The World Bank Institute (WBI) developed the multimedia toolkit “Achieving more with less: A new way of rice cultivation” to illustrate knowledge and techniques on SRI. The toolkit was developed from an experience with SRI in the Philippines in 2007, where farmers piloted the approach within their specific socio-environmental conditions, with very encouraging results in terms of yields and water savings.
Many different local strategies are being employed to combat and prevent desertification and degradation. By linking these with scientific insights relevant to the local context, the DESIRE project has identified, evaluated and tried out a set of locally appropriate land management strategies. These strategies are now being shared with a range of stakeholders, from farmers to policy makers. According to DESIRE’s co-ordinator, Coen Ritsema, “it is truly a global approach, where we look at interesting local strategies that can be expanded all over the world”.
How can individual households within a community work together to address challenges of food security and rehabilitate the natural resource base? Together with its partners, Resource Efficient Agricultural Production Canada (REAP-Canada) has developed an approach called the Agro- Ecological Village (AEV), which attempts to reach this goal. The AEV is a participatory approach to rural development that invests in skill-building and community organisation, incorporating community input and planning into each step. This ensures that activities are flexible and revolve around the community’s interests and opportunities.
Over the years, many readers of our network’s magazines have asked for support material explaining the principles behind sustainable small‑scale farming. The Learning AgriCultures series is ILEIA’s response to these requests. The aim of this educational series is to have more and better trained agricultural educators and students who are able to analyse and promote sustainable family farming systems.
Honey is probably the first association that comes to mind when we hear the word “bee”. Humans’ appreciation of this sweet product goes back thousands of years. Yet, in a recent conversation with Elizabeth McLeod, Project Officer at Bees for Development, she reminded us of at least two aspects of bees that people often tend to forget. Firstly, bees can be an important source of income for many people, especially in developing countries. Secondly, these black and yellow striped insects are the major pollinators of flowering plants, which means that they are essential for conserving biodiversity.
For more than forty years, Landesa has been striving to secure land rights for the world’s poorest families. With headquarters in Seattle, Washington, its work is based on the firm belief that having legal rights to land is the first condition for prosperity. “We’ve learned”, explained Landesa’s CEO, Tim Hanstad, “that when a family has land of their own, they have the opportunity and the means to improve nutrition, income and shelter. We’ve seen that when land rights are secure, the cycle of poverty can be broken - for an individual, a family, a village, a community and entire countries.”
Following the motto “education for action”, the International Society for Ecology and Culture (ISEC) has developed several educational programmes that pursue a twofold objective. The first is to show how the economic globalisation process is detrimental for the natural environment. The second is to persuade people that, to quote Steven Gorelick, US Programme Director, “the current direction we are headed in is not inevitable, and there are ways to steer onto a different path that is healthier for both people and the planet”.
“Agriculture is sustainable if it can attract future generations of young farmers”. These were the words that Edith van Walsum, ILEIA’s director, used to open the editorial in our previous issue. A similar idea lies behind The Green Wave, an initiative of the Convention on Biological Diversity. This is an international campaign involving schools in more than 70 countries, the aim of which is to raise awareness around the importance of biodiversity among children and youth.
Edukans is a Dutch non-governmental organisation which aims to facilitate access to education, and improve its quality. Miet Chielens, one of its Programme Officers, explains that the organisation “aspires to give disadvantaged and marginalised children in developing countries a chance to build a better future for themselves and their society”.
Getting people who have polarised views to sit together, listen to and learn from one another is a major challenge. Take the palm oil industry, for example. A product of the humid tropics, palm oil is currently the most important and versatile vegetable oil on the world market and demand keeps increasing.
What exactly is microfinance and how does it work? How can you make a budget and why is it important to save? How can you set up a farmers’ cooperative, village bank or self-help group? The Rural Finance Learning Centre helps you to find answers to these questions.
When Project WET first began in north central United States in 1984, it aimed to find tools to explain about groundwater processes to schools and communities. Now, 25 years later, the centre produces a wide variety of water resource materials and training programmes for educators in over 50 countries. Sandra DeYonge, Vice President of publications, explains the universality of teaching this subject: “Regardless of culture or geography, one thing that connects us all is water!”
In a recent visit to Ethiopia, I met with educators at two universities – Jimma and Haramaya – to get some feedback on the first two modules produced at ILEIA as part of the Learning AgriCultures project. Do they meet the needs of educators?
Around the world, pastoralists are asking for better education programmes. "We need to move beyond thinking about schools as buildings, and find creative ways to bring education to nomadic peoples!" So states Caroline Dyer, lecturer at Leeds University, just back from Kenya, where a new education strategy to reach mobile pastoralists has been launched.
Resource poor farmers often find themselves trapped in extractive ways of farming. They do not know what to do. This article describes a participatory process for NGOs to assist farmers get out of the trap. Using a set of sustainability indicators farmers and NGO staff brainstorm ways to experiment with, and monitor changes in, the sustainability of their farming system. This process was developed over three years of collaborative work between farmers in two communities of Cavite province, the Philippines, the International Institute of Rural Reconstruction and the International Center for Living Aquatic Resources Management. (ILEIA)
Today, biodiversity fairs are held allover Peru and have expanded to include diversity in crops other than potato. Fairs encourage farmers to pay attention to the diversity of varieties they grow. On a more practical level, they provide a space where neighbours can exchange seed and plants, and, at a regional level, they bring farmers from distant communities together, ensuring that seed stocks are rebuilt and expanded. The article shows the example of the biodiversity fair in Colpar, near Huancayo.
Experiment-based participation research in Southern Zimbabwe has shown that land literacy leads to land conservation. Farmers who understand the dynamics of their environment are more effective in their soil preservation and water management strategies. Regional studies in Masvingo, a dry zone to the south of Harare, have shown that conventional contour ridging had little positive effect in two-thirds of the fields studied. Small, site-specific measures, however, revealed considerable potential but to use them effectively farmers need to understand the bio-physical processes at work in their fields. Whilst teaching and demonstrating standardised techniques - practices central to conventional extension work - perpetuate farmer dependence on knowledgeable outsiders, land literacy stimulates their capacity to generate creative land husbandry solutions. (ILEIA)
In many places in this world, farmers follow a logic which is quite different from the conventional scientific rationale. In their world view or cosmovision not only the material but also the spiritual world is considered relevant. Thus, farming also includes activities that structure the relationship with the spiritual world. Last April, the project for Comparing and Supporting Indigenous Agricultural Systems (COMPAS) organised an intercultural dialogue in the farmers community of Capellani, near Cochabamba, Bolivia. This article summarises the main findings.