Terraces, Tenure and Tea

After the interesting and inspiring first day at Tropentag 2017, people dragged themselves out of their beds to the AULA at the University of Bonn for today's morning poster session about land use and land use changes. Andreas Brueckert, head of the department of Organic Plant Production at the University of Kassel, guided us charmingly through the jungle of posters. Personal eye- and ear-catchers for me were the presentations on how the future of tea in Malawi depends on the changing climate, tenure influences land conservation, and sustainable land management works in the fragile political context of Northern Afghanistan.

As the presenter did not show up, Andreas, who was well-prepared quickly took over and concisely explained the study. He spiced it up with facts he already knew from his own research, like one major obstacle for planting trees in the socio-ecological context is the change in ownership. The one who plants the tree automatically owns it. Therefore, land tenure hinders the implementation of land conservation methods, slowing afforestation in communal land.

Christian, demonstrated another threat, not to trees but to tea. During an intensive modelling study he and his colleagues investigated the impact of climate change to tea production in Malawi. Whereas just few areas can sustain their production with incremental adaptation, large areas are at risk. As tea is an important crop for agriculture in Malawi, this outcome poses a big challenge for both farmers and researchers, as resilient varieties are needed.


Last but not least, a poster which gained my attention. Tiphaine worked together with Pia, one of our Student Reporters, on sustainable land management. According to Tiphaine more than the half of the farmers participating in her study were open for further measures to sustainably manage land but only when under the continuous guidance and support by scholars and institutions. Practices gaining a lot of interest among the farmers were terraces, orchards and afforestation. Whereas grazing plans, hedgerows and pasture rehab were not desired by the farmers. However, taking into account the whole scope of challenges of local farmers is very important, as actual practical agricultural work just plays a minor role in fragile contexts.

In my opinion, these three presentations show how interlinked research and its implementation is with the local farmers. Close collaboration is needed in times of threats and challenges in order to move towards a sustainable future agriculture.


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