Agroforestry Handbooks for Pacific Islands
1. To coordinate the writing, review, and production of eight handbooks (averaging 16 pages each) covering the following Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) and Cooperative Extension Service (CES) agent selected agroforestry topics:
· Sources of How-to Information in Sustainable Tropical Agroforestry
· Multipurpose Trees for Agroforestry in the Pacific Islands
· Identifying Unique Niche Crops
· Integrating Understory Crops with Tree Crops
· Introduction to Integrating Trees into Farm Systems
· Promising Timber Species for Pacific Island Agroforestry Systems
· The Economics of Farm Forestry
· Multipurpose Windbreaks: Design and Species for the Pacific Islands
2. To involve at least five end-user CES, NRCS and agriculture professionals in the review of each handbook prior to printing.
3. To distribute a full set of the eight handbooks in three-ring binders in reproducible form to 15 NRCS and 23 CES offices in the United States-affiliated Pacific Islands, as well as to university and public libraries and other agricultural professionals in the region.
4. To distribute 12 printed copies of each handbook to each NRCS and CES office in the region for use by agents as a reference and for distribution to the public as they see fit.
5. To conduct a follow-up survey of 50 NRCS and CES agents three and nine months after distribution, to assess the effectiveness of distribution and the benefits of the handbooks;
6. To publish the handbooks on the World Wide Web for free downloading in pdf format for at least a two-year period after distribution of the handbook sets.
The protection, planting, and integration of trees in agricultural systems is key to sustainable agriculture in the Pacific Islands. Agroforestry can serve as an important, locally achievable, and cost-effective step in stimulating sustainable development and healthy rural enterprises. In the American-affiliated Pacific, Cooperative Extension Service (CES) and Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) agents are increasingly asked by producers to provide information and advice on agroforestry. However, there is a recognized deficiency in practical information available for Pacific Island agroforestry. This project helps fill this need by creating an efficient means for personnel to increase their understanding of and proficiency in tropical agroforestry on a practical level. It also creates an efficient means for personnel to share agroforestry information with producers.
Agroforestry Handbooks for Pacific Islands comprises eight practical handbooks (average 16 pages each) covering high-priority topics for Pacific Islands (see objective 1-7 above).
End-user CES and NRCS personnel have been involved with this project from its inception, and continue to be involved evaluating the handbooks during development. The topics and format for this project were determined through direct interviews and surveys of Pacific Island CES and NRCS agents. During development of each handbook, five reviewers preview each handbook and give feedback as to their applicability, readability, accuracy, and usefulness. To date, four of the eight handbooks have been written, illustrated, and fully reviewed. Each has been well-received by reviewing CES and NRCS agents, and by producers and other professionals.
After final printing in Spring 2000, the handbooks will be disseminated to all Pacific Island CES and NRCS offices, to be reproduced freely in future years for educational purposes. The handbooks will also be made available in electronic form for downloading from the Internet at www.agroforestry.net.
Potential Benefits or Impacts on Agriculture
In the Pacific Islands, interest in agroforestry is increasing. Producers are realizing the benefits of integrating trees into agricultural systems. These benefits can include diversified commercial and farm products, reduced inputs and purchases, and protection from wind and erosion. Agroforestry can also benefit communities by stimulating rural economic development and reversing certain environmental problems.
Agroforestry Handbooks for Pacific Islands provide practical, concise, user-friendly, locally appropriate information. Agents gain an effective means to learn more about the many ways to integrate trees into productive systems. Agents are also able to share this information with producers efficiently.
Impacts on Agricultural Professionals & Reactions from Farmers
To date, twenty-one agricultural professionals have been involved in reviewing pre-release versions of the handbooks. In general, there is positive feedback about the quality and usefulness of the information presented. Exerpts from reviews by agricultural professionals and farmers include:
This is a wonderful publication. Very informative, easy to read, technically proficient. It was a joy to read. I think it is written at the appropriate level and that farmers should be able to follow
it. It is an excellent publication that will be useful to farmers doing or considering forestry.
Richard Bowen, University of Hawaii, Manoa
The publication very eloquently makes a case for reintroducing and emphasizing trees in our island agriculture. I think that you all have done a wonderful job... I hope to see the final product in the near future. Keep up the good work.
Bill Raynor, The Nature Conservancy, Micronesia
Well thought out, and clearly introduces these sustainable farm strategies. Very well put together introduction on integrating trees into Pacific farm systems. I would love to have a copy when it is done.
Jan Wolff, farmer, Hawaii
Overall, very motivating and informative.
Colin Steele, ASCC/AHNR Forestry, American Samoa
Nice summary of ways to integrate trees into cropping systems. It will give farmers ideas and encourage more tree/crop integration. The examples of systems that are now used by farmers in a variety of environments is particularly useful.
Karl Dalla Rosa, Forest Stewardship, Hawaii
It is well done and I look forward to getting copies to use in my extension activities.
J.B. Friday, Agroforestry Specialist, CES, Hawaii
The tables are very good and the descriptions of multi-species agroforestry in current use in various Pacific Islands are especially useful.
Peter Van Dyke, Ethnobotanical Gardens, Hawaii
I have reviewed the draft and found it very well written.
Bob Wescom, NRCS, Guam
The species table with the different attributes is excellent and will be used extensively I am sure. The abundance of diagrams showing key concepts are also excellent. Overall, I think this is an excellent publication.
Bruce Wight, National Agroforestry Center, Nebraska
Future Recommendations or New Hypotheses
The project is running smoothly and overall the project design has been effective. Increased e-mail and Web access in the region is helping to disseminate the information and solicit feedback, much more than originally proposed. These channels should continue to be emphasized in the future.
The Project Coordinators have found that expert authors and contributors should be compensated. This applies to professionals who are not able to participate as part of their salaried positions, or those (such as producers) who do not receive salaries, and who therefore must do the work in their free time. For future projects payment for authors and contributors should be budgeted to ensure that they will be able to participate fully without undue burden.
Work on this project has also pointed to another unmet need for agroforestry information. Extension agent reviewers were pleased with the species lists and charts included in some of the handbooks. However, many felt that the charts are only a beginning in providing the local species information that they need. Useful information on agroforestry species for the region is scarce.
To address this information gap, the Project Coordinators are seeking funding to produce User Guides (four- to eight-page practitioner-oriented fact sheets) for sixty outstanding species that are used in traditional Pacific Island agroforestry systems. The guides will provide practitioner-oriented information on these species, including information on propagation, environmental requirements, farm uses, and commercial products. The guides are designed to provide extensive species information to supplement the systems and practice information in the handbooks.
This summary was prepared by the project coordinator for the 2000 reporting cycle.