Knowledge for Development

Relevant publications

Adoption of agro-forestry technologies among small-holder farmers: A case of Zimbabwe

The objectives of the study were to assess and compare the levels of adoption of agro-forestry technologies between trained and untrained farmers, and identify specific factors that affect adoption of technologies. Data from 300 smallholder farmers selected by snowballing from villages where change agents had been trained by the International Center for Research in Agro Forestry was collected using structured questionnaires. The results showed that there was a low level of awareness of agro-forestry technologies among farmers. Formally trained farmers adopted agro-forestry technologies more than informally-trained farmers. Results also showed that the likelihood to adopt live fence was influenced significantly by land ownership, awareness, training, drought, labour and local institutions. Adoption of trees for nutrition was influenced by belonging to a farming group, awareness, training, land size and local institutions. Adoption of improved fallows was influenced by employment status, belonging to farm group, awareness and land size. Factors that influenced adoption of fodder banks were employment status, awareness and training.(Source: C. Parwada, C. T. Gadzirayi, W. T. Muriritirwa and D. Mwenye, Journal of Development and Agricultural Economics. Vol. 2(10), pp.351–358, October 2010)


Ecosystem services from agriculture and agroforestry: Measurement and payment

Reference: Bruno Rapidel, Fabrice DeClerck, Jean-François Le Coq and John Beer; Ecosystem services from agriculture and agroforestry: Measurement and payment; Earthscan Editions, 2011.A book about payments for the ecosystem services rendered by farming systems, presenting the methodological difficulties associated with the quantification and marketing of such services, and practical case studies. Farming systems are no longer assessed solely based on the food they supply, but also on their capacity to limit environmental impact, and their contribution to the attenuation of and adaptation to climate change. They have to internalize the costs and advantages of their impact on the environment. Payments for ecosystem services have to encourage and promote sustainable practices through financial incentives. The authors demonstrate that while this is simple in principle, it is much more complex in practice. The first two chapters present the methodological problems associated with the quantification and marketing of the ecosystem services rendered by agriculture, including agroforestry. The third and last part presents case studies of the implementation of payments for ecosystem services and trials in central Europe and South America. It draws some lessons from the sustainable, effective development of compensation mechanisms for environmental services rendered.


Innovation in input supply systems in smallholder agroforestry: seed sources, supply chains and support systems

J. B. L. Lillesø, L. Graudal, S. Moestrup, E. D. Kjær, R. Kindt, A. Mbora, I. Dawson, J. Muriuki, A. Ræbild and R. Jamnadass; Agroforestry Systems, Springer Netherlands, 2011,; DOI: 10.1007/s10457-011-9412-5. This paper discusses requirements and possibilities for institutional innovation in developing more efficient delivery systems for tree germplasm as one aspect of improved input supply. It describes a simple model for delivery to farmers that identifies the major types of germplasm sources and discusses how this model can be used to identify relevant interventions to address bottlenecks in current systems. The analysis leads to eight input supply configurations for smallholder agroforestry, typified by three major models. Lessons from the evolution of smallholder crop seed delivery systems can be applied to tree germplasm supply and indicate that a commercial, decentralised model holds most promise for sustainability. However, current emphasis in agroforestry on government and NGO models of delivery hinder the development of this approach. An important implication of this analysis is that current actors in agroforestry input supply systems must redefine their roles in order for effective delivery to take place.


New series of booklets on African priority food tree species

A new series of booklets ‘African Priority Food Tree Species’ examines 11 priority food tree species in sub-Saharan Africa, such as the Bush Mango, the Shea Butter and Tamarind tree. Each booklet (or leaflet) includes a synthesis of current knowledge about each species as well as recommendations for their conservation and sustainable use. This publication is the result of a joint effort between African research organizations: the Sub-Saharan African Forest Genetic Resources Network (SAFORGEN), Bioversity International and the Forest Research Center of INIA (Spain). This series is available in English and French. (Bioversity International, 5/9/2011)


Biodiversity and socioeconomic factors supporting farmers' choice of wild edible trees in the agroforestry systems of Benin

This study was conducted by researchers from the University of Abomey-Calavi, Benin, is an assessment of the diversity of wild food species and socio-economical factors that support farmers' choice for the species used in agro-forestry systems. A total of 43 wild edible trees were found in the traditional agro-forestry systems of Benin during the survey. The researchers found that the number, diversity and perceived importance of species used in these systems varied according to the socio-cultural zones of the country. They identified three main reasons that support peasants' ambition to conserve or to grow wild edible trees in their field: their contribution to food, their use in traditional medicine and ceremonies and the farmers' perception of their availability in natural vegetation. (ScienceDirect, 24/8/2011)


Sustainable forestry in the Pacific

The publication Foundation for a Sustainable Future features chapters from SPC member countries and territories and aims to provide information on the value of Pacific Island forests and the issues and challenges faced by island communities in managing this natural resource in a sustainable manner. It can be viewed at this link:


Integrated natural resource management in the highlands of eastern Africa: From concept to practice

German, L. et al. International Development Research Center (IDRC), Earthscan, 2012.This book documents a decade of research, methodological innovation, and lessons learned in an eco-regional research-for-development program operating in the eastern African highlands, the African Highlands Initiative (AHI). It summarizes the experiences of farmers, research and development workers, policy and decision-makers who have interacted within an innovation system with the common goal of implementing an integrated approach to natural resource management (NRM) in the humid highlands. This book demonstrates the crucial importance of 'approach' in shaping the outcomes of research and development, and distils lessons learned on what works, where and why. It is enriched with examples and case studies from five benchmark sites in Ethiopia, Uganda, Kenya, and Tanzania, whose variability provides the reader with an in-depth knowledge of the complexities of integrated NRM in agro-ecosystems that play an important role in the rural economy of the region.


Releasing the Pressure: Water Resource Efficiencies and Gains for Ecosystem Services

This report by UNEP and SEI discusses the need to balance short-term water productivity gains, particularly in agriculture, with water flows’ long-term role in maintaining sustainable landscape ecosystem services and supporting human well-being. The report outlines 10 key messages on the nexus of water productivity, water flows in landscapes and ecosystem services, and illustrates them with case studies. It is geared to practitioners in the areas of planning and management of agriculture, planning of land-use, forestry, biofuels, and water, and natural resource management. The goal is to encourage practitioners to begin exploring what types of ecosystem services gains and trade-offs exist in their local context, such as watersheds, landscapes, countries, or basins, and how they may be linked to the allocation of water.(SEI via EcoAgriculture Blog, 28/5/2012)


Towards a Green Economy: Pathways to Sustainable Development and Poverty Eradication

Part I ‘Investing in natural capital’ of UNEP’s Green Economy Report has chapters on the following sectors: Agriculture, Fisheries, Water, and Forests. These chapters offer guidance to policy makers on how to enable the transition to a green economy. (UNEP, 11/2011)


Planting Trees to Eat Fish

This book by Wetland International draws on the experiences of four projects (in Indonesia, Kenya, Zambia/Malawi and Mali) that combined conservation and development goals. The four projects demonstrated – each in a different way – how improving livelihoods and conserving wetlands can go hand in hand. The book tells the story of the problems that the individual projects faced, and how they were addressed. In addition, there is a review of seven other wetland-based projects from around the world. (Wetland International, 5/2009)


The case of fertiliser tree systems (FTS) in southern Africa

Researchers from the World Agroforestry Centre have traced the historical background and highlight the developmental phases and outcomes of fertiliser tree systems (FTS) in this synthesis paper. It shows that FTS are inexpensive technologies that significantly raise crop yields, reduce food insecurity and enhance environmental services and resilience of agro-ecologies. Many of the achievements recorded with FTS can be traced to some key factors: the availability of a suite of technological options that are appropriate in a range of different household and ecological circumstances, partnership between multiple institutions and disciplines in the development of the technology, active encouragement of farmer innovations in the adaptation process and proactive engagement of several consortia of partner institutions to scale up the technology in farming communities. It is recommended that smallholder farmers would benefit if rural development planners emphasize the merits of different fertility replenishment approaches and taking advantage of the synergy between FTS and mineral fertilizers rather than focusing on ‘organic vs. inorganic’ debates.(EurekAlert, 14/9/2011; BBC, 16/10/2011)


Why forests are important for global poverty alleviation: a spatial explanation

By Sunderlin, W.D.; Dewi, S.; Puntodewo, A.; Muller, D.; Angelsen, A.; Epprecht, M. 2008. Forests have been declared important for the well-being of the poor because of the kinds of goods and services that they provide. We asked whether forests are important for the poor not only because of the kinds of goods and services they provide, but also because they tend to be located where the poor are. We conducted a spatial analysis to ascertain the degree of spatial association between poverty and forests in seven countries: Brazil, Honduras, Malawi, Mozambique, Uganda, Indonesia, and Vietnam. For most of these countries, there was a significant positive correlation between high natural forest cover and high poverty rate (the percentage of the population that is poor) and between high forest cover and low poverty density (the number of poor per unit area). We explain the findings and discuss policy implications and topics for future research.


Pacific: Regional Workshop on Increasing Awareness on the Value of Traditional Mixed Cropping Systems and Agroforestry in Ensuring Food Security in the Pacific Region

The 2005 Regional Workshop on Increasing Awareness on the Value of Traditional Mixed Cropping Systems and Agroforestry in Ensuring Food Security in the Pacific Region was held in Samoa from 12th -16th of September, 2005. The goal was to improve food security and generate employment in the South Pacific Region. Specific Objectives with regards to mixed-cropping farming systems and agro- forestry in the Pacific Island countries the project objectives were: (1) to increase awareness on the importance, constraints and potentials of the systems; (2) to increase capacity in terms of ameliorating and promoting the diffusion of such systems; and, (3) to outline a way forward for establishing regional information sharing mechanisms on the subject. An overview and cases of existing mixed cropping and agro forestry farming systems are presented followed by sessions on improvement and sustainability of these systems, agro forestry techniques, and strategies for improving awareness and exchange on agro forestry and mixed cropping systems. Daily outcomes are presented in the annex. The major outcomes were the following: solution to lack of land due to slash and burn techniques is to modify traditional mixed cropping systems; improving integrated farming systems can be an alternative to sloping lands; assurance that policies are implemented, made aware of and respected; marketing and income generation are important; role of timber trees as multipurpose; use of GIS as a tool; make sure that new technologies do not fall between agencies; with regard to information sharing: the ultimate focus should be on farmers as they are the ones that really need information; and, an information network should be open to all stakeholders. Pacific: Regional Workshop on Increasing Awareness on the Value of Traditional Mixed Cropping Systems and Agroforestry in Ensuring Food Security in the Pacific Region


Africa: A GIS-based analysis of the likelihood of adoption of some multi-purpose tree species in East Africa

Multipurpose Tree (MPT) species have the ability to fit into the farming systems of the East African region where low agricultural productivity, widespread land degradation and hence a diminishing capacity to support the growing human and livestock population are major problems. Geographical information systems (GIS) technology was used to develop a spatial representation of the recommendation domains of 5 MPT species (Calliandra calothyrsus, Sesbania sesban, Leucaena diversifolia, Leucaena pallida and Cytisus palmensis (syn. Chamaecytisus palmensis)) in Ethiopia, Kenya and Uganda. The recommendation domains were selected based on climatic, edaphic and topographical factors. The likelihood of adoption, within the agro-ecologically suitable areas for each species, was defined by weighing and combining 3 factors: the type of land cover and land use; human population density; and, cattle population density. From authors' summary.


A study of perennial staple crops

The Overstory, journal of Agroforestry Net (, based in Hawaii, US), features an extended excerpt of the in-depth review of perennial staple crops conducted by Eric Toensmeier of Perennial staple crops include grains, pulses (dry beans), nuts, dry pods, starchy fruits, oilseeds, high-protein leaves, and some more exotic products like starch-filled trunks, sugary palm saps, and aerial tubers. These offer the unique possibility of crops grown for basic human food that can simultaneously sequester carbon, stabilize slopes, and build soils as part of no-till perennial agricultural systems. Such production models approach the carbon sequestering capacity of natural forest, because they can mimic the structure of a forest most closely. Perennial staple crop systems are resilient in the face of climate change effects better than most annuals. These food forests can be long-lived, no-till, and low-maintenance. They do however have harvesting and processing challenges – for example most peach palm varieties have tall, very spiny trunks that must be climbed for harvest. The review describes perennial crop candidates by climate types, details the barriers to their adoption, compares their carbohydrate and protein yields with annual crops, and identifies the members of each perennial plant family (Palm, legume, mulberry, banana, yam along with hardy nuts and grasses). Overstory #248, 13/8/2012)


The importance of policy for agroforestry

Frank Place (World Agroforestry Centre) and colleagues, review the most pressing policy-related constraints to agroforestry in this extended excerpt from the book ‘Agroforestry for Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services – Science and Practice’. Three policy areas determine the benefit from agroforestry: 1) Long term private property rights; 2) Policies related to tree germplasm multiplication and dissemination; 3) Recognition of agroforestry as an attractive investment area within agricultural programmes. Policy-related constraints include: land and tree tenure, germplasm systems, subsidies for other land use practices, extension systems, departmental structure of governments, and recognition of environmental services. Policy reforms that have been pro-agroforestry did tackle some of these issues.  (The Overstory No. 251, January 2013)


Agroforestry as a climate change mitigation and adaptation tool for agriculture

Agroforestry will be negatively impacted by climate change: plant stress, shifts in woody plant disease, pest and natural enemy dynamics will play a dominant role in the persistence and performance of all agroforestry plants, herbaceous or woody. Diversity, and selecting a variety of plants that will thrive under the many conditions, is a key principle in developing adapted agroforestry plantings.(Journal of Soil and Water Conservation and The Overstory, 08/05/2013)