Agroforestry to combat desertification

Photo credit: THOMSON REUTERS FOUNDATION. Photo 960.jpg.

Fighting the desert’s advance with farm trees in Pakistan

Thomson Reuters Foundation

Author: Saleem Shaikh and Sughra Tunio


Every day, Jeeja Meghwar and her son spend up to 10 hours tending her three-acre farm in Nagarparker. They grow lemons, onions, tomatoes and chillies – crops that earn Meghwar enough to support herself and her two children.

But another key crop also lines the edges of her dry farmland: over 400 indigenous trees, planted as part of an agro-forestry campaign to beat back desertification in arid Tharparker district and improve lives and livelihoods.

Unsustainable land management practices are only making things worse. The result? Decreased soil fertility, deforestation, and a loss of crop productivity and biodiversity.

The project, which aims to reach 800 families, is just one of several initiatives in Tharparkar district , 490 km (300 miles) northeast of Karachi, that encourage local communities to take up agro-forestry in the hopes of beating back the expanding desert.

Read the full article (marked with highlights): Thomson Reuters Foundation

Small farmers can look to options without necessarily turning to climate-smart agriculture (IPS)

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Family Farmers Don’t Need Climate-Smart Agriculture

“There are two approaches to grow production, intensification of conventional agriculture and agroecology. In the last 20 years food production has doubled, but problems like poverty aren’t solved only with that.” — Alison Power

The 11th International Media Forum on the Protection of Nature has drawn journalists, academics and experts from some 50 countries to Naples, Italy Oc. 8-11 to discuss food, agriculture and the environment in the world.

Small farmers can look to options like agroecological intensification and innovation, without necessarily turning to climate-smart agriculture, which is promoted by the United Nations but has awakened doubts among global experts meeting in this Italian city.

Alison Power, a professor at the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology of Cornell University in New York state, said the concept is an umbrella that can encompass too many different factors.

“There are two approaches to grow production, intensification of conventional agriculture and agroecology. In the last 20 years food production has doubled, but problems like poverty aren’t solved only with that,” Power told IPS.

“So what is needed then is adaptation by small farmers with innovations based on agroecology,” said the expert, one of the participants in the11th International Media Forum on the Protection of Nature organised Oct. 8-11 by the Italian NGO Greenaccord in the southwestern Italian city of Naples.

Family farmers produce nearly 80 percent of the world’s food. And although more food is being produced worldwide than at any other time in history, the United Nations estimates that over 800 million people are hungry.

The United Nations launched the Global Alliance for Climate-Smart Agriculture on Sept. 24 in New York, during the U.N. Climate Summit. The alliance brings together governments, non-governmental organisations and large corporations.

Agroecology for Food Security and Nutrition (IISD)

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International Symposium on Agroecology for Food Security and Nutrition

The Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN (FAO) is organizing this symposium to highlight existing practices in agroecology and exchange information on the latest research and science in the field. The symposium is expected to result in an action plan for a follow-up process for Africa and Asia; contributions to an international framework for research on agroecology, including relevant economic, social, environmental and climatic aspects; and informational material such as video interviews and agroecological practices for online sharing. The two-day preliminary agenda will include inter alia: a keynote on the landscape of agroecology; plenaries covering ecosystem services, social processes and virtuous cycles in agroecology; and a high-level segment. The symposium supports Strategic Objective 2 (“Increase and improve provision of Goods and Services from Agriculture, Forestry, and Fisheries in a sustainable manner”) of the FAO Strategic Framework.

dates:18-19 September 2014  

venue:FAO Headquarters, Viale delle Terme di Caracalla 00153  

location:Rome, Lazio, Italy  

contact:John Choptiany  


read more:

Evergreen agriculture and fertilizing trees (Tomorrow is Greener)

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Food risk in Africa, the solution: evergreen agriculture and fertilizing trees

Posted by dominique

It is a simple fact, report after report has proved the high level of food security risk in Africa. This risk will get worse in the coming decades without some big agricultural changes. Presenting high tech, high-cost and genetically-modified solutions sometimes pushed on Africa, Science Daily reports on the potential of evergreen agriculture and the use of fertilizer trees to increase the food production, in a low cost and environmental and sustainable way.

Before we get into the presentation, made at The Hague, that Science Daily discusses, let’s define some terms first. Evergreen agriculture is simply the combination of trees in farming systems (agroforestry) with the principles of conservation farming (disturbing the soil as little as possible, crop rotation to replenish the soil, and keep the soil covered with crop residue).



Agriculture, Landscapes and Livelihoods Day -5
Monday, 3 December 2012
Renaissance Doha Hotel

Round Table 6: Resilience in dryland agro-ecosystems: Improving food security and livelihoods in a land-degradation neutral world

Room: Al Areen Ballroom 3-4
Time: 11.00-13.00hrs

Productive land and fertile soils have become a strategic, but increasingly scarce, global asset for which no global governance or regulatory mechanisms exist to date. Land degradation and accelerating the loss of topsoil have implications for future water, food and energy demands, and the potential to tackle climate change. This round-table session will consider solutions for increasing food security and improving livelihoods from the perspectives of dryland agro-ecosystems.

The session will be webcast live

Introduction by moderator: Prof. William Payne, Director, CGIAR Research Program on Dryland Systems

•    HE Amb. Bader Al-Dafa, Executive Director, Global Dry Land Alliance, Qatar
•    Ms. Mary Barton Dock, Director, Climate Policy and Finance, World Bank
•    Mr. Luc Gnacadja, Executive Secretary, UNCCD
•    Dr. Mahmoud Solh, Director-General, ICARDA
•    Mr. Jochen Flasbarth, President, German Federal Environment Agency
•    Dr. Jes Weigelt, Scientific Advisor on Soils, Institute for Advanced Sustainability Studies
•    Dr. Yong-Kwon Lee, Director of international cooperation, Korea Forest Service

•    The International Center for Agricultural Research in the Dry Areas (ICARDA)
•    The Qatar National Food Security Programme (QNFSP)
•    United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD)

Detailed information is available at:

Green investments are falsely upheld as climate solutions (Google / BBQ)

Read at : Google Alert – images of the Africa Drought

Land grabs

False climate change solutions hurt Africa

In the trend of large-scale land acquisitions in Sub-Saharan Africa, green investments such as the production of agrofuels and agroforestry developments, are falsely upheld as climate solutions. At the same time the land grab is accompanied by a major water grab that raises serious concerns since the volume of irrigation water needed is already far and beyond what is sustainable for the continent.

These are among the alarming conclusions of two reports released in December by the Canadian-based Oakland and Polaris Institutes. At the same time climate finance practitioners and regulators last week urged South African developers of Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) projects to finalise their applications for registration of such projects with the United Nations during the first quarter of 2012, or face being excluded from the key European carbon credits market.

Projects that do not deliver


Cuba sharing agroecology (IPS)

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Cuba Shares Its Experiences in Agroecology

By Dalia Acosta

HAVANA, Nov 16, 2011 (IPS) – Farmers and experts on agriculture from Haiti, Guadeloupe and Martinique are touring fields in Cuba this week, along with local colleagues, to exchange experiences to foment ecological fruit growing on Caribbean islands.

“I’m leaving with a different take on things,” Audrey Retory, who grows fruit and vegetables and raises barnyard fowl in Guadeloupe, told IPS. “There’s no reason for there to be an antagonistic relationship between agricultural production and nature.

“From now on I’m going to use vermiculture (composting using earthworms), which does not require a major investment, and I know that many people will see what I’m doing and want to replicate it,” she said.

“The experts and farmers have shared their know-how, and we have tried to take advantage of this great opportunity, to take the new knowledge back home to our fellow agricultural producers,” said Djuié Abdul, a farmer from Martinique who was one of the 22 participants in the experience.

To highlight Cuba’s experience in these techniques and transfer technology to the other three participating Caribbean islands – these are two of the central aims of the Caribbean Network for the Development of Agroecological Horticultural Systems (DEVAG), a four-year project launched in late 2009 with the support of the French embassies in Cuba and Haiti.


Environmentally friendly farming (African Agriculture)

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South African prospers with environmentally friendly farming

by Darren Taylor

Almost four years ago, Richard Haigh had what he called a “crazy idea.” At the time, he was working for a South African health NGO. His duties often took him deep into the rural interior of KwaZulu-Natal province.

“For years I had noticed people there using land in very traditional ways – planting traditional crops, having traditional animals,” Haigh said. “I felt quite inspired by that. And when I turned 40 [in 2007], I thought ‘I’m just so tired of the politics of the NGO world; why not purchase a piece of land and buy a small farm and see what we can do?’”

So Haigh quit his job and bought some land in the isolated KwaZulu-Natal midlands. He named his farm “Enaleni” – a Zulu term that implies “agricultural abundance; a place where there is more than enough.” Continue reading “Environmentally friendly farming (African Agriculture)”

Agroecological projects : average crop yield increase of 80% in 57 developing countries (Food Freedom)

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Eco-farming Can Double Food Production in 10 Years, says new UN report

By United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food

GENEVA – Small-scale farmers can double food production within 10 years in critical regions by using ecological methods, a new UN report* shows. Based on an extensive review of the recent scientific literature, the study calls for a fundamental shift towards agroecology as a way to boost food production and improve the situation of the poorest.

“To feed 9 billion people in 2050, we urgently need to adopt the most efficient farming techniques available,” says Olivier De Schutter, UN Special Rapporteur on the right to food and author of the report. “Today’s scientific evidence demonstrates that agroecological methods outperform the use of chemical fertilizers in boosting food production where the hungry live — especially in unfavorable environments.” Continue reading “Agroecological projects : average crop yield increase of 80% in 57 developing countries (Food Freedom)”

agroecology is successful in Cuba because peasants know how to organise (Food for Freedom)

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Cuba’s agroecology movement: Sustainable peasant agriculture and food sovereignty

By Raj Patel

Want to know what a sustainable climate-change-proof agricultural system might look like?  Here’s an example from Cuba, in an academic paper written by my friend, comrade and former boss, Peter Rosset, together with folk from Cuba’s peasant agriculture movement. The article’s free to download (for now), but the key parts from the abstract are:


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