants that are part of Africa’s historically neglected bounty of biodiversity. The idea is to use advanced genomic methods to support genetic improvement. These plants form a unique biological resource for crop development, but the window of opportunity to realise their value is limited as they are threatened by the relentless simplification of farming landscapes and forest loss.

This work has been featured in Nature Genomics

Vegetation Map4Africa

In order to promote tree species’ biodiversity effectively, information on what trees to plant where and for what purpose is required. ICRAF develops maps, databases and smartphone apps to better allow this. The high-resolution vegetationmap4africa (www.vegetationmap4africa.org/), for example, supports the selection of suitable indigenous tree species to plant in particular ecological zones in eastern Africa through the Useful Tree Species for Eastern Africa selection tool, which uses Google Earth to explore geographic locations and present species’ options.

Bamboo and rattan for biodiversity

Lack of bamboo planting material of particular species in required quantity and quality has always been a challenge due to the flowering nature of bamboo and lack of standardized vegetative propagation methods and selection protocols. INBAR’s previous and current development projects in Africa have set up several nurseries to scale up bamboo planting material production in Africa and Latin America. Moreover, INBAR is also undertaking ex-situ genetic conservation activities including setting up of bamboo setums and research plots. These activities are aimed at enabling large-scale bamboo based landscape restoration activities.

Read also: INBAR’s statement on International Day for Biological Diversity 2020.

Currently our partner INBAR is developing a study to obtain a deeper understanding of conservation of bamboo genetic resources in theory and practice. The study will examine the growth and performance of indigenous and introduced bamboo species, the modification of local biodiversity. The aim is to select the most appropriate species for expansion as well as developing seed sourcing and selection.

A comprehensive report on bamboo seed sourcing/selection and mechanisms for identification of superior bamboo clumps for expanding vegetative propagation will be the outcome of this research.

Building a healthy future

We highlight here two recent publications from our partner the Alliance of Bioversity and CIAT, one on mapping tree species vulnerability to multiple threats as a guide to restoration and conservation of tropical dry forests which was also featured as cover story for Global Change Biology. The other article illustrates the characterization of the genetic diversity of 21 wild and cultivated populations of the common walnut (Juglans regia L.) across Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. A complete threat assessment was performed evaluating the short-term threats from overexploitation, overgrazing, landslides, and fragmentation as well as long-term threats from climate change.

The Alliance also produced a series of blogs discussing the importance of biodiversity, a first one specifically on #BiodiversityDay2020, then on the threat mapping work and also a recent D4R workshop.

Read more: statement by the Alliance on the International Day of Forests.

Sentinel Landscapes, solutions for biodiversity improvements

Our partner CATIE just recently released a report on the Nicaragua-Honduras Sentinel Landscape.

The report shows how agroforestry is a sustainable alternative for rural development, and it is a conspicuous beneficial element in the agricultural landscape. Trees on farms can contribute to subsistence farmers’ strategies to face climatic or socioeconomic eventualities and can supply important goods to meet farmers’ demands.

Sentinel Landscape stocktaking pilot study: Report Nicaragua-Honduras [pdf]
Study sites were similar in terms of tree diversity and density, but differences were found in the economic benefits provided by trees. A total of 261 tree species were recorded in both sites (160 species were shared), 202 species in La Dalia and 220 species in Waslala. In terms of land uses, coffee was the land use with the highest tree diversity (197 spp), followed by pasture (189 spp), cacao (169 spp), home gardens (152 spp) and staple crops (138 spp). The most important species in terms of their abundance, frequency and relative dominance were: Cordia alliodora, Mangifera indica, Persea americana, Citrus sinensis, Platymiscium dimorphadrum, Inga oestediana, Psidium guajava, Cedrela odorata, Guazuma ulmifolia, and Tabebuia rosea.

We hope that you will find this information is useful and interesting!

Feel free to join our newsletter for updates on our work

 

Finally, we are happy to share with you A Hymn to Biodiversity an a cappella musical composition inspired and dedicated to biodiversity by composer David Rain, who contacted us through our facebook page. Well done David, it’s beautiful!

May it inspire everyone to love and protect our biodiverse nature.

 


This article was produced by the CGIAR Research Program on Forests, Trees and Agroforestry (FTA). FTA is the world’s largest research for development program to enhance the role of forests, trees and agroforestry in sustainable development and food security and to address climate change. CIFOR leads FTA in partnership with Bioversity International, CATIE, CIRAD, INBAR, ICRAF and TBI. FTA’s work is supported by the CGIAR Trust Fund.

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  • Brussels Development Briefing 59: How local application of agroecological principles can transform food systems

Brussels Development Briefing 59: How local application of agroecological principles can transform food systems

Agroforestry in East and Central Asia. Photo by World Agroforestry
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Leading agricultural scientist calls for transformation of the world’s food systems to align with agroecological principles

Fergus Sinclair, Flagship Leader 2 and Head of Systems Science at World Agroforestry (ICRAF) through collaboration with Bangor University, UK, explained at the 59th Brussels Development Briefing, 15 January 2020, how agroecological principles applied on farms can create sustainable food-production systems. A full streaming of the event can be replayed at this link.

It is now widely recognized, he said, that a major transformation of food systems is needed to achieve food and nutrition security globally in the context of a changing climate and that this will profoundly affect what people eat as well as how our food is produced, processed, transported and sold.

FTA’s Flagship Leader 2, Fergus Sinclair making his presentation at Brussels Briefings 59. Photo Brussels Briefings

According to Sinclair, bringing about such transitions to more sustainable and democratic agricultural systems that reconcile human and environmental health with social justice and, hence, are resilient, will not happen without major shifts in public policies and private-sector contributions to the governance of value chains at international, national and local levels as well as the active encouragement of innovation across these scales.

Agroecology is increasingly seen as being able to contribute to transforming food systems by applying ecological principles to agriculture to ensure a regenerative use of natural resources and ecosystem services. Agroecology also embraces social and cultural aspects in developing equitable food systems within which all people can exercise choice over what they eat and how and where it is produced. To this end, agroecology combines science, practice and social movements that complement each other although it is not inevitable that they remain in step with one another.

Agroecology comprises transdisciplinary science, sustainable agricultural practices and social movements that are precipitating widespread behaviour change. Agroecological principles map closely to principles of adaptation to climate change, with the notable exception that while they often exhibit resilience benefits, these are incidental rather than representing an explicit response to climate signals.

First slide from Fergus’ presentation at BruBriefs 59 [full set of slides available here]
Current market failures (for example, not costing pollution nor valuing the maintenance of soil organic carbon) and perverse policy incentives (for example, subsidizing use of artificial fertilizers and pesticides) combine to mitigate against decisions for farmers and other people in the food system to adopt agroecological approaches, despite their benefits for climate resilience.

Agroecology manifests at field, farm and landscape scales, for which different metrics of agricultural performance are relevant in order for agroecological practices to be fairly judged against alternatives. Operationalising new and holistic performance metrics for agriculture will require innovation in both public and private (value chain) sector governance.

‘There are three key actions required to enable adoption of agroecological practices at scale to build resilience of farming and food systems,’ Sinclair told the audience of representatives of Member States of the European Union, civil society groups, research networks and development practitioners, the private sector and international organizations.

‘A level playing field must be established that addresses market failures, reforms maladapted policies and improves the evidence base,’ he continued. ‘Food-system actors must also be willing to embrace complexity, connecting social movements and science, fostering co-learning and horizontal knowledge exchange and addressing “options by context” interactions.’

The third action is to enable integration, horizontally across systems and vertically across scales. In a simple matrix, Sinclair presented the complete set of 13 agroecological principles.

13 principles of agroecology
13 principles of agroecology

‘A key consequence of defining agroecology in terms of the application of principles,’ he said, ‘rather than as a set of practices, is that this implies that their application will result in changes to the agricultural and food systems to which they are applied. This is in line with the emerging consensus that there is an urgent imperative to transform current food systems — in terms of what people eat and how it is produced, stored, transported, processed and sold — to bring food production in line with demand and the capacity of the planet to produce and absorb pollution and waste.’

This leads, he argued, to a recognition that as different agroecological principles are applied, different levels of transition will occur, involving either incremental or transformational change, depending on which principles are involved and at what scale they operate.

A compelling illustration of how adoption of individual agroecological practices can operate to improve farm-level adaptation to climate change can be seen in a recent inventory of agroecological practices for Africa and their contribution to climate adaptation. Debray and others (2019) focused on agropastoral land use in semi-arid Africa and mixed crop and livestock production in sub-humid areas to evaluate the contribution to climate adaptation of agroecological practices in use by farmers. They found that these were mainly concerned with soil and water management but also included diversification of production, pest and disease control and livestock management. They identified seven categories of agroecological practices contributing to adaptation that were related to preventing land degradation, improving soil health, better water management, diversifying production, adaptive crop management, pest and disease control, and managing livestock.

‘Locally appropriate agroecological practices have potential to increase the resilience of livelihoods and enhance adaptation to climate change at field and farm levels across a wide range of contexts,’ he said, ‘often with significant mitigation co-benefits that might help to finance their establishment. Their potential will only be realized, however, if action is taken across hierarchical levels to remove barriers to their adoption. These need to address market failures and reform policies that create perverse incentives at the same time as adopting comprehensive performance metrics for agricultural systems that factor in social and environmental externalities. A reconfiguration of the relationship between formal science and local knowledge, including bridging differences in outlook and emphasis between social movements and the scientific establishment, is required to foster co-learning among the diverse range of stakeholders involved in development and promotion of agroecological practice. Finally, integration of policy processes across sectors and scales is required to create an enabling environment that encourages adoption of agroecological practices.’

 

Originally published at World Agroforestry (ICRAF).


FTA partner World Agroforestry (ICRAF) is a centre of scientific excellence that harnesses the benefits of trees for people and the environment. Knowledge produced by ICRAF enables governments, development agencies and farmers to utilize the power of trees to make farming and livelihoods more environmentally, socially and economically sustainable at multiple scales. ICRAF is one of the 15 members of the CGIAR, a global research partnership for a food-secure future. We thank all donors who support research in development through their contributions to the CGIAR Fund.

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  • ICRAF and FTA host first technical discussion on the development of a gender-responsive post-2020 global biodiversity framework

ICRAF and FTA host first technical discussion on the development of a gender-responsive post-2020 global biodiversity framework

Farmers, from left, Nigna Latifa (26), Dadjan Wassinatou (34) and Nacro Rainatou (31) separate the seeds from the fiber of freshly harvested cotton, under a tree in the Zorro village, Burkina Faso. Photo by Ollivier Girard/CIFOR.
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The unprecedented and accelerating loss of biodiversity is one of the greatest crises of our time. Biodiversity is the invisible infrastructure that supports the healthy functioning of our food systems, economies and communities—and it’s deteriorating at an alarming rate: 1 million animal and plant species are now threatened with extinction.

The loss of biodiversity affects us all, but pervasive gender inequalities and differentiated gender norms mean that men and women experience the impacts of biodiversity loss differently. Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), in recognition of this disparity, have committed to integrating gender considerations into the post-2020 global biodiversity framework.

An Open-Ended Intersessional Working Group is charged with the development of a new framework and strategic plan that will replace the existing Strategic Plan for Biodiversity when it lapses in 2020. The first meeting of the Working Group was held at the UN Environment headquarters in Nairobi on 27-30 August 2019.

Verona Collantes, Intergovernmental Specialist at UN Women. Photo: World Agroforestry/Sheila Murithi

Prior to the event, select participants met at the World Agroforestry (ICRAF) campus for a full-day technical discussion to build consensus around the key elements of the new gender-responsive framework. The workshop, organized by UN Women and the CGIAR Research Program on Forests, Trees and Agroforestry (FTA), was attended by 12 representatives from national governments, civil society organizations and movements, UN agencies and other international organizations.

The workshop featured two initial presentations by Verona Collantes, Intergovernmental Specialist at UN Women, and Ana Maria Paez Valencia, ICRAF’s Social Scientist and Gender Specialist. They touched on the gender dimensions of biodiversity management and the process of integrating these considerations into the post-2020 global biodiversity framework.

Following the presentations, the hosts led a discussion that focused on defining the gender considerations that needed to be reflected and considered in the post-2020 biodiversity framework in terms of goals, targets and indicators, accountability mechanisms, enabling conditions and capacities.

“Waiting until there is an established structure on gender won’t work. We have the opportunity to brainstorm key messages and ideas that could be brought to attention during the upcoming discussion to engage the Working Group, and ensure the meaningful integration of gender considerations into the new framework from the start.” Verona Collantes Intergovernmental Specialist at UN Women

The discussion led to a consensus on several key messages that were presented to the Open-Ended Intersessional Working Group at the First Meeting. These key messages are summarized below.

The post-2020 global biodiversity framework must be underpinned by gender-responsive goals, targets and indicators.

Participants reviewed and discussed possible options for targets and indicators for measuring the level of gender responsiveness within the new biodiversity framework. It was agreed that specific gender-related indicators should be mainstreamed across all sets of thematic targets, in addition to the inclusion of a target that is particularly centred around gender equality:

“By 2030, governments and other relevant stakeholders (academia, private sector, international organizations and implementing entities, etc.) have put in place instruments and mechanisms to ensure, monitor and report on: i) women and girls’ engagement in decision-making in biodiversity conservation and sustainable use; ii) fair and equitable sharing of benefits from the utilization of genetic resources; and iii) differential impacts of biodiversity loss.”

Participants emphasized the need to develop gender-specific indicators that align with the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) indicators and with the three objectives of the CBD. Gender-disaggregated data collection and reporting within the framework will allow for more responsive adaptive learning throughout implementation.

There is a need to strengthen accountability when it comes to integrating gender considerations in the CBD process. 1

During the CBD’s 14th Meeting of the Conference of the Parties (CBD COP14), all Parties agreed to the decisions from COP14, which referenced guidelines for the development of gender-responsive post-2020 biodiversity framework and included the approval of a Gender Action Plan (GAP). Participants of the workshop agreed that because this was an official COP decision, it should be used as a starting point for holding Parties accountable.

Ana Maria Paez Valencia, Social Scientist and Gender Specialist, ICRAF

The workshop discussed possible mechanisms such as including gender responsiveness, or progress on gender relevant indicators as part of the voluntary peer-review process that assesses the development and implementation of national biodiversity strategies and action plans (NBSAPs).

The inclusion of gender-responsive indicators for each target within the new framework should be linked to data collection and reporting mechanisms, with requirements for the inclusion of sex-disaggregated data and gender considerations in reporting templates. Moreover, participants agreed that compliance mechanisms should be facilitative, meaning that Parties who are unable or need support in implementing monitoring requirements will receive training and support.

An enabling environment is essential for mainstreaming gender considerations into the post-2020 framework.

Fundamental to the success of the post-2020 framework is the availability of sustained finance for implementation. Workshop participants underscored the importance of earmarking financial flows for gender-responsive activities and, specifically, for implementation of the CBD’s Gender Action Plan. They agreed that the plan should be revised to reflect updates within the post-2020 framework. If equipped with meaningful requirements for monitoring and reporting, the revised Gender Action Plan has the potential to become a powerful tool to guide action and hold Parties accountable.

The workshop also underscored the importance of capacity building and funding for the development of appropriate methodologies and approaches for the integration of gender considerations into relevant policy, strategy, and monitoring and evaluation frameworks. The need for capacity building applies not only to CBD processes and strategies, but to broader governmental directives, policies and strategic plans on biodiversity, at all levels of governance and implementation.

Originally published at World Agroforestry (ICRAF).

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World Agroforestry (ICRAF) is a centre of scientific and development excellence that harnesses the benefits of trees for people and the environment. Knowledge produced by ICRAF enables governments, development agencies and farmers to utilize the power of trees to make farming and livelihoods more environmentally, socially and economically sustainable at multiple scales.

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  • How to sweeten the deal for cocoa farmers?

How to sweeten the deal for cocoa farmers?

Cocoa. Photo by Ollivier Girard/CIFOR
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Cocoa is in high demand. In 2018, the global chocolate industry was worth close to USD 100 billion, and it is projected to grow. Consumers are increasingly asking for sustainably sourced products, and new kinds of investors are looking for positive environmental and social impacts, in addition to financial returns.

But, many cocoa farmers are poor, even now when the market price for cocoa is relatively high. During the past two years, when prices were lower, farmers had an even harder time making a living. So much so that Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire, the world’s largest cocoa producers, recently demanded that chocolate companies pay a minimum floor price for cocoa, in an attempt to guarantee smallholders a minimum income.

While both countries have agreed to sell their 2020–2021 cocoa crops for no less than USD 2,600 per ton, such an agreement has been deemed to be at best a short-term fix for struggling cocoa producers. Rather, say scientists from the CGIAR Research Program on Forests, Trees and Agroforestry (FTA), the cocoa sector urgently needs to completely rethink its business models. Only then will equitable benefit sharing among all actors in the cocoa value chain be possible.

Challenges abound

Cocoa at Machu Picchu. Photo by Marlon del Aguila Guerrero/CIFOR

Peter Minang, leader of landscape dynamics, productivity and resilience research under FTA, pointed out that many national economies in Africa depend on the production of agroforestry commodities such as cocoa, cashew nuts, shea butter, and coffee, cultivated across millions of hectares of forests and parkland. Cocoa alone covers six million hectares across Ghana, Nigeria, Cameroon and Côte d’Ivoire which, combined, supplied around 75 percent of the world’s cocoa in 2018–2019.

In addition to the persistent poverty of cocoa growers, many other problems still need solving, explained Minang. These include plant diseases, such as the cocoa swollen shoot virus, which are affecting the production on several million hectares. The heavy use of pesticides is not a viable solution, as they harm human health, pollinators and the overall environment. The cocoa sector is also under pressure to eliminate the currently widespread use of child labor in West Africa.

“There’s a bigger problem, economically,” Minang continued. “Even though Ghana, Nigeria, Cameroon and Côte d’Ivoire produce 75 percent of the world’s cocoa, they capture a small portion of the total value of the global chocolate industry.”

Minang said that scientists could help provide the knowledge and support required to transform this industry so that smallholder farmers can take part in the market and benefit from its value.

[Read more: Bitter or sweet trade for Africa’s cocoa farmers?]

Investments needed

Tony Simons, the director general of World Agroforestry (ICRAF), said he wanted to encourage greater engagement with the private sector: “For every one dollar OECD donors spend on overseas development assistance in the tropics, there is a thousand dollars of private capital to be mobilized. So why are we only focused on that one dollar?”

Particularly, the emerging area of impact investment could have the potential to make a difference for cocoa farmers. About USD 500 billion of so-called impact investments are currently available. While most of this money is directed at energy, transport or waste-reduction investments within OECD countries, a growing share of impact investors seem to be taking an interest in funding land and forest initiatives in the Global South.

Dietmar Stoian, lead scientist on value chains, private sector engagement and investments with ICRAF, has conducted a series of interviews with potential impact investors to understand how cocoa farmers in Ghana might benefit from such funds. He found that current investments focus mainly on increasing productivity, while paying less attention to environmental and social issues.

“This is all very incipient, when talking about impact investments in cocoa,” Stoian said. “I think there is potential, but investors need to be conscious of the realities and needs of smallholders, and adjust their investment schemes to these conditions.”

[Read more: Financial products should be adjusted to better meet needs of community forest enterprises]

New business models

Cocoa production. Photo by Ollivier Girard/CIFOR

In Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire, smallholders dominate more than 90 percent of cocoa production, but they have a weak position in the value chain. Supporting the organization of smallholders into cooperatives and expanding the role of existing ones could improve farmers’ standing, said Stoian.

“One key issue is where value is added,” he explained. “For now, it happens mostly in the importing countries, not in the producing countries. But, we do have examples from Latin America where some cooperatives have become very good at processing cocoa into diverse chocolate products and placing them in domestic markets at favorable prices.”

The Ghanaian cocoa sector might take its inspiration from Bolivia, for example, where the El Ceibo cooperative is marketing organic and Fairtrade-certified cocoa beans, butter and powder to the international market, allowing farmers to capture a higher price. The cooperative has, more importantly, managed to establish its own cocoa-processing plant, and has positioned a broad array of chocolate products in the domestic market, as a gourmet chocolate choice.

Stoian said you might imagine that Kuapa Kokooo – Ghana’s largest cocoa cooperative with around 100,000 members – and other cooperatives in West Africa could create value for their members through a similar approach.

Finally, models that completely bypass financial returns could be very attractive to farmers, while remaining interesting to investors, suggested Stoian. The Livelihoods Carbon Fund, for example, has launched a program in Côte d’Ivoire through which smallholders receive funds for agroforestry systems in return for carbon credits, he said. This allows investors to mitigate their carbon footprint elsewhere, and, according to Stoian, similar schemes are being considered by impact investors in Ghana.

[Read more: If cocoa prices have fallen, why isn’t your chocolate bar cheaper?]

The role of public policy

While impact investments have potential for smallholders, public policy might play an even greater role. To understand how Ghana is in a position to impose a minimum floor price for cocoa, one needs to know that that the farm-gate price for cocoa produced in Ghana is determined by a committee involving state-led regulators.

“The terms under which companies engage smallholders in Ghana are completely dictated by the Ghana Cocoa Board (COCOBOD), ” commented George Schoneveld, a senior scientist working on value chains, finance and investments for the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR). “Change therefore starts with public policy.”

Schoneveld pointed out that COCOBOD is currently partnering with development organizations to solve important challenges, such as replacing old and disease-ridden cocoa stands with improved varieties. “They provide the planting material, replanting support and even compensation payments to enable smallholders to absorb the loss of income associated with replanting,” he said.

However, the COCOBOD-led program’s adoption rates remain low due to tenure insecurity, land scarcity, cultural barriers and other factors. This, according to Schoneveld, highlights the need to build strategic partnerships for more integrated planning and funding approaches, such as is being planned for a large landscape program on cocoa to be led by CIFOR.

Whether the answer to smallholders’ struggles is impact investment, public policy, development programs – or perhaps a combination – remains an open question. Until determined, cocoa farmers will continue to underpin the global chocolate industry, receiving not much more than a bitter aftertaste in return.

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Some of the discussions on possible directions for a more equitable cocoa sector referenced above took place during the 4th World Congress on Agroforestry in May 2019. Research on the topic is continuing throughout FTA’s program activities.

By Marianne Gadeberg, communications specialist.


FTA is the world’s largest research for development program to enhance the role of forests, trees and agroforestry in sustainable development and food security and to address climate change. CIFOR leads FTA in partnership with Bioversity International, CATIE, CIRAD, INBAR, ICRAF and TBI. FTA’s work is supported by the CGIAR Trust Fund.

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  • Time to rethink the role of trees, forests and agroforestry in the fight against climate change

Time to rethink the role of trees, forests and agroforestry in the fight against climate change

Open lands used for cabbage plantations in Sukabumi, Jawa Barat, Indonesia. Photo by R.Martin/CIFOR
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The role of forests and trees in mitigating climate change and capturing and storing carbon in biomass and soil is well recognized. Over the past few decades, a variety of schemes, including REDD, REDD+,  4per1000 and AFR100 have been designed to leverage this mitigation potential.

An Acai nursery in Acre, Brazil. Photo by K. Evans/CIFOR

However, much less attention has been given to the role of forests and trees in helping farmers and farm systems adapt to climate change. Today, with climate change impacts already having immediate, dramatic impacts on smallholder farmers, it is time to have a more balanced approach.

That’s why we are calling for a shift of focus from trees and mitigation to trees and adaptation. There is a need to explore what forests, trees and agroforestry can bring to the adaptation of other sectors, particularly agriculture.

This coincides with a need to change perspectives, from a dominant global perspective centered on carbon, to a local perspective centered on what works for farmers in a particular place. There is growing understanding that tree planting initiatives for mitigation won’t happen unless they benefit farmers locally. Farmers, however, will plant trees if they see how they help their livelihood systems become more resilient to climate change.

At the recent 4th World Congress on Agroforestry, our colleagues from the CGIAR Research Program on Forests, Trees and Agroforestry (FTA) gave a series of presentations that illustrates this farmer-centered, place-based approach. They showed how agroforestry can allow farmers to adapt to climate change, improve their livelihoods and contribute to resilient systems, while also working toward mitigation objectives.

Read also: Agroforestry: Development underdog headed for center stage in global sustainability efforts

Trees for adaptation

During the congress, Roeland Kindt (ICRAF) and collaborators presented their work on a climate change atlas being prepared for Africa, with habitat change projected for 150 tree species native to Africa. This work follows a publication by World Agroforestry (ICRAF), in collaboration with Bioversity International, CATIE and Hivos, on habitat suitability maps for 54 tree species that are widely used in Central America for shade in coffee or cocoa agroforestry systems.

Tea pickers at work in Pangkalan Limus village, Mount Halimun Salak National Park, West Java, Indonesia. Photo by A. Erlangga/CIFOR

To adapt to climate change, preserving the diversity of genetic resources is crucial. Alice Muchugi (ICRAF) and collaborators explored the challenges relating to the conservation of high-value tree genetic resources and proposed options to facilitate their conservation and use.

In order to better achieve restoration targets through agroforestry, Lalisa Duguma (ICRAF) and collaborators proposed to change the discourse from “tree planting” to “tree growing”. They highlighted the discrepancy between the short time span of most restoration projects and the time needed to ensure a good survival rate of planted trees, especially when accounting for future shifts in climate.

Soil organic carbon

The increase of soil organic carbon, an indicator of carbon sequestered, should also be seen as an adaptation measure. It is key to soil fertility and to water retention and storage in the soil. It  can therefore help boost and stabilize the productivity of agroforestry systems, even in the face of climate change impacts.

A study by Sari Pitkänen and collaborators conducted in Southeast Sulawesi, Indonesia, showed that carbon stocks in agroforestry systems correlate with tree diversity.

Amango plantation in Yalka village, Burkina Faso. Photo by O. Girard/CIFOR

However, despite knowing the importance of soil organic carbon, measuring it has long been slow, expensive and difficult to standardize. In response to this, Keith Shepherd and collaborators from ICRAF have tested infrared spectroscopy technology that can provide a robust, low-cost, integrated indicator of soil organic carbon levels. They have demonstrated that inexpensive handheld infrared instruments can be used for measuring soil health changes.

Being able to easily measure soil organic carbon levels allows for evaluating the impacts of restoration initiatives. In another study, Ermias Aynekulu (ICRAF) and collaborators examined the effects of two decades of annual prescribed burning of grazing lands in Burkina Faso and three decades of livestock exclosures in Ethiopia.

Shepherd suggested prioritizing efforts to promote good land management practices at scale to prevent carbon losses, rather than trying to restore already degraded land. This would mean looking at policy interventions to prevent degradation and maintain or enhance soil fertility – for example by promoting agroforestry practices.

Read also: A five-part road map for how to succeed with agroforestry

Local knowledge and land restoration

Land restoration can play a considerable role in addressing climate change, both adaptation and mitigation, and for this agroforestry is key. Several presentations at the congress explored some of the dimensions that determine the likelihood of success for restoration projects. Key among these factors were accounting for and leveraging local knowledge.

A farmer in Tintilou village, Burkina Faso. Photo by O. Girard for Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR).

Mary Crossland (Bangor University) and collaborators, in a study in northwest Ethiopia, noted that national objectives and local perceptions and priorities are often different. Local actors are often reluctant to accept the exclosure of areas that are not yet highly degraded, even though it has been shown to be a more effective strategy than focusing on very degraded land. Farmers with a large amount of livestock or little land were strongly opposed to exclosures. This example shows the need to understand how livelihoods interact with different restoration interventions and to take measures that compensate for their impacts on the most vulnerable people.

Anne Kuria (ICRAF) and collaborators explored the role local knowledge can play in adapting land restoration options to local contexts and farmers’ circumstances in Ethiopian drylands. Farmers identified 12 contextual factors that influence the suitability of restoration options for local contexts. Biophysical factors were soil erosion type, soil type, soil depth, slope of the field, field location along a slope and field size. Socioeconomic factors were livestock management systems, land tenure systems, labor, gender, technology and skills. This study also demonstrated that farmers utilized their local knowledge to adapt and modify land restoration interventions to suit their needs and context.

Making agroforestry count

Understanding the potential of agroforestry as a climate change adaptation strategy is one thing, but how can it become a key element of countries’ climate policies?

Here, key mechanisms are the national adaptation plans (NAPs) that countries are preparing under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) as an opportunity. Ninety-one countries are currently in the process of developing their national adaptation plans.

An organic cabbage plantation on the mountain of Gede Pangrango Sukabumi, West Java, Indonesia. Photo by R. Martin/CIFOR

In a review that we conducted of the 15 national adaptation plans published so far, the word ‘agroforestry’ is present in two-thirds of the plans, but agroforestry practices are referenced more frequently, as a means of adaptation and as serving a great variety of purposes related to natural resource management. These include restoring degraded land, reducing soil erosion, restoring water catchments, protecting water tanks and rivers, protecting against wind and storms and providing shade.

These recommendations generally focus on single biophysical benefits and often neglect integration of the trees with other crops as well as agroforestry’s potential socioeconomic benefits. The NAPs are generally silent on measures related to the enabling environment needed for planting trees, such as measures for tenure as well as seed and seedling systems.

Because the UNFCCC clearly says that the NAPs have to be guided by the “best available science”, we now have a huge responsibility to bring scientific information to the attention of decision-makers.

By Vincent Gitz, Director, FTA and Alexandre Meybeck, Senior Technical Advisor, FTA.


The CGIAR Research Program on Forests, Trees and Agroforestry (FTA) is the world’s largest research for development program to enhance the role of forests, trees and agroforestry in sustainable development and food security and to address climate change. CIFOR leads FTA in partnership with Bioversity International, CATIE, CIRAD, ICRAF, INBAR and TBI. FTA’s work is supported by the CGIAR Trust Fund.

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  • A five-part road map for how to succeed with agroforestry

A five-part road map for how to succeed with agroforestry

A Lubuk Beringin villager looks over fields in Dusun Buat village, Indonesia. Photo by T. Saputro/CIFOR
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FTA communications

“We are like 1,200 little ants,” said Tristan Lecomte, president of the PUR Project, of the global experts and scientists attending the 4th World Congress on Agroforestry last month. “We are all specialized in our own little fields – some of us on the leaves, some on the roots, some on the crops.”

Tea pickers in Mount Halimun Salak National Park in West Java, Indonesia collect tea leaves in a basket. Photo by A. Erlangga/CIFOR

Lecomte’s point, that agroforestry is a multi-dimensional concept not easily captured by a single catchphrase, was evident after 3 days, 38 sessions and 600 poster talks.

Still, several speakers made the case for simplicity: Agroforestry will only make its way to the top of global development agendas – fulfilling its rightful role as a solution to climate change, biodiversity loss, malnutrition and poverty – if we are able to deliver a clear message. “Actually it’s simple,” said Patrick Worms, president of the European Agroforestry Federation (EURAF). “Just do it.”

The question is how. Let’s take a closer look at five lessons on how to succeed with agroforestry, based on work presented by scientists contributing to the CGIAR Research Program on Forests Trees and Agroforestry (FTA).

Read also: Agroforestry: Development underdog headed for center stage in global sustainability efforts

  1. Put farmers first.

Agroforestry has the potential to reverse planetary degradation trends, but efforts necessarily start with the farmers themselves. “It brings multiple benefits at the level of the landscape and the planet – that we know – but how can farmers decide to opt for these systems?” asked Vincent Gitz, director of FTA.

A cabbage plantation on the slope of mount Gede Pangrango Sukabumi, West Java, Indonesia. Photo by R. Martin/CIFOR

One answer, coming from researchers working with World Agroforestry (ICRAF), is through close collaboration with farmers themselves. ICRAF scientists have established , which are training, experimentation and demonstration hubs, to co-design agroforestry solutions together with farmers.

“Some projects fail because they are promoting trees disconnected from farmers’ needs,” said Catherine Muthuri, scientist with ICRAF. “We are promoting trees that farmers have prioritized – they are planting trees that they know, and they understand why.” The rural resource centers are being expanded as a model for agricultural extension in a bid to increase food security in Ethiopia, Uganda and Rwanda and to boost climate resilience in Cameroon, Burkina Faso, Mali and Chad.

  1. Remember, it’s not only a man’s world.

Agroforestry solutions need to be tailored to on-the-ground realities, of course, and accounting for . In Nicaragua, for example, . Their findings indicate that, in the nine communities studied, men tended to prefer agroforestry crops such as cocoa and coffee, which provide sources of income. Women, on the other hand, placed higher value on basic grain crops such as rice, perceiving them as better sources of food.

“We risk missing the mark completely if we don’t account for gender,” explained Laurène Feintrenie, scientist with the French Agricultural Research Center for International Development (CIRAD). “You can imagine projects ending up promoting only cash crops because they’re basing their recommendations only on men’s preferences, and then not contributing to food security or poverty alleviation at all.” Designing agroforestry interventions to ensure that everyone – men and women – both perceive and attain the benefits of these practices is essential to success.

  1. Go after the money.

“One big motivation for farmers is to be able to improve their household income,” said Clement Okia, scientist with ICRAF. “When you can demonstrate to farmers that this thing can increase their incomes, farmers get excited.”

A farmer holds a Gnetum (okok) plant in the village of Minwoho, Lekié, Center Region, Cameroon. Photo by O. Girard/CIFOR

He presented research on how strengthening value chains can increase farmers’ interest in adopting agroforestry practices. The underlying rationale was often repeated during the congress: What good does it do to produce a high-quality agroforestry product if no one wants to buy it? Everyone needs to make a living.

Okia and his colleagues have worked with farmers to establish innovation platforms in Uganda and Zambia. The innovation platforms are networks that allow farmers to engage with value chains, markets and business opportunities. Already, results are promising. In Uganda, for example, 5,000 coffee farmers have identified production challenges, received training and established new practices. This has allowed them to export specialty coffee to the Australian market.

  1. Think landscape.

Agroforestry represents an opportunity to create synergies across sectors at the landscape scale. This is especially useful in places like Indonesia, where fierce competition over land prevails. At the same time, government agencies tend to plan for each sector in isolation, resulting in overlaps and inefficiencies. That’s why scientists from ICRAF and the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) have created a policy platform for authorities, the private sector and farmer cooperatives to collaborate on integrating different land use options.

“On Sumbawa Island, the agricultural department has been encouraging corn crops, but this depends on contracting land from protected forests,” said Ani Adiwinata Nawir, scientist with CIFOR. “We offer alternative options, so that local communities can learn that there are other options besides corn that could bring them more benefits. Some fast-growing timber species, for example, can be intercropped with non-timber forest products.” Collaborating with the private sector ensures a market for products such as timber, honey or natural dyes.

What’s more, preserving forests and regenerating deforested land can help prevent disasters such as the destructive floods that swept across Sumbawa Island in 2017. District authorities have already adopted landscape-level thinking into their planning, and the approach is currently scaling to the provincial level.

  1. Plan for the long term.

Trees are around for a long time. Whether this is a challenge or a blessing depends on your perspective. “Trees are a bit more complicated when it comes to climate change,” said Roeland Kindt, scientist with ICRAF. “With crops, you can see how the climate is changing and then select the right varieties, but with trees – you plant them now, and they’ll still be there in 10 or 30 years.”

An Acai nursery in Acre, Brazil. Photo by K. Evans/CIFOR

Therefore, Kindt and his colleagues are using modeling to recommend tree species fit for a climate-change future. In 2017, they published an atlas to help coffee and cocoa farmers in Latin America determine what species will continue to be suitable as shade trees, considering climate change risks. Now, a similar atlas for Africa is under development, and will be used to inform large-scale restoration projects in Gambia, Rwanda, Tanzania, Uganda, Kenya and elsewhere.

“We focus on fruit trees, timber trees and those that improve soil fertility, which can generate income for the farmers,” Kindt explained. “In some areas, it is possible that coffee will no longer be a suitable crop in the future, and then, timber and fruit trees can make up a new agroforestry system.”

Once you take a step back from the anthill, you begin to see the ingenuity of it. Agroforestry may not be a one-size-fits-all solution, but it is an adaptable, applicable practice that fits the complexity of today’s development challenges. And, with these top five lessons in hand, farmers, development practitioners, donors and private sector actors may be better placed to achieve its potential.

By Marianne Gadeberg, communications specialist. 


The CGIAR Research Program on Forests, Trees and Agroforestry (FTA) is the world’s largest research for development program to enhance the role of forests, trees and agroforestry in sustainable development and food security and to address climate change. CIFOR leads FTA in partnership with Bioversity International, CATIE, CIRAD, ICRAF, INBAR and TBI. FTA’s work is supported by the CGIAR Trust Fund.

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  • Agroforestry: Development underdog headed for center stage in global sustainability efforts

Agroforestry: Development underdog headed for center stage in global sustainability efforts

A farmer harvests fruit in Birou village, Burkina Faso. Photo by O. Girard/CIFOR.
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FTA communications

“Essential.” “Obvious.” “The model of the future.”

Last month, when more than 1,200 scientists and experts met at the World Agroforestry Congress in France, agroforestry was praised for its multitude of benefits. It was lauded as a solution to many of the world’s most pressing challenges, including poverty, malnutrition, climate change, biodiversity loss, migration and conflict.

But, if agroforestry is so great, why isn’t everyone doing it?

One tomato, two tomato, three thousand tree tomatoes

When trees and crops are successfully farmed together, agroforestry does provide a wealth of environmental, social and economic benefits. This is the case in Bugesera district in Rwanda, where 2,000 farmers have started growing tree tomato, which is a result of a scaling-out initiative of the “Trees for Food Security” project funded by the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR) and led by World Agroforestry (ICRAF), a partner of the CGIAR Research Program on Forests, Trees and Agroforestry (FTA).

A Jatropha farmer from Chinsali district in northern Zambia sells crops in a market. Photo by J. Walker/CIFOR

The project seeks to introduce tree tomato to Bugesera district and enhance production in Musanze and Nyabihu districts in Rwanda, in both humid and drier contexts. It has also established rural resource centers (RRCs), which are hubs for the supply of quality germplasm, and training and peer learning.

These fast-growing, small, shrubby trees produce fruits (popularly known as “Tamarillo”) that are rich in nutrients, particularly vitamin C and A. They fill an important gap in local diets. In Rwanda, 38 percent of children below the age of five suffer stunting as a result of malnutrition.

“The beauty of  growing tree tomato is that jobless people – who seemingly had no future – are now given a source of income and livelihood,” said Catherine Muthuri, senior scientist with ICRAF and Trees for Food Security project manager.

“A farmer will say, ‘this is good – I’m not going anywhere, I just harvest it right outside my house and then someone comes and buys it.’”

According to farmers’ testimonies, they use the proceeds from tree tomato sales to pay for school fees and health insurance, and to buy clothes. They also use the funds to renovate their houses and open accounts in the local bank – Sacco. They also consume the product at home to reduce malnutrition.

The RRCs are key to the development of satellite nurseries, that are run by cooperatives or farmer groups to provide farmers various high-quality tree seedlings that, along with proper management techniques, translate into bigger benefits for farmers. This, in turn, increases the incentive for farmers to plant many more trees in the future, benefiting soil health, increasing carbon storage, controlling soil erosion and providing diverse products like fruit (such as tree tomato, mango and avocado), fuel, timber, fodder and fertilizer.

Read also: The right species for the right purpose

A recipe for success

“Once you convince a farmer that there is something in it for them and that their values, interests and their experiences matter, they will then allow you to support them,” said Muthuri. “At the end of the day, it’s their farm where the project is trying out these technologies.”

This close collaboration, according to Tony Bartlett of ACIAR, is one of the likely reasons why this project has been successful in scaling its innovations. The Ethiopian government recently announced its plans to transform 30,000 agricultural extension centers based on the RRC model, and nursery cooperatives are taking off in Rwanda and Uganda.

When Bartlett reviewed 15 ACIAR-funded agroforestry projects, he found the Trees for Food Security project to be among the top three most successful.

Vegetable gardens near the village of Zorro, Burkina Faso. Photo by O. Girard/CIFOR.

“I’m a firm believer that the market part is critical because it becomes a ‘pulling’ factor. If the development is going in the wrong direction, then consumers or governments can correct it, but the market is the driving force,” said Bartlett.

In Bugesera district, farmers have been eager to grow tree tomato precisely because of a strong market demand. Soon, farmers and scientists will start exploring opportunities to process the tree tomato fruits, hoping to add value and ensure that returns remain high. At the same time, the Rwandan government’s commitments to improving nutrition and restoring land have provided prime enabling conditions.

However, large-scale uptake of agroforestry is still rare. Because, according to Bartlett, transformation at the country or industry level is complicated. “The trouble is, there are infinite combinations of trees and crops that can be grown together,” he said. Local agroecology, policies and markets all play a role in determining what can work where.

Still, Bartlett proposed that research institutions share agroforestry solutions with those who can implement them, whether they are development partners or private sector actors. He pointed out that the cocoa or coffee industries are actively looking to produce in more sustainable ways, thanks to growing consumer awareness.

“What the research-for-development community hasn’t done well is sharing our best-bet options at a relatively early stage. We wait too long,” he said.

Read also: Trees nurture nutrition

Next stop: The global development agenda

FTA Director Vincent Gitz, from CIFOR, projected this same sense of urgency as he delivered one of the final keynote presentations of the World Agroforestry Congress.

“Precisely now, as we’re reaching 2020, we have to proceed with the implementation of the Paris Agreement and the Sustainable Development Goals,” he said. “And these commitments all mention trees and agroforestry, but nothing much about exactly what it takes – what tree species, what techniques, what business models or what enabling policies.”

A man holds some indigenous seeds in Olenguruone, Rift Valley, Kenya. Photo by P. Shepherd/CIFOR

Gitz urged his colleagues to bring forth the evidence that can be used to inform national policies and achieve global commitments. “In FTA, we consider it our role to influence the farm–forest policy interface at the national level, as this is where we can unlock some of the barriers to scaling agroforestry,” Gitz said. “At the international policy level, we cannot do it alone, but there are ways in which we can influence the discussions.”

He highlighted the process to define the post-2020 framework for the Convention on Biological Diversity, countries’ efforts to achieve their nationally determined contributions under the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, and the UN Committee on World Food Security’s 46th session later this year as major opportunities for integrating agroforestry into the global development agenda. Unfortunately, as Gitz said, “the world lacks a universally agreed definition of agroforestry. And without an agreed definition, it’s difficult to get policy integration. So, this should be a first step.”

As the congress drew to a close, the participants agreed to a statement calling on world leaders to promote the benefits of agroforestry to land owners and managers across the globe. Only when farmers everywhere can enjoy benefits similar to those emerging in Bugesera district in Rwanda will agroforestry truly have become a model for sustainable development.

Now is the time to turn from aspiration to action.

By Marianne Gadeberg, communications specialist. 


The CGIAR Research Program on Forests, Trees and Agroforestry (FTA) is the world’s largest research for development program to enhance the role of forests, trees and agroforestry in sustainable development and food security and to address climate change. CIFOR leads FTA in partnership with Bioversity International, CATIE, CIRAD, ICRAF, INBAR and TBI. FTA’s work is supported by the CGIAR Trust Fund.

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  • Researchers to gather at World Congress on Agroforestry

Researchers to gather at World Congress on Agroforestry

A man works on a cocoa farm in Peru. Photo by M. del Aguila Guerrero/CIFOR
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FTA COMMUNICATIONS TEAM

The 4th World Congress on Agroforestry (Agroforestry 2019) aims to strengthen the links between science, society and public policies. Under the high patronage of Mr. Emmanuel Macron, President of the French Republic, the Congress is to be held at the Le Corum conference center in Montpellier on 20–22 May 2019. The Congress is a part of a Week of Agroforestry running from 19–23 May.

Open to researchers, students, farmers, NGOs, and political and economic decisionmakers, the Congress is expecting some 1,500 participants from more than 100 countries. FTA is a platinum partner for the event. It is being held in Europe for the first time, by the Agricultural Research Centre for Development (CIRAD) and the French National Institute for Agricultural Research (INRA), in partnership with World Agroforestry, Agropolis International and Montpellier University of Excellence. It will be preceded on 19 May by a day of events for the general public, organized by the Fondation de France and the French Association of Agroforestry.

“We wanted, through this general public day ahead of the congress, to make agroforestry better known to civil society”, explained Emmanuel Torquebiau, Agroforestry Project Manager at CIRAD and Chairman of the Organizing Committee of the 4th World Congress on Agroforestry.

Learn more: 4th World Congress on Agroforestry

Agroforestry, the future of agriculture?

The organizers aim to anchor the 4th World Congress on Agroforestry to the societal debate on agriculture. “It is time for technical solutions to be discussed within civil society and to become part of public policy”, commented Christian Dupraz, INRA Research Director and Chairman of the Scientific Committee of the Congress.

By combining science and dialogue with society, the Congress will be an opportunity to assess the contribution of agroforestry to the agro-ecological transition of agriculture at the global level.

A farmer displays their coffee beans in Brazil. Photo by I. Cooke Vieira/CIFOR

Agroforestry, which involves combining trees with crops and pastures, is now recognized to protect soils, address climate change issues and contribute to global food security. This practice could therefore be the future of agriculture. The fields of application are very diverse: hedges and alignment of trees or shrubs in and around plots, multilayer agriculture, timber or fruit production in cropland, fodder trees, trees for honey, shade trees for perennial crops (coffee, cocoa, grapevines) or livestock, multilayer agroforests and agroforestry gardens.

An International Union of Agroforestry will be created at the Congress, to federate agroforestry innovations on a global scale. On Thursday, 23 May, participants will be able to visit the main European experimental agroforestry site at Domaine de Restinclières in Prades-le-Lez (11 km north of Montpellier) where cereals (durum wheat and barley rotated with protein peas) are grown with many tree species, particularly walnut trees. In more stony soils, vines are grown with pines and cormiers. This 50-ha experimental farm, which belongs to Hérault County Council, is scientifically managed by INRA Occitanie-Montpellier.

Originally published by CIRAD.

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  • What’s good for business is good for forests in Indonesia

What’s good for business is good for forests in Indonesia

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FTA COMMUNICATIONS TEAM

A community member hold a tree product as part of the Kanoppi project in East Nusa Tenggara, Indonesia. Photo by A. Sanjaya/CIFOR

Scientists in Indonesia are demonstrating how better business opportunities for local communities can help foster and reinforce sustainable forest management.

As the world marks International Day of Forests on March 21, the benefits of reforestation and forest restoration are rightly lauded. In success stories of the past, local communities have often been cast as the heroes of sustainable forestry, while private sector businesses have been portrayed as villains. But what if that’s not the whole story?

The Kanoppi project, which launched in 2013 and has now entered its second phase, concentrates on the expansion of market-based agroforestry and the development of integrated landscape management in the poorest provinces of eastern Indonesia and the country’s most densely-populated island of Java.

The project, which is part of the CGIAR Research Program on Forests, Trees and Agroforestry (FTA), is funded by the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR) and led by scientists from the World Agroforestry (ICRAF), Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR), the Research, Development and Innovation Agency (FOERDIA) of the Indonesian Ministry of Environment and Forestry and Murdoch University in collaboration with other project partners.

Read also: New children’s book teaches the sustainable traditions of West Timorese honey hunters

Missing link

For many generations, communities living in Indonesia have relied on forests to supplement the food and income they reap from farming. Yet, despite the riches of the forests, poverty is still widespread. Some rural households living in the Kanoppi project’s pilot sites in eastern Indonesia earn around US$210 a year.

Part of the challenge is a lack of integration and linkages between community groups producing timber and non-timber forest products (NTFP) and the private sector. Conflicting, confusing and changeable public policies also do not help.

“For example, some communities will plant small teak plantations as a kind of savings account, but most don’t know how to get the permits required to harvest and transport the timber,” explained Ani Adiwinata Nawir, policy scientist with CIFOR. “This means that communities do not harvest as much teak as they could and that they can’t convert their timber into cash when needed.”

Strengthening value chains has become a key focus for Kanoppi, so that farmers can capture more value from their agroforestry production. This, however, requires sustained efforts at multiple levels, including promoting better practices on the ground to increase productivity and profitability, developing markets and private sector engagement, and facilitating supportive policies and institutions.

People work together in a paddy in Yogyakarta, Indonesia. Photo by A. Erlangga/CIFOR

Protecting the forest

One example of how to turn traditional community practices into a successful business venture comes from the Mount Mutis Nature Reserve in West Timor. Here, communities come together every year to harvest wild forest honey. The task is dangerous – men scale trees of up to 80 meters to collect the honey by hand – but it is also sustainable because it does not require cutting down trees.

The honey supplements local diets, and there is enough left over to sell. In fact, as much as 30 tons of wild honey is produced and harvested in Mt. Mutis annually, accounting for 25 percent of total production in the province. Working collaboratively with WWF Indonesia – which is one of the project’s NGO partners along with others like Threads of Life – Kanoppi has helped brand and package the honey, which is now sold as “Mt. Mutis honey” and sold to neighboring islands.

Similarly on Sumbawa island, this commercial success is good news for communities and for the forest: Because the continued honey production hinges on a healthy ecosystem, people have a strong economic incentive to preserve and protect the forest.

That’s the underlying logic of the whole project. When communities can successfully market and sell sustainable products, their incentive to continue sustainable forestry practices grows, which in turn increases productivity, profitability and incomes.

“We want to reinforce this virtuous cycle where business opportunities foster sustainable forestry,” said Aulia Perdana, a marketing specialist with ICRAF. “That’s why we try to involve the private sector – for example in the village learning centers we’ve established in project sites – so that communities can better connect with the market.”

Other efforts to promote sustainable and profitable agroforestry production include using voluntary extensionists, meaning that the people who first adopt a new technology help spread those innovations to other members of the community. Eleven on-farm demonstration trials have already been established, and 40 more are planned for 2019. Kanoppi has also published manuals, journal articles, videos and a picture book to promote its methodology.

Read the picture book: Secrets of the Mutis Honey Hunters

Landscape perspective

Given the project’s success with marketing the sustainably produced honey from Mt. Mutis, the local district administration has adapted its strategy on integrated landscape-level management of NTFP to give greater weight to communities’ customary practices. This is an important first step toward establishing policy support elsewhere in the country.

Honeycomb drains through a nylon filter in Indonesia. Photo by S. Purnama Sarie/ICRAF

One challenge has been that past planning and policies have separately focused on different sectors, such as small farms in forestry and target-oriented cash crop production led by other sectors – not considering opportunities for synergies or problematic overlaps. Kanoppi has departed from that approach.

“We talk about integrated landscape management, which essentially is about harmonizing the different land uses along the watershed from upstream to downstream, so that farms, plantations, forests and many other kinds of activities coexist and reinforce each other,” said Ani.

“The landscape perspective helps everyone – communities, businesses and authorities – see what kind of production fits where in the landscape, in ways that are both profitable and sustainable.”

Kanoppi is a clear example of how combining the expertise and experience of CIFOR and ICRAF scientists makes for a strong response to development and sustainability challenges in forested landscapes – among the many reasons why the two institutions recently announced a merger.

In Indonesia, Ani, Perdana and their colleagues will continue their work to develop inclusive, sustainable business models that generate a fair return – specifically focusing on scaling-up the adoption of improved production practices and value chains to benefit smallholder livelihoods through landscape-scale management of the farm-forest interface – for communities and for forests.

By Marianne Gadeberg, communications specialist.


This research is part of the CGIAR Research Program on Forests, Trees and Agroforestry (FTA). FTA is the world’s largest research for development program to enhance the role of forests, trees and agroforestry in sustainable development and food security and to address climate change. CIFOR leads FTA in partnership with Bioversity International, CATIE, CIRAD, INBAR, ICRAF and TBI. FTA’s work is supported by the CGIAR Trust Fund.

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  • What’s good for business is good for forests in Indonesia

What’s good for business is good for forests in Indonesia

A community member holds a tree product as part of the Kanoppi project in East Nusa Tenggara, Indonesia. Photo by A. Sanjaya/CIFOR
Posted by

FTA COMMUNICATIONS TEAM

Scientists in Indonesia are demonstrating how better business opportunities for local communities can help foster and reinforce sustainable forest management.

As the world marks International Day of Forests on March 21, the benefits of reforestation and forest restoration are rightly lauded. In success stories of the past, local communities have often been cast as the heroes of sustainable forestry, while private sector businesses have been portrayed as villains. But what if that’s not the whole story?

The Kanoppi project, which launched in 2013 and has now entered its second phase, concentrates on the expansion of market-based agroforestry and the development of integrated landscape management in the poorest provinces of eastern Indonesia and the country’s most densely-populated island of Java.

The project, which is part of the CGIAR Research Program on Forests, Trees and Agroforestry (FTA), is funded by the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR) and led by scientists from the World Agroforestry (ICRAF), Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR), the Research, Development and Innovation Agency (FOERDIA) of the Indonesian Ministry of Environment and Forestry and Murdoch University in collaboration with other project partners.

Read also: New children’s book teaches the sustainable traditions of West Timorese honey hunters

Missing link

For many generations, communities living in Indonesia have relied on forests to supplement the food and income they reap from farming. Yet, despite the riches of the forests, poverty is still widespread. Some rural households living in the Kanoppi project’s pilot sites in eastern Indonesia earn around US$210 a year.

Part of the challenge is a lack of integration and linkages between community groups producing timber and non-timber forest products (NTFP) and the private sector. Conflicting, confusing and changeable public policies also do not help.

“For example, some communities will plant small teak plantations as a kind of savings account, but most don’t know how to get the permits required to harvest and transport the timber,” explained Ani Adiwinata Nawir, policy scientist with CIFOR. “This means that communities do not harvest as much teak as they could and that they can’t convert their timber into cash when needed.”

Strengthening value chains has become a key focus for Kanoppi, so that farmers can capture more value from their agroforestry production. This, however, requires sustained efforts at multiple levels, including promoting better practices on the ground to increase productivity and profitability, developing markets and private sector engagement, and facilitating supportive policies and institutions.

People work together in a paddy in Yogyakarta, Indonesia. Photo by A. Erlangga/CIFOR

Protecting the forest

One example of how to turn traditional community practices into a successful business venture comes from the Mount Mutis Nature Reserve in West Timor. Here, communities come together every year to harvest wild forest honey. The task is dangerous – men scale trees of up to 80 meters to collect the honey by hand – but it is also sustainable because it does not require cutting down trees.

The honey supplements local diets, and there is enough left over to sell. In fact, as much as 30 tons of wild honey is produced and harvested in Mt. Mutis annually, accounting for 25 percent of total production in the province. Working collaboratively with WWF Indonesia – which is one of the project’s NGO partners along with others like Threads of Life – Kanoppi has helped brand and package the honey, which is now sold as “Mt. Mutis honey” and sold to neighboring islands.

Similarly on Sumbawa island, this commercial success is good news for communities and for the forest: Because the continued honey production hinges on a healthy ecosystem, people have a strong economic incentive to preserve and protect the forest.

That’s the underlying logic of the whole project. When communities can successfully market and sell sustainable products, their incentive to continue sustainable forestry practices grows, which in turn increases productivity, profitability and incomes.

“We want to reinforce this virtuous cycle where business opportunities foster sustainable forestry,” said Aulia Perdana, a marketing specialist with ICRAF. “That’s why we try to involve the private sector – for example in the village learning centers we’ve established in project sites – so that communities can better connect with the market.”

Other efforts to promote sustainable and profitable agroforestry production include using voluntary extensionists, meaning that the people who first adopt a new technology help spread those innovations to other members of the community. Eleven on-farm demonstration trials have already been established, and 40 more are planned for 2019. Kanoppi has also published manuals, journal articles, videos and a picture book to promote its methodology.

Read the picture book: Secrets of the Mutis Honey Hunters

Landscape perspective

Given the project’s success with marketing the sustainably produced honey from Mt. Mutis, the local district administration has adapted its strategy on integrated landscape-level management of NTFP to give greater weight to communities’ customary practices. This is an important first step toward establishing policy support elsewhere in the country.

Honeycomb drains through a nylon filter in Indonesia. Photo by S. Purnama Sarie/ICRAF

One challenge has been that past planning and policies have separately focused on different sectors, such as small farms in forestry and target-oriented cash crop production led by other sectors – not considering opportunities for synergies or problematic overlaps. Kanoppi has departed from that approach.

“We talk about integrated landscape management, which essentially is about harmonizing the different land uses along the watershed from upstream to downstream, so that farms, plantations, forests and many other kinds of activities coexist and reinforce each other,” said Ani.

“The landscape perspective helps everyone – communities, businesses and authorities – see what kind of production fits where in the landscape, in ways that are both profitable and sustainable.”

Kanoppi is a clear example of how combining the expertise and experience of CIFOR and ICRAF scientists makes for a strong response to development and sustainability challenges in forested landscapes – among the many reasons why the two institutions recently announced a merger.

In Indonesia, Ani, Perdana and their colleagues will continue their work to develop inclusive, sustainable business models that generate a fair return – specifically focusing on scaling-up the adoption of improved production practices and value chains to benefit smallholder livelihoods through landscape-scale management of the farm-forest interface – for communities and for forests.

By Marianne Gadeberg, communications specialist.


This research is part of the CGIAR Research Program on Forests, Trees and Agroforestry (FTA). FTA is the world’s largest research for development program to enhance the role of forests, trees and agroforestry in sustainable development and food security and to address climate change. CIFOR leads FTA in partnership with Bioversity International, CATIE, CIRAD, INBAR, ICRAF and TBI. FTA’s work is supported by the CGIAR Trust Fund.


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