Help me add trees to Mali farms

Phillip Hopper phopper at bright.net
Wed Apr 10 12:25:21 EST 1996


Christophe Lawrence wrote:

> How can I add more or different trees to this system?  My research
> seems to indicate that alley cropping with nitrogen fixing woody species
> won't work in a climate this dry.  I'm also under the impression that,
> in general, planting new trees in these fields (e.g. additional acacias)
> is not realistic, given the effort and inputs needed to get them esta-
> blished.  My impression is that I am limited to adding fodderwood or
> fuelwood banks in marginal farm areas.  Live fences, protective hedgerows
> could also work.
> 
> What do you think?  Any advice on species or strategies?  I'm reluctant
> to ask for help, but my library here can't provide me with many relevant
> articles I've located through Agricola and other sources.  Maybe some-
> one out there just got back from Mali with fresh ideas!
> 
> Thanks! chlawren at vt.edu

Well, I have not been to Mali, but I do have some experience in Haiti.  From your 
description, the cultural and agricultural conditions are similar to some of the 
higher elevations in Haiti.  There it is unrealistic to expect farmers to do 
"reforesting" on their own for the same reasons.  The best chance of getting trees 
grown is to make it profitable.  Trees that produce a regular, marketable crop are a 
good choice.  

Fast growing tree species are another good choice.  In Haiti the majority of the 
biomass is converted to charcoal and sold.   With a good management plan this can be 
quit sustainable.  

Both of these stratagies ultimately depend on sufficient available water.  If there is 
not enough water either from rainfall or irrigation it is unrealistic to ask the 
farmers to try to grow trees.  There are many areas where trees are naturally absent, 
and there is nothing wrong with this.

Phillip Hopper



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