Rwanda to plant drought resistant trees

As a way of enhancing soil conservation and fertility, farmers will be provided with special tree species to plant in and around their farms.Studies indicate that the perennial food shortage in most African countries is partly due to prolonged drought caused by lack of adequate and appropriate tree species that can absorb water and are resistant to drought.
(L-R) Dr Dennis Garrity president of ICRAF, Jeremias G.Mowo regional representative Eastern Africa and AHI Coordinator, and the DG of the Rwanda Agriculture Board Prof Martin Shem share a light moment during the meeting. The New Times/Timothy Kisambira.
(L-R) Dr Dennis Garrity president of ICRAF, Jeremias G.Mowo regional representative Eastern Africa and AHI Coordinator, and the DG of the Rwanda Agriculture Board Prof Martin Shem share a light moment during the meeting. The New Times/Timothy Kisambira.

As a way of enhancing soil conservation and fertility, farmers will be provided with special tree species to plant in and around their farms.

Studies indicate that the perennial food shortage in most African countries is partly due to prolonged drought caused by lack of adequate and appropriate tree species that can absorb water and are resistant to drought.

Some of the species that will be distributed include Faidaherbia Albida, Almus Acumen among others.

Faidaherbia Albida is one of the fastest growing indigenous trees. It is deciduous and can grow up to 30 metres tall. The tree loses its leaves during the summer, thus providing fodder during the wet season.

Its leaves are nutritious; the seeds have high protein content and the pods are high in starch.

Yesterday, Rwanda Agricultural Board (RAB), in collaboration with World Agro Forestry Centre (ICRAF) held a consultative workshop with other stakeholders to discuss modalities of the distribution of the trees countrywide.

Prof Shem Martin Ndabikunze, the Director General of the Rwanda Agricultural Board (RAB) disclosed, in an interview, that they plan to plant the trees countrywide, adding that it is their obligation is to ensure soil fertility.

“We shall plant trees that are of good quality to our soil. These trees will provide food for our animals and help in preventing soil erosion,” he said.

Ndabikunze confirmed that the project would commence in one year’s time in parts of Bugesera, Gishwati Forest before, it spreads to other parts of the country.

The forestry sector is part of Vision 2020, and according to the Ministry of Natural Resources, forest cover is set to reach 30 percent by 2020.

According to research, most often, the poorest and vulnerable parts of society depend on the forests and this could be the reason why the government is embarking on forestry development.

ICRAF Director General, Dr. Dennis P.Garrity, noted that his organisation is ready to collaborate with the government to ensure that the trees are planted.

“Development of agro-forestry is vital and needed in Rwanda. We are going to provide these trees to farmers and we want Rwanda to achieve the target of 30 percent of forest cover,” he noted, adding that the project had worked in countries like Tanzania, Malawi, and Kenya.

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