Sustaining life with trees

moringa_Forest and Kim Starr

Moringa tree. Photo: Forest and Kim Starr / FlickR

Tree foods in Africa “can mean the difference between life and death,” says an article on the website of the UK Food Commission. Trees can sustain families during the dry season and in times of food shortage.

Trees such as mango, baobab and shea are well-adapted to local conditions. They often provide high levels of essential vitamins and minerals to supplement staple grains and carbohydrates like millet. This is certainly the case for the leaves of the Moringa tree (Moringa oleifera), which are high in beta-carotene and protein and contain more vitamin C than oranges, more calcium than bananas and more iron than spinach.

When food stores run out or when rains fail, the fruits and leaves of local trees provide a safety net. Trees are also valuable sources of fuel wood, medicine and fertilizers in addition to helping protect soils and farmland from desertification.

The UK charity, TREE AID, is working to unlock the potential of trees to increase the self-reliance of communities and improve their environment, says the article. The charity has projects in Burkina Faso, Mali, Ghana and Ethiopia, aimed at providing training in tree management, planting and growing. In particular, TREE AID works with women to make tree foods a “local, long term and sustainable tool to reduce hunger and malnutrition”.

Read the full story: Delicious Tree Foods in Africa

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Kate Langford

Kate Langford is a consultant writer with close to 20 years’ experience in communicating natural resource, environmental and land management issues for various government and non-government organizations. She previously worked as Communications Specialist for the World Agroforestry Centre in Kenya and has worked in Indonesia, Laos, Vietnam and Australia. She holds a Bachelor of Science and a Graduate Diploma in Scientific Communication.

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