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WorldAgroforestry partner wins $1 million ALCAN Prize

author: 
Communications Unit

Nairobi, January 16, 2008 - The Utthan Centre for Sustainable Development and Poverty Alleviation in India was named the winner of the 2007 Alcan Prize for Sustainable Development.

World Agroforestry Centre Director General Dennis Garrity congratulated the Utthan Centre and its CEO,  Dr. Dina Nath Tewari, for winning the prestigious award. The annual prize includes a $1 million cash award. The centre won the award for pioneering work in reclaiming one million hectares of degraded land for smallholder bio-fuel production in India.

 Lennart Båge

Dr. Dina Nath Tewari (right), President of Utthan Centre, a key WorldAgroforestry partner NGO,  receives the 2007 ALCAN Prize for Sustainable Development from International Business Leaders Forum Managing Director Adrian Hodges (left) and  Mr. Corey Copeland, Senior Vice President, Rio Tinto Alcan.

The winning nomination was submitted to Alcan last year in collaboration with the South Asia Programme of the World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF). According to ICRAF Director General Dennis Garrity, the nomination highlights the Utthan Centre’s use of agroforestry innovations for biofuel production in India.

“This is a richly deserved award that recognizes the Utthan Centre for its efforts to reclaim degraded land and help smallholder farmers,” Garrity says.  “It’s also a testament to the importance of partnership between international and civil society organizations.”

A trustee of the ICRAF board since 2004, Dr Tewari is currently a member of the Planning Commission of the Government of India and chairs major national initiatives on bio-diesel, bamboo and tribal development. He is also a former Director General of the Indian Council for Forest Research and Education and a strong proponent of agroforestry.

Dr. Tewari said that the Utthan Centre demonstrates and promotes agroforestry to help smallholders produce more food and high value forest products as a means of eradicating of poverty and accumulating soil carbon.  The centre is also active in land reclamation through watershed development and implementation of forest management programmes.
Dr. Tewari said the prize money will be invested in expanding his Centre’s agroforestry development activities.

The Alcan Prize recognizes organizations that demonstrate a comprehensive approach to addressing, achieving and advancing economic, environmental and social sustainability. The Prize, which is funded by Canadian industrial giant Alcan, is one of the world’s most significant, privately funded awards.

The prize is managed by The Prince of Wales International Business Leaders Forum (IBLF). Recipients are selected annually by an independent, international panel that considers both past performance as well as evaluating how organizations will continue to contribute to and impact on sustainability through ongoing activities.

Garrity observes that the prize is particularly noteworthy coming in such close proximity to December’s global climate change meetings in Bali.  “Utthan is being honoured for its innovative use of the Jatropha tree as source of biofuel and for generating multiple co-benefits that address the inter-related problems of poverty, land degradation, and climate change,” he says. “The Utthan Centre is singularly deserving of this important international recognition for its service to the poor and to the environment.”

Jatropha Facts

• Jatropha is a genus of approximately 175 shrubs and trees from the family Euphorbiaceae.  The plant originated in South America where it is also used as medicine and for home lighting.

• According to ethno-botanists, Jatropha was introduced to Africa and India by Portuguese sailors in the 16th century.

• Jatropha’s attractive yellow fruits are poisonous, but contain black seeds with an oil content that can reach 40%.

• Jatropha is commonly used as a source of renewable energy, for erosion control and to boost rural incomes — especially for women.
• The Indian government runs many of its vehicles and locomotives on Jatropha-based biodiesel.

• Experts believe that more than 39 million hectares of land in India are suitable for Jatropha production. The Indian Government plans to replace 20% of its conventional diesel production with Jatropha biodiesel in five years.

• Jatropha is drought-resistant and can grow in just about any soil type.  It requires few inputs and can be reproduced from either cuttings or seeds. Neither insects nor livestock attack the plant.

• Jatropha grows quickly, can be harvested in its second year, and will produce seeds for up to 40 years.

• Although Jatropha’s potential is great, production by the rural poor is constrained by a number of important challenges. Key among these are inadequate information and know-how, and a lack of reliable markets.

For more information please visit:
Utthan Centre for Sustainable Development: http://www.sietalld.org/utthanindex.htm
WorldAgroforestry: http://www.worldagroforestrycentre.org/
Alcan Prize: http://www.alcanprizeforsustainability.com/home_en
Useful sites about Jatropha: http://www.jatropha.org; http://www.jatrophaworld.org/

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