Michael Peters

Institution: International Centre for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT)

E-mail: m.peters@cgiar.org


Michael Peters, German, obtained his Diplom and Doctorate in Agricultural Sciences from the University of Giessen in Germany, specialising in forage germplasm evaluation. Subsequently he participated in a one-year training course on database management and GIS techniques. He has worked for more than ten years in the area of forage evaluation. His regional experiences include several years of research in West and East Africa and South and Central America. In recent years he is focusing more on participatory approaches of forage germplasm development, the role of forages in Natural Resource Management and GIS extrapolation of obtained data.

Title: "The role of forages in reducing poverty and degradation of natural resources in tropical production systems" Co-authors: P. Horne, W. Stür, C. Wortmann, W. Thorpe, S. Staal, P. Argel, F. Holmann, S. Fujisaka, S.A. Tarawali, R. Schultze-Kraft, A. Schmidt, K. Müller-Sämann, C.E. Lascano & P. Kerridge

Theme: 3E


In the tropics forages are the key to revitalisation of low input farming systems. The use of improved forages in highly productive pastures dramatically reduces the land area needed for animal production, increasing land use efficiency. In high-yielding cut-and-carry systems based on high quality grasses and legumes (herbaceous, tree and shrub) year-round animal productivity is enhanced, manure quality improved and labour requirements reduced. Leguminous forages used as cover crops in plantations, as green manures and improved fallows have reduced the cost of weeding both in terms of cash and environmental damage and lessened the need for nitrogen fertiliser inputs. Moreover, the introduction of such species also offers the possibility of reclaiming severely degraded lands. The appropriate use of multipurpose forages leads to improved human nutrition through more beef and milk and increased income and cash flow through better utilisation of available natural resources. Through these multiple functions of forages the capacity to use additional production resources is enhanced, facilitating further sustainable intensification of production systems and enabling resource-poor farmers to break the vicious cycle of poverty and resource degradation.

These concepts are explored in this paper. Lessons drawn from case studies are presented. Alternatives developed with partners for involving farmers in research and dissemination to ensure environmentally sustainable, equitable and gender-sensitive progress are also discussed.

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