Help me add trees to Mali farms - there is information available

LeRoy D. L. DUVALL, Jr. lduvall at
Sun Apr 14 10:34:23 EST 1996

Phillip Hopper wrote:
> 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
> 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

I visited Mali in mid-1993, specifically to look at forestry projects or projects with 
forestry components. There was a foretry project, based in Mopti working with the 
Forestry Department. This project had been on-going for several years and had been used 
in several assessments of forestry in the Sahel. There were also a number of 
NGO-sponsored activities with forestry components. 

The Mopti project had several examples of successful interventions - but often very 
focused and of limited area of influence/impact. One particular farmer/tree planter who 
had made a lot of money growing eucalyptus and selling the trees as poles has been well 
documented. As I recall, his neighbors have also gotten heavily into tree planting as 
well. There are also a lot of interesting stories about how he got started, problems 
that arose as his efforts became successful, and the expansion of tree planting by 
others. I recall visiting another area where villagers on the Dogan Plateau had planted 
trees - a mix of pole spp. and fruit trees and they were harvesting the fruit, but as I 
recall there was no cutting the pole spp. I visited several other sites that were 
influenced by this project as well. 

There was another NGO project that I visited that had a tree planting component, but 
with mixed success. I remember visiting a couple of villages where there were nurseries 
and beginning planting activities. I can't for the life of me remember the name of this 
NGO, except I remember I had never heard of it before, it had a very unlikely name, and 
I think it's nulti-word name started with an N - could be wrong on the N though. 

I also visited one village where there had been a lot of tree planting with a lot of 
villager participation. (I can't recall if this was yet a third project or affiliated 
with one of the two mentioned above.) Another village nearby had also gotten heavily 
involved in tree planting - in competition with the first village. THEN, foreign  
officials got provided some other support activities in the first village. The competing 
village got miffed and stopping all activities - I don't recall the results in the first 
village that had the outside involvement. (It is fun looking at these things! It is 
amazing what you learn.) 

Now, I don't recall the details on the above activities, and don't really feel like 
digging it up. BUT I know there have been lots of reports prepared over the years on the 
project that was based in Mopti. There have been several USAID-funded assessments that 
have documented the successes of this particular project. There have also been a lot 
of assessments of the NGO activities in Mali. You will need to do a search of the online 
USAID information - I hope you have www/ftp access. 

There is a USAID library in Rosslyn, VA which "should" have documentation on all of the 
above, and more. There was a NRMS project that was working with NGOs in Mali, among 
other countries. They produced reports, which should be useful to you. There is also a 
USAID-funded activity to track USAID-funded projects. Among other things, it had a 
database project-tracking activity as I recall, but the name of the project and company 
that had it escapes me. 

In addition to checking the USAID on-line information, Alta Vista would be a good place 
to do a search on NRMS, CCAONG, "forstry and Mopti" and any other keywords you can think 
of. I know for a fact that there is a lot of information available, you just have to 
find it. 

Good luck.

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