Farmers in Niger benefit from letting trees grow in their fields

    | December 16, 2012

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    In the 1970s and ‘80s, there was a lot of publicity about an energy crisis in Sahelian countries and in other dry areas. There seemed to be a large gap between the population’s energy needs – almost exclusively provided by wood – and the capacity of trees and shrubs to meet that need. At that time, the Sahel had been struck by successive years of drought, and the expanding population was pushing farming into marginal areas. It appeared that the vegetation near cities was going to be completely destroyed because of the rapidly growing need for fuelwood.

    But it turned out that there were many areas where woody vegetation was increasing. In some parts of Niger, various NGOs and initiatives were helping farmers protect trees and shrubs which had grown back naturally in their fields. One project helped create village organizations to protect, manage, and use on-farm trees.

    This script discusses the practice of farmers protecting and managing spontaneous regeneration of trees and shrubs in their fields. The practice benefits farmers by increasing soil fertility and allowing farmers to profit by selling products from trees and shrubs.