Agriculture and Ecosystems Blog

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


soils podcast_JC_Georgina Smith

Podcast: Restoring an invisible lifeline: soil

The latest episode of the Thrive podcast takes a close look at the ground beneath our feet. Soil, on which terrestrial life depends, is often ignored precisely because it is everywhere and yet invisible. Healthy soils contribute so much to human well-being, from nutritious food to clean water, and yet the soils of more than a fifth of all cropland, pasture, forest and woodland are degraded to some extent.

Tea pickers in Kenya's Tana River Basin. Photo: Georgina Smith/CIAT.

From Trees to Taps

The Nairobi-Tana Water Fund comes at a time when water is more expensive than fuel for the majority in Nairobi; when more valuable topsoil is washed away in Noachian proportions; and when available science predicts radical shifts in climate. There is little scope left for debate and conjecture.

Women working on a farm in India. Photo: Hamish John Appleby/IWMI

Podcast: Andrew Noble on feeding the future

It is no coincidence that we’re launching the Thrive podcast today, World Environment Day. The theme this year is sustainable consumption and production, and that’s exactly what drives the podcast’s first guest: Andrew Noble, Director of the CGIAR Research Program on Water, Land and Ecosystems.

A cluster of trees found in semi-arid regions of Northern Burkina Faso. Photo: Elsie

Groundwater and livelihoods: Alternatives for gender equitable benefits

Agricultural intensification is commonly identified as one way to both address growing food security concerns and improve the income of smallholder farmers. However on a recent trip I took to Northern Ghana, I noticed that agricultural intensification could lead to adverse effects, affecting men and women in ways we perhaps haven’t yet considered.

Soil testing at the source of the Tana. Soil erosion washes valuable top soil where it affects communities downstream. Photo: Georgina Smith/CIAT

Water funds: Getting the science right

What are we to make of the proliferation of water funds around the world? Now there’s a question. Would they still be growing in number if they weren’t delivering tangible impacts? Many interventions lack fundamental scientific principles to support them, so the answer in some cases may well be yes. Which is why it is vital that they get the science right.

People living around the canals in Gujarat, India. Photo: Hamish John Appleby/IWMI

Wishful thinking or the way forward?

When experts in large-scale irrigation systems hear the phrase ‘ecosystem services based approach’, their responses represent an array of contrasting perspectives on what is – or should be – an environmental service perspective and how it can be used. Two researchers react to ‘ecosystem services based approach’.

Women are favoured for plantation tasks such as washing bananas. Photo: Stuart Ling

Malnutrition persists despite higher incomes for women in Laos

Has anyone considered the relationship between the stubbornly high malnutrition in Laos and the increasing workloads of women in agriculture? A recent World Bank report ignored this question, while other projects are assuming that nutrition can be solved by boosting the numbers of trainings and home gardens.

Photo: Chris Potter on Flickr

Water Funds: Priming the corporate pump?

What are we to make of the proliferation of water funds round the world dedicated to maintaining the watersheds that keep rivers flowing, aquifers charged and taps full? Should we embrace the engagement of some of the world’s most famous water guzzlers?