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Mobambo P.,University of Kinshasa | Staver C.,Bioversity | Hauser S.,International Institute Of Tropical Agriculture | Dheda B.,University of Kisangani | Vangu G.,INERA Mvuazi
Acta Horticulturae | Year: 2010

The agricultural sector of the Democratic Republic of Congo continues to suffer from declining productivity after a decade of civil unrest and underinvestment. Plantain and banana (Musa spp.) are considered the second most important staple crop after cassava (Manihot esculenta). The Congo basin is a secondary centre of plantain diversity in the world. The area planted with plantain/banana declined from over 400,000 ha in the early 90s to less than 150,000 ha presently. Yields are low and declining and plantain become too expensive for poor urban households. There are numerous political, economic, social and technological constraints to increase the contribution of banana and plantain to household, community and the national economy. A number of priorities for action were identified: (a) simple and low cost strategies to estimate production and planted areas and the extent of serious pest and disease threats to guide investment in areas with the greatest impact; (b) mapping of production potential based on soils, climate and water sources and ease of market access to prioritize investment in intensification; (c) piloting of clean seed systems to contain the spread and impact of Banana bunchy top virus, and Xanthomonas wilt, to multiply highly productive clones of preferred cultivars and to conserve plantain diversity; (d) technology for land productivity stabilization and improvement, depending on access to infrastructure and natural resource quality; (e) improving field access to information on new technologies to farmers and their associations, public extension and non-governmental organizations and rural school teachers; and (f) farmer and village marketing organizations to capture greater value from plantain and banana markets where clean seed and improved land productivity are piloted. Source

Cote F.,CIRAD - Agricultural Research for Development | Tomekpe K.,Center Africain Of Recherches Sur Bananiers Et Plantains | Staver C.,Bioversity | Depigny S.,CIRAD - Agricultural Research for Development | And 3 more authors.
Acta Horticulturae | Year: 2010

Urban centers in sub-Saharan Africa are generating a growing demand for plantain (Musa spp.). Farmers have not responded by increasing supply and this crop has gone from being a staple food to a food for special occasions. Smallholder farmers face numerous difficulties in improving production and productivity of plantain. Diseases, such as black leaf streak and Banana bunchy top virus, have spread into new areas. Shortened fallow periods and declining soil fertility have exacerbated the losses due to nematodes and weevils. Fertilizers and pesticides are difficult to obtain, expensive and not properly evaluated in plantain cropping systems. High input production has not been applied in plantain production for urban markets. In addition, this production approach is increasingly questioned due to negative impacts on the environment, the health of workers and nearby rural communities, in addition to the increasing cost of energy intensive inputs. Agroecological intensification is a practical, knowledge-based approach with potential to respond both to the needs of smallholder farmers for increased production through more efficient use of local resources and to the demands placed on the high-input export sector for more environmental sustainability. This approach does not exclude the use of external inputs, but focuses on biological mechanisms to suppress pests and diseases, strategies to increase total crop photosynthesis and conversion to yield, and management of soil nutrient cycles for a healthier and more productive crop. In this approach, management of functional biodiversity and deployment of better knowledge about agro-ecological interactions serve to reduce losses, optimize crop residue breakdown and symbiotic nitrogen fixation, and promote crop health. We conclude that agro-ecological intensification is easily applicable in export bananas. Strategies for application of the concept to plantain are facilitated by targeting approaches to specific systems defined by distance to market and quality of the natural resource base. Source

Jessica F.,Bioversity | Cheryl P.,Catholic University of Leuven | Roseline R.,EARTH University
Food and Nutrition Bulletin | Year: 2011

Background. Malnutrition affects a large number of people throughout the developing world. Approaches to reducing malnutrition rarely focus on ecology and agriculture to simultaneously improve human nutrition and environmental sustainability. However, evidence suggests that interdisciplinary approaches that combine the knowledge bases of these disciplines can serve asa central strategy in alleviating hidden hunger for the world's poorest. Objective. To describe the role that ecological knowledge plays in alleviating hidden hunger, considering human nutrition as an overlooked ecosystem service. Methods. We review existing literature and propose a framework that expands on earlier work on econutrition. We provide novel evidence from casestudies conducted by the authors in western Kenya and propose a framework for interdisciplinary collaboration to alleviate hidden hunger, increase agricultural productivity, and improve environmental sustainability. Results. Our review supports the concept that an integrated approach will impact human nutrition. We provide evidence that increased functional agrobiodiversity can alleviate anemia, and interventions that contribute to environmental sustainability can have both direct and indirect effects on human health and nutritional well-being. Conclusions. Integrated and interdisciplinary approaches are critical to reaching development goals. Ecologists must begin to consider not only how their field can contribute to biodiversity conservation, but also, the relationship between biodiversity and provisioning of nontraditional ecosystem services such as human health. Likewise, nutritionists and agronomists must recognize that many of the solutions to increasing human wellbeing and health can best be achieved by focusing on a healthy environment and the conservation of ecosystem services. © 2011, The United Nations University. Source

Haggar J.,Tropical Agriculture Research and Higher Education Center | Haggar J.,University of Greenwich | Barrios M.,Tropical Agriculture Research and Higher Education Center | Bolanos M.,UNICAFE | And 8 more authors.
Agroforestry Systems | Year: 2011

Changes in coffee economics are leading producers to reduce agrochemical use and increase the use of shade. Research is needed on how to balance the competition from shade trees with the provision of ecological services to the coffee. In 2000, long-term coffee experiments were established in Costa Rica and Nicaragua to compare coffee agroecosystem performance under full sun, legume and non-legume shade types, and intensive and moderate conventional and organic inputs. Coffee yield from intensive organic production was not significantly different from intensive conventional in Nicaragua, but in Costa Rica it was lower during three of the six harvests. Full sun coffee production over 6 years was greater than shaded coffee in Costa Rica (61.8 vs. 44.7 t ha-1, P = 0.0002). In Nicaragua, full sun coffee production over 5 years (32.1 t ha-1) was equal to coffee with shade that included Tabebuia rosea (Bertol.) DC., (27-30 t ha-1) and both were more productive (P = 0.03) than coffee shaded with Inga laurina (Sw.) Willd. (21.6 t ha-1). Moderate input organic production was significantly lower than other managements under all shade types, except in the presence of Erythrina poepiggina (Walp.) O. F. Cook. Inga and Erythrina had greater basal area and nutrient recycling from prunings than other shade species. Intensive organic production increased soil pH and P, and had higher K compared to moderate conventional. Although legume shade trees potentially provide ecological services to associated coffee, this depends on management of the competition from those same trees. © 2011 Springer Science+Business Media B.V. Source

Sist P.,CIRAD - Agricultural Research for Development | Rutishauser E.,CarboForExpert carboforexpert.ch | Pena-Claros M.,Wageningen University | Shenkin A.,University of Florida | And 38 more authors.
Applied Vegetation Science | Year: 2015

While attention on logging in the tropics has been increasing, studies on the long-term effects of silviculture on forest dynamics and ecology remain scare and spatially limited. Indeed, most of our knowledge on tropical forests arises from studies carried out in undisturbed tropical forests. This bias is problematic given that logged and disturbed tropical forests are now covering a larger area than the so-called primary forests. A new network of permanent sample plots in logged forests, the Tropical managed Forests Observatory (TmFO), aims to fill this gap by providing unprecedented opportunities to examine long-term data on the resilience of logged tropical forests at regional and global scales. TmFO currently includes 24 experimental sites distributed across three tropical regions, with a total of 490 permanent plots and 921 ha of forest inventories. To improve our knowledge of the resilience of tropical logged forests, 20 research institutes are now collaborating on studies on the effects of logging on forest structure, productivity, biodiversity and carbon fluxes at large spatial and temporal scales. These studies are carried out in the Tropical managed Forests Observatory (TmFO), an international network including 24 sites and 490 permanent sample plots across South America, Africa and South East Asia. © 2014 International Association for Vegetation Science. Source

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