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Agroforestry Research

Introduction

Declining food and wood security coupled with low income levels are major problems faced by small scale farmers in Africa in general and Uganda in particular. They translate into poverty, which is the inability of people to meet basic necessities of life. The twin evil of environmental degradation is a common feature as poor people can not conserve the environment.

The Agroforestry programme in Uganda is solving these problems by generating technologies that enhance integration of trees on farms for increased production and environmental sustainability. We believe that trees can achieve this owing to the multiplicity of products and services they provide (timber, food, fuel wood, poles fodder, medicine, spices, gums, raisins, soil fertility improvement, erosion control wind breaks, shade etc).


Definition
Agroforestry is a collective name for land-use systems and technologies where woody perennials (trees, shrubs, bamboo, palms, etc.) are deliberately grown on the same land as agricultural crops and/or animals, in some form of spatial arrangement or temporal sequence.


Importance of Agroforestry to the Country
Agroforestry has an important role to play in the country both for food and wood security and the conservation of the environment. By integrating tree growing with crop production, the problems of poor agricultural production, worsening wood shortages and environmental degradation can be addressed. Furthermore, Agroforestry technologies/practices are seen as an opportunity to take pressure off the remaining natural forests and to increase the diversity of vegetation on existing farms.

The Programme

 The Agroforestry Research started in 1993 with the formation of the Forestry Research Institute within NARO. To-date, the programme conducts on-station research at two major sites, namely Kifu in Mukono district representing the intensive coffee-banana land use system of Lake Victoria shore region, and Bugongi in Kabale district representing the highlands of south western Uganda. Both location lie in important catchments areas rich in bio-diversity. On-farm research however is scattered country wide.

The vision for the programme is that one of achieving a situation where there are:

  • more people, more trees
  • more trees , more cash and wood
  • more trees, a better environment

Programme Thrust

The two main areas of research are the use of trees and shrubs to conserve soils in hilly areas and the integration of trees in farming systems to produce wood, food and fodder. Research activities include:

  • Screening and selecting appropriate multipurpose agroforestry trees for boundary planting and scattered planting in croplands.
  • Developing appropriate management practices for agroforestry trees for the production of poles, fuelwood fodder, green mulch, fruits and timber on farmland.

Major themes of research

  • Wood and high value tree production
  • Soil fertility replenishment.
  • Terrace management for erosion control
  • Tree fodder production

National capacity building

  • The programme assists its scientists in training for higher degrees
  • In collaboration with educational institutions curricula have been developed for teaching agroforestry as a subject in tertiary institutions of learning.
  • The programme is involved in supervising undergraduate and post graduate students from Makerere University
  • The programme organizes agroforestry training workshops for extension workers and farmers

Achievements

 

(a) Technologies generated

  • From a number of exotic and indigenous upperstorey trees species that have been screened, promising ones have been identified for boundary or scattered planting in cropland for different areas of the country. These include Grevillea robusta, Cedrela serrata, Casuarina spp. and Markhamia lutea (low and mid altitudes) and Alnus acuminata, Grevillea robusta and Acacia melanoxylon (high altitudes).
  • Contour hedgerows of Calliandra calothyrsus have been found to reduce soil erosion by about 60% in the sloping areas of Kabale.
  • Block plantings of nitrogen-fixing shrubs such as Calliandra calothyrsus and Leucaena diversification on degraded fields in Kabale resulted in restoration of crop production by about 50%.
  • Optimum management of tree crowns to reduce competition to crops and maximise wood production
  • Information has been generated on nursery economics under different nursery management techniques.
  • A number of indigenous natural enemies for leucaena psyllid have been identified. The natural enemies identified include: Chilomenes lunata, Alesia striata, Hultica sp., spiders and praying mantids.

(b) Technologies transferred
The programme aims at making agroforestry become a way of farming contributing towards food security and poverty alleviation, rather than just a discipline of research .Thus, the following technologies have been transfered in various districts.

  • boundary tree planting
  • contour tree planting
  • tree fodder banks

Impacts

  • We have acted as a catalyst to tree planting and there has been a significant increase in tree cover in the areas covered by the project, particularly Kabale District.
  • New species for fodder and wood products have been introduced and promoted among farmers.
  • Research has catalyzed formation of group nurseries, so that farmers can meet their seedling requirements, independent of the project.
  • Through targeted training workshops, we have increased the capacity of extension workers to disseminate agroforestry information/technologies.

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Future plans

  1. Strengthening links with development organisations and farmer groups for wider dissemination of the following technologies:
    • incorporation of alnus and grevillea as upperstorey trees for wood production in various land use systems.
    • use of contour hedges of calliandra, leucaena and alnus for bund stabilization and erosion control.
    • incorporation of calliandra and mulberry in fodder production and feeding systems for improved with production.
    • Production of stakes for climbing beans.
  1. On-farm testing of improved fallows for restoring soil fertility.
  2. Surveys to take stock of high value indigenous tree species.
  3. Continuous screening of new species.
  4. Establishment of seed orchards for exotic and indigenous species.
  5. Organising more training workshops for farmers.
  6. Implementing biological control of leucaena psyllid using parasitoids such as Tamarixia leucaenae and Psyllaephagus yaseeni.

Conclusions
The Agroforestry Progarmme has generated much information about tree integration on farms . This knowledge needs to be shared with the end users. The progamme cannot do it alone due to limited financial, human and other resources . We will therefore continue building partnerships with other stake holders.


Contact us for more info

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