Fertilizer tree options for farmers
It has been proven that certain trees on farm can boost crop productivity when grown in combination with annual crops. These trees improve the soil’s condition, can offer food (fruit, nuts, vegetables), fodder for animals, and fuel wood. They also help biodiversity conservation by taking harvesting pressure off forest areas.
According to Isaac Betserai Nyoka, the Nodal Leader for World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF)-Sothern Africa, faster adoption of trees on farms will be crucial to mitigating the increasing effects of climate change in Africa
Nyoka was speaking at a plenary session on the second day of the Beating Famine Southern Africa Conference in Lilongwe.
Southern Africa is predominantly dry and has high rainfall variability, yet most smallholder farmers are dependent on rain-fed agriculture. Ninety percent of the people here depend on wood energy for heating and cooking and women who are the primary caregivers in many farming households spend about 1.5 hours a day collecting firewood, said Nyoka.
When thinking of options of integrating fertilizer trees on farms, it is important to offer solutions to the many productivity challenges smallholder farmers face.
There are several options for farmers. They can adopt EverGreen systems using trees such as Faidherbia albida. Besides Faidherbia, there is a large number of indigenous and exotic fodder trees that can be integrated into crop fields, grazing areas, field boundary or along contour bands. Good examples are Sesbania, Gliricidia and Tephrosia.
Nyoka warned, however, that enabling policies and support for farmers with knowledge and skills are needed, in order to incentivize the integration of trees on farms.
Blog by Albert Mwangi
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