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  • Vietnam's Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development awards ICRAF coordinator for agriculture and rural development work

Vietnam’s Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development awards ICRAF coordinator for agriculture and rural development work

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Delia Catacutan receives an award from His Excellency Dr. Le Quoc Doanh, Vice-Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development. Photo by Pham Duc Thanh/ICRAF

The World Agroforestry Centre’s (ICRAF) Vietnam Coordinator Delia C. Catacutan has received Vietnam’s highest award for agriculture and rural development.

Catacutan, who holds a PhD on natural and rural systems management from the University of Queensland, as well as a post-doc on sustainability science from Harvard University, specializes in policy and institutional research on integrated natural resources management.

As a senior social scientist and country representative for ICRAF in Vietnam, Catacutan aims to enhance the Vietnam Country Program in line with the Centre Global Program’s mission and vision.

His Excellency Dr Le Quoc Doanh, Vietnam’s Vice-Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, awarded the medal on April 5, 2018, during a workshop in Hanoi on Enhancing Agroforestry Development in Vietnam.

It is the highest award in the sector for individuals who have made an outstanding contribution to rural development.

On behalf of the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, the Vice-Minister expressed his deep appreciation for Catacutan’s contributions and the close cooperation seen during her six years at the helm of ICRAF Vietnam, which includes some work that forms part of the CGIAR Research Program on Forests, Trees and Agroforestry (FTA). He emphasized that the agriculture and rural development sector had received valuable assistance from the international resources provided by ICRAF.

Trees planted on the side of a farming area protect against water flowing from the road in the Philippines. Photo by Jovita Banaag/ICRAF

In particular, Catacutan has facilitated policy dialogues among government officers and the international community on agroforestry, climate change, disaster prevention, sustainable forestry development, ecosystem conservation and payments for environmental services.

Under Catacutan’s leadership, ICRAF cooperated closely with the Vietnam Administration of Forestry to review the new Forest Law before its adoption by the National Assembly in November 2017. Research was also carried out to support the provisions on forestry, agroforestry and fisheries in the Forest Law Enforcement Decree.

Catacutan led the strengthening of research collaboration with other Vietnamese partners in agroforestry development, reflected in memoranda of understanding signed with the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, Vietnam Academy of Agricultural Sciences, Vietnam Academy of Forest Science and Vietnam Farmers’ Union.

Dr. Le Quoc Doanh particularly acknowledged Catacutan’s efforts in coordinating successful projects throughout Vietnam, such as:

  • Agroforestry for Livelihoods of Smallholder Farmers in Northwest Viet Nam (2011–2016)
  • Developing and Promoting Market-based Agroforestry and Forest Rehabilitation Options for Northwest Viet Nam (2017–2021)
  • ICRAF Support to the ASEAN-Swiss Partnership on Social Forestry and Climate Change Phase 2 (2014–2016) and Phase 3 (2017–2020)
  • My Loi Climate-Smart Village in Ky Son Commune, Ky Anh District, Ha Tinh Province (2015–2018)
  • The Vietnam component of the Climate-smart, Tree-based, Co-investment in Adaptation and Mitigation in Asia (2014–2017)
  • Sustaining Ecosystem and Carbon Benefits by Unlocking Reversal of Emissions Drivers in Landscapes (2013–2015)

The Vice-Minister expressed hope that Catacutan would continue to act as a bridge for cooperation between Vietnam and her home country of the Philippines, as well as other nations, and invited her to find ways to continue supporting Vietnam in the field of agroforestry.

Upon receiving the medal, Catacutan thanked Dr. Le Quoc Doanh and staff at the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, as well as her ICRAF colleagues, saying she expected ties between the ministry and ICRAF, as well as between Vietnam and the Philippines, to become even stronger in the future.

Adapted from the article by Tran Ha My, originally published at ICRAF’s Agroforestry World

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  • Informality, global capital, rural development and the environment: Mukula (rosewood) trade between China and Zambia

Informality, global capital, rural development and the environment: Mukula (rosewood) trade between China and Zambia

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Informal economic activities across much of sub-Saharan Africa provide crucial cash income and employment for both rural and urban populations. Governing the informal economy is recognised as a key policy challenge due to its contribution to local livelihoods and its common association with illegality, tax evasion and negative environmental impacts. In addition, because of the increasingly globalised trade in commodities, parts of the informal economy can also be supported by global sources of capital.

This report focuses on the international mukula (or rosewood) trade in Zambia, interrogating the role of global capital (in particular that of Chinese origin) and its impacts on rural livelihoods and the environment. We find that rural villagers are increasingly forging direct links with foreign investors, producing innovative business models that accelerate the rate of small-scale production and extraction of resources.

This ‘globalised’ rural informal economy urgently calls for innovative policies, which maximise the benefits of global capital flowing directly to rural populations, while minimising the negative impacts associated with the environment, revenue losses and resource governance.

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  • Research on Climate Change Policies and Rural Development in Latin America: Scope and Gaps

Research on Climate Change Policies and Rural Development in Latin America: Scope and Gaps

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Research on climate change policies can contribute to policy development by building an understanding of the barriers faced in policy processes, and by providing knowledge needed throughout policy cycles. This paper explores the thematic coverage of research on climate change policies related to rural areas, rural development, and natural resource management in Latin America. A three-tier framework is proposed to analyse the selected literature. The results show that research studies have focussed on the mitigation of greenhouse gas emissions from forests, and adaptations to climate change in agriculture. There is little policy research on other vulnerable sectors (e.g., water and health) and emitting sectors (e.g., energy and industry) in the context of rural development. Our analysis highlights the various research gaps that deserve increased scientific attention, including: cross-sector approaches, multi-level governance, and the stages of policy adoption, implementation and evaluation. In addition, the selected literature has a limited contribution to theoretical discussions in policy sciences.

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  • ICRAF presents the role of evidence and improved soil management for land restoration in sub-Saharan Africa at European Development Days

ICRAF presents the role of evidence and improved soil management for land restoration in sub-Saharan Africa at European Development Days

Degraded land in Marsabit, Kenya, shows that poor land management can lead to degradation. Photo by Ake Mamo/ICRAF
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In Marsabit, Kenya, poor land management has led to degradation. Photo by Ake Mamo/ICRAF

Approximately 70% of Africa’s population depends on its agriculture-based economy for their livelihoods, underscoring the importance of soil to the sector.

Fertile soils across the continent are under threat, however, due in large part to climate change and poor land management which leads to the depletion of nutrients and soil organic matter and increased soil erosion.

During the recent European Development Days held on June 7-8, 2017, in Brussels, Belgium, the Joint Research Commission of the European Commission led a session on sustainable soil management in Africa. Panelists drew from different organizations including the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF) and University of Leuven.

Their discussion focused on solutions to large-scale adoption, both at policy and practical levels, of key land restoration options including integrated soil fertility management alongside practices such as intercropping and agroforestry. Scientists from ICRAF presented compelling evidence on how soil restoration can contribute to improved food security and livelihoods in sub-Saharan Africa.

“Many soils in Africa are naturally fertile and productive,” said Arwyn Jones of the European Commission’s Joint Research Centre. “However, many exhibit significant constraints related to inappropriate management and climate fluctuation.”

Human activity and natural disasters such as floods accelerate soil degradation, negatively affect natural ecosystems which in turn can negatively impacts sectors of the economy such as agriculture, environmental services and tourism. As such, soil is a key component to solving Africa’s challenges to ensure food security and address climate change. Jones recognized the importance of incorporating existing indigenous knowledge on soil management effective soil management.

Leigh Winowiecki, soil scientist at ICRAF, speaks about the role of sustainable soil management for restoration of degraded land in East Africa and the Sahel. Photo by Susan Onyango/ICRAF

“Land degradation in the drylands of Sub-Saharan Africa continues to threaten food security and livelihoods,” said Leigh Winowiecki, an FTA researcher and soil scientist at ICRAF. “To that end, sustainable soil management is key to restoration of degraded land to transform lives and landscapes.”

Her presentation looked at the role of sustainable soil management for restoration of degraded land in East Africa and the Sahel, highlighting activities from the IFAD/EC-funded project ‘Restoration of degraded land for food security and poverty reduction in East Africa and the Sahel: taking successes in land restoration to scale’.

Read also: Soil inhabitants hold together the planet’s food system

When considering options for land restoration initiatives, it is important to understand what works where for whom. Variability in social, cultural, economic and biophysical environments greatly influence the results of such initiatives. ICRAF has developed tools that map soil organic carbon and soil erosion prevalence to provide relevant soil information aimed at land restoration interventions.

“We are working with development partners in Ethiopia, Kenya, Mali and Niger to implement and monitor on-farm land restoration interventions such as farmer-managed natural regeneration, soil and water conservation, micro-dosing of fertilizers, tree planting and agroforestry, use of Zai pits [small water harvesting pits] on farms and pest control,” added Winowiecki.

Tor-Gunnar Vagen of ICRAF presents on assessments of soil health. Photo by Susan Onyango/ICRAF

“We need to understand the systems we work in to design effective interventions to restore land health and reverse land degradation,” said FTA scientist Tor-Gunnar Vagen, who leads ICRAF’s GeoScience Lab.

“There are different ways to understand how the soil properties and their spatial distribution determine sensitivity to land degradation using tools such as tools such as the Land Degradation Surveillance Framework and earth observation. Assessments need to be spatially explicit and at scales relevant to farmers and land managers.”

Vagen discussed the importance of the soil health assessments for evidence-based decision using examples from Ethiopia and Kenya. He noted that, to effectively assess soil health at scale, indicators of soil need to be consistent and supported by analytical frameworks for modeling and mapping with high levels of rigor. They should also integrate biophysical and socio-economic indicators in landscapes.  Diagnostics can be used to assess interactions between social and ecological systems, including their resilience and their role as socioeconomic drivers of changes in soil health.

Vagen further explained ICRAF’s use of the SHARED approach to provide the government of Turkana County in Kenya, with information on land degradation and land/ecosystem health to support their planning and decision-making process. The Resilience Diagnostic and Decision Support Tool provides data an information for a wide-range of sectors including nutrition, education, security, livestock, land health, energy, irrigation, health, tourism and water, sanitation and hygiene.

The SHARED approach is demand driven, tailored and interactive engagement process for collaborative learning and co-negotiation of decision to achieve mutually agreed upon development outcomes. Three other counties in Kenya, as well as counties Zambia, Ethiopia and Tanzania have expressed interest in using the same processes and tools.

Joining Winowieki and Vagen on the panel were  Jones of the European Commission’s Joint Research Centre, Liesl Wiese of FAO, and Karen van Campenhout and Seppe Deckers both of the University of Leuven in Belgium. All agreed that soil management is key to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals, ensuring food security and rural development, and providing increased resilience to climate change in Africa.

By Susan Onyango, originally published at ICRAF’s Agroforestry World.

The session titled Sustainable soil management: the foundation for Africa’s future? was organized by the European Commission, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, the World Agroforestry Centre and the University of Leuven at the European Development Days 2017.

This work is linked to the CGIAR Research Program on Forests, Trees and Agroforestry. We thank all donors who support research in development through their contributions to the CGIAR Fund.

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