Unveiling the Honghe Innovation Centre for Mountain Futures

The sunlight struggled to pierce the dusty air. Faint rows of mango and jujube trees and drought-tolerant Calotropis plants lined opposing hillsides. Beside our newly installed data-logging equipment, scorched patches of soil and mangled stalks of corn indicated that swidden agriculture is practised in the region, a method that is less degradative than previously thought, according to World Agroforestry (ICRAF) researchers.

We had arrived at the challenging montane terrain two days before the opening ceremony of the Honghe Innovation Centre for Mountain Futures and its inauguration as an ICRAF research station. For this event, delegates from around the world were expected. Luminaries included Tony Simons, director-general of ICRAF; Ya Lu, deputy magistrate for Honghe County; Jianchu Xu, ICRAF regional coordinator for East and Central Asia; Qingfen Wang, director of the Sino-Africa Joint Research Centre; and Yufang Su, deputy director of the Centre for Mountain Futures.