News No 2 / 05 (April 2005)
> An interview with Dennis Garrity, Director
General of ICRAF
Of current interest
> World hunger: What are the next steps?
> Agricultural trade widens poverty gap
> Collaborate in research – but how?
> Equity, a prerequisite for tropical
> Sharing Power: Co-management of natural
> Counting ecosystems as water infrastructure
> The responsibility of local governments
to take action to mitigate
> What chances do households have of recovering
> Genetically modified plants in developing
> Burkina Faso: More agricultural production
for the domestic market
An interview with Dennis Garrity, Director General of ICRAF
World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF), based in Kenya, is the world’s most
important research centre within the Consultative Group on International
Agricultural Research (CGIAR)-system in the field of mitigating tropical
deforestation, land depletion and rural poverty through improved agroforestry
systems. Agroforestry is an ecologically-based natural resources management
system that, through the integration of trees in farmland and rangeland,
diversifies and sustains production for increased benefits for land
users at all levels. A meeting with the Director General gave the opportunity
to discuss ICRAF’s experiences and possible links to the Swiss Agency
for Development and Cooperation (SDC).
As ICRAF has analyzed alternatives to slash-and-burn for many years,
we assume that a broad range of solutions has been tested. What can
be said about the “best practices”?
DG : “Best practices” are unique to the situation
at the local level, where circumstances vary greatly, and the processes
for land use change concretely happen. Understanding household decision-making
is crucial in facilitating improved strategies and solutions that are
location-specific and likely to be successful. Much depends on local
champions. The key is identifying the “true local champions” that deserve
support in fostering better land use at the forest margins.
Good preparation, patience and realism have been aspects of the success
stories we have noted. However, everyone is still looking for the most
appropriate models. In my opinion, the Integrated Conservation and Development
Project (ICDP) approach was not as problematic as it appears to be to
some people. The problem was that it was too often implemented in ways
that are not consistent with ICDP principles. The agencies’ internal
processes were inconsistent with good ICDP practice, which has led to
some unnecessary failures.
In the Philippines, our work has provided some useful lessons. ICRAF
worked in the vicinity of a national park in which slash-and-burn was
out of control (about 300 annual incursions per year). We provided simultaneously
a range of technical alternatives, worked with villagers on commercial
tree enterprise incentives (timber, fruits), and facilitated a local
institutional framework for park protection through a villagebased Landcare
movement. Collaboration between the communities on the park boundaries,
the park managers, and the municipal government completely turned the
situation around. Park incursions were reduced over 95% in a few years.
Taking an integrated approach, including technical, institutional, and
policy innovation, was the fundamental element of the success. The village-based
Landcare groups have now been able to help protect the park and limit
slash-and-burn destruction in this valuable biodiversity reserve to
What can be the added-value for SDC to work with the CGIAR? How do you
see the perspectives of a SDC-ICRAF collaboration?
DG : Research is a crucial element in helping
developing-country agriculture serve its role as a driver of economic
growth and poverty alleviation. The CGCentres as a group work with their
national partners to define key innovations that can enable the rural
poor to achieve progress through a more productive agriculture. There
is a huge set of possible science-based innovations in crops, livestock,
and trees, that can support intensification and diversification. Agroforestry
is one key entry point. Participative R&D activities and continuous
capacity building efforts are essential, on the one hand to develop
adapted and adaptive systems, and on the other hand to launch further
dissemination of successful innovations.
Research must be able to impact on millions of farmers’ fields. ICRAF
is working on the scaling-up of scientific findings, and the returns
on these investments are analyzed. The current emphasis in discussions
between SDC and ICRAF is on Africa, especially the prospects for making
a difference in the “hunger hotspots” where “Green Revolutions” are
most urgently needed. A first step would be to build the partnerships
to determine the most promising portfolios of options to enhance productivity
and bolster natural resource management in the hotspots. ICRAF and SDC
can work together in facilitating these processes.
There are actually many positive developments currently occurring in
Africa. If these can be reinforced and accelerated, the momentum toward
improved livelihoods can begin to shift rapidly in many parts of rural
> Agroforestry and the achievement of the millenium development
goals. D.P. Garrity. In: Agroforestry Systems, vol. 61, (2004), p. 5–17
> The contribution of agroforestry systems to reducing farmers’
dependence on the resources of adjacent national parks: a case study
from Sumatra, Indonesia. D.P. Garrity… [et al.]. In: Agroforestry Systems,
vol. 52, (2001), p. 171–184
World hunger: What are the next steps?
854 million people – around 14% of the world’s population – suffer
chronic or acute malnutrition. The largest number of hungry people live
in Asia. In the sub-Saharan region, their proportion within the total
population exceeds 30%, and their absolute number is on the increase.
These numbers have recently been published in a report by the Hunger
Task Force of the UN Millennium Project. This Task Force was appointed
in 2002 to identify viable ways to achieve the Millennium Development
Goal of halving world hunger by 2015. The report contains an in-depth
analysis of the current situation, followed by a list of numerous demands,
particularly regarding policy, resources, production, and health. While
the report hardly provides any new insights, it does offer a comprehensive
overview of causal factors of poverty at the policy level: effective
alleviation of hunger depends, among other things, on fair international
trade, a healthy environment, and access to land, seed, knowledge, and
credits for the poor. In stressing this, the report finally gives the
necessary political priority to the issue of hunger, which was previously
often left to be tackled by development agencies. Today, the UN and
the WTO have moved it to the top of their agendas, and it has been given
an important position also at the G8 Summit and at the World Trade Forum
in Davos. Nevertheless, the report does not answer the question of how
required additional measures can be financed in the short term.
Source: Halving hunger: it can be done,
Achieving the Millenium Development Goals. Summary version. Lead authors:
M.S. Swaminathan, Philip Dobie, Nalan Yuksel. 2005. 34 p. www.unmilleniumproject.org/reports/reports2.htm
(This URL also provides links to the reports of the other Millennium
Project Task Forces.)
Agricultural trade widens poverty gap
The world’s least developed countries in particular face increasingly
difficult conditions on the international agricultural markets: prices
for many traditional agricultural export products are sinking and, in
the short term, subject to large fluctuations. The financially more
interesting production of non-traditional or processed foods is hampered
by these countries’ internal structural problems and high import tariffs
in industrialised countries. Many developing countries are actually
forced to import more and more foods. Finally, producers face a decreasing
number of large buyers (large corporations, supermarkets). Small-scale
farmers in particular have difficulties in meeting the demands of such
buyers with regard to quantity, quality, and delivery deadlines.
A study conducted by the FAO provides a wealth of data and various recommendations
on this topic: The poorest developing countries need to be supported
in adapting their export production to new demands, as well as improving
production for their domestic markets. Furthermore, the authors recommend
protection systems against unexpected losses in production or prices,
improvement of collaboration among small-scale producers, and promotion
campaigns to support demand for tropical products. Finally, industrialised
countries need to open their markets to agricultural products.
Source: The State of Agricultural Commodity
FAO 2004. 55 p. www.fao.org/docrep/007/y5419e/y5419e00.htm
Of current interest: Implementation
Collaborate in research – but how?
objective of North-South research partnerships is not only to produce
new insights, but also to promote exchange and mutual learning and to
enhance capacities both in the South and in the North. Increased visibility
and attractiveness of research in the South, better access to information
and new fields of research, and the chance of overcoming scientific
isolation are some of the positive aspects of research partnerships.
However, there are also drawbacks, such as the North regarding the South
as a laboratory, and the dominance of partners from the North due to
a financial and scientific power difference.
An effective research partnership begins with joint planning and involves
reflecting from the very beginning on how methods are developed, who
takes on what role and position, and finally, who benefits in what way
from the partnership. This publication describes ten factors that have
a positive influence on research partnerships, such as mutual learning
platforms, and identifies six factors that hamper an effective implementation.
Guiding questions for planning, clear recommendations for donors as
well as researchers, and case studies round off this clearly structured
and implementation-oriented publication.
Source: Improving Impacts of
Research Partnerships. Daniel Maselli, Jon-Andri Lys, Jacqueline Schmid.
Swiss Commission for Research Partnerships with Developing Countries,
KFPE. Geographica Bernensia. Berne, 2004. 86 p. www.kfpe.ch/key_activities/impact_study/index.html
French version to be published soon.
Equity, a prerequisite for tropical forest management
Forest management strategies should take account of social factors
in order to resolve conflicts which arise when tropical subsistence
forests are turned into a source of revenue.
This publication presents several social participation instruments developed
in the framework of the programme “Local Population, Decentralisation
and Adaptive Collaborative Management (ACM) of the Forests”. It explains
why it is essential that existing forest management strategies are revised
and how this could be achieved by involving various population groups,
especially women, living in the forest zone.
One of eight promising approaches for forest managers is the multi-actor
process applied in Bolivia. Members of the community groups (elderly
men, women, and young people) are asked how they imagine their forests
being optimally managed in five years time, and what changes and adjustments
they feel are needed to make this a reality.
Yet, the book also highlights the difficulties of ensuring the equitable
distribution of profits, as well as problems associated with deeply
entrenched notions of power and non-power, and the cultural interpretation
of relations which are specific to the various actors concerned.
Source: The equitable forest: diversity,
community and resource management. Ed. Carol J. Pierce Colfer. RFF Press,
Sharing Power: Co-management of natural resources
The term co-management (CM) describes a partnership of two or more
relevant social actors, in which partners collectively negotiate, agree
upon, guarantee and implement a fair distribution among themselves of
management functions, benefits, and responsibilities for a particular
territory, area, or set of natural resources.
The authors of this publication subscribe to a broad understanding of
comanagement. According to them, CM is a type of self-defence and an
answer to complexity, and it promotes effectiveness and efficiency,
respect and equality. CM can only be achieved through joint negotiations
involving all social actors, and it is coming to be a social institution.
The establishment of a CM is a long process consisting of three phases:
- preparation (collecting information, launching communication with
all social partners),
- development of an agreement, and
- implementation and regular evaluation of that agreement.
The uniqueness of each local social, ecological and institutional
situation leads to a wide range of different forms of CM.
This book contains detailed conceptual explanations and many useful
guidelines. Numerous examples from around the world give evidence of
years of experience. Reading takes time, as the book does not provide
any quick superficial instructions for action.
Source: Sharing Power: Learning-by-Doing
in Co-management of Natural
Resources throughout the World. G. Borrini-Feyerabend, M. Pimbert, M.
Taghi Farvar, A. Kothari, Y. Renard. IIED, IUCN/CEESO/CMWG, Cenest.
Teheran, 2004. 456 p. www.iucn.org/themes/ceesp/Publications/sharingpower.htm
Counting ecosystems as water infrastructure
A bio-economic calculation model has shown that investments in sustainable
management of a wetland area in Bangladesh not only increase its productivity,
but also prevent resource degradation. The calculated profit of the
project turned out to be 7.5 times higher than the presupposed investments.
This example evidences a growing awareness of the value of ecosystems.
However, it also shows that only sustainable use of ecosystems makes
it possible to maintain long-term services to humans under economically
profitable conditions. The economic valuation of ecosystems and their
performance can serve as an important tool in planning and decision-making
processes. Valuation provides information on loss or profit caused by
interventions, but also makes it possible to evaluate adequate conservation
measures. This publication is directed at professionals on both the
implementation and the decisionmaking level. It gives an overview on
various valuation techniques and on how valuation results can be integrated
into decision-making processes. While the study does deal with the limitations
of economic valuation, it somewhat lacks critical reflection on the
increasing economisation in general.
Source:Value: Counting ecosystems as water
infrastructure. L. Emerton,
E. Bos. IUCN. Gland, Switzerland and Cambridge, UK. 2004. 88 p.
French and Spanish versions to be published soon.
The responsibility of local governments to take action to mitigate
Latin America, the major challenge in terms of climate change is translating
international decisions into internal public policies. Local governments,
which are theoretically closest to the citizens, are in fact remote
and out of step with international negotiations.
Launched during the 10th UN Conference on Climate Change (COP 10) in
Buenos Aires last December, this guide, accompanied by a very helpful
glossary, is aimed primarily at Latin America and the Caribbean. The
observations and proposals contained in this work are firmly rooted
in the realities of these regions, while paying reference to measures
undertaken by other countries.
Following the chapter on the role of local governments, 10 Latin American
specialists advocate one of many options (in relation to energy, transport,
use of land and forests etc.) which local politicians could take to
mitigate climate change. Although brief, these articles offer the reader
a valuable insight thanks to the diversity, multidisciplinary nature
and feasibility of the proposals contained therein.
Source: Cambio climático y desarrollo
limpio: oportunidades para gobiernos locales. International Council
for Local Environmental Initiatives (ICLEI) – Local Governments for
Sustainability. 2004. 110 p.
What chances do households have of recovering from natural disasters?
Natural disasters such as the famine in Ethiopia (1999 – 2000) and
hurricane Mitch in Honduras (1998) have long-term economic consequences
for the concerned households and their resources. In disasters, households
lose part of their assets, such as land and animals, and their income
is diminished due to factors such as crop failure. The degree to which
households are able to recover economically from such a shock depends
on their wealth prior to the disaster; however, it is also influenced
by the possibilities they have of finding work and money on the market
and through social networks.
This long-term economic study in Ethiopia and Honduras has used regression
models to show that coping strategies differ from area to area and depend
on the resilience of households. In both cases, however, poor households
are particularly sensitive to being caught in a poverty trap. In conclusion
the authors recommend enhancing social networks, promoting non-agricultural
income and rural markets, as well as developing infrastructure in order
to increase household security.
Source: Shocks, Sensitivity
and Resilience: Tracking the Economic Impacts of Environmental Disaster
on Assets in Ethiopia and Honduras.
M.R. Carter, P. D. Little, T. Mogues, W. Negatu. 2004. 38 p. www.sed.manchester.ac.uk/idpm/research/events/february2005/
Genetically modified plants in developing countries
Various developing countries conduct research on genetically modified
crops. A new study has examined 62 institutions implementing a total
of 201 projects on 43 different plants. More than half of these projects
aim to enhance resistance against viruses and insects.
The study draws two important conclusions:
- Research on genetically modified plants in developing countries
is predominantly carried out by public institutions and using local
and publicly accessible genetic resources. Farmers might more easily
accept this kind of seed, and, moreover, they could reproduce it on
their own due to the absence of patents.
- The move from the laboratory to practical application is hampered
by various obstacles. In particular, there is a lack of know-how and
resources with regard to meeting security requirements.
The study does not raise the basic question of whether the use of
genetically modified plants makes sense. A speech by the Zambian Minister
of Agriculture shows that governments of developing countries do have
reservations in this respect.
> Poorer nations turn to publicly developed GM crops. Joel
I. Cohen. In: Nature Biotechnology, Vol. 23, No 1, January 2005. p.27–33.
> Genetically modified food as food aid – the case of Zambia.
Hon Mundia Sikatana (Zambian Minister of Agriculture). Contribution
to Swissaid Symposium “Genetic Engineering in Agriculture – a predictable
catastrophe?” Berne, Switzerland, 10.02.2005. www.swissaid.ch/news/e/documents/symposium_doku_e_000.pdf
Burkina Faso: More agricultural production for the domestic
than a third of the producers in three different agroecological regions
of Burkina Faso combine subsistence farming with food sales and trade.
This has been established in a joint research project conducted by the
University of Ouagadougou and the Swiss College of Agriculture, which
studied the sales of agricultural food products and the market behaviour
of farmers. Among other things, an analysis of the value-added chain
revealed that imported husked rice is almost as cheap as local cereal
flour. The study also showed that food production generates three times
more income than cotton production. Consequently, the authors’ recommendations
for agricultural policy in Burkina Faso with a view to increasing agricultural
production and farmers’ income, include the establishment of a national
agricultural system for investment credits. A key demand is that along
with export production, Burkina Faso develop its domestic agricultural
and agroindustrial market – using modest market protection against subsidised
imports if needed – and thereby place its agricultural economy on two
equally strong legs.
Source: Commercialisation vivrière
paysanne, marchés urbains et options politique au Burkina Faso.
Rapport final de synthèse. Gil Ducommun, Hugo Cecchini, Sylvestre
Ouedraogo et Abdoulaye Bengaly. HESA / CEDRES. 2005. 104 p.