Carbon Farming: Building Soils and Stabilizing the Climate

Farmer Engagement in Agriculture Extension

Echoes from our Network: Negotiating two seemingly contradictory understandings of cooperatives

From ECHO’s Seed Bank: Naranjilla


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Carbon Farming: Building Soils and Stabilizing the Climate

Eric Toensmeier

Climate change will have a huge impact on the world’s poorest people. Crop yields have already gone down in the tropics and are projected to drop by 15-30% by 2080 in Africa, South Asia, and Central America (Hoffman 2013). Some countries could reach a 50% loss of agricultural productivity; in fact, in some regions, agriculture will likely become impossible (Hoffman 2013). The poorest and most food-insecure countries face the worst impacts of climate change to their farming systems (Oxfam 2009). Oxfam International’s Suffering the Science reports that 26 million people are already displaced from their homes due to climate change, and the World Health Organization estimates 150,000 lives are being lost every year due to climate change (Oxfam 2009).

Climate change is happening because too much carbon dioxide is being released into the atmosphere, due to burning of fossil fuels, deforestation, and degradation of farmland. To make our climate stable again, we must drastically reduce emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases, while also drawing down the excess carbon in the atmosphere and safely storing it. Many agricultural practices can do this. In fact, if these techniques were widely used, they could remove and store enough carbon to return the atmosphere to 350 parts per million (ppm) of carbon dioxide, which is the amount scientists think is safe (Lal 2014). However, such techniques will only be successful if emissions are also dramatically reduced.

Farmer Engagement in Agriculture Extension

Brian Flanagan, summarized from MEAS Tips and Facts Sheets

Good intentions and viable solutions will have little impact unless we engage with farmers in ways that are meaningful to them.  Farmers put a great deal of confidence in what they learn from fellow farmers’ experiences, and they are more likely to trust what they see over what they hear.  Interacting with peers also helps farmers to learn from and share with each other.

This document, drawn from three MEAS Tips and Facts Sheets (Farmer Meetings, Test Strips for On-Farm Demonstrations, and The Farm Walk Farm-Led Demonstrations), discusses practical  agriculture extension methods that development workers can use to more effectively engage with farmers and foster the kind of farmer-to-farmer interaction that leads to positive change.

Naranjilla (Solanum quitoense)

Naranjilla (pronounced na-ran-hee-ya) means ‘little orange’ in Spanish, but it is not a citrus crop.  It is actually a relative of tomato, eggplant and pepper, being a member of the Solanaceae (also known as ‘nightshade’) family.  Grown for its yellow to orange fruits, it has been described as “the golden fruit of the Andes.”  Naranjilla is high in vitamin C (31-84 mg of ascorbic acid/100 g of fresh fruit) and makes excellent juice with a unique and delicious tropical flavor that tastes like a blend of pineapple and lemon.  It is also used in ice cream, sherbets, jellies and jams.

Negotiating two seemingly contradictory understandings of co-operatives

Joel Matthews

In EDN 127, Dick Tinsley and David Headley appear to offer somewhat contradictory visions regarding the value of farmers’ co-operatives. When such contradictory advice appears, it often points to an area of underappreciated complexity. Thus, rather than throw our hands up in frustration, we should take the time to understand. In fact, this is a good time to acknowledge that intervening in a community is complex and potentially risky (for the end users). We must tread carefully when we propose changing others’ lives.