News / Africa

Zambian Farmers Encouraged to Grow Nutrient-Rich Trees

Masangu tree is slow growing but worth the wait

Mature Masangu trees enhance the soil on Zambian farms
Mature Masangu trees enhance the soil on Zambian farms

Multimedia

Audio
  • toa project designed to increase soil fertility in Zambia

Zambia’s Conservation Farming Unit, the CFU, is promoting the planting of the Masangu tree, Faidherbia albida , as a way of boosting soil fertility and protecting the environment.

The tree is rich in nitrogen and other soil nutrients that farmers need to improve their yields.  
Masangu is indigenous to Africa and grows in many places across the continent.  A mature plant can produce up to 300 kilograms of fertiliser and 250 kilos of lime.

Food crops grown under the shade of the trees benefit from their annual leaf fall, which fertilizes the soil and counteracts soil acidity.  The Conservation Farming Unit is encouraging farmers to plant 100 trees per hectare, at 10 metre intervals, as a long-term means of boosting soil fertility and improving yields.

Zambian farmers Lillian Phiri (Left ) , Collin Nkatiko (Middle) of the Conservation Farming Unit (CFU)
Zambian farmers Lillian Phiri (Left ) , Collin Nkatiko (Middle) of the Conservation Farming Unit (CFU)

More than 160,000 farmers have already begun.  Collins Nkatiko is head of field operations at CFU.  He says the use of the Masangu tree is not new in Zambia or elsewhere in Africa.

Nkatiko explains that the plant grows anywhere and people can collect the seeds from the wild. “We have [just begun planting] Faidherbia albida, which is a fertiliser factory within the field.  This is a long-term measure,” Nkatiko says.

According to Nkatiko it will take time to enjoy the full  benefits,  because the tree has to grow.  During that period farmers wait for the trees to grow and mature.   “We give them fertilisers, and encourage them to use rotations with legumes, cereals and cash crops to ensure that they build up the fertility of their soils, ” Nkatiko explains.

For farmers to attain the full benefits of the Masangu tree, they will have to wait from seven to 15  years,” according to  Nkatiko.

For decades, farmers around the world have cut down trees to create farmland.  But with research, things are changing.  Farmers are being encouraged to plant trees on their land as a way of preserving the environment and biodiversity.

Row of Masangu trees on a farm in Zambia
Row of Masangu trees on a farm in Zambia

Chikondi Lillian Phiri an extension officer and trainer at CFU explains how planting trees in crop fields can boost soil fertility and crop production.

According to Phiri it is able to add about 75kg of nitrogen.  It is also able to add a certain percentage of phosphate, iron.  Magnesium oxide is added alongside with the calcium.  So not only is it a fertility tree but it is also able to counteract the acidity in the soil because it has got liming effect with it.

"So with time, the dependence on synthetic fertiliser by the farmers will be reduced.  The uniqueness with this tree is that during the rainy season, you will see it shedding off its leaves.  So that effect of shading is not so much enhanced,” Phin asserts.

Agriculture research has shown that farmers who use trees and use the leaves as feed for their livestock also allow their animals to leave droppings in the field, yet another source of fertilizer.

This creates a chain of cost-effective opportunities that farmers across Africa can embrace.


You May Like

Anti-Terror Drills Highlight China’s Push Into Central Asia

China, Russia, several central Asian countries wrap up massive anti terrorism military drills in Inner Mongolia More

Erdogan’s First Step: Secure More Power in New Role in Turkey

Erdogan was sworn in as Turkey's first popularly elected president on Thursday; he picked former foreign minister Ahmet Davutoglu as PM More

Pakistan Army Fails to Break Political Deadlock

PM Sharif claims he didn't ask army to defuse crisis; military rejects claim More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Ukraine Battles Pro-Russia Rebel Assaulti
X
Daniel Schearf
August 29, 2014 9:30 PM
After NATO concluded an emergency meeting to discuss the crisis in eastern Ukraine, the country is struggling to contain heavy fighting near the strategic port of Mariupol, on the Azov Sea. Separatist rebels are trying to capture the city, allegedly with Russian military help, and Ukraine's defense forces are digging in. VOA's Daniel Schearf spoke with analysts about what lies ahead for Ukraine.
Video

Video Ukraine Battles Pro-Russia Rebel Assault

After NATO concluded an emergency meeting to discuss the crisis in eastern Ukraine, the country is struggling to contain heavy fighting near the strategic port of Mariupol, on the Azov Sea. Separatist rebels are trying to capture the city, allegedly with Russian military help, and Ukraine's defense forces are digging in. VOA's Daniel Schearf spoke with analysts about what lies ahead for Ukraine.
Video

Video Growing Business Offers Paint with a Twist of Wine

Two New Orleans area women started a small business seven years ago with one thing in mind: to help their neighbors relieve the stress of coping with a hurricane's aftermath. Today their business, which pairs painting and a little bit of wine, has become one of the fastest growing franchises across the U.S. VOA’s June Soh met the entrepreneurs at their newest franchise location in the Washington suburbs.
Video

Video Ebola Vaccine Trials To Begin Next Week

The National Institutes of Health says it is launching early stage trials of a vaccine to prevent the Ebola virus, which has infected or killed thousands of people across West Africa. The World Health Organization says Ebola could infect more than 20,000 people across the region by the time the outbreak is over. The epidemic has health experts and governments scrambling to prevent more people from becoming infected. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Asian Bacteria Threatens Florida Orange Trees

Florida's citrus fruit industry is facing a serious threat from a bacteria carried by the Asian insect called psyllid. The widespread infestation again highlights the danger of transferring non-native species to American soil. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Aging Will Reduce Economic Growth Worldwide in Coming Decades

The world is getting older, fast. And as more people retire each year, fewer working-age people will be there to replace them. Bond rating agency Moody’s says that will lead to a decline in household savings; reducing global investments - which in turn, will lead to slower economic growth around the world. But experts say it’s not too late to mitigate the economic impact of the world’s aging populations. Mil Arcega has more.
Video

Video Is West Doing Enough to Tackle Islamic State?

U.S. President Barack Obama has ruled out sending ground troops to Iraq to fight militants of the so-called Islamic State, or ISIS, despite officials in Washington describing the extremist group as the biggest threat the United States has faced in years. Henry Ridgwell reports from London on the growing uncertainty over whether the West’s response to ISIS will be enough to defeat the terrorist threat.
Video

Video Coalition to Fight Islamic State Could Reward Assad

The United States along with European and Mideast allies are considering a broader assault against Islamic State fighters who have spread from Syria into Iraq and risk further destabilizing an already troubled region. But as VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports, confronting those militants could end up helping the embattled Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
Video

Video Made in America Socks Get Toehold in Online Fashion Market

Three young entrepreneurs are hoping to revolutionize the high-end sock industry by introducing all-American creations of their own. And they’re doing most of it the old-fashioned way. VOA’s Julie Taboh recently caught up with them to learn what goes into making their one-of-a-kind socks.
Video

Video Americans, Ex-Pats Send Relief Supplies to West Africa

Health organizations from around the world are sending supplies and specialists to the West African countries that are dealing with the worst Ebola outbreak in history. On a smaller scale, ordinary Americans and African expatriates living in the United States are doing the same. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.
Video

Video America's Most Popular Artworks Displayed in Public Places

Public places in cities across America were turned into open-air art galleries in August. Pictures of the nation’s most popular artworks were displayed on billboards, bus shelters, subway platforms and more. The idea behind “Art Everywhere,” a collaborative campaign by five major museums is to allow more people to enjoy art and learn about the country’s culture and history. Faiza Elmasry has more.
Video

Video Chinese Doctors Use 3-D Spinal Implant

A Chinese boy suffering from a debilitating bone disease has become the first patient with a part of his spine created in a three-dimensional printer. Doctors say he will soon regain normal mobility. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video India’s Leprosy Battle Stymied by Continuing Stigma

Medical advancements in the treatment of leprosy have greatly diminished its impact around the world, largely eliminating the disease from most countries. India made great strides in combating leprosy, but still accounts for a majority of the world’s new cases each year, and the number of newly infected Indians is rising - more than 130,000 recorded last year. Doctors there say the problem has more to do with society than science. Shaikh Azizur Rahman reports from Kolkata.

AppleAndroid