Agriculture and Ecosystems Blog

Improved natural resource management for livelihoods, food security and the natural environment


Plant Chicago

Food from the Sky: How Much Can Vertical Farming Boost Urban Food Security?

As our global population concentrates itself in cities, urban areas are becoming increasingly vulnerable from a food security standpoint. Some cities are already sitting on a knife’s edge with regard to food security, with comparatively small stockpiles of locally available food reserves in the event food shipments arriving by road, air, or sea are disrupted unexpectedly.

Hamish John Appleby/IWMI

Out of the margins

Most people don’t realize there are two Noahs in the bible. There’s the man with the animals and the ark, and then there’s the woman who fought for equitable property ownership rights for men and for women. Noah and her sisters appealed to Moses for women’s inalienable and legal right to control their own land, with or without male co-ownership. This Noah is my namesake.

Fisherman in Kalpitiya, Sri Lanka working together. Photo: S.A. Prathapar/IWMI

Is the agricultural intensification of sand dunes sustainable?

The length of coastal areas around the globe is over 1.6 million kilometers, skirting approximately 150 countries. Many of them are in the tropics with sprawling cities along the coast not far from rural populations. Farmers may be adapting environmentally unsustainable agricultural practices similar to what is being adapted in Keta and Kalpitiya, two coastal regions that are continents apart. Is this level of intensification ecologically sustainable?

Writeshop participants work in groups based on sub-regions. The Blue Nile Group maps

Business NOT as usual

We are all searching for ‘innovation’. It seems to be bandied about in every meeting and in every project proposal. WLE is in the process of designing and facilitating a series of workshops across four focal regions to foster innovation at the regional level.

Photo: Abby Waldorf/WLE

Earth Detectives

Constantly monitoring where and when problems occur allows health professionals to predict potential trouble spots and target their interventions. It is perhaps surprising then, that other challenges to our wellbeing do not always receive such close attention. Take soils for example.

Mark Lynas

“Franken-brinjal” or a new deal for poor Asian farmers?

Any day now, a hundred Bangladeshi smallholder farmers will be planting their annual aubergine crop. But this year this select band will not be planting their usual seeds of the crop; these family farmers, chosen by the country’s agricultural researchers, will be growing a genetically modified (GM) variety.

Credit: Bioversity International/R.Vernooy

Co-management: overcoming the tragedy of the commons

Mongolian herders are maintaining the centuries old practice of moving from season to season to find new grasslands for their livestock, the primary source of their nomadic livelihood. Right now it is time to move to their winter camps and enter the most critical period of the year – the months of extremely cold weather.

Mixed-mosaic agriculter. Photo: NASA Earth Observatory/Jesse Allen

Making the most of technology – in the right place

Working with fellow ecologists and Friends of the Earth’s Big Ideas project, I have been exploring the way in which natural systems function as living organisms. How we might best use this understanding when it comes to producing food? And what role could technology play?

Focus group discussions in Madogashe, Kenya, where stakeholders are engaged in sharing their opinion regarding the pipeline project.
Photo: Sarah Ogalleh/CETRAD

Do you trust your gut instinct?

For big decisions, like buying a car, we may do a bit of research; but most of the time, we simply follow our gut feeling as a guide. But do we want those who make decisions on some of the biggest issues in development to also follow their gut instinct? Decision analysis tools can improve the decision making process.

reinventing workshop

Reinventing the workshop

Imagine a workshop where people come together with the stated aim of producing documents to carry forward a body of work ten years in the making. We suggest there are a number of essential ingredients in this currently unorthodox format.