A new book details SANREM studies and makes recommendations to significantly increase cacao production in Vietnam by growing the crop under cashew canopies. The book, “Vegetable Agroforestry and Cashew-Cacao Systems in Vietnam,” includes research by a team of scientists from LTRA-5. They sucessfully tested adding cacao, also known as cocoa, to cashew farming systems in Nghia Trung, Vietnam.
Food price spikes in 2008 left the over 1 billion chronically hungry in worse shape than ever while adding to their number. The U.S. government's new global hunger and food security initiative, Feed the Future (FTF), is unique in its approach. Instead of merely providing money in an emergency-like response, FTF will address barriers to food security with two objectives: increase agricultural growth and improve nutrition. After identifying and removing political, financial, and capacity-wise barriers, the program will develop a realistic food security plan for each country. SANREM CRSP and the other CRSPs are in the process of being transferred to the new USAID Bureau of Food Security, which will oversee FTF, and are viewed as integral components of the FTF strategy.
Following Theo Dillaha’s departure as program director at the end of this year, Dr. J Michael Kelly will begin as SANREM’s interim program director effective January 1, 2011.
Kelly was the dean of the College of Natural Resources (now College of Natural Resources and Environment) at Virginia Tech from 2004-2009, and continues to work with the college as dean emeritus. During his time as dean, the number of new students in the college doubled and external research funds increased by over 60 percent.
Michael (Mike) Mulvaney joined the SANREM CRSP Management Entity on March 1 as assistant program director and senior research associate. He received a PhD in agronomy and soils last December from Auburn University and holds a Bachelor's degree in chemistry from the University of Connecticut. Continue reading
A team of SANREM CRSP researchers from LTRA-6 was in Haiti when the devastating earthquake struck the island nation on January 12, 2010. The six Virginia Tech faculty members and one graduate student had left Port-au-Prince less than an hour before the disaster and were driving to the Central Plateau north of the city to begin field work.
Elinor Ostrom, lead principal investigator for SANREM’s Phase III Long-term Research Award 1, has won the 2009 Nobel Prize in economics for her work on how community institutions can prevent conflict. In announcing the award October 12, the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences cited Ostrom “for her analysis of economic governance, especially the commons.”
Ostrom, pictured at right with lead PIs Alex Travis, Corinne Valdivia, Jeff Alwang, and Manuel Reyes, is the first woman to win the Nobel Prize for economics in its 40-year history. Her SANREM CRSP research is related; she is examining how alternative forest management policies and governance regulations in developing countries affect the livelihoods of local forest users and protect the forests. SANREM research shows that government policy reforms such as decentralization do not automatically translate into new property rights for forest users or show clear benefits to the environment.
Ecuador is a country of contrasts: tropical Pacific beaches and Amazon rain forests separated by the majestic Andes mountain range. About the size of Colorado, Ecuador also includes the Galápagos Islands, whose astonishing range of animal and plant species influenced Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution.
Despite rich resources such as oil, a major export, Ecuador has a sizable population living below the poverty line – about 38%, according to the CIA World Factbook. To help those people, many of them subsistence farmers in remote mountain areas, a team of Virginia Tech professors and undergraduate students traveled to Ecuador this year to research how improved agricultural practices can win wider acceptance.
Linking research findings to practices that help communities and the environment is a perennial challenge. Scholars may be viewed skeptically by policymakers and vice versa, says Researcher Delia Catacutan, a social scientist at the World Agroforestry Centre in the Philippines and Giorgio Ruffolo Fellow in Sustainability Science at Harvard University. Catacutan, also an adjunct associate professor at University of the Philippines-Los Baños, has been exploring effective ways of linking knowledge with action. She gave an overview of her findings Feb. 3 in a seminar, “Linking Knowledge with Action: Meeting NRM Challenges through SANREM.”
When Bolivian farm families bring their produce to the sprawling market in Tiraque, husbands help their wives carry in the huge sacks of potatoes that are the main commodity, and the women take over from there.
“Men rule the fields, but women rule the markets,” said Nadezda Amaya, a master’s degree student in the Department of Agricultural and Applied Economics at Virginia Tech. Her analysis of male and female roles in the farming communities of the Andes is part of the SANREM CRSP’s research on gendered access to markets in seven countries.
Gender Equity Specialist Maria Elisa Christie organized a gender and participative methodologies workshop in October 2008 for SANREM researchers from Ecuador, Peru, and Bolivia. The event was hosted by Universidad de la Cordillera and the graduate program in development sciences at Universidad Mayor de San Andrés in La Paz. The facilitator was Susan V. Poats of the non-governmental organization Grupo Randi Randi. An anthropologist and gender expert, Poats specializes in natural resource management and community conservation in the Andean region.