Productivity higher in species mixtures on tropical plantations

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At the La Selva Biological Station in Costa Rica, some species demonstrated signficantly faster growth in mixtures than as monocultures. For instance, Jacaranda copaia, Vochysia guatemalensis and Calophyllum brasiliense produced 21% more merchantable volume as a mixture than a sole monoculture of J. copaia, the fastest growing of the three species. Similarly, Dipteryx panamensis, Virola koschnyi and Terminalia amazonia mixtures demonstrated growth […]

Local varieties and high yielding cultivars co-exist in traditional farming systems

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In situ conservation is an important strategy to maintain traditional and locally adapted varieties, particularly in their centers of domestication. Local farmers in different regions have demonstrated that landraces can coexist with high yielding varieties, particulary in highly heterogenous environments and cultures with local preferences for diversity. Particularly in centers of crop domestication and diversity, […]

Farmer to Farmer Networks Facilitate the Spread of Green Manure

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In Nicaragua, the spread of simple technologies through farmer to farmer networks such as the campesino a campesino movement have facilitated the recovery of degraded land. In the San Juan Watershed, farmers have adopted cover cropping with velvetbean.  This has reduced utilization of chemical fertilizers by nearly 80% (from 1,900 kg/ha to only 400 kg/ha), while increasing […]

Cover Crops in Hillside Agriculture: Farmer Innovation with Mucuna

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Cover crops have received considerable attention as a approach in increasing productivity and sustainability in agricultural systems in the developing world. The velvetbean (Mucuna pruriens) is particularly important amongst cover crops because it is widely planted, reasonably tolerant to a number of stresses, prolific in its leaf litter, and even used as a minor crop, despite […]

Increasing Maize Yields with Mucuna Green Manures

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Hundreds of farmers in the north of Honduras are applying velvetbean (Mucuna pruriens) as a source of organic fertilizer.  Application of this method in maize fields has increased crop yields to 3,000kg/ha, more than double the national average. They have also resulted in erosion control and weed suppression, while reducing the costs of land preparation. […]

Community Seed Banks and Local Markets Benefit Rural Women

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Poverty and social disintegration are compounded by environmental degradation on the Northern Coast of Nicaragua.  This project, supported by MADRE, promotes organic farming, sustainable livestock-management and establishment of seed banks, through which women cultivate, save, and share local, organic seeds from one growing season to the next. The project also organizes local farmers’ markets where […]

Vulnerability of Smallholder Agriculture in Calakmul, Mexico.

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In Calakmul, Mexico, households of subsistence oriented agriculture were found to be more resilient following climate shocks than commercially oriented agricultural households. Following Hurricane Isidore in 2002, subsistence oriented households invested in greater household labor an an early sowing period for staple crops, resulting in higher maize yields. Commercially oriented agricultural households however delayed planting […]

Traditional Knowledge and Seeds

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Indigenous Kuna women in Panama are recovering traditional indigenous knowledge of biodiversity and securing agricultural seeds in danger of extinction by reviving traditional seed stocks and making them available to local farmers. MADRE supports ongoing community workshops that enable Indigenous Kuna women in Panama to recover traditional Indigenous knowledge of biodiversity and secure agricultural seeds […]