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Agroforestry decreases farmer dependence on chemical fertilizers in Africa…

November 1, 2012

Here is a good article on the emergence of agroforestry in Africa, exploring how trees on farms, biomass management, integration of natural fertilizers into agricultural systems is taking hold amongst small-holder farmers… Click the link at the bottom of the page to view the full article.


Soil care, fertiliser trees help African farmers grow yields

By Geoffrey Kamadi


RONGAI, Kenya (AlertNet) – Small farmers across sub-Saharan Africa are turning to simple, affordable techniques to increase harvests and help them cope with climate extremes – from growing trees on their land, to keeping their soils healthy and making their own fertiliser.

Nelson Mwangi has managed to boost the maize yield from his 0.3 hectare (0.8 acre) plot in Rongai, 170km from Kenya’s capital Nairobi, to 18 bags from around seven bags since adopting a method known as conservation agriculture three years ago.

“I have reached a position where I don’t need to use (chemical) fertiliser on my farm anymore because I have enough manure and compost,” says the 54-year-old father of four. The former agriculture teacher is now saving around KSH 3,900 ($46) in fertiliser and KSH 2,500 ($29) in labour costs each planting season.

Conservation agriculture involves minimum or zero tillage of the soil, keeping the earth permanently covered with organic matter, and rotating crops. Limiting disturbance of the soil ensures that it releases very little carbon dioxide and nitrous oxide – key greenhouse gases – into the atmosphere.

The use of harvested crop residue as soil cover helps retain moisture, meaning farmers are less reliant on rainfall. And when the residue decomposes, it enriches the soil further. Crop rotation helps control soil-borne diseases, reducing losses.

Increasingly, farmers are combining this approach with agroforestry, which involves planting leguminous tree species on the land.

As well as sequestering carbon, these “fertiliser trees” capture nitrogen from the atmosphere and fix it in the soil, boosting its nutrient content. As a result, farmers are less dependent on commercial fertilisers.

Click here to read full article at

2 Comments leave one →
  1. November 1, 2012 10:08:03 pm

    The best bit about it all is that these farmers are able to take back their land and use it productively whilst bypassing the exponentially expense driven mainstream agriculture model. The farmer is both saving money, and liberating him/herself from debt. Once you eliminate debt you are able to liberate choice and choosing to heal your land by using integrated permaculture managment is only going to make it more productive for these small farmers. We are finding the very same thing. Penniless student hippies aren’t all that far removed from penniless debt ridden African farmers in the scheme of things and finding ways to effect change and implement money saving strategies without having to go into debt are real eye openers and give us all back the most precious of things…our ability to choose how to live. Thank you for a real feel good article…it certainly made me feel good this morning 🙂

  2. November 2, 2012 10:08:55 pm

    What a great story and well deserved to those very hard working farmers.

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