Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Small resource changes might help Kenyans escape poverty trap

16.02.2004


Madzuu is a village in Kenya’s western highlands and Lake Victoria basin where the rainfall is abundant, and there is some access to urban markets. And yet about 61 percent of the village population earned less than 50 cents a day in real terms in both 1989 and 2002. Many people there are trapped in chronic poverty from which escape is difficult.


Alice Pell and her Nairobi collaborators, Louis Verchot of the International Centre for Research in Agroforestry (left) and David Mbugua, Cornell Ph.D. Õ03, are studying how small changes in natural resources could have profound effects on the lives of poor villagers. Cornell News Service phto by David BrandCopyright © Cornell University



Alice Pell, professor of animal science at Cornell University, Ithaca, N.Y., is the principal investigator on a five-year, multidisciplinary research effort to study how small changes in natural resources could have profound effects on people’s lives. In Madzuu’s case, restoring the land’s natural productivity could alter the economic situation of the farmers.

Pell reported on the research team’s first year of work today (Feb. 14) at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in Seattle. Her talk, "The Interplay Between Small Farms and Fragile Tropical Ecosystems in Kenya," was part of the "Frontiers in Biocomplexity Science" portion of the "Connections in the Real World" symposium.


In addition to working in the Lake Victoria basin, the researchers are studying a second village, Embu, on the shoulder of Mount Kenya. Both villages have high agricultural potential despite dense populations and small farm size.

Yet there is a big difference between the two villages. In Madzuu, soil degradation is extensive, and more than half the farmers earn less than $205 per capita annually, the Kenyan poverty line. The reason? Madzuu farmers use few soil inputs, such as fertilizers, resulting in loss of rich soil, accelerating the downward, economic spiral, said Pell. "Limited movement out of poverty between 1989 and 2002 in Madzuu suggests the existence of poverty traps," she said. The soils in Madzuu farmland contain just 16.3 grams per kilogram of soil organic carbon and only 1.6 grams per kilogram of nitrogen. By comparison, preliminary research shows that Embu’s farmers commonly use more fertilizers and other inputs to maintain soil quality. Consequently, Embu cropland contains roughly twice as much soil organic carbon (35.6 grams per kilogram) and nitrogen (3.4 grams per kilogram).

The research team also includes Susan Riha, Cornell’s C. L. Pack Research Professor of Forest Soils; Johannes Lehmann, Cornell assistant professor of crop and soils science; and Christopher Barrett, Cornell assistant professor of applied economics and management. Working with the team are scientists from the Kenyan Agricultural Research Institute and the World Agroforestry Centre in Nairobi. The project is funded by the Coupled Natural and Human Systems program of the National Science Foundation’s Biocomplexity initiative.

Blaine P. Friedlander Jr. | Cornell News
Further information:
http://www.news.cornell.edu/releases/Feb04/AAAS.Pell.bpf.html

More articles from Interdisciplinary Research:

nachricht How do muscle and tendon connections last a lifetime? Study in the fruit fly Drosophila
04.04.2019 | Westfälische Wilhelms-Universität Münster

nachricht The Internet of Things: TU Graz researchers increase the dependability of smart systems
18.02.2019 | Technische Universität Graz

All articles from Interdisciplinary Research >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Quantum gas turns supersolid

Researchers led by Francesca Ferlaino from the University of Innsbruck and the Austrian Academy of Sciences report in Physical Review X on the observation of supersolid behavior in dipolar quantum gases of erbium and dysprosium. In the dysprosium gas these properties are unprecedentedly long-lived. This sets the stage for future investigations into the nature of this exotic phase of matter.

Supersolidity is a paradoxical state where the matter is both crystallized and superfluid. Predicted 50 years ago, such a counter-intuitive phase, featuring...

Im Focus: Explosion on Jupiter-sized star 10 times more powerful than ever seen on our sun

A stellar flare 10 times more powerful than anything seen on our sun has burst from an ultracool star almost the same size as Jupiter

  • Coolest and smallest star to produce a superflare found
  • Star is a tenth of the radius of our Sun
  • Researchers led by University of Warwick could only see...

Im Focus: Quantum simulation more stable than expected

A localization phenomenon boosts the accuracy of solving quantum many-body problems with quantum computers which are otherwise challenging for conventional computers. This brings such digital quantum simulation within reach on quantum devices available today.

Quantum computers promise to solve certain computational problems exponentially faster than any classical machine. “A particularly promising application is the...

Im Focus: Largest, fastest array of microscopic 'traffic cops' for optical communications

The technology could revolutionize how information travels through data centers and artificial intelligence networks

Engineers at the University of California, Berkeley have built a new photonic switch that can control the direction of light passing through optical fibers...

Im Focus: A long-distance relationship in femtoseconds

Physicists observe how electron-hole pairs drift apart at ultrafast speed, but still remain strongly bound.

Modern electronics relies on ultrafast charge motion on ever shorter length scales. Physicists from Regensburg and Gothenburg have now succeeded in resolving a...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

Revered mathematicians and computer scientists converge with 200 young researchers in Heidelberg!

17.04.2019 | Event News

First dust conference in the Central Asian part of the earth’s dust belt

15.04.2019 | Event News

Fraunhofer FHR at the IEEE Radar Conference 2019 in Boston, USA

09.04.2019 | Event News

 
Latest News

Marine Skin dives deeper for better monitoring

23.04.2019 | Information Technology

Geomagnetic jerks finally reproduced and explained

23.04.2019 | Earth Sciences

Overlooked molecular machine in cell nucleus may hold key to treating aggressive leukemia

23.04.2019 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>