Using agroforestry and forestry management to mitigate and adapt to climate change in Cassou area, Burkina Faso
Cassou forest, located in the south of Burkina Faso towards the border with Ghana, is endowed with indigenous tree species. This is one of the last remaining dry forests in the country. The population around the forest was estimated to be 94,160 in 2011. 75 to 80 percent of the fuel wood consumed 150 kilometres away in the country’s capital city, Ouagadougou, comes from various community-managed forests including Cassou. Although tree harvesting is controlled, the forest has not been spared from degradation. Population grew from 20 inhabitants per km2 in 1990 to 34 in 2013, making it increasingly difficult for the local community to enjoy the forest resources. Over the years, parts of the forest have been cleared to open up more land for farming and settlement.
Vitellaria paradoxa, the Shea tree also known as Karite, and Parkia biglobosa, locally known as Néré, are the two main species among 78 found in the 30,000-hectare Cassou forest. Shea ranks high amongst Burkina Faso’s export products coming fifth after gold, cotton, cashew nut and sesame.
Trees on farms
Diasso Inousa is one of about 263 smallholder farmers from Cassou village who are part of an initiative to restore local landscape through improved agroforestry and forestry management and tree planting. He has about 500 Shea and 150 Néré trees on his ten-hectare farm. He also keeps some donkeys, goats, sheep and chickens, and grows sorghum, maize, sesame and mangoes mainly for subsistence.“In a good year I earn 100,000 CFA francs from Shea. I use the money to buy livestock and pesticides for my farm. From the project, I have learned to manage my trees better and expect higher yield,” said Diasso. “I am now growing cashew trees to supplement my income as they have a shorter maturity period. I will continue to plant both Shea and Néré trees. I prefer to maintain my trees and not cut down any so that I can harvest the fruit for years to come. My son will also harvest the fruit.”
The Biocarbon and Rural Development (BIODEV) project, led by the World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF), and implemented in partnership with the Centre for International Forestry Research (CIFOR), the University of Helsinki, the University of Finland and the Burkina Faso Institute for Environment Research (INERA), is working to develop mitigation and adaptation strategies to enable the communities cope with changing climate patterns. This is being done through integrated sustainable agroforestry and forestry management practices.
Funded by the Government of Finland, the project will see 500,000 trees planted in and around the Cassou forest in collaboration with the local communities.
Value in the Shea and Néré
According to a study on the Vitellaria paradoxa and the Parkia biglobosa value chains conducted by partners of the BIODEV project, earnings from products derived from Shea and Néré amount to 536,000 CFA francs and 3,779,976 CFA francs respectively per annum in Cassou alone.
“The local community selected the Shea and Néré trees as priority species for planting. They recognize the value of these trees not only for economic gain but also for food security,” said Pascaline Coulibaly of INERA. “Every household around the Cassou depends on Shea for both domestic use and for income. Sumbala, a condiment that is rich in proteins and a variety of dietary minerals, made from seeds of the Néré tree, is commonly used in cooking,” she added.
Rural resource centres
The BIODEV project is working with the local community to enhance their knowledge in improved agroforestry and agromomy practices through the concept of rural resource centres. These centres have been established in four pilot villages including Cassou. Farmers grow a variety of seedlings in the tree nurseries located at the rural resource centres. Water is available from a borehole on site.
“Alongside the Shea and Néré, the community is planting tamarind, jubube, Senegal Mahogany, cashew and baobab seedlings as well as the Moringa that has both nutritional and medicinal value,” said Jerome Tondoh the BIODEV project coordinator in Burkina Faso. “These trees will be planted in degraded parts of the Cassou forest and on individual farms owned by the local community. We use remote sensing to identify the sections of the forest that need rehabilitation.”
Within these nurseries, women have been allocated small plots of land to grow vegetables such as okra, eggplant, onions and cow peas for sale in the local market.
Although Diasso is not making a lot of money from Shea presently, he has the potential to increase his earnings in the long-term from a larger acreage of trees.
“In the last planting season we planted more than 20,000 seedlings of grafted and non-grafted fruit tree species, baobab, tamarind, jujube, Shea and Néré. The grafted plants mature within one to six years, in contrast to non-grafted plants that mature on average in about 10 to 15 years. Even if benefits of the project will be long-term, there are opportunities for the community to engage in carbon markets in the meantime,” added Catherine Dembele.
In the long term, rural villages and households in Cassou will benefit from improved access to carbon finance, as well as improved agroforestry and agricultural innovations that lend themselves to climate change adaptation and mitigation. Other positive outcomes include higher quality leadership and management skills, as well as enhanced capacity for adaptation to climate change.
Click here for more on the BIODEV project.