More trees in arid areas could lead to more water access

 

Photo credit: Forests News

New study shows that a trade-off between water and tree cover doesn’t always exist. Eric Montfort /CIFOR 

Finding water amid the trees

deanna-ramsay

More trees in arid areas could lead to more water access—which is good news for hundreds of millions of the world’s poorest people.

Burkina Faso – It is not often that a study completely upends a prevailing view, and, in doing so, offers hope of improving the lives of hundreds of millions of people.

But that is exactly what research recently published in Scientific Reports has done for the understanding of trees and water in dry regions.

In arid places where water is scarce, the planting of trees is often discouraged out of the belief that trees always reduce the availability of much-needed water.

Yet scientists working in Burkina Faso found that when a certain number of trees are present, the amount of groundwater recharge is actually maximized.

The study is a “game changer”, according to one of the study’s authors, Douglas Sheil, professor at the Norwegian University of Life Sciences and a senior research associate with the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR).

Read the full story: Forests News

 

Not only rain but also agriculture and human utilization of trees, bushes and land affect the plants recovering.

Photo credit: Science Daily

Drought-tolerant species thrive despite returning rains in the Sahel

Date:
October 19, 2016
Source:
Stockholm University
Summary:
Following the devastating droughts in the 70s and 80s in the Sahel region south of the Sahara desert, vegetation has now recovered. What surprised the researchers is that although it is now raining more and has become greener, it is particularly the more drought resistant species that thrive instead of the tree and shrub vegetation that has long been characteristic of the area. The conclusion is that not only rain but also agriculture and human utilization of trees, bushes and land affect the plants recovering.

 

The expected pattern is that a drier climate favours drought resistant species, and that a wetter climate makes it possible for species that require more rainfall to thrive. A new study, however, shows the opposite effect; that a shift to more drought tolerant species is occurring, even though it’s raining more. This shows that the recent regreening of the Sahel region can not only be explained by the fact that it rains more, which until now has been the dominant explanation.

Read the full article: Science Daily

IMPROVED CHICKPEA FOR IMPROVES LIVELIHOODS

 

Photo credit: ICRISAT

ADOPTING IMPROVED CHICKPEA IMPROVES FARMER LIVELIHOODS IN ETHIOPIA

A new study has found that improved chickpea adoption by farmers in Ethiopia significantly increased household income while also reducing poverty. The study found that a 10 percent increase in the area planted with improved chickpea is associated with a 12.6 percent increase in income per capita and a 12.3 percent increase in total income. The study also indicates that adopting improved chickpea varieties can reduce the probability of a household being below the US$2 poverty line.

The study found that an increasing number of farmers adopted improved varieties in the Shewa region between 2006-07 and 2013-14 seasons. “In 2006-07 only 30% of farmers planted improved chickpea. By 2013-14 this share rose to almost 80%. The area dedicated to improved chickpea moved up from 0.17 hectare average to more than 0.4 hectare by 2014. Furthermore, many households started planting chickpea, bringing the share of chickpea growers up to 90% from an initial 65%,” said Dr Kai Mausch, Scientist-Economics at ICRISAT- Kenya.

The increased input use associated with improved chickpea cultivation contributes to significantly higher yields. These increased yields allow households to sell a larger share of their production into the market. While improved varieties command only a small mark-up, the return to improved chickpea is significantly higher given the significantly larger volume of sales. All this leads to chickpea sales making up a larger share of total income for those who adopt improved varieties. “Overall, increasing access to improved chickpea appears to be a promising pathway for rural development in Ethiopia,” said Dr Mausch.

Read the full article: ICRISAT

What smallholders in the drylands should know

 

How to grow fresh food in all kinds of recipients that can hold soil

by Prof. Dr. Willem VAN COTTHEM (Ghent University, Belgium)

Grow your vegetables and herbs at home in pots, buckets, bottles, cups, barrels, bags, sacks, whatever can hold soil.  See some of my photos below:

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Massive production of vegetables and herbs in a small space. Pots and buckets on pallets to limit infection. Photo WVC 2013-07-28 MY NEW EXPERIMENTAL PALLET GARDEN P1100559.
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Cherry tomatoes all year long, zucchinis and bell peppers in pots and buckets with a drainage hole in the sidewall. Maximal production with a minimum of water and fertilizer (compost or manure). Photo WVC 2013-07-28 MY NEW EXPERIMENTAL PALLET GARDEN – P1100561
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Zucchinis in a bucket, as simple as can be. Photo WVC 2013-07-28 MY NEW EXPERIMENTAL PALLET GARDEN – P1100565.
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Tomatoes and zucchinis, not in the field (where they would be infected), but in buckets and pots. Photo WVC 2013-07-28 MY NEW EXPERIMENTAL PALLET GARDEN – P1100568.
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Bell peppers in abundance, not in degraded soil, but in a bucket with a mix of local soil and animal manure. That can be done everywhere, even in Inner Mongolia, the Australian bushland, Tamil Nadu, Himachal Pradesh, Burkina Faso, The Gambia, Cabo Verde, Arizona, the pampas and in all the refugee camps on Earth. Photo WVC 2013-07-28 MY NEW EXPERIMENTAL PALLET GARDEN – P1100579
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Eggplants, tomatoes, zucchinis, marigolds (to keep the white flies away). See the drainage hole in the sidewall. Photo WVC 2013-07-28 MY NEW EXPERIMENTAL PALLET GARDEN – P1100581 copy.
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Chilli peppers in a bucket. Photo WVC 2013-07-28 MY NEW EXPERIMENTAL PALLET GARDEN – P1100602.

Imagine every family in the drylands, every school, every hospital, every maternity would have a container garden like the one below: wouldn’t you believe that we can alleviate malnutrition and hunger ?  Wouldn’t we have a serious chance to ameliorate the standards of living of all the people living in desertified areas.

Problems ?  What problems ?

Teach the people how to set up a small kitchen garden with some containers and do not forget:

https://containergardening.wordpress.com/2016/12/31/drainage-holes-in-the-sidewall-of-a-container/

They do not have containers ?  Offer them the necessary quantity at the lowest cost, or even for free, because that would be sustainable development in the purest sense.

Let them make their own potting soil by mixing local soil with manure.

Offer them some good quality seeds and teach them how to collect seeds afterwards.

Before rejecting this idea, have a last look at the photo of my experimental garden below and consider the potentialities of this method.

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Photo WVC 2013-07-28 MY NEW EXPERIMENTAL PALLET GARDEN – P1100656, set up to show that production of fresh food with simple and cheap means is so easy that it can be applied all over the world. With some goodwill, of course.

 

Shall we go for the rehabilitation of 2 billion hectares of degraded land in Africa (and how much on the other continents ?), or shall we go for a feasible support of the poorest and hungry people on Earth?

With my warmest wishes for 2017 to you all !

 

 

 

Innovative ways of coping up with climate change

 

Photo credit: SciDevNet: Farm Africa/ Tara Carey

Smallholders team up to confront climate change impacts

by Baraka Rateng’

Farmers in Mwingi, a remote, arid and impoverished region of Kitui County of Kenya have been experiencing unreliable rain patterns and problems associated with droughts.

Smallholder farmers have been losing up to about 80 per cent of their recent harvest, many water sources have dried up and some are having to travel up to 20 kilometres to collect water. Much of the water that is available is of poor quality, with some containing a high salt content, making it unsuitable for drinking or agricultural use.

But thanks to formation of a community-based organisations (CBOs) such as Kitum Community-based Organisation, with 176 members, the farmers are now devising innovative ways of coping up with climate change-related impacts that inflict untold sufferings upon them.

Read the full article: SciDevNet

Continued drought in the Horn of Africa

 

Photo credit: FAO

Farmers in the Horn of Africa need urgent support to recover from consecutive lost harvests and to keep their breeding livestock healthy and productive at a time that pastures are the driest in years.

With continued drought, Horn of Africa braces for another hunger season

Agricultural support critical now to protect livestock, equip families to plant in rainy season

Countries in the Horn of Africa are likely to see a rise in hunger and further decline of local livelihoods in the coming months, as farming families struggle with the knock-on effects of multiple droughts that hit the region this year, FAO warned today. Growing numbers of refugees in East Africa, meanwhile, are expected to place even more burden on already strained food and nutrition security.

Currently, close to 12 million people across Ethiopia, Kenya and Somalia are in need of food assistance, as families in the region face limited access to food and income, together with rising debt, low cereal and seed stocks, and low milk and meat production. Terms of trade are particularly bad for livestock farmers, as food prices are increasing at the same time that market prices for livestock are low.

Farmers in the region need urgent support to recover from consecutive lost harvests and to keep their breeding livestock healthy and productive at a time that pastures are the driest in years. Production outputs in the three countries are grim.

Rapid intervention

“We’re dealing with a cyclical phenomenon in the Horn of Africa,” said Dominique Burgeon, Director of FAO’s Emergency and Rehabilitation Division. “But we also know from experience that timely support to farming families can significantly boost their ability to withstand the impacts of these droughts and soften the blow to their livelihoods,” he stressed.

For this reason, FAO has already begun disbursing emergency funds for rapid interventions in Kenya and Somalia.

Read the full article: FAO

Cultivation of improved legumes and cereals

 

Photo credit: ICRISAT

Farmers and project members inspecting green gram crop. Photo: Egerton University

INCREASING FARM PRODUCTIVITY IN KENYA THROUGH CULTIVATION OF IMPROVED LEGUMES AND CEREALS

In a span of one year, 300 farmers in Kerio valley in Kenya earned over KES 4.8 million (USD 46,978) by cultivating 44.5 ha of green grams and over KES 4.2 million (USD 41,106) through cultivation of 161.8 ha of groundnuts.

These farmers were trained in increasing productivity of dense legumes (groundnuts, green grams) and cereals (millets and sorghum). High quality seeds of green grams and groundnuts mainly KS20 variety, CG 7, and ICGV 90704 that are well adapted to hot dry areas of Kerio valley were released to farmers. Farmers were trained on improved planting practices. Prior to this, farmers used to plant less seed (4 kgs per 0.4 ha instead of 8 kgs per 0.4 ha) which reduced their yield to 3-4 bags per 0.4 ha instead of 7-8 bags per 0.4 ha.

Due to the combination of providing high yielding improved seeds and training on better agronomic practices farmers in four areas (Kapkayo, Biretwo, Kabulwo and Arror) tripled their acreage to 364 ha for groundnuts and increased monetary gains from KES 4 million (USD 39,149) in 2015 to KES 25 million (USD 244,682) in 2016. Green gram production also increased significantly from an area of less than 48 ha to over 116 ha with total incomes increasing from KES 2.8 million (USD 27,404) in 2015 to 5.6 million (USD 54,808) in 2016.

As harvest improved, farmers were briefed on the benefits of collective marketing of produce through aggregation centers at Arror, Kabulwo, Biretwo, Kapkayo and Cheplambus for better price negotiation. Due to aggregation, market access became easier for farmers. For example the Greenforest Company Ltd. based in Nairobi is currently buying the unshelled groundnut at KES 70 (USD 0.68) and green gram at KES 125 (USD 1.22) per kilo.

In addition farmers were trained on correct spacing, timely planting, importance of earthing-up for groundnut to facilitate better pod formation, pest (pod borers, cutworms, aphids) and disease (mainly early blight, cerspora leaf spots and Groundnut Rossette virus) control.

Read the full article: ICRISAT