Domesticating and cultivating fruit trees
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CTA. 2007. Domesticating and cultivating fruit trees. Rural Radio Resource Pack 07/5. Wageningen, The Netherlands: CTA.
Permanent link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/10568/57465
Growing the fruits in your own homestead.
Domesticating and cultivating fruit trees Cue: You would think that if something is special it is safe. But with indigenous or local fruit trees that is not the case. Trees that have been used and enjoyed by our people for generations are at risk. Some are dying out. Ferdinand Mushinge is the technical officer for Southern Africa Development Community, SADC. He encourages us to identify our favorites and to domesticate these wild trees by raising on our farms. A collection of fruit tree varieties ? and all their characteristics ? is a gene bank where the diversity is preserved. As he explained to Chris Kakunta, the trees on your land need to be nurtured just as tenderly as any other crop, or foreign, exotic trees. If not, then they will not thrive and the genetic treasure they hold could be lost forever. IN: ?We have been involved? OUT: ? they will have a regular harvest.? DUR?N: 4?21? BACK ANNOUNCEMENT: The things you will need to get the best from your domesticated fruit trees were explained to Chris Kakunta by Ferdinand Mushinge, the technical officer for Southern Africa Development Community, SADC. The interview comes from a resource pack produced by CTA. Transcript Mushinge We have been involved in indigenous fruit trees because some were being heavily harvested for firewood. So genetic erosion was slowly creeping in. Future generation might not have such fruits in the future. So far I can say so good, these trees can be domesticated. That is what is initially required is, farmers can set up what we call community seed banks. The seed can be collected, processed and then planted out in what we call small nurseries and then re-grown in strategic areas. But one thing you should know when you talk about domestication. The trees should be grown in their natural ecological sites. Kakunta When you talk of ecological sites what exactly do you mean? Mushinge What I am trying to say when I say ecological sites, tree species, can only establish properly, they only flower and fruit properly in particular geographical areas which are adapted to certain climatic conditions which are conducive for them to flower and fruit. Kakunta If the farmers have to choose an indigenous tree which they can domesticate, what factors do they have to follow? Mushinge The factors which farmers have to follow if they have to domesticate a particular indigenous fruit tree is one the climatic factor, two the rainfall pattern, three the species of that wild fruit tree. Soil conditions are also important. For example I will give you a very common fruit tree which is very vital in agriculture, you will find it commonly in the markets but unfortunately it is slowly phasing out, you find that a lot of the trees have been cut. The example I am talking about is Uapaca Kirkiana which is commonly known as masuku. Very nice, very tasty but can be successfully grown. Kakunta Wonderful, so what about in terms of the period under which the farmer can grow the tree and be able to get the fruits, don?t you think it matters as well? Mushinge That is a very important point. If you talk about such trees like mango which is exotic, mango normally will flower and fruit after 3 to 4 years. And from there one aspect you have to consider is biennial bearing. Sometimes the fruit might not be too well because of maybe climatic factors, if the rainfall has not dropped very well the fruit might not flower and fruit very well. But a point in fact is if it is properly cultivated, that is such factors like proper fertilisation in fact even irrigate in terms of scarce rainfall periods you can even put in some water. As a matter of fact when you plant out these trees like the masuku you only need to establish it in the first year. In the next years or so you let nature run its course. Kakunta Could you just tell us some steps towards cultivation of this particular tree? Mushinge One, what is most important is tillage. For example the trees, when you plant them out in the field they have to be 4 by 4 metres apart. Two, they have to irrigated at least once per week. When I say irrigate them, irrigate them once per week with 15 to 20 litres of water, make sure that you apply some fertiliser, that is X or D compound and then you really should be applying it once per year as and when the need arises. Kakunta Now in the absence of these chemical fertilisers would you recommend farmers to use manure for instance? Mushinge That is a very good question. Manure behaves like fertiliser. The most important aspect one should consider is that it should properly decompose. Make sure that it decomposes properly but it is an excellent alternative to inorganic fertilisers. Kakunta So once the farmer follows this procedure are they assured that these indigenous fruit trees can grow just like the exotic ones? Mushinge When these plants follow out the proper agronomic procedures which I have stipulated after 3, 4 and 5 years depending on the species in question they will definitely have a continuous yield but a point in fact is management is very important. Exotic fruit trees need to be managed same as indigenous fruit trees, they can be domesticated, managed and they will have a regular harvest. End of track