News / Africa

Agroforestry Offers Solutions to World Hunger

Using Evergreen Agriculture, Rhoda Mang’yana grows maize near Faidherbia trees to improve crop yields and soil fertility on her farm. (Credit: Jim Richardson)
Using Evergreen Agriculture, Rhoda Mang’yana grows maize near Faidherbia trees to improve crop yields and soil fertility on her farm. (Credit: Jim Richardson)

Multimedia

Audio
Kim Lewis
The Food and Agriculture Organization, FAO, recently released new guidelines to promote agroforestry.  It says this often neglected sector of agriculture, that combines forestry with agriculture, is crucial to the livelihoods and food security of millions of people. 

The FAO says agroforestry is a significant source of local commodities, such as timber and fruit, and fodder for livestock.  With proper development, it says, agroforestry could help solve poverty, hunger and land degradation. 

Gerard Buttoud, professor of forest policy and governance at Tuscia University in Viterbo, Italy, and a key consultant to the FAO on developing the guidelines, explained how agroforestry is a good system for improving production at the local level.

“Because  it looks to optimizing the agricultural production and the environmental benefits through the combination of annual crops and perennial plants," he said. "It maximizes the production on the long run because it produces food under the trees.  The trees are used as a means to sustain the land and thus to sustain the production on the long run.  Also, agroforestry is a very good system to both mitigate and adapt to climate change because as a complex system it minimizes the risk.” 

Buttoud said it is important to have a framework in which to promote agroforestry properly.

“There are many barriers to the development of agroforestry.  Such as for instance,  the fact that there is a general emphasis on industrial agriculture," he said. "Basically when we speak about agricultural policy, we think about mono-specific policy, market oriented, using a lot of fertilizers and so on.  This is not the way that agroforestry may be defined.  Then there is an ignorance of the advantages of agroforestry because over the last although some had fought during the last 30 years, the success stories are not well known.  Then there is an unclear status of land and tree resources, because sometimes, especially in developing countries, the status of the land is not clarified.”  

Buttoud explained these success stories take different forms and the benefits of agroforestry depend on the land of a particular area. 

“You have two big categories of agroforestry systems," he explained.  "The first is a natural one.  It is what we call the parklands.  For instance, all of the area in the southern part of the Sahara, in Africa, from west to east, is conserved by this agroforestry system we call parklands.  It’s a natural forest that’s been cleared progressively but used for agriculture also.  So there is a selection of the tree spaces, and a selection of the crops which are carried out, also in association with grazing, and these parklands are remarkably stable, even in the process of desertification, for instance.  It is one of the barriers of desertification.”      

Buttoud also provided insight into another use of agroforestry.

“Opposite to this you have artificial plantations.  Introduction of trees into farms, which were developed especially in the regions which were more close to the tropics, I would say, where the water is available.  It consists of plantations on lines so that the trees may be able to maintain the soil and also produce food and other services.  So you have many different categories of agroforestry and the success stories are all over the world, I would say,” he explained.

Buttoud gave an example of a success story in Africa.

“For instance, the Arabic gum in Sudan for the first category of parklands was developed through strong demand from the market to have this kind of product," he said.  "This resulted into a development of agroforestry which was really productive even in terms of money in this part of Africa.  Then if you look at the situation in some countries such as Kenya, Ghana, Cameroon, there are a lot of agroforestry systems which were developed recently which introduced trees into the farm.” 

For the farmer, Buttoud said the benefit comes from maintaining the soil so it can continuously produce crops for a long period of time.

You May Like

Katrina Brought Enduring Changes to New Orleans

The city’s recovery is the result of the people and culture the city is famous for, as well as newcomers and start-up industries More

China to Open Stock Markets to Pension Funds

In unprecedented move, government to soon allow local pension funds to invest up to $94 billion in domestic shares More

Magical Photo Slides Show Native Americans in Late 1800s

Walter McClintock spent 20 years photographing the Blackfoot Indians and their vanishing culture at the dawn of the modern age More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalatesi
X
August 27, 2015 2:08 AM
Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Is China's Economic Data Accurate?

Some investors say China's wild stock market gyrations have been made worse by worries about the reliability of that nation's economic data. And some critics say the reports can mislead investors by painting an unrealistically-strong picture of the economy. A key China scholar says Beijing is not fudging ((manipulating)) the numbers, but that the economy is evolving quickly from smoke-stack industries to services, and the ways of tracking new economic activity are falling behind the change. V
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Shipping Containers Provide Experimental Housing

Housing prices around the San Francisco Bay area are out of reach for many people, so some young entrepreneurs, artists and tech industry workers are creating their own houses using converted shipping containers. But as VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports from Oakland, the effort requires ingenuity and dealing with restrictive local laws.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video Technique May Eliminate Drill-and-Fill Dental Care

Many people dread visiting dentists because they're afraid of drills. Now, however, a technology developed by a British firm promises to eliminate the need for mechanical cleaning of dental cavities by speeding a natural process of tooth repair. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.
Video

Video French Experiment in Integrating Roma Under Threat

Plans to destroy France’s oldest slum have sparked an outcry on the part of its Roma residents. As Lisa Bryant reports from the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, rights groups argue the community is a fledgling experiment on integrating Roma who are often outcasts in many parts of Europe.
Video

Video Kenyans Turn to Agriculture for Business

Each year Kenyan universities continue to churn out graduates for the job market despite the already existing high rate of unemployment among youth in the country. Some of these young men and women have realized that agriculture can be as rewarding as any other business or job, and they are resorting to agribusiness in large numbers as a way of tackling unemployment. Rael Ombuor reports for VOA.
Video

Video First Women Graduate Elite Army Ranger School

Two women are making history for the U.S. Army by proving they are among the toughest of the tough. VOA's Carla Babb reports from Fort Benning, Georgia as 94 men and those two women rise as graduates of the difficult Ranger school.

VOA Blogs