Tag Archives: trees

Tree Diversity On Farms Can Improve Food Security and Nutrition

Mango trees on a farm in Eastern Kenya

Mango trees on a farm in Eastern Kenya

By Susan Onyango and Daisy Ouya

‘Biodiversity for Sustainable Development’  – This is the theme for this year’s International Day for Biological Diversity. The theme relates closely to one of the 17 proposed global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to be promulgated in New York this September: ‘Ending hunger, achieving food security and improved nutrition, and promoting sustainable agriculture.’

How can on-farm biodiversity support this SDG?

“When sets of fruit tree species with different harvest times are cultivated on farms, they can provide year-round products for consumption and sale,” says Katja Kehlenbeck of ICRAF. “We were especially looking at ‘fruit tree portfolios’ that can deliver fruits rich in vitamin C and provitamin A all year round,” she adds.

World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF) has been working in partnership with Shamba Shape Up, a knowledge-based agricultural reality TV-show, to support thousands of farmers across East Africa build their resilience to a changing climate, while boosting their food security, nutrition, and incomes.

Agroforestry — the purposeful integration of useful trees into farming landscapes—is one of the ‘climate-smart agriculture’ practices that farmers are learning through the partnership. Besides providing harvestable goods like fruits, nuts, timber and fodder, trees on farms build soil health and play a part in reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

Read more on how tree diversity can address food and nutritional security:

Avoiding hunger gaps with fruit tree portfolios in Kenya

New report says forests and trees could be major factor in efforts to end global hunger

ICRAF

generates science-based knowledge about the diverse roles that trees play in agricultural landscapes, and to uses this knowledge to advance policies and practices that benefit the poor and the environment.

Searching For That Evergreen Farm With The Shamba Shape Up Make-Over Team

This blog post is a cross-post from CCAFS/CGIAR from series 4, April 2014. It links to a recent discussion on the Shamba Shape Up Facebook page about the importance of planting trees during the rainy season to stop the dangerous and debilitating effects of soil erosion.

Trees are vital to a healthy farm. Planting trees can be an excellent way of creating Evergreen Agriculture within your own shamba. Photo: K. Trautmann

Trees are vital to a healthy farm. Planting trees can be an excellent way of creating Evergreen Agriculture within your own shamba. Photo: K. Trautmann

This week’s instalment of Kenya’s agriculture TV show Shamba Shape Up is set in Embu County, where the hosts, farmers and experts from the Kenya Agriculture Research Institute discussed the importance evergreen farming.

Evergreen, or conservation farming, is a method that has been used in Kenya for generations and is particularly prolific in areas which are very arid. It is the integration of appropriate trees into food crop systems, and is fast emerging in Africa and South Asia, as an approach to increasing smallholder productivity under a more variable climate, and at low marginal costs to smallholder farm families.

The show, which is aired both in English and Swahili on the weekend, has the support of many CGIAR research programs and centres. Programs such as the CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS), International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF) and International Potato Centre (CIP) provide an important source of research and information for SSU, and to the 10 million viewers who tune in each week.

SHAMBA SHAPE UP TEAM DURING A TV SHOOT ON FARMER ANNE'S SHAMBA. PHOTO: S. QUINN (CIP)

SHAMBA SHAPE UP TEAM DURING A TV SHOOT ON FARMER ANNE’S SHAMBA. PHOTO: S. QUINN (CIP)

What Can Trees Do For Farmers?

Planting trees can be an excellent way of creating Evergreen Agriculture within your own shamba. Trees are vital to a healthy farm, yet not enough people see them as a successful method of income, preferring to focus on the more usual crops, such as wheat and maize.

It is important on a farm to build terraces, which helps to stabilise the soil and stop the devastating effects of soil erosion from the flash rains and wind. Planting trees within the terraces gives more stability as the roots of these trees bury down into the soil and hold it in place. The loss of valuable top soil from erosion is a huge problem facing famers all over Africa.

BUILDING TERRACES WHILE PLANTING TREES CAN HELP TO STABILISE THE SOIL AND STOP SOIL EROSION FROM FLASH RAINS AND WIND. PHOTO: HANS-PETER LINIGER

BUILDING TERRACES WHILE PLANTING TREES CAN HELP TO STABILISE THE SOIL AND STOP SOIL EROSION FROM FLASH RAINS AND WIND.
PHOTO: HANS-PETER LINIGER

High value trees such as Calliandra, which are planted in the episode, are not only great for preventing soil erosion, for rejuvenating the soil with its nitrogen fixing content and for providing shade, firewood and timber but they also can be given to animals for fodder. 4kg of fresh Calliandra is said to be the same as 1kg of dried feed – and its much cheaper too!

By planting a variety of crops in the shamba, Swahili for ‘farm’, farmers can make sure that even if the rains cannot be depended on as much as in the past, some, or most, of the crops planted will flourish. By using crop rotation and intercropping, farmers can create a diverse farm. A diverse farm not only means a larger variety of crops for sale, but also takes the pressure off one crop which has the potential to fail.

Watch the episode:

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