The Naturally African Platform
The Naturally African Platform is a forum that links research, information and policy geared towards promoting opportunities for small-scale African producers. The forum provides leverage for small-scale producers, processors, marketers, exporters and regulators to work together and improve their livelihoods. The platform gives priority to business development by creating new market opportunities, ensuring equitable returns to producers, promoting networking opportunities and developing international standards.
The Novella Africa project
Through a public-private partnership between the Centre and Unilever, the potential for sustainably harvesting edible oil from the seeds of an indigenous Allanblackia tree on a commercial scale are being investigated. The project is providing technical services on several aspects of Allanblackia conservation, cultivation and production to help local communities, small-scale businesses, research institutions and governments to produce the highest quality product.
The Inaforesta group is increasing scientific, technical and public understanding of the dynamic relationships between cocoa, companion trees and forest across the world. Through creation of a repository of available relevant information and supporting networking between research groups, the aim is to promote better decision-making and increase the goods and services provided to the household, the environment and society by companion trees of cocoa.
Medicinal Trees project
Herbal medicines are becoming more widely accepted by many authorities as viable treatment for various ailments. This means higher demand for medicinal plant products. A large number of these plants are trees and shrubs, typically collected from natural forests. The unsustainable harvesting methods have occasioned the rapid decline of the plant resources.
ICRAF is spearheading efforts to conserve and cultivate medicinal trees in Africa with a broad range of partners. There is on-going research in morphological and molecular characterization, propagation techniques and markets surveys on a number of key medicinal tree species such as Warburgia ugandensis, Prunus africana, and Pausinystalia johimbe.
The key issues being addressed include the socioeconomic factors that influence the decisions by farmers to cultivate or conserve medicinal plants and the characteristics of the medicinal sub-sector in Kenya and the potential interventions that can be used to improve this sector?
The VECEA project
Vegetation and Climate Change in Eastern Africa (VECEA) project has been developing 'potential natural vegetation maps' for East Africa.These maps will help farmers to identify the best indigenous trees to grow on farms, and where they should look for seeds and tree seedlings. The project is implememnted in partnership with the Danish Centre for Forest and Landscape Planning.
Fruit consumption in Eastern Africa is far below the recommended minimum intake per day. This is due to lack of awareness on the nutritional value of fruits, poverty, lack of well adapted improved fruit tree varieties and poor dissemination of quality planting material, low on-farm fruit tree productivity caused by poor farming practices, poorly organized marketing pathways, and the seasonality of fruits that results in many periods of the year when there is none available.
The main objectives of the project include:
- Improving and maintaining planting material appropriate for cultivation by smallholders.
- Delivering high quality planting material and best practice for farm management to farmers.
- Improving market value chains for producers.
- Increasing fruit consumption and enhancing nutritional benefits for consumers.
Fruit-Africa is implemented in four countries including Cameroon, Kenya, Malawi and Mali, and focuses on a number of priority fruit species such as Mangifera indica, Persea americana, Citrus species, Carica papaya, Passiflora edulis, Macadamia integrifolia and some indigenous species such as Adansonia digitata, Ziziphus mauritiana and Balanites aegyptiaca.
Potential bio-fuel species
Biofuels are liquid fuels derived from plant materials.Biofuel species have great potential for improving household income amongst the rural poor of the developing world. In this area, ICRAF is looking into the possibility of working with small-scale farmers to diversify their products. The organization is concentrating on wood fuels for charcoal and inedible seed oil for liquid biofuel.