About Authors

Axel Schmidt, born in 1967, is an agronomist from the University of Hohenheim, Germany, where he specialised in tropical agriculture (1988-1994). During an apprenticeship in Australia (1990-91), he developed particular interest in tropical forages. Since then, he has specialized in germplasm characterisation, mainly of multi-purpose legumes and their adaptation to different agro-ecological niches in Latin America. Through a close collaboration between the University of Hohenheim and the Centro Internacional de Agricultura Tropical (CIAT), Cali, Colombia, he has spent most of the last eight years conducting field studies in different regions of Colombia. His research focussed on tropical legumes, which are likely to play a significant role in the future in the urgently needed diversification and intensification of smallholder production systems, particularly as legumes can have multiple roles in these farming systems. He sees the integration of multi-purpose plants as a chance to combine increased livestock/crop production with an improved management of the underlying natural resources through improved erosion control, weed suppression, enhanced soil fertility and less application of agrochemicals. Since 2000 he has been based in Managua, Nicaragua, where he joined a CIAT project on participatory multi-purpose forage germplasm selection and adoption in the Central American hillsides. New drought tolerant germplasm options, the linkage of the local knowledge and research capacities of farmers with those of scientific institutions, and the development of a community-based seed production system are now his main focus.