Ethiopian farmers made a desert bloom again

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debre-berhan1
Georgina Smith / CIAT

Ethiopia is in the middle of the worst drought in 50 years. It’s the sort of shock to the system we are likely to see more of with climate change. But Ethiopia is also home to a successful experiment to make the land more resilient to drought. If we are going to adapt to our changing world, it’s experiments like these that will show us the way.

In the steep fields of Ethiopia’s highlands, when rain falls on the parched, overworked land it runs downhill, carrying soil with it. Farmers commonly lose 130 tons of soil per hectare a year, comparable to the worst erosion documented on U.S. farms in recent history. Then, because the water has all rushed downhill, instead of seeping underground, wells go dry. Without water, crops wither, and that exposes bare soil to further erosion.

This cycle turned a watershed in Tigray, Ethiopia, into a near desert, prompting the government to consider moving the farmers. Instead, they decided to try to rescue the land. And they succeeded. Instead of leaving their homes, the farmers are staying put. As one local official put it, what was once a desert is now a forest.

Inspired by this success, farmers are trying the same thing in Adisghe County, Ethiopia. With the help of an international project called Africa Research in Sustainable Intensification for the Next Generation (Africa RISING) and the Ethiopian Bureau of Agriculture, they began building dams, terraces, and recharge ponds. They planted trees on hilltops and planted cover crops on degraded areas.

CIAT researcher Tesfaye Tesfamichael demonstrating the installation of check dams to prevent soil loss on the slopes.
CIAT researcher Tesfaye Tesfamichael demonstrating the installation of check dams to prevent soil loss on the slopes.
Georgina Smith / CIAT

All of these methods had the same goal: Slow down the water. So, for instance, the farmers built check dams across gullies to stop the headlong flow, catch the eroding earth, and create a pool that would percolate into the ground.

The results were astounding, as you can see in this video (shot by Henry Tenenbaum and produced by Georgina Smith at the International Center for Tropical Agriculture).

Thanks to increased water reliability, agricultural training, and precise use of fertilizer (synthetic and manure) farmers have doubled their production since the project started.

This wasn’t easy. Lulseged Desta, a soil scientist and landscape ecologist at the International Center for Tropical Agriculture working with Africa RISING, told me that farmers must set aside up to two months a year for building dams and planting trees. What’s the value of all that work? When organizers calculated how much it would have cost if they had hired laborers to do all that work, it added up to $2,200 for one project of about four square miles. That’s a lot of money in Ethiopia, but it’s certainly less than the cost of resettling families.

Community member shows how returning leafy matter to the soil improves soil health
Community member shows how returning leafy matter to the soil improves soil health
Georgina Smith / CIAT

This project was never meant as a silver bullet to solve the drought. The lowlands are still suffering. But it is part of the larger solution: This sort of transformation, writ large, can cushion climate crises. It helps to have these farmers at home producing food rather than facing migration. And, Desta said, these kinds of soil restoration efforts are now spreading around the country.

Climate change hits poorest places the hardest. One reason is that they simply can’t afford a lot of common-sense environmental protections. This Ethiopian test case shows us that, with a little investment and a lot of hard work, the most vulnerable places can become dramatically more resilient.

Correction: The original story conflated facts from Tigray and Adisghe. Farmers in Abraha wa Atsbeha, Tigray, nearly abandoned the land as a result of desert-like conditions, while in Adisghe the fields were severely degraded but not desertified. The writer’s water ration has been cut in half as punishment.


Article Disclaimer

This article originally appeared on Grist and was retrieved on 02/06/2018 and republished 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 INCORPORATED accordingly. If you have any question or concern, please send us an email at info@indeseem.org.


Keeping our promise to the ocean – from commitments to action

In June 2017, 193 Member States of the United Nations gathered at the first-ever Ocean Conference and committed to a set of ambitious measures to start reversing the decline of the ocean’s health.

The Ocean Conference marked a global breakthrough in the sustainable management and conservation of the ocean, bringing the world one step closer to implementing the Sustainable Development Goal 14. The conference resulted in the outcome document, Our Ocean, Our Future: Call for Action, and close to 1,400 voluntary commitments for concrete action by governments, UN organizations, civil society, academia, the scientific community, and the private sector.

Now comes the time to turn these pledges into reality, to galvanize new partnerships, inspire international cooperation and mobilize resources for ocean action.

In September 2017, United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres appointed Mr. Peter Thomson as his Special Envoy for the Ocean, aiming at galvanizing concerted efforts to follow up on the outcomes of the UN Ocean Conference in support of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, maintaining the momentum for action to conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development.

Mr. Thomson will lead UN’s advocacy and public outreach efforts inside and outside of the UN system, ensuring that the positive outcomes of the Ocean Conference, including the voluntary commitments, are fully analyzed and implemented.  He will also work with civil society, the scientific community, the private sector, and other relevant stakeholders, to coalesce and encourage their activities in support of the implementation of Sustainable Development Goal 14.

To support the implementation of the voluntary commitments, Mr. Peter Thomson, in collaboration with UN DESA, will be supporting Communities of Ocean Action among all stakeholders to spur further action and maintain the momentum generated by the first-ever UN Ocean Conference held in June 2017.  As a first step, on 7 September 2017, a webinar was organized with a focus on arrangements for following up on voluntary commitments, establishing action communities among stakeholders, and hearing updates from participants on commitments related to mangroves.

Mangroves are a vital coastal ecosystem, which hosts a spectacular diversity of animals and plants, including up to three-quarters of the world’s commercial fish species. They also help fight climate change and its consequences by sequestering nearly 23 million tonnes of carbon each year and by protecting coasts from extreme weather events.

The mangrove community – over 50 representatives of governments, UN organization, civil society and other partners – met on 7 September at a webinar organized by Mr. Thomson and UN DESA to review progress and plot the way forward to protect these unique ecosystems.

The community members reported some remarkable achievements. For example, the UN Development Programme / Global Environment Facility Small Grants Programme Pakistan has successfully conserved 7,000 acres of mangroves in the Indus Delta. The Bay Islands Conservation Association (BICA) on the Honduran Island of Guanaja has planted 20,000 mangrove plants in 10 hectares of wetland.

Actions reviewed at the webinar range from huge, global initiatives, to small local projects – all equally important and necessary for ocean action. For example, the Global Mangrove Alliance, set up by three large international nongovernmental organizations is aiming to increase mangrove habitat worldwide by 20 percent by the year 2030. On the other side of the spectrum, the WiseOceans community has partnered with resorts and schools in Seychelles to educate the youth on the importance of oceans and mangroves.

More webinars for other ocean communities will be soon announced here and the new Ocean Action newsletter will bring regular updates on the progress to save our ocean.


Article Disclaimer: This article was published by United Nations Department of Economics and Social Affairs and retrieved on 01/07/2018 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.


Is digital agriculture the key to revolutionize future farming in Africa?


By Emebet Tita and Dawit Solomon (CCAFS)|Dec 8, 2017|Low Emissions Development


Stakeholders discuss opportunities and challenges of digital agriculture in Africa.

Digital technology has significantly transformed all sectors of economic development. It has changed our way of living to the extent that it is difficult to imagine life without it. In developed countries, digital technologies and analytics are already transforming agriculture, making farm operations more insight-driven and efficient. However, agricultural productivity in developing countries, especially on the African continent, remains very low and the application of digital technologies still very limited.

Source: Digital Agriculture: Pathway to Prosperity | ICRISAT

In October 2017, the CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security in East Africa (CCAFS EA) in collaboration with the University of Copenhagen (UCPH), the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Centre (CIMMYT) Ethiopia, and Ethiopian Agricultural Research Center’s (EIAR) Climate and Geospatial Research Program brought together stakeholders from the private sector, government organizations and universities in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia to explore digital agriculture and its potential to transform farming on the continent.

Stakeholders discussed the opportunities that digital agriculture presents and the existing challenges on the ground that need to be taken into consideration in order to successfully embrace and implement digital agriculture in Africa.

In his opening remarks, Dr. Dawit Solomon (CCAFS’s East Africa Regional Program Leader) highlighted that precision agriculture, internet-of-things, unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) technology, crop and soil sensing, weed sensing, disease sensing, new breeding technologies, biologicals, biochips, and new breeding technologies are all innovations that once seemed farfetched but are now becoming an accessible and affordable reality, already in use in some corners of our world.  So how can African countries adopt and deploy these technologies? Can Africa learn from the developed world? Or as Dr. Campbell, Director of CCAFS, puts it, “can Africa leapfrog into a new world in agriculture similar to mobile banking?”

Dr. Svend Christensen, Professor, and Head of Department of Plant and Environmental Sciences at the University of Copenhagen in Denmark, emphasized that at the center of it all is data, and how we obtain and use it.

However, most participants highlighted, gathering data, standardizing the collection process and data storage are major challenges. Data collection is scattered and stored in different data silos, in different formats, by different organizations. It is difficult to determine how such data can be integrated and used to make reliable comparisons. Thus, it is evident that collaboration between different stakeholders involved in agriculture is key to obtain and use data efficiently, as well as to reduce the cost of obtaining data.

Dr. Mandefro Nigussie, Senior Advisor with Digital Green, also added the starting point should be establishing a clear understanding of the existing framework of digital agriculture in the different countries, which include the policies, data infrastructure and the stakeholders in play. This can serve as a basis to identify the gaps and leveraging points, in order to commission initiatives that can drive targeted solutions.

Finally, participants also noted that while the potential for digital agriculture in Africa is real, any successful solution should involve the farmer in the design process, focus on the farmer’s real-world needs and devise a two-way flow of information to and from the farmer. It is also necessary that governments create and implement policies conducive to the changing needs of the digital age we live in.

On the following day, selected participants attended the Global Green Growth Week Public-Private Sector roundtable discussion on Transforming African Agriculture organized by CCAFS in collaboration with the Global Green Growth Institute (GGGI) and the Green Climate Fund (GCF). As a result of the discussions, CCAFS East Africa is now leading the formation of a Public Private Partnership project that is aimed at tackling the challenges related to agriculture data infrastructure. The project is expected to create a digital platform and application, expected to reach over 50,000 smallholder farmers, which will serve as a tool to gather data, communicate and receive intelligence specific to climate, agro-metrology, and market information.

Following the meeting, CCAFS, UCPH, CIMMYT and the EIAR organized site visits for selected participants to the wheat research site at Kulumsa Agricultural Research Centre (KARC) and the Eteya-Huruta wheat belt in Oromia region located over 175 km outside Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

At KARC, participants observed the wheat nursery, test fields, and pilot farmers’ fields. KARC is working on breeding high yield, stem and yellow rust resistant wheat varieties to be distributed to farmers. Farmers are also trained on farm management good practices and provided with mechanization tools for rent.

Test fields from Eteya-Huruta wheat belt in Ethiopia’s Oromia region. Photo: Dawit Solomon (CCAFS)

Driving back to Addis Ababa, away from the fields, much like the one pictured above, one cannot help but imagine that soon the farmer on the field will be using his mobile phone to switch on and off a harvester, a drone is flying over-head conducting soil and field analysis and a satellite somewhere in space is connected to both, storing and exchanging the data in a cloud database, and connecting the different users in the ecosystem.

 

Article Disclaimer: This article was published by the CGIAR-CCAFS and retrieved on 12/20/2017 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.

nmrice-smatphone
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.


Commodity-dependent developing countries need to boost efforts to diversify their economies


Without policy change, these countries risk falling short of achieving sustainable development by 2030, UN report warns

11 December 2017, Geneva/Rome – Without a renewed commitment to policy change, commodity-dependent developing countries (CDDCs) are by 2030 set to lag behind countries with more diverse economies in their social and economic achievements, UNCTAD and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) said in a report issued today.

The Commodities and Development Report 2017 argue this is a likely scenario given that global food and non-food commodity prices – with the exception of oil – are expected to remain at their 2010 levels. They may even increase slightly in the years leading to 2030 – the target date for the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) agreed by the international community in 2015. However, the report notes that these global price patterns may diverge once broken down at the regional and national levels.

The 2003-2011 commodity price boom drove up export revenues and, generally, economic growth rates for many CDDCs, but this trend has either slowed down or has been reversed since global commodity prices stabilized at a lower level, the report notes.

This, in turn, has brought to light the importance of investing in human capital and social protection as well as of redistributive policies, considering that strong overall economic growth alone does not necessarily translate into poverty reduction and food security achievements.

The report stresses the need for CDDCs to pursue structural transformation to improve their social and economic prospects, reduce poverty, realize food security and achieve the SDGs at large.

To support its policy recommendations, the report reviews policies pursued by several countries and their respective socio-economic impacts. The case studies cover such commodities in producing countries as soybeans in Argentina and Brazil, rice in Bangladesh, diamonds in Botswana and Sierra Leone, cotton in Burkina Faso, coffee and bananas in Costa Rica, cocoa in Ghana, nickel in Indonesia, sorghum in Mali, oil in Nigeria, and copper in Zambia.

According to the report, policies that can promote inclusive growth over the next 15 years include economic diversification, expanding the linkages between the commodity sector and the national economy, adopting counter-cyclical expenditure policies which build commodity revenue buffers during price upswings to use them during downswings, adding value to raw commodities, and investing in social protection, health and education.

CDDCs will require more policy space in order to tailor the right policy mix to fit their economic conditions and circumstances and drive their sustainable economic development in an increasingly globalized world.

Ultimately, the structural transformation should result in the successful implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, of which the SDGs are the core, the report concludes.

Contact

FAO
Media Relations Office
(+39) 06 570 53625
FAO-Newsroom@fao.org

UNCTAD
Communications and
Information Unit
(+41) 22 917 58 28
(+41) 79 502 43 11
unctadpress@unctad.org


Article Disclaimer: This article was published by the FAO and retrieved on 12/12/2017 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

IPM
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.


 

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

33120170716_fce49e1cda_z
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.

TACKLING TITLES

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.”

FORESTS AND LIVELIHOODS

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+ GLOBAL COMPARATIVE STUDY
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.

GENDER AND FOREST PRODUCTS

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.

Q+A
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.”

REDD+ MODELS IN PERU

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.

TENURE
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).


 


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