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CIFOR–ICRAF addresses local challenges and opportunities while providing solutions to global problems for forests, landscapes, people and the planet.

We deliver actionable evidence and solutions to transform how land is used and how food is produced: conserving and restoring ecosystems, responding to the global climate, malnutrition, biodiversity and desertification crises. In short, improving people’s lives.

First-of-its-kind course trains African scientists in cutting-edge technology to adapt agriculture to climate change

Media advisory

Nairobi, 26 January 2023 – Climate change is making it harder to grow enough nutritious food, but a unique programme is training African scientists in harnessing a cutting-edge breeding tool to adapt agriculture to new threats.

The African Plant Breeding Academy, a programme for top plant breeders to upgrade their skills in advanced crop breeding, is training 11 doctorate-level scientists from across the continent to use CRISPR (Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats), a tool that allows scientists to make precise and specific changes to DNA sequences in living organisms, including crops.

The technology will help plant scientists to quickly develop crop varieties adapted to the changing climate, and to boost their nutritional content for important vitamins and minerals like Zinc, Iron and Vitamin A, all of which are critical for human health and development.

As an initiative of the African Orphan Crops Consortium (AOCC), the University of California of Davis organised the six-week training programme, partnering with UC Berkeley’s Innovative Genome Institute (IGI) and the International Institute for Tropical Agriculture (IITA) which is hosted in Nairobi, Kenya by the Center for International Forestry Research and the World Agroforestry (CIFOR-ICRAF) and the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI). Additional partners include Morrison and Foerster, Bayer, Syngenta, UM6P Ventures, and the Foundation for Food and Agricultural Research (FFAR).

“We are honoured to be working with the top institutions in the world in this Academy that will enable Africans to drive innovation critical to improving African crops to eliminate stunting due to malnutrition,” said Dr Allen Van Deynze, Director of the Seed Biotechnology Center at UC Davis and Scientific Director of the AOCC.

“This training is the first of its kind to impart knowledge, skills and tools to accomplish gene editing in crop plants to national program scientists in Africa,” said Dr Rita Mumm who oversees Capacity Building and Mobilisation at the AOCC and directs the African Plant Breeding Academy.

Eleven doctorate scientists from seven countries are participating in this first cohort, from a highly competitive applicant pool of 57. The scientists work at institutions that are already undertaking research in gene editing in crop plants or have committed to doing so upon their employee’s graduation from the course.

“The gene-editing toolkit training is a momentous occasion that should be celebrated given the scale of the problem that CRISPR is expected to address,” said AOCC founder Dr Howard-Yana Shapiro during the official launch of the training programme.

“CRISPR is a key strategy towards improving food nutrition in Africa and the trainees from this programme will be the change agents that will make the impossible happen especially with the kind of pan-African collaboration we have witnessed today.”

Dr Silas Obukosia from the African Union Development Agency – New Partnership for African Development (AUDA-NEPAD) emphasised the organisation’s support for gene editing as one of the key innovations that will transform the continent.

“Gene-edited crops and their products that are equivalent to conventionally bred crops should be regulated under the conventional seed laws,” said Dr Obukosia. “Gene editing makes specific, targeted changes to the DNA of an organism and can be programmed to produce products equivalent to those developed through conventional breeding. In contrast, techniques used to develop GMOs often involve introducing genetic material from distantly related organisms to develop traits of economic importance.”

The programme supports the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goal 2 (SDG2), which aims to end hunger, achieve food security and improve nutrition as well as promote sustainable agriculture by 2030.

“It’s a step in the right direction,” said World Agroforestry Interim Director General Dr Ravi Prabhu, adding that, “addressing nutrition by improving local skillsets through such a programme is key to improving food security on the continent and an important contribution to a productive and sustainable transformation of African agriculture.”

For more information please contact:
Susan Onyango
Global Communications Coordinator
Nairobi, Kenya
Tel: +254 700 299 227
Email: s.onyango@cifor-icraf.org

CIFOR-ICRAF scientists caution not to abandon forest carbon offsets, in wake of critical coverage

Photo by Kate Evans/CIFOR-ICRAF

Media advisory

  • Carbon offsetting is a popular strategy for individuals and companies looking to offset their carbon footprint and mitigate the effects of climate change. One way to do this is through planting forests or trees. While this approach has its benefits, it also has its drawbacks
  • Forest carbon offsets and REDD+ can help reduce deforestation and forest degradation – but those without proper oversight may have limited impact
  • Effective REDD+ projects can reduce greenhouse gas emissions, support the rights of Indigenous Peoples and local communities – and the women within those groups – as well as reducing deforestation and forest degradation and providing additional tree cover in agricultural landscapes
  • To meet the Paris Agreement goals, we must reduce our use of fossil fuels by 90%, and REDD+ remains an effective solution for sectors that cannot be decarbonised, while also supporting biodiversity and ecosystem services

An article in The Guardian on 18 January 2023 questions the effectiveness of REDD+ and forest carbon offsets if projects lack the proper oversight and monitoring standards necessary to achieve their goals of reducing carbon emissions and forest degradation.

But scientists at the Center for International Forestry Research and World Agroforestry (CIFOR-ICRAF) are cautioning governments from abandoning the practice altogether, emphasizing the critical need to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions and the effective role REDD+ can play in mitigating the effects of industries that cannot decarbonise.

“Carbon offsetting is often presented as a panacea or as a dangerous distraction in relation to mitigating greenhouse gas emissions. It is neither one nor the other,” says Dr Robert Nasi, acting CEO of CIFOR-ICRAF, a global research and development organisation with more than 75 years of experience in harnessing the power of trees, forests, and agroforestry landscapes to address the most pressing global challenges of our time – biodiversity loss, climate change, food security, livelihoods, and inequity.

To achieve the goals set by the Paris Agreement, we must drastically reduce our dependence on fossil fuels by 90%. But as not all sectors can be decarbonised, this is where scientifically sound, equitable and transparent carbon offset schemes can play a role. Forests and trees (and the oceans) are particularly effective at absorbing and storing carbon dioxide. They also provide many other benefits: they are home to a diverse array of plant and animal species, and they help to regulate the Earth’s climate by releasing water vapour and absorbing sunlight. Forests also help to protect against soil erosion and flooding and provide resources such as timber and non-timber products.

Win-win forest and tree-based solutions thus include:

  • Protecting intact, and largely intact, forests to preserve biodiversity and ecosystem services. Indigenous-controlled lands play a major role here
  • Managing production forests and plantations better, to provide much-needed materials for shifting from a fossil-fuel-based to a bio-based economy, and replace materials with high carbon impact like cement and steel
  • Increasing the presence of trees in agricultural lands through diverse agroforestry systems
  • Restoring, in a locally adapted and accepted manner, the vast amount of degraded land on our planet, to yield a bundle of critical ecosystem-based goods and services

Each of these solutions has the potential to become forest or tree-based carbon offsets; they also bring along a myriad of other benefits, with carbon storage becoming one of the by-products of better care of our land.

However, carbon offsetting through forests and trees also has its downsides. One major concern is that these projects can displace local communities, particularly in developing countries where land is often scarce. Furthermore, many carbon offsetting projects take place in remote areas, making it difficult to monitor and verify the actual carbon sequestration taking place. Another problem with carbon offsetting through forests and trees is that it is often a short-term solution to a long-term problem. Trees and forests take time to mature and reach their full carbon sequestration potential, and even then, they may not be able to fully offset the emissions being produced.

In sum, carbon offsetting through forests and trees can be a valuable tool in the fight against climate change, but it is important to approach it with caution. Careful consideration must be given to the potential negative impacts on local communities and the need to monitor and verify carbon sequestration. It is also important to recognise that while carbon offsetting through forests and trees can help, it is not a substitute for reducing our overall carbon emissions. It’s clear that carbon offset projects will never be able to curb the emissions growth if fuel-fed power stations continue to be built or petrol cars continue to be bought.

“We are like the Red Queen in Alice in Wonderland who needs to run endlessly to stay in the same place,” says Nasi. “This is not to say that carbon offset projects should stop – quite the opposite. We must continue to restore forests and peatlands while also scaling up renewable energy and energy efficiency projects via offset schemes. But it cannot simply be an excuse to continue business as usual. Like the Red Queen, we must run faster if we want to go somewhere.”

Related research

About CIFOR-ICRAF

CIFOR-ICRAF brings more than 75 years of experience in harnessing the power of trees, forests, and agroforestry landscapes to address the most pressing global challenges of our time – biodiversity loss, climate change, food security, livelihoods and inequity. It has partnerships in 64 countries, 159 funding partners and 192 active projects, alongside more than 2,200 completed projects across 92 nations. The organisation has an annual budget of USD 100 million, and a combined legacy investment of USD 2 billion in research and technology, policy and development. On average, CIFOR-ICRAF research is cited nearly 137 times a day and appears in global media more than 3,000 times per year. CIFOR and ICRAF merged in 2019 and are both international organizations and CGIAR Research Centres. Learn more at cifor-icraf.org.

For more information, please contact:

Azzura Lalani
Global Head of Outreach and Engagement
Bonn, Germany
Tel: +49 151 1062 6686
Email: a.lalani@cifor-icraf.org

CIFOR-ICRAF announces Dr Eliane Ubalijoro as Chief Executive Officer


Media advisory

  • Dr Eliane Ubalijoro will be the first African woman CEO of a CGIAR Research Center
  • CIFOR-ICRAF’s acting CEO Dr Robert Nasi will become Chief Operating Officer
  • Ubalijoro and Nasi will lead the merged organisation of CIFOR-ICRAF – the world’s leading research and development centre on trees, forests and landscapes

(Nairobi, 17 January 2023) – The Board of Trustees for the Center for International Forestry Research and World Agroforestry (CIFOR-ICRAF) is very pleased to announce the appointment of Eliane Ubalijoro as Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of CIFOR-ICRAF and Director General of ICRAF. Ubalijoro will be the first African woman Director General of a CGIAR Research Center and CEO of two Centers in CGIAR’s 52-year history.

Born in Rwanda, Ubalijoro is the Executive Director of Sustainability in the Digital Age, and Professor of Practice for public-private sector partnerships at McGill University’s Institute for the Study of International Development. Over the past two decades, her research has focused on innovation, gender, and sustainable development.

“I see CIFOR-ICRAF as a critical institution, poised to accelerate its research and impact, leading the way to achieving the 2030 goals by harnessing the potential of forestry and agroforestry to create ecosystems that generate prosperity, sustainably,” said Ubalijoro. She is interested in combining CIFOR-ICRAF’s wealth of knowledge in forestry, ecology and sustainable agriculture with the transparency that high-resolution satellite data and artificial intelligence can bring to connect with work that aims to increase biodiversity worldwide and ensure transparency in terms of carbon sequestration.

Alongside Dr. Ubalijoro’s appointment starting May 2023, Dr Robert Nasi – CIFOR-ICRAF’s acting CEO – will take up the position of Chief Operating Officer. Nasi is a globally recognised forestry scientist who has been researching the ecology and management of tropical forests for the past four decades, including the sustainable use of forest resources and the intersection of conservation and development.

“This appointment marks a new era for CIFOR-ICRAF,” said Nasi. “As the potential of trees and forests in addressing the climate, food and biodiversity crises becomes increasingly apparent, the new leadership team stands ready to take CIFOR-ICRAF into an ambitious era of growth to provide much-needed solutions to some of the greatest challenges of our time.”

CIFOR-ICRAF is the world’s leader on harnessing the power of trees, forests and agroforestry landscapes to address the most pressing global challenges of our time – biodiversity loss, climate change, food security, livelihoods and inequity.

It has partnerships in 64 countries, 159 funding partners and 192 active projects, alongside more than 2,200 completed projects across 92 nations. The organisation has an annual budget of USD 100 million,, and a combined legacy investment of USD 2 billion in research and technology, policy and development. On average, CIFOR-ICRAF research is cited nearly 137 times a day, and appears in global media more than 3,000 times per year.

“CIFOR-ICRAF has never been better equipped than now, with the combination of Dr Ubalijoro’s wealth of experience in agricultural research, digital innovation and transformational leadership, and Dr Nasi’s deep knowledge of tropical forestry and exemplary success in guiding both organisations through the merger,” said CIFOR-ICRAF Board Chair Doris Capistrano. “We look forward to the new heights CIFOR-ICRAF will reach in its mission to address interconnected global challenges through the power of forests, trees and agroforestry.”

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For more information, please contact:

Global
Azzura Lalani
Global Head of Outreach and Engagement
Bonn, Germany
Tel: +49 151 1062 6686
Email: a.lalani@cifor-icraf.org

Africa
Susan Onyango
Global Communications Coordinator
Nairobi, Kenya
Tel: +254 20 7224000
Via USA: +1 650 833 6645/+1 650 833 6646
Email: s.onyango@cifor-icraf.org

Asia
Budhy Kristanty
Communications Project Coordinator – Asia
Bogor, Indonesia
Cell phone: +62 811 1904283
Work: +62 251 8622622 Ext.506
Email: b.kristanty@cifor-icraf.org

Latin America
Yoly Gutierrez Zavala
Regional Communications Specialist – Latin America
Lima, Peru
Cell phone: +51 1 993 59 22 61
Email: y.gutierrez@cifor-icraf.org

Dabur joins hands with CIFOR-ICRAF to promote agroforestry and trees outside forests in India

From left: Chandrashekhar Biradar, Country Director- India, CIFOR-ICRAF and Chief of Party-Trees Outside Forests in India (TOFI) Program; Pankaj Prasad Raturi, Head- Department Bio-Resource Development, Dabur Research & Development Center; Mohit Malhotra, CEO, Dabur India Limited; Ravi Prabhu, Director General, ICRAF; Javed Rizvi, Director – Asia Continental Program, CIFOR-ICRAF; and Rahul Awasthi, Executive Director-Operations, Dabur India Limited. Photo: CIFOR-ICRAF/Sakshi Gaur

New Delhi, 14 December 2022: India’s leading science-based Ayurveda company, Dabur India Limited, today joined hands with the Center for International Forestry Research and World Agroforestry (CIFOR-ICRAF) to roll out a mega initiative aimed at improving trees, fruits, medicinal and aromatic plantation practices on farms and outside forests areas, using agroforestry, across Uttar Pradesh, Haryana, Rajasthan, Odisha, Andhra Pradesh, Assam and Tamil Nadu.

The initiative, which will play a critical role in increasing the tree cover outside demarcated forest areas and on farmlands, will go a long way towards helping India achieve its climate mitigation targets in the forestry sector, while also supporting sustainable livelihoods for communities.

“At Dabur, nature is the lifeline of our business. With a range of products based on nature and natural ingredients, we depend on nature’s bounty to deliver on our promise of delivering holistic health and well-being to every household. Managing natural resources sustainably comes naturally to us, and we encourage the same across our value chain. Dabur is proud to be partnering with CIFOR-ICRAF on boosting agroforestry and trees outside forests. This is a step forward in our Environment Sustainability strategy of preserving ecosystems and halting land degradation and the accelerated loss of biodiversity,” Dabur India Ltd. Chief Executive Officer, Mr Mohit Malhotra said.

Under this project, Dabur will focus on the domestication of selected medicinal tree species and medicinal plants, as well as establishing satellite nurseries in states to ensure the availability of quality planting material for the selected plant species.

CIFOR-ICRAF is leading the implementation of the Trees Outside Forests in India (TOFI) Program, which is a five-year joint initiative of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and the Indian Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC) under the bilateral agreement on Sustainable Forestry and Climate Adaptation. The main goal of the TOFI program is to significantly expand the area under trees outside forests, thereby enhancing livelihoods and ecosystem services in the seven participating states (Andhra Pradesh, Assam, Haryana, Odisha, Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu and Uttar Pradesh). The initial phase of the collaboration with Dabur will be initiated through the TOFI Program.

Dr Ravi Prabhu, Director General a.i., ICRAF said: “We are glad to collaborate with India’s leading science-based Ayurveda company-Dabur India Limited. Through this partnership, we look forward to developing a partnership through which smallholders and tree growers in participating states are enabled to produce the kinds of tree-based raw materials required by Dabur. This will not only help augment the livelihoods of the smallholders but will also promote sustainable production and harvesting of tree-based products of medicinal value while supporting India’s larger development goals and NDC targets”.

Other priority activities under the agreement include developing a business model through which Dabur can buy back the final produce from the community, and developing optimum harvesting protocols for commercially important medicinal plants.


About Dabur India Ltd: Dabur India Ltd is one of India’s leading Fast-Moving Consumer Goods (FMCG) Companies. Building on a legacy of quality and experience for 138 years, Dabur is today India’s most trusted name and the world’s largest Ayurvedic and Natural Health Care Company. Dabur India’s FMCG portfolio includes nine Power Brands: Dabur Chyawanprash, Dabur Honey, Dabur Honitus, Dabur Lal Tail and Dabur Pudin Hara in the Healthcare category; Dabur Amla, Vatika and Dabur Red Paste in the Personal care space; and Réal in the Food& Beverages category.

About CIFOR-ICRAF:  The Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) and World Agroforestry (ICRAF) address local challenges and opportunities while providing solutions to global problems for forests, landscapes, people and the planet. CIFOR-ICRAF is more than a research institute: it is a union of the best minds working to find nature-based solutions for forest and tree landscapes. This dynamic and resilient partnership is uniquely equipped to deliver evidence-based, actionable solutions and to lead the radical transformations to address the interlinked crises of climate change, deforestation and biodiversity loss, dysfunctional food systems, and unsustainable supply and value chains, and inequality affecting women, Indigenous Peoples and other marginalized groups. Learn more about CIFOR-ICRAF’s work in India: https://www.cifor-icraf.org/locations/asia/india

 

For further information, contact:

Byas Anand @+91-9811994902
Head-Corporate Communications, Dabur India Ltd.

Sakshi Gaur
Communications Coordinator, India, CIFOR-ICRAF
s.gaur@cgiar.org

 

Reach us on:
www.dabur.com   |  Facebook: /DaburIndia   |   Twitter: @DaburIndia
www.cifor-icraf.org  | Facebook: @cifor @World Agroforestry – ICRAF | Twitter: @CIFOR @ICRAF

A hint of positive impact: refugees take less wood from bush and have more fruit and income under CIFOR-ICRAF programme

The nursery at CIFOR-ICRAF’s learning centre in NW Uganda serves refugees and the Ugandan farming communities they live adjacent to. Photo by Felix Odhiambo.

By Cathy Watson

In 2016 when World Agroforestry (ICRAF) first started thinking about refugees, staff were skeptical. “We will be handing out blankets next,” said one researcher. Humanitarians were skeptical too. Their role was saving lives, we heard in meetings in Geneva, not worrying about trees. Let the environment be restored when the refugees go home.

Fast forward to 2022, and much has changed. Now a merged institution, CIFOR-ICRAF has over ten projects with refugees and just issued a Guidance for a Landscape Approach in Displacement Settings. And in just one example of how humanitarian actors have shifted, the European Commission have Minimum Environmental Requirements for humanitarian aid operations, to be mandatory next year.

So, how is it going for CIFOR-ICRAF on the ground?

Our oldest work with refugees is in NW Uganda across two settlements of South Sudanese refugees mixed with nationals. The project began in 2017 with strong studies, baselines and consultation with communities and stakeholders. It responded to dramatic loss of tree cover with a programme of sensitization and raising and distributing about 500,000 tree seedlings.

L to R: In 2016, refugees who have just crossed the border into Uganda set up hearths to cooks; the community sells them firewood. From there, they are bussed to a reception area and given tarpaulins for temporary shelters. Eventually, using the natural resources they find around them, they build houses of poles, grass and mud. Photos by Cathy Watson and BBC.

This project is a case study waiting to be written of how bringing new trees into landscape might alleviate pressure on the environment as hundreds of thousands displaced people build homes and cook. It has the potential to trigger a sea change away from the thinking that natural vegetation will provide all of refugees’ energy needs and poles and timber.

It was therefore exciting when a student on University of Missouri’s graduate course in agroforestry wrote to say that she would like to intern on the project. Sarah Juster came and observed, and shortly her thoughts crystalized.

She proposed a study that compared uptake of what our programme between refugees who had had one year or more of exposure to the project with those that had participated for less than a year. Her main question was “Is there a relationship between exposure to CIFOR-ICRAF and increased tree cover?”

Others were: How many of our trees have refugees planted and how many are surviving? How does on-plot agroforestry influence off-plot tree use? What income are participants earning from trees.

Refugee homesteads with thriving trees of Carica papaya, Albizia gummifera and Moringa oleifera from seedlings raised and distributed by CIFOR-ICRAF in 2018, the trees clearly providing social, economic and ecological benefit. But until Juster’s survey, CIFOR-ICRAF lacked data to say how often and to what extent this was the case. Photo by Cathy Watson.

Juster based herself out of CIFOR-ICRAF’s learning centre from February to April 2022. Community-based facilitators, themselves refugees, helped her to select 56 households, sampling every fourth household in one zone of Imvepi Refugee Settlement, and choosing homesteads for proximity in one zone of Rhino Camp Refugee Settlement. The questionnaire took 20–30 minutes. Refugees spoke one of six mother tongues: 38 respondents were female. Uganda’s Office of the Prime Minister approved the study. Informed consent was obtained, data uploaded to Kobocollect, and analysis performed using SPSS.

“This was certainly a good effort,” says Karl Hughes, CIFOR-ICRAF’s head of Monitoring, Evaluation and Impact Assessment. “Sample sizes are small. Comparing older and newer refugees is likely to be biased. The sampling was random in one area and not in another. But such follow-up studies are important and useful to do.”

For those involved with the project, the findings were a massive dollop of cheer.

  • Refugee participants with more than one year of involvement with CIFOR-ICRAF had on average 22 more trees per plot than those with less than one year.
  • On average, 82% of trees on refugee plots were from our nursery.
  • Refugee plots (average size 0.29 ha) had on average 56 seedlings from CIFOR-ICRAF, the upper end of the 35–55 trees that refugees in our 2018 restocking study said they could absorb.
  • Refugees with longer involvement with CIFOR-ICRAF were found to source 1.71 more bundles of fuelwood per month from tree prunings off their plot and 2.14 fewer bundles of fuelwood per month from the bush than those less exposed.
L to R: Rose Oba prunes a ‘CIFOR-ICRAF’ tree, bundles the twigs, adds other sticks, and strides home. Collecting enough remains a challenge, but her labour is likely less than that of her fellow refugee who collects entirely from the wild. Fruit is a major win for refugees as is this shade which can be grown in two years from Senna trees. Photos by Felix Odhiambo.

The last seemed to bear out our starting hypothesis that agroforestry could supply firewood and take pressure off the natural vegetation that was being reduced to stumps (about 58–67/ha in our initial biomass survey).

Further, refugees involved for longer earned about USD13 more per year from sale of tree products than respondents involved for less. “A considerable sum locally, this excludes in-kind household benefits, such as fruits and poles for furniture, walls and roofs that did not need to be purchased,” says Juster, now a PhD student in forestry at Virginia Tech.

It is hard to overstate the centrality of poles in settings like NW Uganda. They are a cash crop and provide for every built item in rural homes, including furniture (below L). They may explain men’s tree preference for fast growing exotics that coppice repeatedly and rapidly (see above R), making multiple stems that can be harvested. Photos by Felix Odhiambo.

Refugees with more than one year of participation also had approximately three more fruit or ‘food’ trees than those with less involvement. “Refugees described papaya, mango and the starchy hypocotyl of the indigenous palm Borassus ethiopium as relieving hunger in children during food insecure months,” it said.

A finding that brought us up short, however, was the low survival rate of the trees we had distributed: 53%. Refugees decried ‘sun heat’ and ‘animals grazing’ as the leading causes, followed by planting of seedlings late as rains are ending, poor soil, difficulty accessing water, and pests and termites. They asked for more training on how to integrate trees with crops and regenerate stumps, increased follow-up of seedlings, a prize for the best tree farmer, group-based agroforestry especially for women, and help to plant for widows, elderly and people with disabilities.

Nursery manager Osidi checks young indigenous Milicia excelsa, Markhamia lutea and Vitex doniana. The nursery’s fence is a medley of native fruit tree species. A Borrassus palm with millet. A beneficiary with mangoes, a naturalized tree. Juster believes CIFOR-ICRAF is alone in the settlement in addressing the ‘biodiversity piece’. Photos by Felix Odhiambo.

“Despite sub-optimal survival rates, there was clearly some success,” notes M&E chief Hughes. “Qualitative methods to better understand survival rates are recommended. The value in this study is in understanding how what was promoted under the programme was taken up by the targeted participants and what can be done better going forward.”

“Given the very short time to collect and interpret the data, these results are very encouraging and lend themselves to more in-depth follow up surveys to expand upon and hopefully validate them,” says Professor Michael Gold at Missouri’s Center for Agroforestry. “Sarah Juster, along with her support team, is to be commended.”

“Scaling agroforestry and its benefits like income, fuel, poles and nutrition for refugees and host communities requires a landscape approach,” says natural resource governance and energy expert Sola Phosiso, who runs the project. “We are addressing tree planting within the wider restoration agenda supported by a robust performance management system to generate evidence of what works.”

###

For CIFOR-ICRAF’s full portfolio with displaced people, see:
Laird S, Awono A, Okia C, Anaya GA, Ingram V, Sola P, Watson C, Muthuri C, Gilruth P, Mendum R and Njenga M. (2022). Social and environmental transformation of refugee and hosting community landscapes in Central and Eastern Africa. Occasional Paper 229. Bogor, Indonesia: CIFOR.

For more on this project: 

For information on another CIFOR-ICRAF project in the same location:
Gender-responsive innovations for soil rehabilitation, alternative fuel and agriculture for resilient refugee and host community settlements in East Africa and this video Guidance for a Landscape Approach in Displacement Setting: Experiences from the Rhino Camp Refugee Settlement in Uganda.

Good food for all – without trashing the planet Leveraging the food crises to promote just transitions to agroecology

NEW YORK CITY, USA (25 October 2022) – The food crisis has highlighted the structural constraints within existing global food systems to realize the human right to food. That’s the finding of Michael Fakhri – the UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food – in his latest report, which will be presented to the 77th UN General Assembly (UNGA) on 28 October 2022.The report provides a framework to guide states in developing action plans to overcome these constraints and coordinate an international response to the food crisis; enabling just agroecological transitions are a central plank of its recommendations.

In this context, the Transformative Partnership Platform on Agroecology and the Swiss Government are hosting a side event to explore the report’s implications for the Agroecology Coalition – a group of nearly 40 countries, the European Union, the African Union, the Economic Community of West African States, and over 80 organizations from across the globe, that seek to transform food systems through agroecology.

The side event focuses on equity in food systems, with particular reference to gender and social inclusion, and the role of civil society and social movements in realizing just agroecological transitions.

With the participation of Olivier De Schutter co-chair of IPES-Food, and UN Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights!

WHEN: 10.30-13.00 (in person) 11.00-12.30 (online), 27 October 2022
WHERE: Millenium Hilton Hotel, One UN Plaza, New York and online

REGISTER NOW

 

For more information, please contact:

Dr Ravi Prabhu appointed Director General ad interim of World Agroforestry

The CIFOR-ICRAF Board of Trustees is pleased to announce the appointment of Dr Ravi Prabhu as Director General ad interim (a.i.) of World Agroforestry (ICRAF) effective 1 October 2022.

Making the announcement, Prof Getachew Engida, Board Chair said, “We are pleased to have Dr Prabhu at the helm to help us deliver urgent and effective solutions to some of the world’s greatest environmental and development challenges.”

“Thinking ahead to the responsibilities that you have entrusted me with, I intend to do my utter best to fulfil and exceed expectations and the responsibilities entrusted to me,” said Dr Prabhu to staff. “I fully intend for my role to be meaningful, innovative and constructive – we must use every precious second available to leap forward.”

Dr Prabhu is a hugely accomplished scientist who has engaged in multidisciplinary research and action in forested landscapes for almost 20 years with different organizations including the United Nations Environment Programme, CGIAR and CIFOR. In 2005, he received the Queen’s Award for Forestry at Buckingham Palace in 2005 for his work on criteria and indicators for sustainable forest management. In 2012 he joined ICRAF as Deputy Director General, and he has served on numerous international initiatives and committees. Dr Prabhu earned his professional degree and a doctorate in forestry from the University of Goettingen, Germany.

Dr Prabhu takes over from Prof Tony Simons, whom the Board, management and staff recognize for his tremendous leadership and significant contributions made to ICRAF over his 28 years of service. His achievements include his leading role as CIFOR-ICRAF Executive Director in the visionary collaboration with CIFOR on merging the world’s premier forestry and agroforestry research institutions.

During multiple farewell events and celebrations this week, Tony was reminded of the incredible social dimensions that enrich life at CIFOR-ICRAF. He concluded his 28-year tenure by saying “the brilliance, utility and worthiness of CIFOR-ICRAF work and impact are logically supported by investors and beneficiaries; although the real treasure of the institute resides in the dedication and linkages of CIFOR-ICRAF staff and delivery partners”.

CIFOR-ICRAF looks forward to Tony’s continued dedication and new forms of collaboration as it continues to seek solutions to global challenges.

New initiative: Catalyzing expansion of trees outside forests in India

USAID and Indian Government collaborate to increase tree coverage for climate action in India

It is often said that the best time to act against climate change was yesterday; the next best time is today. In a bid to support global climate change mitigation and adaptation goals, the US Agency for International Development (USAID) and the Indian government’s Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC) launched a new program, ‘Trees Outside Forests in India (TOFI)’, on September 8, 2022.

Led by the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) and World Agroforestry (ICRAF), the five-year program seeks to scale up trees outside forests in India to enhance carbon sequestration, increase tree-based livelihoods, and build climate-resilient agriculture.

In recent times, the Indian government has given huge impetus to the expansion of trees outside forests through policies and schemes that incentivize and support farmers and other stakeholders to take up trees outside forests (TOF) systems, particularly agroforestry.

“India is completely committed to agroforestry,” said Leena Nandan – MoEFCC’s secretary – in her address at the launch. “It is center-stage in our planning. I hope the intervention and collaboration on trees outside forests will lead to a very successful outcome in terms of giving a visible boost to agroforestry and fostering an increase in green cover and the economic activities centered around it – including the commercial production of trees.”

“Trees can help achieve the ‘triple-win’ situation – providing livelihoods, absorbing planet-warming greenhouse gas emissions, and improving the health of the ecosystems,” said Chandrashekar Biradar, TOFI’s Chief of Party and India’s Country Director for CIFOR-ICRAF. “By bringing lost trees into mainstream agriculture and man-made landscapes, TOFI will play a vital role in meeting India’s national climate goals and international commitments.”

Such targets include the country’s Nationally Determined Contributions to the Paris Agreement on Climate Change (NDCs), the Bonn Challenge, Land Degradation Neutrality, and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Growing trees outside forests can also support food and livelihood security for rural Indians, especially for poor and vulnerable groups.

However, there are various economic, policy, capacity, and information-related barriers to realizing the full potential of trees outside forests in the country. The TOFI program aims to address these barriers by:

  • Strengthening the enabling environment to improve laws, regulations, policies, certifications, and standards to scale up trees outside forests
  • Enhancing access to finance, insurance, and quality planting material, and providing incentives and value-chain support to boost demand for products from trees outside forests
  • Bridging gaps in technical and market information through extension services, knowledge, data, monitoring, and decision tools

TOFI seeks to approach climate change through the lens of multi-stakeholder engagement in tree planting for its numerous benefits. These benefits include carbon capture, improved soil health for increased productivity and income, and subsequent improvement in livelihoods. “The TOFI program will improve individual lives through increased economic opportunities and crop yields, as well as contribute to our global priorities of addressing climate change through sustainable solutions,” said Veena Reddy, Mission Director for USAID India. “We hope this will provide a model that can be scaled and replicated in India and beyond.”

The project will be implemented in the states of Andhra Pradesh, Assam, Haryana, Odisha, Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu, and Uttar Pradesh. TOFI will be implemented through key partners, including Ashoka Trust for Research in Ecology and the Environment (ATREE); Central Agroforestry Research Institute (CAFRI); Gramin Vikas Vigyan Samiti (GRAVIS); National Institute of Agricultural Economics and Policy Research (NIAP); Network for Certification and Conservation of Forests (NCCF); The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI); Tropical Forest Research Institute (TFRI); and the Forest College and Research Institute of Tamil Nadu Agricultural University.

By expanding trees beyond forests, TOFI will contribute to putting 2.8 million hectares of new land into trees outside forests across the seven project states – thus capturing 420 million tons of carbon dioxide equivalent. Also, by contributing to other ecosystem services such as the availability of raw materials for industries, safe drinking water, clean air, erosion prevention, and nutrient cycling, the program will impact positively on at least 13.1 million people across the country.

Learn more about TOFI

Rubber set to revitalize Nepal’s degraded and underutilized lands to boost climate and livelihoods’ goals

CIFOR-ICRAF has teamed with two NGOs to conduct research-in-development of the natural rubber sector in the country.

Tilak Bhandari, pioneer rubber scientist and IRRN executive director at a rubber and tea farm in Chilimkot, Mai Municipality, Ilam, Nepal. Photo: Bhola Neupane.

The Center for International Forestry Research and World Agroforestry (CIFOR-ICRAF) signed a memorandum of understanding with the Institute of Rubber Research Nepal (IRRN) and WorldStar Rubber Farm Company Pvt Ltd on 23 August 2022.

IRRN and WorldStar are a non-governmental organization and private company, respectively, which support development of policies and programmes and implement activities related to rubber and rubber-based production and trade, natural resources management and environmental conservation in Nepal.

“The main aim of this cooperation is to produce scientific knowledge and appropriate technologies, expand activities related to rubber agroforestry and natural resources management, and transfer them for practical application to Government agencies, private companies, communities, practitioners, researchers and development partners,” said Javed Rizvi, director for Asia with CIFOR-ICRAF.

Rubber with black pepper intercropped, in Jhapa, Eastern Nepal. Photo: Tilak Bhandari/IRRN.

To achieve their objectives, the partners will collaborate on raising funds for research and development, particularly regarding sustainable management of rubber cultivation, establishment of a farm-forest “engagement landscape”, support for social and community forestry, exploration of the role of forested and production landscapes in climate-change mitigation and adaptation, examination and development of forestry and agroforestry value chains, training and capacity development and exploration of gender and youth issues related to farm-forest development.

“This is a very timely partnership,” said Keshab Adhikari, Nepal liaison scientist with CIFOR-ICRAF. “Available information indicates rubber production in Nepal is around 450 tonnes per year while annual consumption of rubber and rubber-related products is 12,000 tonnes. It has been estimated that by 2025 the demand for natural rubber is expected to exceed 20,000 tonnes annually, valued at USD 150 million. To meet this demand and address the environmental and social challenges faced by the country, we see that this partnership is an important step forward.”

Tilak B. Bhandari, executive director of IRRN, has devoted more than three decades to pioneering rubber production in Nepal.

“This MoU is a great and demand-based opportunity for cooperation and co-work,” he said. “Rubber commercialization has become one of Nepal’s top national agenda items for the public and Government, with Parliament prioritising debate so as to swiftly harness its various potentialities.”

Hevea brasiliensis, aka rubber, was first planted in Nepal in the 1970s but has expanded very little beyond its initial area. The total land under rubber cultivation is only about 555 hectares, with average annual production of 1.1 tonnes per hectare. Consequently, Nepal imports more than 98% of its natural rubber, mainly from India, China, Thailand and Malaysia.

However, Nepal’s eastern region is abundantly suited for growing natural rubber, which needs well distributed rainfall (2000–3000 mm) with relatively high humidity (80%) and temperatures ranging 20–35 0C, all of which are present in the region.

“Nepal’s east is a highly fortunate landscape for high-value, low-volume crops like dry rubber, which has not been fully utilized for its admired income at household and national levels,” said Navin Joshi, president of WorldStar Rubber, who has expertise in natural-rubber quality assurance, processing and marketing. “This understanding between specialty organizations is an opportunity to boost youth and women’s engagement through diverse socio-economic circles.”

Rubber farmers gathering in an industrial village opening ceremony in Jhapa, Eastern Nepal. Photo: Tilak Bhandari/IRRN.

The new partnership will exchange knowledge, carry out research and engage with Government, particularly, to support the re-establishment of a body mandated with development of the rubber sector. A focus of such a body would be facilitating a conducive policy environment and providing various support mechanisms.

General aims would include increasing the number of rubber farmers’ groups and individual farmers, training and capacity development, expansion of the rubber-cultivation area and demonstrating the economic advantages of integrating rubber with production of fruit, annual crops and biomaterial, that is, various forms of ‘rubber agroforestry’.

“Any such large-scale planting of trees as this partnership proposes should follow CIFOR-ICRAF’s maxim of identifying the ‘right trees in the right place for the right purpose while respecting local rights,” said Himlal Baral, senior forest and landscape restoration scientist with CIFOR-ICRAF. “Evidence shows that agroforestry systems that combine rubber, other tree species — including fruit, timber and non-timber production species — with other alley and intercrops for multiple benefits for livelihoods and the environment are the most effective and efficient.”

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Calling all agroecology enthusiasts!

An open invitation to join a global community of practice

By Monica Evans

Agroecology is growing in prominence as a key strategy to address current climate and good security crises. Also referred to as ecological or regenerative agriculture, it’s a farming approach that’s inspired by natural ecosystems, and combines local and scientific knowledge to focus on the interactions between plants, animals, humans, and the environment.

To help maximize the uptake and benefits of this promising approach, the Center for International Forestry Research–World Agroforestry Centre (CIFOR-ICRAF) last year launched a Transformative Partnership Platform (TPP) on the topic, in conjunction with the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), the French Agricultural Research Centre for International Development (CIRAD), Biovision, the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), and TMG Think Tank for Sustainability.

The TPP includes a global community of practice (CoP), where agroecology enthusiasts can share relevant news and ideas, have meaningful conversations with like-minded and knowledgeable people, ask direct questions to scientists, and explore a wide range of resources on the topic. Hosted by the Global Landscapes Forum (GLF)’s global community of independently-organized chapters (GLFx), the CoP provides an opportunity for members to connect and learn from each other, develop co-created knowledge, and stay up-to-date on the latest developments in the field.

Now, the fledgling CoP is spreading its wings, with its first Activation Workshop being held online on 13 September at 15:00 CEST. The workshop will guide attendees through numerous functionalities of the GLFx platform on which the CoP is hosted; shed light on the scope and purpose of the vibrant and growing community of agroecology enthusiasts; provide a wealth of real-life examples of CoP features; and take prospective members through the sign-up process. There will also be time to ask questions and develop a common vision for the CoP.

To register, click here; a detailed agenda is available here.