Pledge by Sustainable Harvest International
One Billion Trees to Transform One Million FarmsTotal Trees Pledged: 1,000,000,000
Supporting actions: Avoided Deforestation, Nursery Development, Tree Protection through Management, Workforce Development, Environmental Education,
Most of the world's 500 million smallholder farmers are degrading the land and soil through slash-and-burn farming or use of agrochemicals, decreasing biodiversity and contributing significantly to climate change. These practices also contribute to malnutrition and undermine farmers' long-term ability to grow crops. When land becomes too degraded for adequate crop production, farmers continue the slash-and-burn cycle, clearing more forest.
Hunger has been on the rise again since 2015, with the majority of the 821 million hungry living in rural areas where they could be feeding themselves well and earning income for other needs if they received appropriate technical assistance in agroforestry and other regenerative farming practices. With much to gain and little to lose, most jump at the chance to receive technical assistance that gives them the ability to restore the productivity and health of their land.
From 1997 through 2020, Sustainable Harvest International (SHI) has provided 3,000 smallholder farms in Central America with the technical assistance to restore 30,000 acres (12,000 hectares) of degraded land to healthy, productive agro-ecosystems, including the planting of 4 million trees. Our multi-year, individualized approach ensures that farmers who graduate from our program have become comfortable with the new farming practices, new crops, and their inter-relationships. By the time they graduate from our program, families are also reaping the benefits of their new knowledge and passing the knowledge on to neighbors as well as future generations. Increased and diversified farm productivity, decreased spending on external inputs, increased food security, improved diets, and increased farm income for other needs such as healthcare and education are just some of the benefits. These benefits along with the longevity of the program (approximately four years) and how it’s tailored to meet each family’s dreams, are why 91% of program graduates continue to use the practices they learn and continue planting trees for years after graduating from the program and why their children pick up the work as they come of age.
In the face of impending climate catastrophe, cataclysmic biodiversity loss and growing world hunger, SHI is now focused on leveraging our decades of experience to transform a million farms by 2030. Based on the data from our first 24 years, we expect that this Million Farm Transformation will restore 8 million acres of land, achieve food security for 5 million people and plant a billion trees as part of agroforestry systems, tree plantations, orchards, and watershed protection zones.
SHI’s scaling plan to reach this goal takes a three-pronged approach with some expansion of our direct work with farmers as the foundation upon which pilot innovations to increase the program’s ROI are tested and replicating partnerships are built. Successful implementation of this plan would provide the scale necessary to set an example for a paradigm shift for the world’s 500 million smallholder farms and the planting and preservation of still more trees.
By shifting to permanent, more productive farming on a single parcel of land, farms in our program avoid the need to burn more forest each year as they previously did with short-rotation slash-and-burn farming. As part of our multi-year program, families learn to collect tree seeds, establish tree nurseries, plant seedlings and care for the trees as they grow. As farmers progress through our program, they develop a deeper understanding of the natural world and their role in it, as well as their potential role in society as agricultural entrepreneurs and environmental stewards.
SHI’s technical assistance program supports a variety of ecologically appropriate and climate informed agroforestry and other regenerative farming practices, while working with community members to determine which practices will best meet their needs and desires.