Smallholder farmers are the guardians, as well as the beneficiaries, of a greater diversity of biological species than can be found in protected areas. The farmers' diverse practices are conserving these species for the benefit of future generations. In turn, agricultural biodiversity is a primary way for the poor to cope with difficult biophysical environments and precarious social and political circumstances. The United Nations University Project on People, Land Management, and Environmental Change (PLEC) studies and documents how the accumulated knowledge and experience of smallholders and their diverse practices lead to clear benefits for both biodiversity and society. This book highlights the ways smallholder farmers of East Africa -in Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda -are playing their part in the global agenda for the conservation, sustainable use, and equitable sharing of the benefits of biodiversity It draws on lessons learned from farmers, researchers, extension staff, policymakers, and aid agencies who are actively supporting PLEC demonstration sites in East Africa.
It shows the very real potential of learning from farmers and basing policy on tried and tested ways of managing complex agricultural systems.
Fidelis Kaihura is senior agricultural research officer in Natural Resources Management at Lake Zone Agricultural Research and Development Institute at Ukiriguru, Mwanza, Tanzania. Michael Stocking is professor of Natural Resource Development and dean of the School of Development Studies, University of East Anglia, Norwich, U.K.