Category Archives: Blog

imageIncreasing the participation of youth in agriculture is a global challenge. Yet it remains particularly perplexing within an African context, given the growing demand for food supply and emerging diversity in diet nutrition.

Marion Moon, founder and managing director of Wanda Organic Limited, considers the lack of appeal of employment in agriculture as failure to consider the market and how to meet (and create) market demands along the supply chain.

The unexploited solution according to Ms. Moon, however, lies within our reach. That is, packaging and commercializing agricultural innovations in stimulating and incentivized ways. As a result, there are a number of opportunities to have youth pursuing agriculture as a viable venture for economic development and innovators in this field should:

• Introduce competitive activities whereby users will receive prices at the end
• Provide technical assistance on the innovation making it sensible to the market
• Provide technical assistance on the business e.g. IT needs
• Brand products in simple and enticing ways
• Explain the cash flow
• Practice contract farming through ready markets and supply chains
• Make the innovation very efficient through technology such as mobile applications
• Pitch the innovation based on what people want at the moment
• Establish partnerships along the chain
• Simply state the diverse benefits and immediate returns
aAccording to Ms. Moon, this way government, national and international NGOs and various projects will develop business plans that will ensure uptake of their innovations based on great marketing techniques. In the same manner, the youth will be well advised on the most viable tree species based on their desire to have quick cash flow at their convenience.

DSC02133At the start of this year, Patrick Kaka dreamt of trees for his community in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), and lots of them!

Despite some initial challenges with missed funding opportunities and a quick trip across the border to Burundi to get tree seedlings, Patrick was able to realize his dream in early October. This was through the inauguration of a National Tree Day (Arbor Day equivalent) for his home community on the shores of Lake Kivu, eastern boarder of the DRC. Through his NGO, GIERI (Groupe d’Intervention Pour l’Encadrement Et La Rehabilitation Integral or Intervention Group for Farming and Integral Rehabilitation), Patrick was able to access some support from GIZ and work his community through a Landcare approach, to embark on the start of his EverGreen Agriculture dream for eastern DRC.

DSC02097In what is considered a first for the region, the tree-planting day on the 8th October 2015 attracted the participation of the Provincial Minister of Agriculture, the military and local residents, to plant over 5,000 agroforestry species, including Faidherbia, Gliricidia and Eucalyptus, within farmer fields near Bukavu.

Patrick commented that the focus of the day was to raise awareness amongst the community of the importance of trees for both environmental protection and household livelihoods. He added that the participating community were grateful for the integration of trees and shrubs directly into their agricultural fields which will increase the productivity, income and resilience of their farming systems.

The planning and implementation of the tree planting program was heavily reliant on the community adopting a Landcare approach to their activities, through instilling ownership and management of the natural resource amongst the community. Patrick noted that creating public awareness of the tree planting activities through a participatory framework was a key driver, in addition to engaging other relevant partners, such as the local authorities to support environmental management initiatives on private lands.

DSC02129When asked what the future challenges for communities in eastern DRC were, Patrick noted that “farmers in our community need guidance in technical skills for nursery management and species diversity for high-yielding species inter-cropped in farming land. We also need enabling policies and incentives to invest in environmental services that protect biodiversity, sustainable land and water management around Lake Kivu”.

Article3According to Climate Central, the highly erratic El Niño effect on weather patterns has affected rainfall across the Sahel and West Africa during 2015. The Hadley Centre of the UK Meteorological Office predicted a stronger El Niño effect this spring than 2014’s partial failure of the rainy season that reduced harvests for up to 400,000 people. The Famine Early Warning Systems Network revised analysis in August showed that, indeed the rains started late in many regions, delaying planting of peanuts, millet, and sorghum in northwestern Senegal, southwestern Mauritania, areas in central and eastern Niger, northeastern Nigeria, and Chad. Once rains began some areas experienced flooding leading to loss of early plantings.

Highly unpredictable rainy seasons, combined with long-term regional drying and land degradation, require innovative resilience strategies. Dependence on traditional annual cereals, yams, and fodder crops leaves far too many families food insecure. Fortunately, there are many resources across the Sahel for perennial and annual crops that are more resilient to drought and flooding. Two organizations providing seeds, seedlings, and trainings for agroforestry and conservation agriculture are ECHO and ICRISAT. The ECHO West Africa Impact Center was opened in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso in 2014 to compliment its East Africa Impact Center in Arusha, Tanzania. The International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics has centers in Mali, Niger, and Nigeria.

sl4.The importance of forests in supporting the achievement of the new Sustainable Development Goals was a key outcome of the recent XIV World Forestry Congress held in South Africa, but how does EverGreen Agriculture fit into this vision?

Key messages emerging from the Congress highlight the universally agreed upon services forests provide. For the rural poor, forests are an important source for food, wood energy, shelter, fibre and livelihoods. For the environment, they play a huge role in mitigating climate change, protecting soils and water and harbouring the world’s biodiversity.

While there remains great concern about the rate of deforestation and pressures facing forest resources, it’s encouraging to see some positive news emerging. Coinciding with the congress was the release of the Global Forest Resources Assessment by FAO, indicating that over the past 25 years the rate of net global deforestation has slowed down by more than 50%. The report noted, that the reduction in the rate of decline is largely attributed to increases in the area of forests under protection and improved forest management through policy changes and greater engagement of local communities in decision-making.

The intention to continue the good news for global forests is strongly evident in the Durban Declaration for a 2050 vision for forests and forestry, which was delivered as an outcome of the Congress. A key feature of the declaration is the need for inter-sectorial coordination and collaboration to achieve the vision for sustainably managed forests. This is highlighted through the need for an integrated landscape scale approach, which addresses the drivers of deforestation and capitalizes on the triple bottom line benefits of integrating forests with agriculture.

Evergreen Agriculture should be considered as a major opportunity to improve the agriculture-forestry linkages in the landscape in order to support the global vision for sustainably managed forests.

An integrated approach through the intercropping of trees with food crops and livestock through EverGreen Agriculture can contribute to reducing the primary causes of deforestation. This has been seen through improvements to smallholder food security and livelihoods through providing forest-based resources on farm, such as fuel wood, whilst improving farm productivity through improved soil health. Additionally, the inclusion of more trees in the landscape and connectivity to forests can enhance the resilience of existing forest resources and the environmental services they provide.

The question therefore remains, how do we foster greater inter-sectorial coordination and collaboration within the forestry sector to accelerate the adoption of EverGreen Agriculture to realize our global vision for forests?

The XIV World Forestry Congress was held between the 7-11 September, 2015 at the Inkosi Albert Luthuli International Convention Centre in Durban. A full summary of the Congress proceedings and events, which was attended by nearly 4,000 participants from 142 countries, are available on the World Forestry Congress website

zzeUB34cbU92BoJoZwuhvaiuVgiY5IalvBhribG6Jbc,or1aHnx6OnyyMnjXbqQOaEUp0ruG9_99cy51NKVoRtoWhat if there was a simpler way of locating suitable tree species for an area rather than the usual time consuming process of surveying, testing and trial and error? Better still, what if you could have the results by just a click of a button and at your convenience? Well, this vision has now been actualized by the World Agroforestry Center (through funding from the Department for International Development (DFID) UK and the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) project on “Filling Knowledge Gaps on the Restoration of Degraded Smallholder Landscape Mosaics”. Through this project, the World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF) have designed a semi-offline mobile phone application based on the vegetationmap4africa that enables users to identify suitable tree species for conservation, production and agricultural purposes in a given area.

The application, available on Google Play Store for Android phones, is based on Potential Natural Vegetation (PNV) and enables one to locate suitable tree species at the current location, within East Africa countries namely Uganda and Kenya. An accuracy of 1 kilometer is assured in dense forests or vegetation and 500 meters for less dense areas.

-vukNNrzqUTvIkobTvMW3B_QFFHJP54pkFoqOoJCP-gExtension and field staff in government and non government organizations in East Africa will find the application helpful when designing restoration, and agroforestry projects at their sites, and also when working with farmers and farmer groups, to advise on which trees are likely to be suitable in local areas, based on the needs of the individual farmer.

By tapping on the “Species Finder” button for the area mapped, the user can then select the particular use that they are most interested in. For example, wood, human consumption, animal, and environmental, among other uses. In addition, each use has sub categories listing suitable tree species by their taxonomy names for one’s specific need. For instance, under wood uses, various species are listed specific to firewood, charcoal, electricity poles, behives, etc.

Article6bAlternatively, one can tap on any area of the map provided to find out the current vegetation type and species present. The application can be used while offline once installed allowing it to be easily used in the field.

The application designers, are keen to hear feedback from users, including what they would like included to make the tool more effective and useful in the future. There are plans to develop a similar application for other brands of phones, and to include more local names as well as where the selected tree species can be found in local nurseries.

Click here to download the app


Time has come for county governments to take advantage of Kenya’s commitment to use smart agricultural technologies, which is a way of increasing the sector’s productivity while at the same time addressing effects of climate change.

In response to decisions adopted at the 19th and 20th sessions of negotiations on how to manage climate change under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), Kenya has listed and presented climate smart agriculture to the UN as part of its Intended Nationally Determined Contribution (INDC).

During the previous negotiations, countries across the globe committed to create a new international climate agreement by the conclusion of the next Conference of the Parties (COP21) in Paris in December.

In preparation, countries have agreed to publicly outline what post 2020 climate actions they intend to take under a new international agreement geared towards mitigation and adaptation to the changing climatic conditions.

As a result, among other sectors, the country seeks to enhance its resilience in the agriculture, livestock and fisheries value chains by promoting climate smart agriculture and livestock development.

In general, climate smart agriculture is a joint approach to address interlinked challenges of food security and climate change, sustainably increasing agricultural productivity, adapting and building resilience to climate change, while reducing greenhouse gas emissions from the agricultural sector, which includes crops, livestock and fisheries.

Click here for the full story