Center for Regenerative Agriculture and Resilient Systems

Roland Bunch

Roland Bunch in front of a world map

Roland Bunch, PhD is one of the most well-respected leaders in regenerative land management, both in terms of food security and for addressing ecological degradation and climate disruption. He has worked as a consultant in sustainable agricultural development for over 40 NGOs and governments in 50 nations, including Cornell University, the Ford Foundation, OxfamAmerica, Save the Children, CARE, and the governments of Guatemala, Honduras, Swaziland, Laos and Vietnam. He is the author of four books. His second book “Two Ears of Corn, A Guide to People-Centered Agricultural Improvement”, has been published in ten languages and is one of the all-time best-sellers on agricultural development programs in developing nations.

Green Manure book coverIn 1983, Dr. Bunch began investigating the use of plants for regenerating the soil, which he calls “green manure/cover crops.” One of his most recent books,“Restoring the Soil: A Guide for Using Green Manure/Cover Crops to Improve the Food Security of Smallholder Farmers”, synthesizes his extensive field-based research in this area gathered from smallholder farmers around the world.

There is a serious drought in Africa, one in which more than 20 million people from Yemen to Tanzania are at risk of starvation. Surprisingly, although global warming has made rainfall less predictable, lack of of rain is not the cause. In this seminar,(opens in new window) presented at Chico State in 2017, Dr. Bunch states that this drought is being caused primarily by soils that can no longer infiltrate water because they have lost all of their organic matter. Farmers have such a small amount of land that they cannot set aside some of it to lay fallow. Year by year the land has lost its fertility and in wide areas is just eroding away. Dr. Bunch believes Regenerative Agriculture in general, and the use of green manure and multi-species cover crops in particular, is the solution.

He says, “On at least 75% of the developing world's wastelands (basically those that have a pH of at least 4.5 and have not been polluted or salinized), we can have farmers growing crops within one to two years at the national average for most smallholder farmers in sub-Saharan African nations. Within four to six years, they can be producing two or three times the national averages. And all this is being done while farmers make more net profit and produce more food than ever before. “ He bases this belief on the fact that he has already achieved such results working with farmers in a dozen nations in Africa, Asia and Latin America.

At the time of this writing, Bunch is working with cover crops in Tanzania but travels extensively throughout Africa, most recently to Ghana for a field visit related to agroforestry with Farmer Managed Natural Regeneration (FMNR). FMNR has successfully worked with thousands of farmers in Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda and Tanzania and has resulted in 24 million hectares of regenerated land.

Bunch earned his degree in International Agricultural Development from the California State Polytechnic University. He has been honored for his work with nominations for the Global 500 Award, the End the Hunger Prize of the President of the United States, and the World Food Prize.

Read his Case Studies on Regenerative Agriculture (PDF), April 2017, Revised April 2020