Tropical and Subtropical Agriculture and Ethnobotany

Prof. dr. ir. Patrick Van Damme

The Laboratory of Tropical and Subtropical Agronomy and Ethnobotany studies the agronomy, ecophysiology and socio-economy of tropical and subtropical agricultural production systems (including agroforestry), and the diversity, use and conservation of (sub)tropical plants.

Since 1992, our research unit has been led by Prof. dr. ir. Patrick Van Damme. The research team further consists of a diverse mix of Belgian researchers, and PhD-students and post-docs from Africa, Southeast Asia and Latin America.

We focus on research with relevance for sustainable and integrated economic, social and environmental-friendly development in (sub-)tropical countries. To that end, we apply a participatory research strategy in which a broad network of Belgian and tropical country governments, (inter)national NGOs, private sector and other rural development actors are consulted and involved.

ethnobotany.jpgSpecific research topics include crop agro-ecophysiology in (semi-)arid areas (Pistacia spp., Prunus spp.), genetic agrobiodiversity studies using molecular markers such as AFLP, SSR and SNP (Annona cherimola, Lens culinaris, Oryza sativa and O. glaberrima, Adansonia digitata), ethnobotany (Namibia, Ecuador, Bolivia, Suriname, Democratic Republic of Congo,…), sustainable intensification of cocoa (Theobroma cacao L.) cultivation systems, agroforestry, and market integration of small-scale farmers in developing countries by value chain analysis (A. cherimola in Latin America, Adansonia digitata and Tamarindus indica in West Africa, Cinnamomum burmannii in Indonesia), but also microfinance and rural development in general.

Prof. Van Damme lectures and provides practical training for Bio-Engineers of the faculty, specializing in Agricultural Sciences and Land and Forest Management. Prof. Van Damme also is a lecturer at the Faculty of Tropical AgriSciences, Czech University of Life Sciences (Prague, Czech Republic).