A Green Revolution for trees

Prof Roger Leakey, sometime of ICRAF (among other places), where he pioneered tree domestication in support of rural livelihoods, and now Vice Chairman of the International Tree Foundation, has a fascinating new book in the offing.

In contrast to the doom and gloom often emanating from the tropics, ‘Living with the Trees of Life’ illustrates how many different aspects of agricultural science can be combined into a more robust approach to farming, which will be productive, as well as more environmentally and socially sustainable. This approach uses agroforestry as a delivery mechanism for multifunctional agriculture aimed at addressing the cycle of land degradation and social deprivation in the tropics. A key role in this is played by the ‘Trees of Life’, the large number of indigenous trees that produce marketable fruits, nuts, medicines and other products of day-to-day importance in the lives of local people throughout the tropics.

The book promises to be very practical.

A 3-step approach is described which can be used to close the Yield Gap (the difference between the yield potential of food crops and the yields actually achieved by farmers). This pays special attention to land husbandry and to the wise use of the natural resources which support agriculture and the livelihoods of poor farmers. By closing the Yield Gap agroforestry builds on the advances of the Green Revolution.

Builds on those advances while avoiding its pitfalls, and indeed rectifying its more regrettable consequences, one assumes.

Finally, all this comes together in a set of five ‘Convenient Truths’ which highlight that we have most of the knowledge and skills we need. This is illustrated by the Equator Prize winning project ‘Food for Progress’, in Cameroon, a project which has also been recognized by UK Government’s Office for Science as an African Success Story.

I had a little trouble identifying this project, but I believe I finally found it, and very interesting it sounds too.

Look out for the book in July, from CABI.

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