Fish & forests
Fish, whether from coastal fisheries, inland waters, or aquaculture, are a vital source of protein and income for millions. And forests, if correctly managed, are a sustainable source of numerous products, including timber, food and medicine.
In parts of Malawi, the agricultural extension services and district authorities are supporting reforestation efforts by rural communities, by supplying polythene tubes and advice for the cultivation of tree saplings. In the village of Nkhukwa, about 10 km from Lilongwe, the villagers are attempting a massive reforestation effort, to restore their eroded soils and replenish their lost water supplies. Villager Wonderful Chalera also urges people to grow crops such as groundnuts, as an alternative to tobacco, which requires large amounts of wood for curing or building drying barns.
published: August 2013
While farmers are being urged to plant more trees on their farms, many have concerns that trees will compete with their crops for water, nutrients and light, and so reduce their crop yields. Jonathan Muriuki, a scientist from the World Agroforestry Centre in Nairobi, emphasises that farmers need to choose the right species of tree and shrub to plant in the right places. But appropriate tree planting can improve soil fertility and water holding capacity, reduce erosion and boost crop yields. Farmers can also use some nitrogen-fixing species to restore the fertility of fallow land, and planting timber species in woodlots or along farm boundaries provides valuable income.
published: January 2013
In Katoba, to the east of the Zambian capital Lusaka, felling of trees for charcoal making provides the only available source of income for many households. To address the problem, the Kasisi Agricultural Training Centre is supporting the adoption of bee keeping as an alternative source of income. Donald Zulu explains the double benefits of bee keeping, both for income generation and environmental protection. We also hear from Japhet Seulu of Community Markets for Conservation, about a pricing system for crop production which is helping to reduce slash-and-burn agriculture, another major cause of deforestation in the area. And lead farmer, Peter Chabola, explains why he prefers keeping bees to making charcoal, as a means to raise his family.
published: August 2012
Forest areas, or farmland with large numbers of trees, offer many benefits to people and the environment. At a global level, trees remove carbon dioxide from the air, helping to control the levels of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere and prevent global warming. And at a local level, forest areas trap cool, moist air near to the ground, thereby reducing temperatures and protecting people, crops and animals from excessive heat. But despite these and other benefits, in Kenya, uncontrolled felling of trees continues, including from protected areas. In response, the Kenyan government aims to achieve 30 per cent tree cover by 2030 through support for tree planting.
published: June 2012
Farmers living in deforested and degraded land in Uganda have begun earning carbon credit payments by planting indigenous trees. The payments are made by companies in Europe and America who want to reduce their environmental impact by compensating for their carbon dioxide emissions. Local NGO, Ecotrust Uganda, provides technical support to the farmers, and calculates the payments they are entitled to – according to how much carbon is stored in the trees over their life span. Pauline Nantongo, Executive Director of Ecotrust Uganda, explains more about this valuable new opportunity, which is creating income for local farmers, restoring the degraded land and also helping to tackle global warming.
published: May 2012
Ghana is one of several African countries taking a keen interest in the REDD+ scheme, which offers payment for planting and protecting forest areas. Adoption and promotion of REDD+ presents challenges however, and farmers are among those who are concerned as to whether they will ever receive the promised financial benefits. Kofi Adu Domfeh speaks to some of those involved with Ghana’s uptake of the scheme about the challenges and rewards that REDD brings, including the benefits it could offer in terms of local climate as well as the global picture.
published: February 2012
The potential for pond-based aquaculture in Ghana is enormous, and in recent years, many farmers have tried to establish ponds to raise fast growing species such as tilapia. But lack of technical knowledge among farmers and very limited extension capacity are major constraints in aquaculture development. Farmers also struggle to afford commercial fish foods that enable fish to grow to sellable size in a short space of time. To address these constraints, the USAID funded Feed the Future project is communicating best practices to fish farmers through several approaches, including demonstration ponds and farmer-to-farmer extension. Kofi Adu Domfeh reports on the work being done.
published: November 2011
The forest vine, Gnetum africanum, known locally as eru or okok, is a highly prized food in Cameroon, and is traded both within the region and further afield, including Europe and the USA. With support from the World Agroforestry Centre, farmers in Cameroon are now cultivating the vine near their homesteads, thereby reducing their harvesting time and protecting the wild vines from over-exploitation. Processing the leaves and other parts of the vine into a variety of products lengthens their shelf life and adds value. Whiskies, body oils and hair pomades are just some of the products now being made from eru. Farmers are also organising group sales, in order to negotiate higher prices from traders. Martha Chindong reports on the progress being made.
published: November 2011
The Gambia’s National Forest Programme is encouraging local communities to sustainably manage forests around them by adopting community forest management. This empowers them not only to manage their forests but also to legally own them after a series of criteria are met. In addition, the communities are supported in the selection, value addition and marketing of forest products, through a process called Market Analysis and Development, or MA&D. In 2010, the National Consultancy on Forestry Extension Services and Training (NACO) was contracted, with funding from FAO, to carry out an MA&D programme in 26 villages. NACO Director, Kanimang Camara, and community representative Seeko Janko, describe how the process has worked, and the challenges and successes so far encountered.
published: October 2011
Gmelina trees comprise around 60% of Nigeria's planted forest. However, the fruits of the tree are hardly used, either by people or animals - a huge, wasted resource. Processing the fruit flesh to extract ethanol could make Gmelina fruit a very valuable feedstock for the biofuel industry - producing a fuel that can power vehicles and generators, and cost much less than diesel. Collecting and processing the fruit could also be a good income generating activity for rural communities, and as a biofuel, the Gmelina-based fuel is more environmentally friendly than fossil fuels.
published: June 2011
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