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What are we reading?

Recently released books, reports, manuals, etc.

2015 Family farming calendar

The photos in this calendar are all shortlisted entries to the 2014 International Year of Family Farming photo competition. The photo competition was organised on the occasion of the 2014 International Year of Family Farming by the AgriCultures Network and the World Rural Forum, in close collaboration with the Asian Farmers Association, CLOCLa Via Campesina and the More and Better Network. The photo competition jury consisted of Angèle Etoundi, Bernward Geier, S. Jayaraj, Tomás Munita, Deo Sumaj and Jun Virola.

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Agridape: Sustainable family farming

By devoting this issue (no. 29.4) to "sustainable family farming," LEISA seeks to contribute to this global effort to promote family farming, by sharing a series of innovative experiences that, for the most part, were implemented through IFAD-financed projects. These experiences are true endorsements for the sustainable valorization of family farming and poverty reduction in general.

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High-Altitude Rangelands and their Interfaces in the Hindu Kush Himalayas

This publication, issued on the 30th anniversary of the International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD), contains a collection of papers and scholarly articles by ecologists, natural resource managers, and other professionals working on the high-altitude rangelands of the Hindu Kush Himalayan region. The interfaces between high-altitude rangelands and other ecosystems in the Hindu Kush Himalayan region such as forests, wetlands and agricultural land are suffering from degradation, desertification and soil erosion, which are further aggravated by climatic and anthropogenic factors. However, more information is needed on the ecological role of high-altitude rangelands and their interfaces as a basis for developing and implementing plans for conservation and sustainable management of these fragile ecosystems. This volume has been compiled as a first step in addressing this knowledge gap.

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Non-governmental organizations and the sustainability of small and medium-sized enterprises in Peru: An analysis of networks and discourses

This book provides a better understanding of the changing roles of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in promoting sustainability of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in Peru. The book focuses on the domains of organic production, business social responsibility and sustainable production. The innovative study uses a combination of network and discourse analyses to identify the main patterns and shifts in the roles of NGOs in order to deal with sustainability and the market. Two major contemporary sociological theories - ecological modernization theory and network society theory - are applied to frame the analysis. The in-depth analysis of international networks of NGOs operating in Peru provide valuable inputs in terms of changes in network and discourse patterns, and consequently, changing roles for NGOs. Remarkably, social movement, liberal market and sustainability viewpoints are generating new networks and new discourses, with a prominent position of national and international NGOs vis-a-vis SMEs, and in absence of the national state. Next to the usual 'watchdog' roles, NGOs are developing roles of 'helper' in order to answer to the market needs of SMEs. The analyses challenges Castells scheme of space of flows versus space of place and suggests considering in ecological modernization theory both ecological rationality and social rationality in order to advance environmental governance of SMEs in developing countries, particularly in Latin America.

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PROTA : Ressources végétales de l'Afrique tropicale 7 (2) : Bois d'oeuvre 2

The second book, on timbers, in volume 7 of the prota encyclopaedia on useful plants originating from tropical Africa. While the first book in this volume described 511 species belonging to a selection of more than twenty botanical families, the second completes the inventory with 693 species whose primary use is also as timber.

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The value chain approach for mountain development: Case studies from Uttarakhand, India

The publication and its accompanying video were released at the International Conference ‘Addressing Poverty and Vulnerability in the Hindu Kush Himalayas’ in Kathmandu, Nepal.

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Organic supply chains for small farmer income generation in developing countries: Case studies in India, Thailand, Brazil, Hungary and Africa

Despite the increasing attention given to organic supply chains over the past decade, there are still significant market opportunities to pursue. The demand for organic products in developing countries continues to grow and price premiums for organic certified products are available, albeit not comparable with those of a decade or so ago. This paper focuses on case studies on organic rice in India and Thailand, horticulture products in Brazil and Hungary, and coffee and fruit in African countries. It first summarizes findings on the marketing, financing, post-harvest and value-added components of these organic ventures and then provides conclusions and recommendations for policy-makers, the private sector and support organizations for the future development of organic supply chains in developing countries.

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Governing global land deals: The role of the state in the rush for land

Over the past decade, there has been a dramatic increase in large-scale land deals, often from public lands to the hands of foreign or domestic investors. Popularly referred to as a ‘global land grab’, new land acquisitions are drawing upon, restructuring and challenging the nature of both governance and government. While ‘the state’ is often invoked as a key player in contemporary land deals, states do not necessarily operate coherently or with one voice. This collection of essays brings clarity and understanding to the entity of ‘the state’, analyzing government and governance as processes, people and relationships. Focusing on relations of territory, sovereignty, authority and subjects, the essays in this collection explore the highly variable form and content of large-scale land deals in different settings around the world, illuminating both the micro-processes of transaction and expropriation, as well as the broader structural forces at play in global land deals. The authors do not assume a priori that there is a necessary character to land deals, rather they frame the deals themselves quite broadly, as embedded in complex multi-scalar webs of relationships shaped by power, property and production.

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The broken promise of agricultural progress: An environmental history

Food and the global agricultural system has become one of the defining public concerns of the twenty-first century. Ecological disorder and inequity is at the heart of our food system. This thoughtful and confronting book tells the story of how the development of modern agriculture promised ecological and social stability but instead descended into dysfunction. Contributing to knowledge in environmental, cultural and agricultural histories, it explores how people have tried to live in the aftermath of ‘ecological imperialism’. The Broken Promise of Agricultural Progress: An environmental history journeys to the dry inland plains of Australia where European ideas and agricultural technologies clashed with a volatile and taunting country that resisted attempts to subdue and transform it for the supply of global markets. Its wide-ranging narrative puts gritty local detail in its global context to tell the story of how cultural anxieties about civilisation, population, and race, shaped agriculture in the twentieth century. It ranges from isolated experiment farms to nutrition science at the League of Nations, from local landholders to high profile moral crusaders, including an Australian apricot grower who met Franklin D. Roosevelt and almost fed the world.

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Strengthening the Social Impacts of Sustainable Landscapes Programs - A practitioner’s guidebook to strengthen and monitor human well-being outcomes

An estimated 1.6 million people depend on forests for their livelihoods, so successful conservation must focus on sustainable landscapes that benefit people as well as nature. This book offers valuable, practical information on how to strengthen the social outcomes of landscapes programmes, with the interdependence between changes in the environment and human well being at the core. Design, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of landscapes projects are addressed, with a discussion on specific tools and approaches within each, with many examples from Indonesia’s Berau Forest Carbon Program. The suggestions on engaging stakeholders and using situation analysis during early phases of project design are particularly useful.

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Community well-being in biocultural landscapes: Are we living well?

People must be at the centre of decision making concerning the management of the landscapes in which they live. This book convincingly argues the case for considering the cultural side of landscapes, and takes a fresh and detailed look at the variety of means for assessing well being and the multiple dimensions involved in capturing this. It provides insight into what determines the success of projects that originated from communities’ own realities and worldviews, and informs broader questions such as how we can balance our material, social and spiritual well being, and how we can flourish within the ecological limits of our planet. Power of persuasion is drawn from a diplomatic style as the introductory chapters acknowledge the evolution of thought from using GDP as a purely economic measures of ‘progress’ towards other measures of well being. Key concepts are introduced, namely, ‘community well-being’ and ‘biocultural landscapes’, both crucial considerations for ‘endogenous development.’ These concepts are operationalised within frameworks that use selected indicators and ‘most significant change’ stories to monitor material, social and spiritual aspects of well being. Case studies from Sri Lanka, Ghana and Bolivia demonstrate how the frameworks have been used and reveal learning outcomes for local and external actors within endogenous development projects. In Sri Lanka for example, religious underpinnings of people had been underestimated as it was revealed that the dominant form of rice cultivation reliant on pesticides contravened Buddhist principles. The resounding message is that a community is more than the sum of its individual parts. Communities share ecosystems and landscapes and are engaged in activities of importance to their economy and environment. The book concludes with reflections on why well being assessment at the community level is important and what challenges need to be addressed, such as conflict resolution and building consensus. A final plea is for more partnerships between community-based organisations, local support organisations and international institutions, in order to better understand the social, spiritual and material realities of living well.

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Lessons in supporting family farming: Stories from Swaziland

Many rural development initiatives attempt to improve the lives of family farmers. Some succeed, some fail – but all of them can offer valuable lessons for the future. In a two-phased documentation workshop, farmers, field workers and other experts working in IFAD-funded projects in Swaziland described, analysed and wrote down some of their most promising experiences. This book presents the results of their work. Published in the International Year of Family Farming, it offers various lessons and challenges relevant for professionals who are working to support family farmers.

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ILEIA Financial statement 2013

Balance sheet and statement of revenues and costs 2013

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ILEIA Annual report 2013

This summary of the ILEIA 2013 annual report shows the activities and results of ILEIA and the AgriCultures Network in 2013, as well as the lessons learnt in this year. It covers the four main result areas of ILEIA and the network: global knowledge sharing and the magazine, documentation and systematisation, education, policy advocacy and strengthening of the AgriCultures Network.

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Agroecology: What it is and what it has to offer

In a context of a changing climate and growing concerns for more healthy food systems, agroecology is gaining momentum as a scientific discipline, sustainable farming approach and social movement. There is growing anecdotal and case study evidence of its multiple benefits, from climate resilience to farm productivity. Yet its promotion in public agricultural policies, research and extension is still limited. This paper explores why this is. It calls for consolidating the evidence base for agroecology through multi-dimensional tools that not only measure yields, but also its many other benefits: economic, environmental and social. Mainstreaming agroecology will require a fundamental cultural and philosophical shift in how we as a society define‘productive’ and ‘efficient’ agriculture.

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Feeding Frenzy: The New Politics of Food

Feeding Frenzy addresses the question “Can we feed the world of 9 billion by 2050?” through the lens of the today’s market turmoil and prevailing hunger and inequality. Following a brief history of the food system, McMahon delves into economic and political issues shaping the current food crisis. The book addresses how governments and corporations are fighting to secure control over food supply chains. Land grabbing, speculation on global food markets and export bans are a few of the topics discussed. Finally, McMahon outlines actions that would help to shape a sustainable and just food system. He states categorically that we have enough land and already produce enough food, if only we could support smallholder farmers, put ecology at the centre of farming, and make financial markets work to address real challenges.

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State of the World 2014: Governing for Sustainability

Although optimistic, the book is framed by a sentiment of crisis, with humanity at an unprecedented crossroads requiring a sharp departure from politics and business as usual. The book examines both obstacles to, and opportunities for, responsible political and economic governance. The scope is broad with contributions covering issues from appropriate technologies, markets and public goods, to the organisational capacity of civil society. The unifying message is that engaged and well-informed citizens are the key to better governance. It ends with a call to action, that we must build a culture of grassroots community engagement to improve the relationships that bind us to each other and to the planet we live on.

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Who Wants to Farm? Youth aspirations, opportunities and rising food prices

Adding fuel to the debate on the future of agriculture, this paper explores why youth in developing countries appear reluctant to enter farming. Based on research in 10 countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America, it looks at conditions that attract young people to farming, and entry points for youth participation in policy making decisions on agriculture and food security. Contributors to agriculture’s lack of appeal were a lack of access to land and capital, and social changes such as increased formal education. But agriculture proved attractive to youth when education is used to enhance productivity, and when young people mobilise in groups to enhance the freedom offered by meaningful employment. And agriculture could be made even more attractive with targeted support from public policies, and the use of young role models to show the potential of agricultural opportunities.

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Constitutions and the Commons: The Impact of Federal Governance on Local, National, and Global Resource Management

Constitutions and the Commons looks at a critical but little examined issue of the degree to which the federal constitution of a nation contributes toward or limits the ability of the national government to manage its natural resources (or commons). Furthermore it considers how far the constitution facilitates the binding of constituent states, provinces or subnational units to honor the conditions of international environmental treaties. While the main focus is on the US, there is also detailed coverage of other nations such as Australia, Brazil, Canada, India and Russia.

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