Intensification


Drylands cover 41 percent of the earth’s terrestrial surface. The urgency of and international response to climate change have given a new place to drylands in terms both of their vulnerability to predicted climate change impacts and their potential contribution to climate change mitigation. This book aims to apply the new scientific insights on complex dryland systems to practical options for development. A new dryland paradigm is built on the resources and capacities of dryland peoples, on new and emergent economic opportunities, on inward investment, and on the best support that dryland science can offer.

The complete document is available from the IUCN website

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SLP was part of the 5th WCCA & 3rd FSD held in Brisbane, Australia last week. Diego Valbuena (SLP Postdoc Scientist) gave an overview on the crop residue use in different mixed crop-livestock systems across Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia. This presentation reflects the current analysis and synthesis of the village-level data of the SLP Crop Residue project. The main points of this presentation were that:

  • Crop residues in mixed systems are fundamental resources for short-term objectives, especially for livestock feed.
  • Residues as mulch is not a common practice, mainly occurring in regions with relatively very high crop production or with high crop production and relatively low feed demand. In regions with high pressure on residues, an increase of agricultural production is needed.
  • There are no silver-bullets: each region has its own potential, challenges & options for more sustainable agriculture.

Finally, the presentation shows the next steps of the SLP Crop Residue project.

The presentation is available from the Slideshare website

Kindu Mekonnen, SLP associate researcher of the East Africa team writes:

“Biomass is a crucial resource for smallholder farmers. Crop residues form an important source of biomass but there are competing demands for its use. The key trade-off is between use of crop residue for feeding of livestock and retaining residues on the field to sustain soil fertility. This issue has formed the basis of a global research project on trade-offs in residue use in smallholder systems. In East Africa, the research has focused on two sites in Ethiopia and one in Kenya.

As part of this research a village survey was conducted each site with the objective understanding diversified and competing uses of crop residues; analyze past trends of uses of crop residues; and identify production and utilization constraints of crop residues. A total of 8 villages per site were surveyed in two sites in Ethiopia (Kobo and Nekemte) and one site in western Kenya (Kakamega).

The most important findings from the research so far are (1) The use of crop residues for animal feed (stall feeding and direct grazing) surpassed the other competing uses in all the sites; (2) The practice of mulching crop fields using crop residues has declined in the last 10 years in the three sites because of competing use of the resources for various services and products; (3) Soil/land related problems, weed, insect and pests, high input/low output prices, poor distribution of rainfall/drought and lack of information/services are some of the constraints associated with low crop productivity and production of crop residues; and (4) Lack of modern crop residue processing technologies limited the efficient utilization of crop residues in the three sites.

The pressure on residue use and the decline in its use as a mulch raise serious concerns for system sustainability. Our next task will be to look at policy, institutional and technical options for reducing pressure on biomass in smallholder systems for the long term benefit of poor smallholders.

We will present this work at the International Congress: Water 2011– Integrated water resources management in tropical and subtropical dry-lands. The congress will be held from 19 to 26 September 2011 in Mekele, Ethiopia. The title of our presentation is “Competing uses, dynamics, and production and utilization constraints of crop residues in East Africa: Implications for conservation agriculture”.

This presentation is available from Slideshare

The Technical Consultation on Integrated Crop-Livestock Systems for Development reported in this document was the culmination of a collaborative process in which FAO, IICA, EMBRAPA and IFAD and
many individuals from a number of organizations participated over several months to ensure its success. The Consultation process was initiated by the Office of the Assistant Director General of the Agriculture Department of the Food and Agriculture Organization (AG-FAO) of the United Nations. The process comprised two parts – an electronic Consultation during February and March 2010 in which some 300 individuals from a number of organizations participated, and a face-to-face Technical Consultation that was held at the EMBRAPA Maize and Sorghum Institute in Sete Lagaos, Brazil, from 23-26 May 2010. Institutions that helped to plan and organize the Consultation included: FAO, IICA/PROCITROPICOS, EMBRAPA, IFAD, FARA, ICRAF, ILRI, CGIAR-SLP.

Pdf document is available from FAO website

The corporate report looks ‘back to the future’—to the thousand million farmers practicing small-scale mixed crop-and-livestock agriculture in poor countries—the kind of seemingly old-fashioned family farming systems that have become so fashionable in recent years among those wanting to reform the industrial food systems of rich countries.

The report synthesizes results of a study, ‘Drivers of change in crop-livestock systems and their potential impacts on agro-ecosystem services and human well-being to 2030,’ being published in book form in 2011. The study was a collaborative endeavour conducted by a group of scientists in centres belonging to the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR). The study was funded and coordinated by the CGIAR’s Systemwide Livestock Programme and led by Mario Herrero, a livestock systems analyst at the International Livestock Research Institute.

The SLP study shows that it is not big efficient farms on high potential lands but rather one billion small ‘mixed’ family farmers tending rice paddies or cultivating maize and beans while raising a few chickens and pigs, a herd of goats or a cow or two on relatively extensive rainfed lands who feed most of the world’s poor people today, and is likely to play the biggest role in global food security over the next several decades, as world population grows and peaks (at 9 billion or so) with the addition of another 3 billion people.

Read the report in pdf

Published: Jun 2010 – IIED and FAO

Recent years have witnessed a renewed interest in agricultural investment. In many cases, this has translated into large-scale acquisitions of farmland in lower- and middle-income countries. Partly as a result of sustained media attention, these acquisitions have triggered lively if polarised debates about “land grabbing”. Less attention has been paid, however, to alternative ways of structuring agricultural investments that do not involve large-scale land acquisitions. These include a wide range of more collaborative arrangements between investors and local smallholders and communities, such as diverse types of contract farming schemes, joint ventures, management contracts and new supply chain relationships. Drawing on a literature review, this report explores the range of business models that can be used to structure agricultural investments in lower- and middle-income countries, and that provide an alternative to large-scale land acquisitions.

From the Food Climate Research Network

This briefing paper explores some of the arguments surrounding the relationship between what we feed and how we rear farm animals, and the availability and accessibility of food for human consumption. Does livestock production foster or hinder food security? In what ways are the contributions of intensive and extensive systems to food security different?

Link to PDF

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