Trees for Change series

World Agroforestry Centre, 2008-2013

In 2008, the World Agroforestry Centre asked me to visit a project in Malawi which was helping tens of thousands of farmers to grow more food and improve their welfare by planting trees on their farms – in other words, by practising agroforestry. The result was a 30-page booklet which provided an insight into both the science behind the project and the benefits for Malawi’s farmers. Farming Trees, Banishing Hunger was the first booklet in a new series, Trees for Change. Since then I have written many other booklets about programmes and projects managed by the World Agroforestry Centre.

Agroforestry – growing trees on farms – provides a range of goods and services which are helping hundreds of millions of people to improve their welfare and incomes. The World Agroforestry Centre, whose headquarters are in Nairobi, Kenya, is leading research in the field, and you can learn more about its work on its website.

Trees for Change series cover

1. Farming Trees, Banishing Hunger


This booklet tells the story of Malawi's Agroforestry Food Security Programme, funded by Irish Aid and managed by the World Agroforestry Centre. Thousands of farming families have dramatically increased their welfare, and the health of their land, by planting trees which improve soil fertility, and by incorporating into their farms a range of trees which yield fruit, firewood and livestock fodder.

2. Seeds of Hope


In Africa, the oil-rich seeds of the Allanblackia tree have been harvested for generations to make cooking oil. However, it has only been in recent years that the unique properties of Allanblackia oil have been recognised beyond the countries where the trees grow. Companies like Unilever have started to use it as an ingredient in food spreads, but at present demand far outstrips supply. This booklet tells the story of the Novella Project, a public-private partnership that is domesticating Allanblackia and encouraging farmers to grow the tree in their fields.

3. Restoring Lives and Landscapes


This booklet tells the story of a project that has had a profound influence on the management of four large forest areas in Guinea. The Landscape Management for Improved Livelihoods (LAMIL) project has done much to improve the welfare of local people. It is also benefiting forests and wildlife. At the heart of the project's success has been a system of management involving local communities and government agencies.

4. The Fruits of Success


The African continent is home to some 3000 species of wild fruit trees, yet they have been largely ignored by science and big business. This is all set to change. This booklet describes the participatory tree domestication programme, managed by the World Agroforestry Centre, which has developed superior varieties of several indigenous fruit trees in West and Central Africa. Already, the programme has transformed the lives of thousands of farmers. The species whose stories are told here are just a few of many that have the potential to improve food security in areas plagued by poverty and malnutrition.

5. A Window on a Better World


This booklet tells the story of an agroforestry development project that has helped large numbers of people in the Western Highlands of Cameroon to escape from poverty. The Agricultural and Tree Product Program, funded by the US Department of Agriculture, provides a compelling example of a rural development project which promotes farming systems that increase food production, sustain vibrant communities and protect the environment.

6. Fodder for a Better Future


This describes a research programme that has led to significant changes in the way hundreds of thousands of small-scale dairy farmers manage their farms and livestock in East Africa. By growing a range of fodder trees and feeding protein-rich leaves to their cows and goats, farmers have increased their milk yields and incomes. This has led to major improvements in their health and welfare.

7. A Rural Revival in Tanzania


The booklet tells the story of a project which has brought new life to Shinyanga, an area once so degraded that it was known as the "Desert of Tanzania". By restoring the traditional system of land management and introducing new agroforestry practices, the HASHI project helped to improve the welfare of tens of thousands of villagers. The experience here could help transform lives and landscapes in other areas which have suffered serious land degradation.

8. Rich Rewards for Rubber


Massive investment has encouraged many smallholders in Indonesia to convert their jungle rubber gardens to high-yielding monoclonal plantations. This has improved yields and incomes, but led to the loss of fauna and flora. Over the past decade and a half, the World Agroforestry Centre has researched and promoted alternative systems of rubber agroforestry. These have enabled farmers to gain a better income without losing all the biodiversity associated with jungle rubber.

9. Cocoa Futures


This booklet describes an innovative research and development programme, managed by Mars Inc., which has dramatically improved cocoa yields and the welfare of farming families in Indonesia. It has done this by introducing a range of practices to replace and rehabilitate unproductive cocoa gardens. Such has been its success that Mars and the World Agroforestry Centre have launched a similar programme in Côte d'Ivoire, the world's largest cocoa producer.

10. Taking the Heat Out of Farming


Agriculture is both a victim of climate change and a significant cause. Until recently, a range of factors have prevented smallholders from taking advantage of the carbon market, which is based on organisations and individuals selling the carbon they capture – for example, by tree planting – to countries or companies which wish to offset their emissions. This booklet describes a pioneering project, launched in India by the World Agroforestry Centre, which is devising ways to overcome these obstacles. It could become a model for the future.

11. Falling by the Wayside


Every year, millions of farmers in the developing world sow tree seeds and tree seedlings of poor or variable quality. It may be many years before they realise they've devoted time and energy to growing trees which will fail to yield the benefits they anticipated. This booklet explains why this is happening, and describes a range of solutions which could provide farmers with the high-quality seeds and seedlings they need to improve their livelihoods and incomes.

12. The Quiet Revolution


During the past two decades, farmers in Niger, one of the poorest countries in the world, have been responsible for re-greening 5 million hectares of once degraded farmland. This has increased crop yields and provided tens of thousands of poor households with livestock fodder, firewood, fruits, cooking oil and much else. This booklet provides an insight into one of the most remarkable agroforestry stories of our times.