The Agroforestry Center for Sustainable Development, Chapingo, Mexico: strategy and programs
The Agroforestry Center for Sustainable Development was established by the Universidad Autonoma Chapingo, Mexico, in 1991 with the expectation of developing itself into a Center of Excellence in Agroforestry education, training, and research in Mexico and other parts of Latin America.
Goal of the Center
The goal of the Center is to promote agroforestry as a holistic land-use system in order to contribute to sustainable development through addressing relevant environmental problems and improving the over-all nutritional, social, and economic well-being of resource-poor farm families in Mexico and other countries of the Latin American and Caribbean region.
Efforts will be made to design agroforestry technologies and policy recommendations to overcome the ecological problems arising from deforestation, degradation of grazing lands, soil erosion, and soil-fertility decline, among others. A wide range of technological options based on agroforestry principles will be made available to arrest the environmental problems resulting from the shortage of fodder, fuelwood and over-exploitation of fishery resources.
The Center will consider the issues of social equity as an important design criterion in technology development. By promoting low-cost, low-input, labor-intensive techniques, the Center intends to serve well the needs and conditions of resource-poor farmers in marginal areas. The Center will give due attention to women’s roles in food systems, by recognizing the importance of their skill, knowledge, and experience in the production, processing, preparation, and preservation of food.
Community development through participatory research will be a distinguishing feature of the Center. Agroforestry embodies a flexible management strategy to deal with complex land-use systems in contrast to rigid monocrop production in a simplified environment.
In designing techniques, the Center will therefore give emphasis to a systematic process of scientists learning from, and understanding, resource-poor farm families, their resources, needs, and problems. The main locus of research and learning will be the resource-poor farm rather than the research station and laboratory. It would be encouraged that the research problems and priorities be identified by the needs and opportunities of the farm families rather than by the professional preferences of the scientists. In brief, the Center’s participatory research would be client-oriented rather than output-oriented.
Because agroforestry is not a single land-use system, but an almost infinite variety of combinations of species and management techniques, agroforestry ant techniques are also highly location specific. Add to this the different social and economic strata, and traditions practiced in different biophysical conditions. In order to successfully promote the improved agroforestry techniques through the Center, a truly interdisciplinary team of experts representing social, economic, political, agronomic and ecological disciplines will be working from the start. Women experts will be integrated into the team to establish comprehensive criteria in technology design and social development.
Graduate program in agroforestry
In order to respond to the present demand and perceived needs for professional education and training in agroforestry, the Centro de Agroforestería para el Desarrollo Sostenible proposes to implement a graduate program. The main purpose is to contribute to higher academic qualification of the land-use professionals from Mexico and others parts of Latin America by enhancing their skills and knowledge so that they can diagnose land-use problems and limitations, and design and implement research projects leading to the development of agroforestry systems and technologies that are suited to local conditions and adoptable by farmers. The salient features of good design of agroforestry technologies such as productivity, sustainability, and adoptability will be a key t head running through the entire course structures.
The focus of the Center will be professional education in agroforestry. However, to complement this main function, training courses of short duration, diploma courses on selected themes, international conferences, regional congresses, seminars, and workshops, as well as farmer training, on important topics will be organized periodically. In order to support our educational program with ´hands on´ experience for the students, strong research programs and development activities will be undertaken. Thus education, research, and development activities of the Center will complement and provide feed-back to each other.
Dr. L. Krishnamurthy
Fundador y Director