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Putting trees on farms fundamental to future agricultural development
Date:2/9/2011

f up to 200 trees per hectare, and show a tripling of yield in the crops growing beneath them. Producing food crops like maize, sorghum, and millets under these agroforests dramatically increases their drought resilience in dry years, because of positive soil moisture regimes, and a better microclimate.

This development is not happening only in Africa. The South Asia Network of Evergreen Agriculture has been launched to advance an evergreen revolution throughout the subcontinent.

Feeding the hungry

Planting trees that provide natural fertilizers on farms with poor soils helps farmers restore fertility and increase yields. Gliricidia bushes fix nitrogen in their roots and act as natural green fertilizer factories, tripling yields of maize on farms in Malawi. The prunings are fed to the animals. The bushes also reduce the risk of crop failure during droughts and prevent waterlogging when it rains too much. The nitrogen-fixing tree Faidherbia increased unfertilized maize yield four times in Zambia. The trees are being grown on over 5 million hectares of crop land in Niger.

Relieving poverty

Domesticating wild fruit trees in the Cameroon has allowed smallholder farmers to increase their earnings five times. Thousands of farmers in Tanzania are planting Allanblackia trees and earning much-needed income by selling the oil-containing seeds to companies to make margarine.

Trees grown on homestead farms, in woodlots and on communal lands are an important source of wood and other products. In humid-zone West African countries, Burundi, Rwanda and Uganda in particular, trees grown in home gardens meet most household needs for fuelwood and timber. In many cash-crop systems, trees are grown for shade and eventually provide wood an example is Grevillea robusta in tea plantations in Kenya. In the Sudan, Acacia senegal, the source of gum arabic, is largely grown in agroforestry systems.

Accumulating carbon


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Contact: Paul Stapleton
p.stapleton@cgiar.org
254-717-718-387
World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF)
Source:Eurekalert

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