|dcterms.description||Domesticating wild fruit trees
In Cameroon, as in other parts of Africa, people derive many benefits from wild, or indigenous, tree species. They are an important source of food and medicines for farming families, and can also be a source of income. However many forest fruit trees are being lost through deforestation and farmers are having to walk farther and farther from their homes to harvest them. One solution to this problem is for farmers to plant wild fruit species near their homes, a process called domestication.
Ann Degrande, who works for ICRAF, the World Agroforestry Centre, in Cameroon, has been part of a programme to support fruit tree domestication. She spoke to Martha Chindong about the benefits indigenous fruit trees can offer, both to farmers and to the environment, and about the challenges facing farmers who want to earn income from their fruit. Martha began by asking whether the programme itself was supplying farmers with tree seedlings to plant.
IN: ?The technology we are developing now is tree domestication.?
OUT: ?. will get him a more diverse package of income.?
Ann Degrande of the World Agroforestry Centre on how planting indigenous fruit trees benefits both farmers and the environment.
Degrande The technology we are developing now is tree domestication and we want people to select their own trees. So the best trees they can find in their environment. We teach them how to multiply, how to propagate those best trees that they can find in their environment. However, sometimes farmers in a particular village are asking for new species, for new trees that they can?t find in their environment. And then we try to link them up with other communities, with other farmers in other areas that have those trees on their farms. And we try to develop a kind of exchange of seeds or vegetative material.
Chindong What are the environmental aspects of it, are they really achieving anything?
Degrande That is a very interesting question, and the great advantage of agroforestry is that it can combine poverty alleviation and environmental protection. Because we are talking here of planting more trees to help farmers to get more income but by planting those trees we are also protecting the environment.
Chindong You talked of fruit trees or domestication. I wanted to find out whether these trees they plant only help for environmental protection or they have other benefits from the trees?
Degrande Trees usually have a lot of benefits. Trees can give fruits that can be sold on the market that can give income. The same fruits can also be eaten, consumed by the household and that has advantages for everybody in the household to have a more balanced diet, to have more vitamins, to have more minerals in their diet. The other benefit that trees have is that they can provide firewood, they can give shade, they can also protect against wind. Trees have many benefits and that?s the good thing about trees.
Chindong Ann, if I can get you well, it means that as of now you don?t have any problem with farmers accepting the new techniques of agroforestry, your problem is only to extend the technique?
Degrande No, that would be too much said. There are always problems when you introduce a new technology. First of all there is the problem of sensitising people. People need to be sensitised and informed about the new technique and the benefits of trees and the benefits of tree domestication. That is the first thing. The second thing is adopting new techniques and especially vegetative propagation needs some initial investment. You need for instance to set up a nursery, that requires some financial means, that sometimes individual farmers cannot have. Sometimes farmers group themselves and try to generate the necessary means to set up a nursery. But sometimes they need some help, they need financial support, maybe in the form of credit from NGO?s or the government. And then another thing is about the marketing, the commercialisation of the tree products. In Cameroon a lot of tree products are consumed widely, they are in the markets. But there are a lot of problems for farmers to get to those markets. There is for instance bad infrastructure, the roads are not good and that means that a lot of this fruit especially the perishable fruit remain in the village and cannot generate income for farmers although they are demanded in the market. So there is a whole issue of infrastructure and even support to farmer groups to commercialise their tree products. And that needs some attention I think from support organisations and even from government.
Chindong Considering the villages that you work with can you picture your farmers with hectares of agroforestry gardens?
Degrande I think it?s a progressive thing. What we first try to promote is that at least every farmer has some fruit trees or some beneficial trees on his farm or her farm. So we don?t exclude that some of the more enterprising farmers, they can go for hectares and hectares of fruit trees. There will be some farmers who will do that but the majority of farmers they will integrate trees in their cocoa farms, they will plant more trees on the boundaries of their farm, they will plant better trees in their home garden and that?s how they will get more out of these trees. Another thing is that we are also developing approaches to help to assist farmer groups to market their products as a group so that they get more bargaining power. So those are the kind of things we are looking at and we want to make small changes but that will mean something to the farmer that will get him a more diverse package of income. End of track||en_US