Partner Spotlight: World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF)

The World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF) – (www.worldagroforestry.org) is a centre of scientific excellence that harnesses the benefits of trees for people and the environment. Leveraging the world’s largest repository of agroforestry science and information, ICRAF develops knowledge practices, from farmers’ fields to the global sphere, to ensure food security and environmental sustainability.

ICRAF is the only institution that does globally significant agroforestry research in and for all of the developing tropics. Knowledge produced by ICRAF enables governments, development agencies and farmers to utilize the power of trees to make farming and livelihoods more environmentally, socially and economically sustainable at scales.

Driven by its vision of a world where all people have viable livelihoods supported by healthy and productive landscapes, ICRAF’s global team of science, research, development, institutional and resource professionals seek to better combine the science of discovery with the science of delivery. To realize this vision, the Centre focuses on four key interacting themes: By combining more productive trees with more resilient and profitable agricultural systems and a sounder understanding of the health of the soil, land and people that is part of ‘greener’, better governed landscapes, they offer valuable and timely knowledge products and services to the global community as it tackles the major challenges of the Anthropocene. These include dealing with climate change; low soil carbon; widespread forest, tree and soil loss leading to degradation; access to energy; poverty; demographic upheavals and conflict; and securing equitable futures for all with a special focus on women and children.

Farmer using a gasifier stove in Kenya. Photo: Dr. Mary Njenga

Partnerships are fundamental to the centre’s work. Throughout the world, and in addition to its 14 sister CGIAR institutions, ICRAF has over 100 substantive partners with whom it collaborates in long-term projects and programmes. Through its Regional and Country offices, ICRAF builds strong engagement with national governments and other country-based actors – NGOs, CBOs, the private sector and other policy/research/development organizations.

Biochar from gasifier stove being applied for growing of vegetable Kale in Embu, Kenya. Photo: Dr. Mary Njenga

In collaboration with several organizations including wPOWER and GAEEI, ICRAF has spearheaded initiatives on sustainable tree based energy systems such as on-farm tree production for bioenergy including charcoal, firewood and liquid biofuels in Africa and Asia. Studies have also been carried out to develop energy-efficient technologies such as kilns to convert wood to charcoal; stoves that use less fuel, reduce indoor pollution and produce biochar as a by-product to help store carbon in soil; and briquettes made from from organic residues. For example, farmers in Embu and Kwale Counties in Kenya are currently using gasifier stoves, and using the biochar produced for their maize and vegetables. This is a collaborative project supported by Swedish Research Councils VR and FORMAS through KTH Royal Institute of Technology.

Further reading
ICRAF policy brief 31 – Opportunities and challenges of landscape approaches for sustainable charcoal production and use
ICRAF policy brief 28 – Developing sustainable tree-based bioenergy systems in sub-Saharan Africa
ICRAF policy brief 20 – Sustainable energy from trees: adopting an integrated approach to biomass energy
ICRAF working paper 196 – From transition fuel to viable energy source: improving sustainability in the sub-Saharan charcoal sector