Agriculture for Environment
CRS agriculture projects help communities manage resources in environmentally sound ways, adapting to climate change and other shocks.
In many poor areas, growing population, deforestation, extreme weather conditions, and destructive land-use practices have led to soil exhaustion, erosion, and overall environmental degradation. CRS’ agricultural interventions aim at increasing agricultural productivity while protecting the natural environment. Strategies include introducing sustainable practices in soil and water conservation and forest management, drought- or disease-resistant seeds, and improved production technologies.
A sampling of CRS programs in these areas might include:
- Education on the use, management, protection, and productive value of natural resources and agricultural systems
- Adaptation of livelihoods to the negative impacts of climate change through crop diversification and adopting mixed crop-tree-livestock systems, drought- and disease-tolerant species, and similar measures
- Watershed rehabilitation to strengthen ecosystems and buffer natural shocks
- Mitigation of social and political tensions over scarce natural resources, especially water
- Advocacy for structures and policies in support of equitable land and resource tenure
Better agricultural inputs
Providing farmers with improved seeds, fertilizers and tools, postharvest processing equipment, and other agricultural inputs can dramatically increase production. Two examples from CRS’ program activities illustrate.
Great Lakes Cassava Initiative. Cassava is a crucial staple in Africa’s Great Lakes region, but for the past several years two diseases (cassava mosaic disease and cassava brown streak disease) have wiped out most of the crop. The GLCI is a six-country (Burundi, Democratic Republic of Congo, Rwanda, Tanzania, and Uganda) program, funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and based on the earlier success of the USAID-funded Crop Crisis Control project, with the objective of growing, testing, distributing, and marketing disease-free cassava. The project teaches farmers to recognize disease symptoms and take steps to prevent its spread, creates access to new market opportunities, organizes savings-and-loan communities, funds international research, and coordinates with related efforts. The use of high-yield, drought- or disease-resistant crop varieties is a key to increasing agricultural productivity, in the Great Lakes region and throughout the developing world.
The West Africa rice initiative. This initiative focuses primarily on lowland, rainfed rice production. Through this project, over 100,000 poor farmers in African rice-producing countries receive vouchers to enable them to purchase fertilizer from local vendors. Better access to fertilizer and knowledge of how to use it effectively enables farmers to increase rice yields by up to 1 metric ton per hectare.