Benefits from trees regreen land and livelihoods

Tigray region, Ethiopia. One of the sites of the Regreening Africa project. Photo: World Agroforestry/Gilberte Koffi

Smallholders in Ethiopia are set to benefit from development of tree value-chains.

Wood-fuel, round wood, livestock fodder, honey and medicinal plants obtained from tree resources contributed up to 12.9% of Ethiopia’s GDP in 2012 (UNEP 2016). Millions of Ethiopia’s large population rely on tree products to support their livelihoods and complement agricultural production.

There are concerns that heavy reliance on trees without regeneration can lead to environmental degradation. The Regreening Africa project is therefore undertaking tree value chain development to ensure smallholder farmers benefit commercially from trees and in-turn re-invest in regreening their landscapes.

This approach is expected to improve the wellbeing of the communities by generating more household income and increase profitability through better engagement with other actors along the tree value-chains at local and global scale.

Efforts to promote the approach started with a capacity-building workshop for development workers, organised by Catholic Relief Services (CRS), World Vision Ethiopia (WVE) and World Agroforestry (ICRAF), from 10–11 June 2019 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.  Twenty-two project staff drawn from implementing partner organizations were trained.

Trainers Sammy Carsan from ICRAF HQ in Kenya, Muluken Demissie from WVE, and Hagazi Niguse from ICRAF Ethiopia covered the following topics: value chain and marketing concepts, mapping of tree value-chain actors and how to develop community tree enterprise plans.

The findings of the priority value chains identified across Tigray, Amhara, Oromia and SNNP regions of Ethiopia were presented by Carsan. He highlighted the opportunities, challenges and recommendations on developing the value chains. Subsequently, the value chains were screened in a group discussion to select the most suitable tree product for enterprises development.

The results of the screening outlined fodder, honey and poles as products for immediate implementation in their project areas, given that other chains such as charcoal required policy changes before unlocking equitable benefits. Some of tree species associated with these products were Cordiaafricana(‘awhi’), Eucalyptus spp (‘barhir zaf’), Olea europea (olive), Ziziphus spina-christi (jujube), Ficus spp (fig), Rhamnus prinoides (‘gesho’), Opuntia ficus-indica (prickly pear), Diospyros mespliformis (jackalberry), Faidherbia albida(white acacia) and Acacia spp.

Products, actors and interraction among actors generated by the FMNR group. Photo: CRS Ethiopia/ Ababy

‘Selected enterprises must be profitable otherwise it’s not worth investing’, said Demissie, value-chain expert at World Vision, Ethiopia.

Which is why it’s important to build capacity in marketing and in mapping chain influencers. With this knowledge, the next step is developing a community enterprise plan. Being a‘living document’, a plan is prepared in a way that allows changes, always being updated, clearly outlining the product marketing strategy, its operational plan, who to involve in managing the enterprise, how to ensure sustainable harvesting, contribution of the enterprise to social development, potential risks and mitigation measures and profit calculation and utilization plan.

Imparting this knowledge enables project staff to help support enterprises overcome challenges which smallholders struggle with such as: low income from tree products owing to weak or no marketing, exploitation by brokers, and low quality of the products. Also, mapping key value-chain actors is expected to aid in linking the producers directly to markets and service providers for higher prices and better access to credit.

As a way forward, the trainees were tasked to map all the stakeholders, assess challenges and information needs, then develop community enterprise plan for their prioritized value chain. To address barriers that could prevent farmers from maximizing benefits derived from trees the following was recommended: building suitable partnerships, empowering farmers on tree management strategies and facilitating access to quality planting materials for better quality and quantity of tree products.


Read the UNEP report

United Nations Environment Programme. 2016. The contribution of forests to national income in Ethiopia and linkages with REDD+. Nairobi, Kenya: United Nations Environment Programme.


About Regreening Africa

Regreening Africa is an ambitious five-year project that seeks to reverse land degradation among 500,000 households, and across 1 million hectares in eight countries in Sub-Saharan Africa. By incorporating trees into croplands, communal lands and pastoral areas, regreening efforts make it possible to reclaim Africa’s degraded landscapes.

This story was produced with the financial support of the European Union. Its contents are the sole responsibility of Regreening Africa and do not necessarily reflect the views of the European Union.


World Agroforestry (ICRAF) is a centre of scientific and development excellence that harnesses the benefits of trees for people and the environment. Knowledge produced by ICRAF enables governments, development agencies and farmers to utilize the power of trees to make farming and livelihoods more environmentally, socially and economically sustainable at multiple scales. ICRAF is one of the 15 members of the CGIAR, a global research partnership for a food-secure future. We thank all donors who support research in development through their contributions to the CGIAR Fund.'

Grace Koech

Grace Koech is an assistant researcher at World Agroforestry’s Eastern and Southern Africa Region. She has extensive experience in research, projects implementation, project management, biodiversity management and value chain development. She is also an effective communicator, able to generate targeted communication materials. She holds a Master of Science degree in biological science and Bachelor of Science degree in Biotechnology.

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