Friday, August 28, 2009

African farmers encouraged to plant trees to boost agriculture

David Gibbs in Farmers in Africa are being encouraged to plant a particular species of acacia tree that boasts a wide array of useful traits - including helping to stave off climate change. Around 800 scientists meeting in Nairobi for the second World Congress of Agroforestry this week said that the tree, known as a Mgunga in Swahili, had beneficial properties that made it almost unique.

As a nitrogen fixer the tree provides a free, organic source of fertiliser while offering fodder for livestock, wood for construction and fuel and windbreaks and erosion control. The Mgunga is also unusually well adapted to thrive in soils across a wide range of African climates, from sub-Saharan to the humid tropics.

Persuading farmers of the advantage of tree planting would also go some way towards offsetting the damage being done through deforestation elsewhere on the continent. "The future of trees is on farms," said Dennis Garrity, director general of the World Agroforestry Centre, or ICRAF…..

An acacia tree, from the USGS

No comments: