Ethiopia: Why Faidherbia Is Considered a Promising Tree?

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OPINION

At the Durban Climate Change Convention in December 2011, the late Prime Minister Meles Zenawi announced that Faidherbia programme–a government initiative will establish hundred million Faidherbia albida trees on smallholder cereal croplands across the country within the next three years in order to improve the food production and livelihoods of smallholder farmers.

This programme will run until 2014. The government also plans to reforest fifteen million hectares of land, including the regeneration of tree cover on croplands.

Recent research findings in the area of agriculture are well hammering the use of farming strategies that help boost agricultural product and productivity and as the same time serve other related purposes as the saying goes ‘kill two birds with one stone’. In fact, in this case it is killing many birds with one stone. Farmers in many drought prone regions will better improve their lives through growing their crops under a canopy of trees that provide cover, nutrients, fodder for animals, firewood and other indirect benefits like carbon sequestration. This is a strategy employed by mixing agriculture and forestay and is called Agroforesty- Agroforestry involves raising trees in combination with other agricultural enterprises, including livestock. Different species of trees can be planted with many types of crops in a variety of patterns. For example, fast-growing trees can be planted when the land is fallow or they can be grown at the same time as agricultural crops- Agroforestry trees are, therefore, selected based on the merits of their multipurpose advantages and some of them include, fertilizing the cropland ,availability of adequate seeds, needs of farmers and the plant’s environmental adaptation.

Why Faidherbia albida is chosen for agroforestry in Ethiopia?

Professor Ensermu Kelbessa is Head of Department of Life Sciences at Addis Ababa University College of Natural Sciences. He explains the multifaceted advantages over using Faidherbia albida (also called acasia albida) species for agroforestry purposes. “Acacia is a genus of leguminous subfamily, nitrogen-fixing plants, we have over seven hundred leguminous species in Ethiopia. Globally there are one thousand and hundred species of Acacia. Of which around one hundred thirty of them make Africa their home. Amazingly, over half of Africa’s acacia are found in Ethiopia, that is sixty of them. In fact, ten of the species were brought from Australia with Eucalyptus tree. Surprisingly, all the species in Africa are spiny. Faidherbia albida is enlisted in the ‘Ethiopian flora’ as one species.

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