What is agroforestry? What can it be used for and where is its place in the DRC?

Agroforestry is a management concept that allies annual or biannual food-producing crops with wood production by planting trees on the same land as crops in alternating strips. It is particularly present in France where agricultural land is being abandoned and there is current policy to develop renewable energies through fuelwood production.

The first trials in the DRC use fast-growing tree varieties alongside corn and manioc crops. The idea is to be able to provide local populations with both food and makala (coal) where it is difficult to get a steady, local supply of wood. These fuelwood productions also greatly benefit large agglomerations where the surrounding environment and natural Miombo woodlands are subject to overuse. There are also advantages to be had in the selection of species planted. Some, such as acacias, enrich the soil with azote.

Agroforestry is an adapted management method that also provides landowners and farmers a means of diversifying their production. Ideally planted alternatively on each plot of land, the trees will reach production and each plot will successively provide a significant about of wood for makala at each harvest.   

Agroforestry projects include AFODEK set up by the Belgian NGO Gret to cultivate some 2,000 hectares of degraded Miombo woodland in the Kipushi territory using a system of intensified, diversified and sustainable crop and wood production (acacia plantations). This project was launched in December 2012 and allows local populations to benefit from specific know-how and, as of 2020, from revenue made from harvesting the first acacia plantations.

Christophe Descamps, Forestry and Environment Engineer, Forestry Management Advisor based in France and Lubumbashi +33 (0)6 77 62 13 91 or 085 28 52 094


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