Spotlight series: World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF)

5th June 2014
The term 'agroforestry' was coined in the mid-1970s as part of a research study led by the John Bene of Canada’s International Development Research Centre. The study called for global recognition of the key role trees play on farms and the International Council for Research in Agroforestry (ICRAF), now also known as the World Agroforestry Centre, was created in 1978 to take up this challenge.

World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF) logoThe main focus of the Centre is to promote agroforestry research in developing countries. Through its work ICRAF hopes to reach smallholder farmers in developing countries, but also policymakers and politicians.

The Centre’s mission is, “to generate science-based knowledge about the diverse roles that trees play in agricultural landscapes, and to use its research to advance policies and practices, and their implementation, that benefit the poor and the environment.”

Paul Stapleton is Head of Communications for the Centre. He explained to Eldis why agroforestry is so important to development.

“The world population has now surpassed 7 billion. Demand for food increases as populations grow. Meanwhile, over one billion people continue to endure lives of extreme poverty.”

“Agroforestry is uniquely suited to address the need to grow more food and biomass for fuel while sustainably managing agricultural landscapes for the critical ecosystem services they provide. It can serve as a means of curbing greenhouse gas emissions by slowing forest conversion to farmland and sequestering more carbon in trees on farms.”

ICRAF’s headquarters are in Nairobi, Kenya and the organisation works in six regions: the Americas, West Africa, East and Southern Africa, South Asia, Southeast Asia and East Asia. It aims to build livelihoods by generating knowledge, choice and opportunities; improve landscapes and their sustainability by better managing their complexity and bring agroforestry impacts to a larger scale through policies, innovation and partnerships.

Over the coming year ICRAF hopes to insert agriculture, trees and agroforestry into the operations of all three UN Conventions: Climate Change, Desertification and Biodiversity.

Research spotlight

If you want to get to know ICRAF research better visit their organisation profile. A selection of their publications are listed below.