Survey continues to find Innovations for Sustainable Ways to Alleviate Hunger

By Alex Tung

It has been almost one year since we started surveying readers about agricultural innovations being used all over the world. We continue to receive interesting information, ideas, and recommendations from farmers, NGOs, research groups, and policymakers from all over the world. Here are some exciting responses fresh off our survey in English and French that we would like to share with you:

We continue to receive interesting information, ideas, and recommendations from farmers, NGOs, research groups, and policymakers from all over the world. (Photo credit: Bernard Pollack)

From The Auria Project, in Australia: “Certain eucalyptus species that have evolved in arid regions physically harvest water from deep below the surface and literally irrigate the ground around them.” This result was confirmed by scientists at Australia’s Commonwealth Scientific and Research Organization (CSIRO). This means that the trees can enhance the performance of plants with which they enjoy symbiotic relationships – while suppressing the growth of plants that could negatively affect them.  This finding has been used to “improve the performance of other native plants and achieve exceptional survival and growth rates in a semi-arid region – on highly impoverished soil.”

Using “companion planting,” researchers at Auria hope to demonstrate that this knowledge can be “capitalized upon to grow food crops such as maize, beans, pumpkins etc as well as industrial hemp, almonds and apricots – Without the need for irrigation, fertilizers or pest control – the methods simply emulate nature, with everything working in balance.”

From our advisory group, Institute for Sustainable Development (ISD) in Ethiopia
: Working in partnership with a United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) project at the Environmental Protection Authority, the ISD is “building a bridge for dialogue between farmers and their local agricultural professionals.” They are creating “a process to open up the listening and learning between farmers and the agricultural professionals – development agents and experts – that work with them so that there is a mutual regard for each other’s knowledge and competences.”

The “collaboration and support between the farmers and local agricultural professionals” has yielded great results.  They include “improved natural resource management, particularly protecting watersheds and treating fields with bunds and halting gullies, which has led to better recharge of the water table, reappearance of springs and streams flowing longer throughout the year. Farmers did shallow hand dug wells so they can get a second crop each year.”

In addition, women farmers are “listened to more seriously,” and “recognized by local agricultural professionals as competent partners to be included in trainings and opportunities for sharing experiences.”

To learn more about the ISD, read Meet the Nourishing the Planet Advisory Group: Sue Edwards

From The Njeremoto Biodiversity Institute in Southern Zimbabwe: “The Project evolving…is demonstrating the Indigenous Shona Knowledge on Grazing and Land Management. The project approach is based on use of the participatory development management model (PDM).”

“Time controlled grazing based on Indigenous Shona Grazing Management Practices combined with high animal impact and herding behavior produces multi-species of healthy, tight plant communities with a good age distribution would support many other life forms,” and “seems to be the desirable productive, ecologically stable and sustainable system to be promoted for the future management of Semi arid or arid grazing lands/rangelands.”

“This innovation intensifies rangelands productivity and stabilizes the ecosystem. It improves sustainable livelihoods and is an adaptation to climate change since it improves the effectiveness of rainfall and increases ground water recharge.”

Watch this video to learn more about the Njeremoto Biodiversity Institute’s work to prevent overgrazing through combining traditional practices with modern agricultural methods.

From the Sanmarg Trust in Mysore, India
: This innovation “re-establishes the water cycle through replenishment of both sub-surface and ground water resource with small water bodies based on the rainfall, catchment and storage area in rural sector.” “When we create adequate smaller water bodies, we can enhance the wetland cultivation from the existing 19% in phases to 100% within a decade, with only surface water utilization.”

“With wetland agriculture, food production can be enhanced substantially… offering more area for tree planting with emphasis on biodiversity.”

The “increase in wetland ratio with dependency only on surface water utilization reduces power (for pumpsets especially) for agriculture. Both sub-surface and ground water resources will improve pretty fast with this method of replenishment.”

“This is revival and restoration of the lost ecological equilibrium in a natural way…Bore wells which had gone dry for several years are yielding water. The water table has increased significantly in all the places where these practices are implemented.”

Finally, from another one of our advisory groups, Ecology Action in Canada: “GROW BIOINTENSIVE® Sustainable Mini-Farming” is a “small-scale agricultural system that nurtures soil, produces high yields, conserves resources and can be used successfully almost by anyone.”

This “Biointensive organic small scale farming” system “uses 67% TO 88% less water,” and increases water holding capacity of the soil quality of soil due to less nutrient loading. “Productivity is increased per time/area, so labor required is reduced. For same time invested, production and income are increased.”

“Our goal is to help this system be known and used locally — on a worldwide scale.”

To learn more about Ecology Action, read Meet the Nourishing the Planet Advisory Group: John Jeavons and Jake Blehm.

Alex Tung is a research intern with the Nourishing the Planet project.

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