Knowledge for Development


The concept of agroforestry encompasses trees and shrubs combined in one way or another with crops and/or livestock. The basis of these systems is to allow the tree and the shrub to play their full roles in the protection and regeneration of the environment. Pushed into the limelight by the global challenge of climate change – which is increasingly being linked to the loss of forests – or by more specific issues of managing wood resources, agroforestry constitutes, without doubt, a part of the solution for a better integration of mankind and his activities with the natural environment. Research in agroforestry is distributed amongst several actors (universities, national and international research and development centres). Agroforestry is now included in several major debates on the future of the planet’s resources. The scientific community should seize this opportunity to advance agroforestry’s potential for contributing solutions for viable plant and animal production systems especially in the context of climate change, for the fight against poverty, for food security, for economic, social and political stability, and for a greener agriculture. Moreover, it is essential that this widely dispersed scientific community finds methods of disseminating its findings to users to increase understanding of agroforestry’s importance for sustainable agricultural and rural development. (This folder was prepared by CABI and CIRAD in collaboration with CTA. Editor in chief, Judith Francis, CTA, 2010).

Inserting rows of ‘fertilizer trees’ into maize fields can help farmers cope with the impacts of drought and degraded soils, according to a 12-year-long study by researchers at the World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF). They conducted three coordinated experiments, starting in 1991 in Malawi and Zambia, and found that farms that mix nitrogen-fixing trees and maize have consistent and relatively high yields year after year. In Malawi, the highest average maize yield was found in fields that combined both fertilizer trees and inorganic fertilizers, but applied at just half the standard recommended amounts.Maize mono-crops grown with inorganic fertilizers may have higher yield in some years but the yield is less reliable in the long run. Mono-cropping without replenishing soil nutrients in any way – the de facto practice of resource-poor maize farmers – was the least productive and most unpredictable of all.EurekAlert has the report (14/10/2012). 20/11/2012
Agroforestry will be negatively impacted by climate change: plant stress, shifts in woody plant disease, pest and natural enemy dynamics will play a dominant role in the persistence and performance of all agroforestry plants, herbaceous or woody. Diversity, and selecting a variety of plants that will thrive under the many conditions, is a key principle in developing adapted agroforestry plantings.(Journal of Soil and Water Conservation and The Overstory, 08/05/2013) 27/06/2013
This project promotes high quality food, fiber, and healthcare crops grown in diverse agroforestry systems to provide family farms both subsistence and commercial opportunities. Specialty crops provide a rapidly growing economic opportunity for farmers and gardeners who are interested in diversifying their crops and who are willing to innovate their production methods, post-harvest processing, and marketing. Farm and Forest Production and Marketing (FFPM) profiles for 32 crops detail essential information for crop development: horticulture and botany; the roles for each crop in mixed-species agroforestry; nutrition and food security; commercial products, product quality standards; location and size of markets; post-harvest processing; opportunities for local value-added processing; and the potential for genetic improvement.The project supports: integrating trees and crops (agroforestry) commercial and non-commercial plantings of all sizes, including homegardens small-scale commercial operations suitable for small lots local food production for happier and healthier communities traditional crops community food self-reliance. Project outcomes include increased adoption of specialty crops, micro-enterprise development, local food production, and sustainable multi-crop agroforestry systems, thereby supporting economic and ecological viability of our communities. 03/05/2011

Agroforestry, basic situation, challenges and opportunities

by Ouattara N’Klo (Minister for Environment, Water and Forests, Ivory Coast; Regional Director of the Environment of Bas-Sassandra), Ronald Bellefontaine (UPR Forest Genetics, Cirad-Bios), Dominique Nicolas (UMR SYSTEM, Cirad-Persyst, coordinator of the agroforestry working group), Frédéric Bourg (Directorate of research and strategy, Cirad), Dominique Nicolas (UMR SYSTEM, Cirad-Persyst, coordinator of the agroforestry working group)
Agroforestry, a scientific field that is currently in the news because of the numerous debates on environmental aspects of human development, is an ancient practice that exists on all continents. It is a result of the farmer’s desire to diversify and intensify his cropping system. This practice, widely researched as it is, must now be promoted more efficiently, primarily to governments, through an improved structuring of existing knowledge networks. 08/06/2010
J. Bayala, ICRAF-WCA, Mali and colleagues in West Africa carried out an experiment in Burkina Faso to characterise crop-tree interactions under a series of tree maintenance regimes. The treatment included root trenching and crown pruning of two tree species Parkia biglobosa and Vitellaria paradoxa, known to improve soil fertility and redistribute water, in a sorghum field. The results show that sorghum yield vary significantly depending on the treatment and the species used. An implication of this is that recommendations for including trees in cropland, or for management of existing trees within cropland, must be context and species specific.   (African Journal of Agricultural Research, Vol. 8 No. 43, 11/2013) 17/12/2013

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