What is the role of natural resources in rural development? What are the roles of natural resources in addressing sustainable developmental goals? What are the future paths for rural development? Are there any success stories or failures of natural resource based development? A team with researchers and students from our institute of International Forestry and Forest Products joined other teams in Bonn at the Gustav-Stresemann-Institute to discuss these themes as part of the AGEP Developmental Debates.
Fourth September was the first day of the workshop, with the arrival of participants from Africa, but also Asia and Europe, welcome remarks and a welcome coffee to boost up the sugar levels as many participants had travelled from far. Having been energised, we had our first input session on “contribution of forest management to rural development” by Professor Pretzsch. The session tasked the participants to think as several questions were tabled for discussion. Among others, the issues included: “Where to go in forestry in order to contribute to rural development? What is the future of small farms given current scenarios like land grabbing? What future does forestry have in the market economy?”.
That session was followed by another input session on knowledge systems and management in natural resource management by Maxi Domke from our institute. This raised our ideas on the importance of knowledge systems. In fact, it sparked off a debate on scientific knowledge versus traditional knowledge. Having struggled with the two knowledge systems, the consensus was that, both are very vital and the way forward was to integrate the two knowledge systems. As many participants finally came to the same page on this matter, we had to switch onto another session of land use planning. This session highlighted the importance of securing land tenure rights to incentivise developments. This was backed up by several example of success stories from land development sector project GIZ in Africa.
How about the role of horticulture? The second day of the workshop addressed questions of rural development, sustainable development goals in relation to horticulture. Dr. Kunze and her students from the Leibniz University of Hannover explained the importance of horticulture in addressing sustainable development goals was demonstrated by several success stories in different parts of Africa and Asia (Nepal). Besides this, it was important for the presenters to ensure that the participants had a clear understanding of horticulture and its potential for rural development since horticulture seemed to be “a new term”. To ensure this, a quiz in small groups was performed. The result of the quiz demonstrated that the participants got a concrete understanding of horticulture from the presentations. The second day was summed up with another input session by Dr. Dietrich, Leibniz University of Hannover, on the importance of water resources management. The message here was the concept of integrated water resources management as a way forward.
What next? Having had the various input sessions in the past two days, to mark the end of the workshop, we had to reflect and consider the input sessions and translate them into a small working group to derive a way forward. Three small groups were formed, with each group coming up with an idea and had the task of convincing the rest of the groups to take up their concept. The first group had a case of horticulture value chain in Uzbekistan, the second mango agroforestry value chain in West Africa and the third group maize value chain in Benin.
With solidarity in each group and each group convinced with their idea as the way forward, we remained with all the three ideas at table as a way forward.
Generally, the workshop was a perfect and a unique opportunity for us to table, gain, share, our ideas, knowledge, and experiences on this critical theme on natural resource based development. Even though we disagreed on certain ideas, we learned many things and integrated with many students and professionals from different universities and areas of speciality in terms of work. And of course, we took the chance to visit the city center of Bonn.
We would like to thank the professorship of Tropical Forestry, TU Dresden for enabling us to take part in this workshop, Maxi for ensuring that we took the right trains. It was exciting to discuss natural resource based rural development with other dynamic teams. The organising team of the workshop we say big thanks.
Okimat and Asabeneh
MSc. Students Tropical Forestry.