Current extent of Evergreen Agriculture and Prospects for Improving Food Security and Environmental Resilience in Ethiopia


Kiros Meles Hadgu, Mowo, J, Garrity, DP, Sileshi G

Agroforestry in Ethiopia has received increasing attention in recent years as a way of improving food security and environmental sustainability. This paper reviews and assesses the current status and potential of Faidherbia (acacia) albida (Del.) A. Chev. to contribute to evergreen agriculture (integration of trees with annual food crops to maintain vegetative soil cover and nutrient supply through nitrogen fixation and nutrient cycling) in Ethiopia. A total of 115 farmers were randomly selected from different altitudinal zones for interview and observations of their farms. About 95% of the respondents confirmed that Faidherbia albida increases grain yield of cereal crops from 1 t/ha to 2.5 t/ha through enhancement of soil fertility and soil moisture retention. In addition, almost all respondents (97.5%) consider Faidherbia albida as beneficial tree species for improving their livelihood by providing livestock fodder, bee forage, fuel wood and income (through sale of mortars, wooden car stoppers, tables and stools). It also serves as vegetative soil cover during the long dry season, reduces soil erosion and provides shade for livestock and people. The paper concludes that there are good prospects for evergreen agriculture (for example, Faidherbia based farming practices) in the country as a means of improving smallholder food production, livelihood and the environment. The paper recommends experimental research and farmers testing on succession of fertilizer tree species which can fix N in short-, medium- and long-terms. In addition to N fertilization, evergreen agriculture should also consider other plant nutrient requirements like P and K through application of small dose of mineral fertilizer or other low cost inputs.

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