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What are we reading?

Recently released books, reports, manuals, etc.

Caring for Our Transboundary Landscape: Illustrations from the Kailash Sacred Landscape

This collection of simple drawings is designed to raise the awareness of rural mountain people and help them better understand the various changes and opportunities in their landscape. Rural mountain communities are highly vulnerable to the changes occurring in their landscape due to climatic and other factors (including demographic changes and migration). The first part looks at the changes and challenges in the landscape, such as impacts of climate change and unsustainable practices. The second part introduces solutions for better management and use of natural resources and introduces the concept and importance of collaborating across borders in natural resource management and conservation. The publication was created within the Kailash Sacred Landscape Conservation Initiative (KSLCI) and is intended in particular for communities living within the Kailash Sacred Landscape. However, its messages could be useful to mountain communities in a much wider context.

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Towards a resilient future: experiences with community managed disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation

This publication is based on a selection of the many stories and experiences from Cordaid partners in community managed disaster risk reduction (CMDRR) and climate change adaptation and includes details of the global declaration on CMDRR and climate change, signed by more than 80 partners and participants in Lilongwe, Malawi. The declaration and the stories provide insights into the CMDRR process, achievements with CMDRR so far and set out its potential. The stories highlight the good practices that have been developed, identify the challenges in further developing CMDRR and future opportunities to do so.

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Agro-ecology: building a new food system for Europe

There is increasing evidence which shows that "business-as-usual" for the food system is no longer an option. Agro-technologies, such as high-yielding crop varieties, agrochemical inputs and mechanization have mainly benefited large land owners and transnational corporations, at the expense of small businesses, the most vulnerable and the environment. Unless challenged, the already-significant ecological footprint of industrial agriculture is expected to increase as a result of future global environmental change.

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What do we really know about the number and distribution of farms and family farms worldwide?

Background paper for The State of Food and Agriculture 2014. ESA Working Paper No. 14-02. Rome, FAO. / The agricultural economics literature provides various estimates of the number of farms and small farms in the world. This paper is an effort to provide a more complete and up to date as well as carefully documented estimate of the total number of farms in the world, as well as by region and level of income. It uses data from numerous rounds of the World Census of Agriculture, the only dataset available which allows the user to gain a complete picture of the total number of farms globally and at the country level. The paper provides estimates of the number of family farms, the number of farms by size as well as the distibution of farmland by farm size.

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Why a "Soils Otherwise" conference?

Reflections on why a "Soils Otherwise" (or in Dutch: 'Bodem Anders') conference by agronomist Willem Stoop.

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No ordinary matter: Conserving, restoring and rnhancing Africa’s soils - A Montpellier Panel Report, December 2014

Soil is a resource that has for too long been neglected in the policy realm. This report is a strong plea to donors and governments, to adopt a long-term vision and backed by adequate financial support, to help farmers nurture, conserve and restore their soils. This book looks at the extent of soil degradation in Africa and the role of traditional and ecological approaches to building up soil organic matter and biota. Climate change, and the need for both mitigation and adaptation, is highlighted as an urgent reason why agricultural management must aim to build soil carbon and resilient systems. Recommendations range from the grassroots, building on existing local and traditional knowledge, to higher level policy decisions such as attributing values to land degradation, and securing land rights that create incentives to invest in the soil.

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Permaculture research: Soil test handbook

Permaculture seeks to create systems where natural soil fertility is fostered and describes a healthy soil as having three main characteristics; rich and diverse biological life, good structure and available nutrients. This handbook outlines how to conduct ‘farmer-friendly’ soil tests requiring no special training or equipment, and focuses on the first two characteristics of a healthy soil. The tests cover a range of soil properties including, drainage, earthworm population, pH, soil texture, topsoil depth and soil compaction. Instructions for carrying out the tests are clear and easy to follow. It is accompanied by the ‘soil advice handbook’ which helps to interpret test results. This is a practical resource for farmers who want to learn more about soil testing, and the Permaculture Association welcomes feedback from farmers around the world so that they can keep improving them.

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Global dialogue on family farming, Rome, 27-28 October, 2014

This report, drafted by ILEIA, highlights the most important contributions made during the Global Dialogue on Family Farming in October 2014. In the International Year of Family Farming, a policy dialogue process was organised, including six Regional Dialogues on Family Farming and civil society consultations at the FAO Regional Conferences - all of which focused attention on the challenges facing family farming and the actions that need to be taken to foster their role as key drivers of food production and stewards of natural resources, territories and landscapes in all regions of the world. This year-long process culminated with the Global Dialogue on Family Farming, which proved to be a phenomenal representation of the energy and action that characterised the entire Year. The report is co-published with the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, the implementing agency for the IYFF. It follows on from 'Towards Stronger Family Farms. Voices in the International Year of Family Farming'.

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Final report for the International Symposium on Agroecology for Food Security and Nutrition (18 and 19 September 2014, Rome, Italy)

FAO held the International Symposium on Agroecology for Food Security and Nutrition in Rome on 18 and 19 September 2014 and a side-event on the Symposium during COAG on 30 September 2014. This report provides an overview of the Symposium and the COAG side-event.

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Results-Based Management for sustaining rural poverty reduction: Lessons from IFAD 7th regional forum

Results-Based Management is no longer just an option. It actually is opting for performance. Projects must produce the best results possible through capacity-building and existing instruments, based on best management practices that have been proven to be effective. This special edition of AGRIDAPE, published by IED Afrique, falls within this context. The goal is to help document and share the forum’s main results and lessons on a larger scale.

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Soil Atlas: Facts and figures about earth, land and fields

Soils are the basis of our food production and much more, and this book explains much and in an easily readable way. Short pieces of text and infographics make the messages clear. For example, in explaining the global picture of the rate at which we are losing soil to erosion, contamination and declining soil fertility. But this book also covers the role of soils in land policy, tenure, mining, urbanisation, ‘green’ cities and traditional systems. Although there is an emphasis on where we are going wrong, the Soil Atlas does also showcase positive experiences. From innovative grazing techniques keeping pastoralists on their land, cooperation between farmers to stop soil erosion, and to urban design that includes food production – the message is clear. Whether a farmer or not, soils concern us all, and soil conservation deserves global attention.

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Handbook on capitalisation of experiences 2012: Knowledge management and adaptation to climate change

This manual, developed by IED Afrique, provides guidance on how to draw lessons from farmers’ experiences in climate change adaptation. The enormous challenge of adaptating to climate change requires the systematisation and sharing of these lessons, so that new and ongoing initiatives can be improved. The manual builds on Learning from experience. It offers a refresher on key concepts in systematisation, and outlines practical steps and tools.

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Manuel sur la capitalisation des experiences 2012: Gestion des connaissances

French version of the manual: Handbook on capitalisation of experiences 2012: Knowledge management and adaptation to climate change

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Spécialisation ou diversification? Perspectives divergentes sur la riziculture irriguée par trois grands barrages dans le Sahel

French version of the report: Specialisation or diversification? Divergent perspectives on rice farming in three large dam-irrigated areas in the Sahel

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Gaining control over our food systems: The right to food, agroecology and food sovereignty

In order to combat hunger and malnutrition, we need to ensure that the human right to food of vulnerable groups is protected and realized in a way that gives them control over their food and farming systems. There are real opportunities to do so through agroecological farming practices, in which farmers work with nature instead of with chemical inputs, and through producer-consumer initiatives which increase people’s food sovereignty. This information brief was published by ILEIA in collaboration with FIAN and OtherWise.

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Forest and farming families speaking out – Speaking out for forest and farming families

Tropenbos International, the AgriCultures Network and the Forest and Farm Facility, created a space so voices from the fields and forests could be heard at the Global Landscapes Forum, Lima, Peru, (6-7 December 2014).

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Learning from each other: South-South and triangular cooperation in East and Southern Africa

“Why do we spend time and money documenting stories, when so many people still go hungry?” This valid question was asked in April 2014 in a documentation workshop conducted by ILEIA in Rwanda. Shouldn’t our resources be better used to directly support poor family farmers, as do many IFAD-funded projects in East and Southern Africa? Perhaps. But if we don’t put effort into analysing, sharing and learning from our own experiences and from others, will we be able to develop our work in the most efficient way? Perhaps not. Emerging practical knowledge and experience is rarely documented, analysed, synthesised and shared beyond the immediate sphere of the project. As a result, information that proves to be very valuable to others is not made available and opportunities for upscaling and outscaling are missed. In response to this gap, IFAD, IFADAfrica and ILEIA engaged in a process to bring out lessons from selected projects. ILEIA and the documentation team looked at seven experiences that took place in Rwanda, Madagascar and Uganda, ranging from biogas systems to household mentoring approaches. In all cases, the initial ideas for the implemented activities came from other countries in the global South, and after local adaptations, knowledge then also spread to other countries. This focus on international processes of sharing and learning between countries of the South, as well as on local and national levels, falls within IFAD’s focus on South-South and Triangular Cooperation (SSTC).

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Hacia una agricultura familiar más fuerte

Spanish version of the 'Towards stronger family farms: Voices in the International Year of Family Farming'

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Vers une agriculture familiale plus forte: Points de vue au cœur de l’Année internationale de l’agriculture familiale

French version of of the 'Towards stronger family farms: Voices in the International Year of Family Farming'

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Towards stronger family farms: Voices in the International Year of Family Farming

Throughout 2014, regional dialogues, civil society consultations, regional conferences and other events explored issues related to family farming. Many of these were (co-)organised by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, the lead agency for the International Year of Family Farming. Across the regions, a set of key, common building blocks were identified to better support family farmers, raised by representatives of farmer organisations, governments, academia, international institutions and NGOs, amongst others.

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