More trees mean more produce
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CTA. 1989. More trees mean more produce. Spore 19. CTA, Wageningen, The Netherlands.
Permanent link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/10568/44999
The use of trees in African agriculture and production, Kigali, Rwanda, June 10-16, 1988 This seminar, organized by CTA in collaboration with Terres et Vie, ICRAF (the International Council for Research in Agroforestry), and the GTZ-supported Nyabisin
The use of trees in African agriculture and production, Kigali, Rwanda, June 10-16, 1988 This seminar, organized by CTA in collaboration with Terres et Vie, ICRAF (the International Council for Research in Agroforestry), and the GTZ-supported Nyabisindu agropastoral project, provided the basis for fruitful exchange, both formal and informal, among the 40 participants. Thirty of these came from some 15 African states, as far apart geographically and economically as the Sahelian flatlands and the hills of Rwanda. This broad spectrum of interest and experience that was represented, permitted everyone present to gain a much more cogent over-view of the effects which can be caused by planting agricultural land with trees.Rwanda is, in fact, a pioneer in this method of changing the face of the agricultural landscape, and in-depth visits to local projects provided a good starting-point for the seminar sessions during the course of the week The advantages of tree-planting on agricultural land in Africa are many: it provides wood for heating and industry, fruit for consumption and medicinal use; forage for cattle; and it limits erosion and increase soil fertility. However, every project must be tailor-made to the local conditions, traditions, and needs of the peasant farmers. Local species should be studied for their advantages and disadvantages, and multi-disciplinary studies are necessary in order best to understand these. Progress should not be held up by these constraints, however, as population growth and economic pressures render this an urgent challenge. Research and development institutes must therefore come up with solutions which both maintain the fragile ecological balance and answer economic needs. Research on multipurpose, leguminous, and nitrogen fixing trees is thus a priority. What came out of this seminar was a desire for more coordination among scientists on a national and regional level, and to this end a register of researchers and agroforestry workers, to be regularly updated and widely circulated, was proposed. Better training in terms of general direction and concepts as well as in content was advocated, and a large part of this should take place, it was felt, in the field. Peasant farmers themselves, where practical, should make study trips outside their own areas. Government support and investment must be forthcoming, because mere good will on the part of scientists and agriculturalists alone will not change the face of the earth. Information on planting trees for production and for the rural environment is still lacking. The informal exchanges at a seminar such as the at Kigali in 1988 are every bit as mutually enriching and instructive as the sessions themselves. The fruit of both will be seen in five years'time, when a follow-up gathering is scheduled.