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Agroforestry: An increasingly popular solution for a hot, hungry world

26 / 10 / 2017, Mongabaycom News

At first glance Cameroon’s western regions seem lush, but a closer look shows a land degraded by overgrazing, unsustainable cropping practices, deforestation of vegetation for firewood, and uncontrolled bush fires. Still, some plots teem with biodiversity: coffee grows under the shade of banana trees, while nearby there are African plum trees (known locally as safou), cola, oranges and timber trees like mahogany. To the untrained eye this might appear to be natural forest, but is in fact the fruit of agroforestry – the growing of trees with crops. Typical agroforest in the North West Region of Cameroon with plantains and indigenous fruits and timber trees. Photo by Ebenezar Asaah “It’s mimicking what you would find in a typical forest, because you find at least three distinguished structures of diverse species which are all growing in an optimum manner,” said agroforestry and food security expert Ebenezar Asaah, a Cameroonian scientist who managed the Agricultural and Tree Products Program for the western highlands of Cameroon between 2007 and 2009. From a rural farmer’s perspective, he explains, the strength of agroforestry is that different plants supply different products at different times of the year, providing an extra source of income when the farmers’ expenses are high, plus food and medicine, among other goods. Although it is also found in the U.S., Europe, and Australia, agroforestry is predominantly practiced in the tropics and sub-tropics. Here, conventional high-input modern agriculture often fails to deliver food security and sustainability, and people are often in need of income…

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