Agroforestry for food security
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CTA. 2004. Agroforestry for food security. Rural Radio Resource Pack 04/3. Wageningen, The Netherlands: CTA.
Permanent link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/10568/57279
Emmanuel Mutamba of the Green Living Movement describes how agroforestry is improving food security and farm income in central Zambia.
Agroforestry for food security Cue: In Zambia?s Central Province, slash and burn, or shifting cultivation, known locally as chitemene, is the traditional system for food production. For some years, government subsidisation of chemical fertilizers encouraged farmers to abandon the practice, but withdrawal of subsidies in the 1990s saw slash and burn farming regain popularity. This has led to severe land degradation in the province, and hunger is the result. The Green Living Movement is an environmental organisation that has been working closely with three remote villages in the province, located in Serenje district. After doing an appraisal of community needs in the year 2000, the movement began introducing agroforestry as a way of improving food security and supplying firewood and livestock feed. Emmanuel Mutamba, one of the project workers, spoke to Daniel Sikazwe about the role of agroforestry in supporting sustainable food production in the area. IN: ?Agroforestry apparently is a new technique.? OUT: ?. so co-operative to the project.? DUR?N 5?38? BACK ANNOUNCEMENT: Emmanuel Mutamba of the Green Living Movement, which is introducing agroforestry techniques to Zambia?s Central Province. Transcript Mutamba Agroforestry apparently is a new technique although we could say an old technique but with a new name - perhaps that?s the best way. Because it entails managing land in a way that it produces for the present generation and for the generations to come. So in the past there were times when people would grow one crop and let the land fallow for some years so that it recovers. And then they would come and plough on the same land. The slash and burn system was that they would cut down the trees this year and then after they have harvested the crop the following year then they would leave the land fallow so that there is some regeneration. And then they would go back after ten years. Now the problem is that over the past few years the populations have increased so the fallow periods have reduced. Sikazwe So then how does the new system differ from the old practice? Mutamba The new system differs in the sense that the species of trees that we are using help the land to recover its fertility in a shorter period. So the fallow period has been shortened. People would be planting the agroforestry trees that would be in the field for maybe two to three years and then they would be able to grow crops again as opposed to times when the fallow period was longer. That?s one benefit. The other one is that in agroforestry you are talking about integrated agriculture where people would get benefits from the crops and benefits from the trees. You are talking about growing multi-purpose trees. For example, you can grow trees that will provide people with timber. You can grow trees that will provide people with fruits. And you can grow trees that actually will provide fodder for the livestock. So you are talking of really a holistic kind of approach to managing the land and the forests. Sikazwe I?ve seen a few commercial farmers embarking upon agroforestry but I?m not sure what the situation is like with the rural poor themselves. How are they organised as a community? Are you dealing with them as individuals? Mutamba No we are not dealing with them as individuals we have organised them into groups. They call them clubs. Some clubs we found them already in existence. The women?s clubs for instance, we found them already organised and some clubs we had to help them organise themselves. Because it becomes easier for them to learn together as a group. And for us as partners it becomes easier to source for external support or to conduct training when they are working as a group. So basically that is what we have done. In each village we have five or more clubs in which people are organised. Sikazwe Let me take you back to the issue of women. I?m sure that when trees are cut it?s the women who suffer the most. What is the response to agroforestry in Serenje? Mutamba I must say that we actually had the best response to this intervention from the women. As you have put it rightly women suffer the most when it comes to problems related to land degradation. When there is no water in the village it is the women who have to walk long distances to fetch water. Firewood, when there are no trees around the village then women have to walk long distances to go and fetch firewood. But our interest has been not necessarily to promote women?s clubs per se. We have been promoting what we call community development clubs. Because we would like women and men to work together and share their experiences because each one of them has something to bring in. Sikazwe You have briefly touched on the issue of benefits but I think we need to elaborate a bit more. What are some of the visible benefits in the community with regard to the practice of agroforestry? Mutamba Well our primary benefit that we are looking at, is to help people improve their household and food security basically because people will be able to practise these sustainable systems. And the other good thing about agroforestry is that it is cheap. There isn?t so much that is expensive in the practice. So people have enough food, they have multi-purpose trees from which they can harvest a number of wood products. And also in the long term they will be conserving the environment and they are also improving their quality of life by preserving the environment. Sikazwe Anything very important that I have not asked about with regard to this project, its management and probably the future and practices? Mutamba I must say we have been very lucky in this project because the first thing we did was to ensure we took on board the traditional leadership. The chiefs in the area we are working have been very very co-operative. I also must mention that at the beginning when we did an assessment you realise that agroforestry did not rank very highly on the priorities of the people. So people had problems like health problems, they needed a clinic for instance. They also needed a good road to their villages. They also needed schools, they needed a bridge. So you find that agroforestry I think it ranked further down on the ladder. So what we did was, we didn?t want to ignore the other interests or the other issues people wanted to deal with. So we did what we call referral services, where we referred some of these concerns to other organisations. So you see that you don?t ignore the other social interests for the people if you want projects like agroforestry to succeed. So we brought in all these other players so that we could solve other social problems. And by so doing people have been so interested and so co-operative to the project. End of track.