Empowering youth to protect fisheries in the Solomon Islands

By Faye Aborina Siota | 

In the Solomon Islands, discussions and decisions on managing local fisheries mostly involve men, who are typically the elders and hold the leadership positions in communities. Yet research from across the world shows that broad community involvement and commitment is critical for equitable fisheries management.

A key challenge is to arrive at a model of community management of natural resources that integrates the voices of all community members, including youth, while also respecting traditional social hierarchy.

Spear fishing, Solomon Islands.

In the Solomon Islands, fish and fishing is important as a source of food and income and is integrated into the way of life of households and communities. Youth participate in fisheries by fishing from shore or from canoes, diving to gather invertebrates and to Spearfish, and helping to clean and prepare to catch for sale or for consumption – all of which are important contributions to the collective activities of a rural and coastal community.

Yet the strong cultural hierarchy in many rural and coastal communities limits the extent that youth can participate in discussions on fisheries governance. Respect for community chiefs, elders, religious leaders and resource owners as the decision makers sometimes restrains the ability that youth have to contribute ideas. This can mean that youth become disenfranchised, resulting in many being uninvolved and even unaware of such deliberations. The trend for youth to move away from rural communities to bigger urban centers adds to the challenge.

Encouraging the greater involvement all individuals, including youth, in fisheries management has been a focus of efforts by WorldFish in partnership with the Ministry of Fisheries and Marine Resources to test, refine and promote community-based resource management (CBRM) in the Solomon Islands since 2005.

The CBRM approach involves local communities managing natural resources in partnership with government bodies and civil society groups through such mechanisms as discussing customary access rights, sharing contemporary scientific and local knowledge about marine environments and fish ecology, promoting sustainable harvesting and practicing enforcement. This approach resonates well in the Solomon Islands, where, because of customary marine tenure, communities have always managed their local fisheries with little intervention from government authorities.

CBRM training participants, Solomon Islands.

To ensure CBRM initiatives reach and involve youth, WorldFish has partnered with the regional organization Pacific Community (SPC) to run workshops on CBRM specifically targeted toward youth. Since November 2016, three youth-targeted trainings have been held involving 47 young people.

The three-day training empowers youth to increase their knowledge and confidence so as to allow them to get actively involved in, and even lead, marine resource management in their communities. It encourages young people to open up, interact and share ideas on tackling fisheries issues and solutions in their own communities. By giving them the opportunity to recognize their capabilities, youth understand that they can contribute to resource management programs, and affect a range of decisions that impact upon the future of their communities.

Look & learn trip, Solomon Islands.

The gaining of basic marine biology knowledge and a deeper understanding of the interconnection of the marine environment to us humans was an evident impact of the training. With this new knowledge, youths discussed ways that they would be able to better manage community resources and work together to improve their management when they returned home. To capture these ideas, the youths drew up action plans that outlined activities such as holding awareness talks to carry out on their return to their communities.

In the Solomon Islands, we are all resource users that depend on fisheries for food and income. If we don’t all participate in managing our natural resources and protecting our environment, then we can’t ensure the continued benefits of fisheries for the people who depend on them. Appreciating our youth and recognizing them as agents of change in our communities is therefore critical to achieving sustainable outcomes from CBRM initiatives.


Faye Aborina Siota

Faye Aborina Siota

Faye Aborina Siota has been working for WorldFish as a Research Analyst since 2012. She has been involved in research on community-based resource management (CBRM), nearshore fish aggregating devices (FADs) and most recently, on food and nutrition in rural communities. She believes in community empowerment and the strength-based approach.


Article Disclaimer: This article was published by The Fish Tank and retrieved on 12/21/2017 and posted here for information and educational purposes only. The views and contents of the article remain those of the authors. We will not be held accountable for the reliability and accuracy of the materials. If you need additional information on the published contents and materials, please contact the original authors and publisher. Please cite the authors, original source, and INDESEEM accordingly.


Smart fertilizer management and the quest for sustainable rice production

Pauline Chivenge and Sheetal Sharma   |  « PREVIOUS

Specific fertilizer recommendations in smallholder rice farming systems could increase crop production while reducing pollution and greenhouse gas emissions.

Rice production relies on the use of synthetic fertilizers, especially nitrogen, in order to meet the challenge of rising demand for the commodity driven by population growth. However, the nutrient needs of rice crops are not constant and can vary with fields, seasons, and years because of differences in crop-growing conditions and management. Consequently, the proper management of nutrients for rice production needs to be adjusted to suit field and crop requirements.

Furthermore, the application of external nutrients constitutes the second most expensive rice production input, after labor. As a result, nutrient management is an important component for sustainable rice production while protecting the environment.

Too much of a good thing
The Green Revolution in the mid-20th century resulted in increased crop yields, including rice, in the developing world. Much of this was due to a combination of the introduction of improved varieties and more reliance on the use of synthetic fertilizers, herbicides, and pesticides. However, although the Green Revolution was undoubtedly beneficial in improving food security, it was also associated with a dramatic increase in pollution due to the high use of agricultural chemicals.

Fertilizer recommendations in smallholder rice farming systems are often given as blanket recommendations, but this can lead to the overuse of fertilizers and inefficient use of nutrients. This created a need to find approaches to increase crop production while reducing pollution.

Location-specific information
Soil testing has been promoted to estimate location-specific fertilizer requirements based on the measurement of soil nutrient pools for a field or location. Soil-test methods attempt to measure the proportions of nutrients available for crops, but the amount measured may differ across soils with contrasting properties. Additionally, different tests for one nutrient often provide different results that can be expressed in a variety of ways.

Therefore, soil-test methods need to be calibrated to be used in a specific region. Soil testing requires rapid sequential sampling of soil, laboratory analysis, and timely deployment of a fertilizer recommendation with training for farmers before crop establishment. The effective implementation across hundreds of thousands of fields has been constrained by the high costs involved in sampling and analysis.

In developed countries, precision nutrient management is done using sophisticated technology to monitor variations in nutrient levels within large fields and across seasons. But, this is not applicable for small fields in Asia and Africa.

The site-specific nutrient management (SSNM) approach was developed in the 1990s to enable rice farmers to apply fertilizers and efficiently meet varying nutrient requirements of plants, thereby reducing fertilizer misuse associated with fertilizer subsidy.

The approach is used to calculate field-specific requirements for fertilizer nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium for cereal crops based on scientific principles with the aim to increase nutrient-use efficiency. SSNM has improved rice yields compared with the farmers’ practice often based on blanket recommendations.

Nutrient Manager for Rice provides farmers in the Philippines with advice on best fertilizer through mobile phones. (Photo: IRRI)

Timing is everything
The SSNM approach, however, does not aim to increase or reduce the amount of fertilizer used. The increase in grain yield with lower amounts of fertilizer has been associated with the better timing of application, particularly for nitrogen. Farmers apply a greater proportion of the nitrogen fertilizer in the early stages of the crop, causing higher vigor during early growth, which does not translate into higher grain yield at maturity.

In recent years, SSNM has been identified as one of the options for sustainable intensification of rice production in Asia and as a climate-smart technology for increasing resource-use efficiency while reducing greenhouse gas emissions and nutrient runoff into water sources.

The SSNM approach relies heavily on information generated from nutrient omission plot trials that are used to estimate fertilizer requirements for major nutrients (nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium). Briefly, nutrient omission plots are small field trials in which adequate nutrients—except the nutrient of interest—are applied to a plot in order to estimate the supply of the omitted nutrient from indigenous sources such as soil, crop residues, irrigation water, biological nitrogen fixation, and atmospheric deposition. This is used to calculate the amount of fertilizer required to achieve a given yield target.

Phosphorus and potassium are generally applied at sowing or transplanting while nitrogen is applied at different crop stages. Thirty percent of the nitrogen is applied at transplanting and the rest is equally split at critical rice growth stages: active tillering and panicle initiation. Alternatively, the nitrogen splits can be determined using leaf color charts.

Rice production in Asia is largely done by smallholder farmers who often lack access to information. For sustainability, there is a need to develop tools that are accessible to farmers. Using the principles of SSNM, an information and communication technology decision support tool, Nutrient Manager, was developed to give field-specific fertilizer recommendations for smallholder farmers.

Nutrient Manager targets irrigated and rainfed lowland rice farmers with the aim to increase productivity and net income by USD 100 per hectare per season at the farm level. The tool has been widely tested and used in the Philippines, India, Bangladesh, and Vietnam, and has led to an increase in farm productivity and profitability. The tool was later developed into the Rice Crop Manager in the Philippines and India, which give climate-informed agro-advisory services to farmers, including the selection of suitable varieties. (See An app tailor-made for India’s rice farmers.)

Although the tool has effectively improved productivity in 80% of the locations where it has been tried, there is room to expand the fertilizer recommendations for a wider set of conditions. Additionally, dissemination of the tool needs to be boosted to give more rice farmers access to smarter and more sustainable fertilizer management.
Dr. Chivenge is a soils and biogeochemistry expert at the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI). Dr. Sharma leads IRRI’s research on the design, evaluation, and dissemination of soil and nutrient management technologies for the rice-based systems of South Asia.

Article Disclaimer: This article was published by the RICE Today and retrieved on 12/13/2017 and posted here for information and educational purposes only. The views and contents of the article remain those of the authors. We will not be held accountable for the reliability and accuracy of the materials. If you need additional information on the published contents and materials, please contact the original authors and publisher. Please cite the authors, original source, and INDESEEM Inc. accordingly.

Study: farmers could increase their production and contribute to reduce up to one gigaton of metric carbon emissions

by  | Dec 5, 2017

A new study presented at the Bonn Climate Summit, COP23 – produced by an international group of scientists led by the Chinese Academy of Sciences, The Nature Conservancy (TNC) and the Center for Tropical Agricultural Research (CIAT), and published in Scientific Reports – has revealed how agricultural production could contribute significantly in the fight against climate change, a matter of utmost importance that will continue in discussions towards COP24.

Scientists have already established that agricultural production depletes carbon from soils as a result of over-tillage (digging or removing soil) and chemical fertilizers, which is estimated to cause between 50 and 70 percent of the loss of water reserves. carbon in agricultural soils worldwide (Lal, 2004). Taking into account that agricultural soils are capable of sequestering carbon dioxide from the atmosphere when farmers use sustainable practices – such as increased use of manure, surface crops, vegetative cover, conservation tillage, fertilization management, as well as natural climate solutions, like agroforestry – the international group of scientists sought to establish in which regions of the world the highest carbon capture could be obtained through these activities.

Using a small increase of carbon in soils -experts consider that it is affordable in almost all arable soils- the scientists found that better management of soils for agriculture could contribute to an annual emission reduction of between 0.9 and 1.85 billion tons per year, equivalent to almost the total emissions of Brazil and Argentina, or the removal of between 215 and 400 million cars of circulation .

Justin Adams, TNC’s global executive director of Land, said that “natural climate solutions are essential to address climate change and investing in our soils is a strategy with enormous untapped potential-a potential that we could use if we began to think holistically about the type of actions and policies needed from the top down and from the ground up. If we want to satisfy the growing demand for food, maintaining global health and biodiversity, and abate climate change, then soils are our least valued ally. “

The study found that most of the carbon in the soil is stored in the northern hemisphere, with the countries of North America, Northern Europe, and Russia having the largest reserves of organic carbon in their arable land. In contrast, large tracts of arable land in India, the Sahel in Africa, Northern China, and Australia, are low in carbon.

Although the capacity to increase carbon in soils depends to a large extent on their typology and the environment, the main agricultural producing countries showed significant potential for carbon capture.

“Agricultural production in Latin America is fundamental for its economy. In fact, the region is considered as the food basket of the planet, since most of its production is exported to countries outside the region, “said Ginya Truitt Nakata, director of Land for Latin America of the TNC. “Then we have an enormous potential in terms of a significant contribution to the global mitigation of the effects of climate change through carbon sequestration since most of their countries are important agricultural producers with large tracts of land. cultivable “.

Additionally, 7 Latin American countries are among the 40 countries with the highest presence of carbon in their arable land: Brazil, Colombia, Chile, Ecuador, Peru, Argentina, and Guatemala.

The scientists also highlighted other important benefits of sustainable soil management, including higher yields for better soil fertility and better water retention capacity, which also help farmers adapt better to climate change. In this sense, it is estimated that the degradation of soils in Latin America reaches around 70 percent, according to the UN, which implies that improving agricultural practices can be a public policy incentive to maximize the additional benefits provided by healthy soils.

Table 1. Countries with the greatest potential for carbon capture by agricultural production compared to cars out of circulation (high scenario):

Table 2. Analysis of Organic Carbon Available in Cultivable Soils for Latin America and the Caribbean (most representative / high scenario):

“Soils are the basis of all food production. Healthier soils store more carbon and produce more food. Investing in better soil management will make our farming systems more productive and resilient to future impacts and stresses. “

Louis Verchot

Director of the Research Area in Soils and Landscapes for Sustainability (SoiLS) of CIAT. , International Center for Tropical Agriculture


The full study in English is available at www.nature.com/articles/s41598-017-15794-8 .

To access the data and maps, visit: http://ciat.cgiar.org/global-soil-carbon


Funding for this study was granted by the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT) and the CGIAR Research Program on Water, Land, and Ecosystems (WLE), with additional support from The Nature Conservancy (TNC) , and the Center of Studies of Mountain Ecosystems (CMES), the Kunming Institute of Botany and the Key Program of Investigation of Border Sciences of the Chinese Academy of Sciences.

Article Disclaimer: This article was published by the CIAT and retrieved on 12/07/2017 and posted here for information and educational purposes only. The views and contents of the article remain those of the authors. We will not be held accountable for the reliability and accuracy of the materials. If you need additional information on the published contents and materials, please contact the original authors and publisher. Please cite the authors, original source, and INDESEEM Inc. accordingly.


Cambodian farmers participate in cross-site visits to learn about Integrated Pest Management practices

Farmers check the trichoderma x variety trial in Por Lors Station, Prey Veng

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Farmers adapt new technologies by integrating new knowledge to existing practices based on their present conditions. The Ecologically-based Participatory Integrated Pest Management for rice in Cambodia (EPIC) Project, through its Learning Alliance platform, facilitated cross-site visits among farmers that enabled them to share their knowledge and experiences on Integrated Pest Management (IPM) technologies. The farmers from Prey Veng and Takeo Provinces had been involved in adaptive research trials for two seasons and this activity will enhance learning that will lead to its local adaptation in Cambodian provinces.

On October 24, 25 farmers and extension staff from Prey Veng visited the villages of Ro Vieng and Kandaul in Takeo to observe rodent management trials and interact with ‘host farmers’ who implemented them.

In Ro Vieng, the participants learned from farmers who tried the Community Trap Barrier System (CTBS) with various types of traps, and community rat hunting. In Kandaul, they met with farmers who have tried the Linear Trap Barrier System, which they say is useful for trapping rats but would prefer to have a longer barrier. The farmers also learned about community action and limited but well-timed use of Bromadiolone in controlling rodents. They found out that even if the LTBS was not as long as they would want, there was reduction in rodent damage. Researchers shared the findings from data collected from farmers. Damage caused by rats is 28% lower, and yield increased by 23% with LTBS vs. control plots (farmer’s practice).

In exchange, 27 farmers and extension staff from Takeo visited the adaptive research trials in Sdao and Thom villages, and the Por Lors station in Prey Veng, on October 25.  Topics such as entomopathogenic fungi (biological control agent that eats pest insects), differences in herbicide programs for integrated weed management, Trichoderma (biological control against diseases such as rice blast) and pest-resistant varieties like CAR14, were covered during the field visit and discussions.

At the end of the visits, farmers in their village groups reflected on and shared what they have observed. The ‘host farmers’ shared their experiences in coordination, sourcing of materials, and implementation of IPM considering local conditions. They remarked on the effectiveness of the technologies and discussed future plans for the 2018 rice-crop season. This project is funded by the USAID through the IPM Innovation Lab.

Learn more about IRRI (www.irri.org) or follow us on social media and networks (all links down the right column).

Article Disclaimer: This article was published by the IRRI and retrieved on 11/24/2017 and posted here for information and educational purposes only. The views and contents of the article remain those of the authors. We will not be held accountable for the reliability and accuracy of the materials. If you need additional information on the published contents and materials, please contact the original authors and publisher. Please cite the authors, original source, and INDESEEM accordingly.


Better farmer access to machinery eases crop residue burning in India

“Super SMS” fitted combine harvester and “Happy Seeder” can be used for simultaneously harvesting rice and seeding wheat. Photo: H.S. Sidhu/CIMMYT

November 14, 2017

EL BATAN, Mexico (CIMMYT) — In conjunction with recent state regulations outlawing the use of fire to destroy field crop waste in northwest India, some farmers are benefitting from technological innovations that can help prevent damaging smog levels in the capital Delhi and other areas, according to scientists.

Currently, the majority of farmers in northwest India burn leftover vegetation residue to prepare fields for planting in cyclical rice-wheat crop rotations, leading to negative consequences for soil quality, the environment, animal and human health. Rice-wheat crop rotations make up 84 percent of burned crops, a key source of atmospheric pollution.

“Farmers need access to appropriate machinery and training to implement change to discourage burning,” said M.L. Jat, a systems agronomist who works in New Delhi with the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT). “Using crop residue in a sustainable and eco-friendly manner could benefit all stakeholders.”

Many farmers keep costs low by burning residue on the farm, rather than paying for its removal for other uses, which could include animal feed, biofuel,  incorporating it into the soil or retaining it in the field as mulch, according to a research paper titled “Burning issues of paddy residue management in northwest fields of India.” Fire is also used to eliminate weeds, pests, disease and remaining field stubble after harvest.

Ash left on the fields after residue burning increases the availability of some nutrients, while depleting others and negatively affecting soil health in the long term. During burning, soil temperature increases, bacteria and fungi are killed off, regenerating in a matter of days. Residue burning can damage plants and trees on field edges with negative implications for the overall ecosystem.

Residues can be used as a renewable energy source to improve air, soil quality, climate change and reduce global warming, provided these are economically viable options for farmers. Incentives could also help encourage farmers to leave residues on their fields for use as fertilizer.

If residue is mulched into the soil, nutrient levels improve and carbon sequestration capacity increases, lowering the release of greenhouse gases into the environment. Additionally, residue retention reduces evaporation and increases soil moisture by as much as 10 percent during the wheat-growing season.

Farmers can benefit from the Happy Seeder, a machine that can plant wheat seed directly into the soil by boring through crop residue. The Straw Management System (SMS) machine spreads straw residue thinly on the soil surface allowing seeding.

“Residues are also of great economic value as livestock feed, fuel and industrial raw materials, but of the total rice residues produced in northwestern India, only around 15 percent can potentially be used for these purposes and the rest must be managed with in-situ (on site) management technologies,” said Jat, who conducted the research in collaboration with the CGIAR research programs on maize (CRP Maize), wheat(CRP Wheat) and climate change, agriculture and food security (CCAFS).

“Although farmers are aware of the adverse affects of crop burning, they rely on it due to the lack of economically viable and acceptable machinery and alternatives to dispose of residue.”

However, deploying advanced technology, including the concurrent use of straw management systems, fitted combine harvesters and Happy Seeders for direct drilling is a viable solution to eliminate burning, he added.

With these advancements and aggressive campaigns, within a period of a couple of months in Punjab state alone, over 1,000 combine owners have launched a “Super SMS.”

Additionally, nearly 2,000 happy seeders are being manufactured, which will lead to large-scale adoption of conservation agriculture techniques in the upcoming wheat season, Jat said.

Article Disclaimer: This article was published by the CIMMYT and retrieved on 11/24/2017 and posted here for information and educational purposes only. The views and contents of the article remain those of the authors. We will not be held accountable for the reliability and accuracy of the materials. If you need additional information on the published contents and materials, please contact the original authors and publisher. Please cite the authors, original source, and INDESEEM accordingly.


Land-rights policies in Latin America still fall short, studies show

Source: CIFOR 2017. Indigenous community in Peru. Photo by Juan Carlos Huayllapuma for CIFOR

 JUNE 18, 2017

Scientists present their findings on forest tenure and land use at a major conference in Peru

Peru – Latin American countries have made progress in granting land rights to communities in recent years. Nevertheless, policies often fail to consider the diversity of those communities and the different ways they use their land.

Some of those differences were highlighted in studies presented by researchers from the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) at the recent Latin American Studies Association Conference held in Lima, Peru.

Government regulations often take a ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach to forest tenure, which is out of step with local practices that vary from place to place, and sometimes even from one family to the next, said Peter Cronkleton, a senior scientist at CIFOR.

“One thing we’re finding is that forest use is very heterogeneous,” he said. “The problem is that there is very little detailed information about this heterogeneity.”

Several studies by CIFOR researchers that compare advances in tenure reform and indigenous initiatives in various countries worldwide provide a window into local practices, shedding light on areas of policy and legislation that require more attention, said Cronkleton.


In Peru, indigenous communities have gained title to more than 12 million hectares of forest land, and 5.7 million more are pending.

Progress is slow, however, because of the number of steps involved and because in recent years, different government agencies have been responsible for granting titles, said Iliana Monterroso, a post-doctoral fellow at CIFOR.

Overlapping land claims and a lack of a single national land registry also complicate the process, because a community cannot title its land if overlapping claims exist.

Once an indigenous community does obtain title, it does not automatically have the right to use forest resources commercially. The community can only title land used for agriculture, while the state retains ownership of forests. The community can obtain government-granted usufruct rights and permits for commercializing forest products, but this requires another series of steps that often are too expensive for communities unless they have outside support.

The problems revealed by her study point to opportunities for improving policies and regulations said Monterroso, who recommends a stronger role for sub-national governments in the titling process.

Communities need allies in those government agencies, to help them move their applications through the often-confusing titling process, she added.

“Non-governmental groups also have an important role to play in monitoring progress and remaining problems,” said Monterroso. “They have kept records and may have more complete information than government agencies or the communities.”


Just having title does not necessarily enable community members to improve their livelihoods, the researchers say. Other policies are needed to support them, but those policies must take into account the different ways in which people use their forests.

REDD+, conservation, and rural livelihoods

six-country comparative study of initiatives for reducing greenhouse gas emissions from deforestation and forest degradation (REDD+) is examining those uses and the economic importance of forests for local communities.

The study— conducted in Peru and Brazil in Latin America; Cameroon and Tanzania in Africa; and Vietnam and Indonesia in Asia—surveyed 4,000 households in 150 villages from 2010-2011 and again from 2013-2014, to gauge the impact of REDD+ programs on people’s livelihoods.

Surveys in 2012 and 2014 in eight villages in the Amazonian region of Ucayali, Peru, showed that villagers combined cash-producing activities with subsistence production. It also calculated the economic importance of the subsistence activities.

Family income averaged nearly USD $6,000 in 2012, and USD $3,755 in 2014—a drop researchers are still trying to understand, Cronkleton said.

Nevertheless, the largest proportion of villagers’ income in both years—more than two-thirds in 2012 and nearly half in 2014—came from forest-related activities, with farming and non-farm work making up smaller percentages.


Fish and game from the forest accounted for the largest percentage of villagers’ income. The fish are extracted from riparian forests, where they are an essential part of the ecosystem, spawning during the annual flood season and dispersing the seeds of forest trees.

Villages also reported income from timber and non-timber forest products, in percentages that varied from community to community.

Policymakers must consider not just these variations, but also the different ways in which men and women use forest resources in indigenous and non-indigenous communities, said Anne Larson, a principal scientist at CIFOR.

The Miskitu and Mayangna people in Nicaragua’s Northern Caribbean Coast Autonomous Region (RACCN) also combine subsistence agriculture with the sale of forest products and some wage labor.

Both indigenous and non-indigenous households extract firewood, timber, wild animals, wild fruit, herbs, honey and craft materials from the forest. Except for firewood, however, indigenous people depend on the forest far more than non-indigenous people, according to surveys of indigenous and non-indigenous women and men conducted in that region.


Men and women extract different products in different proportions, studies show.

“The prevailing wisdom on gender and forest products is that men extract timber and women extract firewood and non-timber forest products, however, our data concur with other studies showing that this does not hold true in Latin America,” said Anne Larson, a principal scientist at CIFOR.

Tenure reform: Lessons from the Global South

Her study in Nicaragua found that women extract fewer products from the forest than men do. This is true even of firewood and non-timber products in indigenous households, which use a much larger variety and quantity of forest products than non-indigenous families.

When products are sold, however, indigenous women tend to handle sales more than non-indigenous women, and they sell more fruit, herbs and craft materials than the men in their households.

But while women may play a larger role in household decisions about resource use, their voice in community-wide decisions is often muted because leaders limit them to traditional roles, said Larson.

Besides revealing such gender differences, research points to ways of increasing women’s participation in forest management decisions.

According to Larson, more research into how people use forest products is needed because Latin America lags behind Asia and Africa in data. Across all three regions, there is very little data on gender-differentiated forest use in collective lands.

“We need to take a closer look at differences within populations and cultures.”


Indigenous people are playing an increasing role in shaping policies for preserving their forests and using their resources, according to researchers.

In Peru, where deforestation is the greatest source of greenhouse gas emissions, the government has set a goal of preserving 54 million hectares of forest, said Emily Dupuits of the University of Geneva.

She compared two approaches to REDD+ in indigenous communities in the Amarakaeri Communal Reserve, an indigenous territory in Peru’s southeastern Madre de Dios region.

What’s in a land title?

A national government program that focuses on carbon storage pays indigenous communities to preserve their forests in order to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The program operates only in communities that have formal land titles.

An alternative program promoted by national and Amazonian indigenous organizations focuses on indigenous rights instead of carbon storage and includes financing to help communities obtain titles.

The government-managed national program is based on forest management plans and productive projects for the communities, while the alternative program takes a more holistic approach to territory and includes mapping the way the Harakmbut people have traditionally occupied their territory, said Dupuits.

The different models are examples of the evolving process of co-management of forests by governments and indigenous communities, said Cronkleton.

Challenges remain, as tensions arise between national and sub-national government authority, and the value of incentives is not always clear, he said, adding that issues like those point to needs for future research.

“There are challenges and difficulties, but processes are underway that are mitigating the impacts and strengthening the advances,” said Cronkleton. “When we look at the progress that has been made in tenure and rights, there is a reason to be optimistic.”

For more information on this topic, please contact Peter Cronkleton

at p.cronkleton@cgiar.org or Anne Larson at a.larson@cgiar.org or Iliana Monterroso at I.monterroso@cgiar.org. This research forms part of the CGIAR Research Program on Forests, Trees and Agroforestry. This research was supported by European Commission, the Global Environment Facility, The International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).


Article Disclaimer: This article was published by the Center for International Forestry Research and retrieved on 06/18/2017 and posted at INDESEEM for information and educational purposes only. The views and contents of the article remain those of the authors. We will not be held accountable for the reliability and accuracy of the materials. If you need additional information on the published contents and materials, please contact the original authors and publisher. Please cite the authors, original source, and INDESEEM accordingly.


Sustainable agriculture for healthy forests

Farmers are beginning to transform agriculture in Mexico’s Yucatán peninsula through techniques that allow them to grow more on less land, reducing deforestation and greenhouse gas emissions. Above, slash and burn agriculture (right) compared to a non-burn strategy in a milpa system. Photo: J. Van Loon/CIMMYT

June 5, 2017

TEXCOCO, Mexico (CIMMYT) –  Farmers in Mexico’s ecologically-fragile Yucatán Peninsula are beginning to adopt innovative practices to manage traditional mixed-cropping systems called “milpas” that can slow or even stop deforestation and soil degradation.

Agriculture is the second-largest emitter of global greenhouse gas emissions and largest driver of deforestation, making the sector one of the top contributors to climate change and biodiversity loss.

Fifteen percent of global emissions is due mostly to agricultural expansion into tropical forests. Rising populations and changes in dietary preferences for more energy intense foods, like beef and soybean, are expected to boost agricultural emissions a further 15 percent by 2030.

Agricultural expansion and resulting deforestation of tropical areas also threaten more than half of all the world’s plant and animal species, contributing significantly to what many scientists say is Earth’s sixth mass extinction.

“Sustainable agriculture can bring large benefits to tropical areas by optimizing land use while improving farm management and techniques for farmers,” said Jelle Van Loon, a mechanization expert at the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT) who is working with farming communities in Mexico’s Yucatán Peninsula – an area compromising much of the largest remaining tropical rainforest in the Americas after the Amazon.

Nearly 80 percent of vegetation has been deforested or degraded in the peninsula, with more than 80,000 hectares being cut down annually.

“Agriculture in the Yucatán Peninsula is extremely diverse – there’s everything from industrial farms that operate around forest areas to small community farmers practicing the traditional milpa system in the interior,” said Van Loon.

Milpa farming – a traditional mixed cropping system in which maize, beans, and squash are grown – contributes to about 16 percent of deforestation in the region, and is typically practiced by subsistence farmers through slash and burn agriculture.

Milpa systems vary across communities in the region,” said Van Loon. “Sometimes plots are burned, farmed and left within two to three years for a new plot, and others are more permanent.”

A technician learns how to operate a two-wheeled tractor. Technicians working with CIMMYT will perform field trials evaluating the efficiency of equipment like this in their work areas. Photo: J. Van Loon/CIMMYT

Van Loon is working with a team of CIMMYT scientists and other partners in the region to see how farmers can apply sustainable technologies and practices across the peninsula’s milpa systems, as well as large-scale mechanized farms that operate in the area.
“It’s extremely important that the unique circumstances of each community are taken into account when new technologies are being promoted,” said Van Loon, citing that many programs exist to support local communities, but is often challenging to organize support in an integrated fashion that’s adjusted to local conditions.

Milpa provides more than crops for food – the slash and burn system also provides game and timber for these communities, so there are many factors that need to be taken into account when we try and promote sustainable practices.”

Two years ago CIMMYT successfully trialed a sustainable agriculture initiative with farmers in Hopelchén, a small community in Campeche where indigenous and Mennonite farmers grow maize following traditional farming practices.

Decades of soil degradation had forced farmers to convert rainforest areas into growing fields to continue farming, but when the farmers adopted sustainable intensification methods such as minimal soil movement, surface cover of crop residues and crop rotations, they were able to achieve higher yields even after two months of drought.

The Hopelchén farmers prove the dual benefits of sustainable agriculture in forest areas – forests that would otherwise have been cut down for farmland are preserved, acting as a ‘carbon sink’ by absorbing carbon dioxide that would have been free in the atmosphere, further contributing to climate change. These practices also help farmers adapt to the effects of climate change, like drought and erratic rainfall.

“In order to get adoption right, we are really taking a system-wide approach,” said Van Loon. “We want to integrate mechanization, soil quality, planting density and other approaches like inter-planting with trees to improve biodiversity to get the most efficient system possible.” Van Loon will specifically work with communities to explore mechanization opportunities, from improved hand tools to lightweight motorized equipment like two-wheel tractors.

“The goal is to optimize the benefits from the land that farmers are working, find ways to reduce pressure on opening new land and as such slow the rate of deforestation, preserve biodiversity and provide farmers with techniques for improved and more sustainable practices,” said Van Loon. “Ultimately, we’d like to see these practices adopted across the peninsula.”

CIMMYT is leading sustainable intensification efforts in the Yucatan through the Sustainable Modernization of Traditional Agriculture (MasAgro) program, along with CitiBanamex, Fundación Haciendas del Mundo Maya, local partners, non-governmental organizations and the Mexican government.  


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