After thousands of years of agriculture taking place on China’s Loess Plateau, forests were turned into a dry zone and due to the loss of trees fine yellow soil was left vulnerable to erosion. The erosions filled the rivers with silt and all the flooding resulted in major environmental damage.
However, sixteen years ago, the Chinese government created a project in which the local population constructed silt dams and the planting of fruit trees and grass on slopes to steep for other crops. In addition, locals were paid for their hard work and granted cheap long-term leases on land as it was recovering its viability.
Experts in agriculture are claiming that the farmer delivering a “triple win” with the removal of carbon in soil, to gaining greater resilience to drought and higher temperatures, to the improvement of food security.
In Africa, scientists, researchers, and policy makers should hasten their pace in finding adaption measures because unless action is taken, the impacts of climate change could derail sub-Saharan Africa’s revitalized efforts to change the agricultural sector.
On the much-smaller Humbo Plateau in Ethiopia, smallholders have succeeded in regenerating forest and restoring productivity. Farmers there have adopted new rules for sustainable use of wooded areas – helped by energy-efficient stoves that reduce the demand for fuel wood and charcoal. Alongside nurturing the regrowth of badly degraded woodland, training has allowed locals to diversify into raising livestock and poultry as well as non-farm activities.
The Humbo project is one of the few African Clean Development Mechanism projects, receiving its first $34,000 cheque for carbon stored in its 2,700 hectares of forest in October 2010.
Farmers in Malawi, Kenya, Burkina Faso, Niger and Zambia are also involved in agro-forestry, integrating trees into food crop and livestock systems.
Title: Turning Agriculture From Problem to Solution
Source: IPS, 12/5/10 http://ipsnews.net/news.asp?idnews=53777
Author: Mantoe Phakathi
Student Researcher: Cassie Petersen, Sonoma State University
Evaluator: Jim Bertoli, 4-H State Climatology Medalist