From 11 to 22 June 2012, students from Mekelle University visited the field site of Abreha We Atsbeha in a semi-arid area of the Tigray Region, to unpack tree-crop-livestock interactions on farms within the field site, to assess drivers influencing incorporation of trees on farms and constraints and opportunities for increasing tree cover through agroforestry interventions.
The ‘Sustainable tree-crop-livestock intensification as a pillar for the Ethiopian climate resilient green economy initiative‘ early win project was funding this training workshop to collect information about current farming practices around four specific issues:
- Drivers of tree cover change over the last 50 years;
- Positioning of trees on farms (in terms of what grows well next to what and environmental impact);
- Ecosystem service provisioning of trees (in terms of domestic use, marketability, and environmental impact);
- Livestock fodder from trees and grasses (in terms of palatability and seasonal availability).
The researchers also questioned farmers about soil types found on farms to assess the potential or limitations for growing certain agricultural crops and trees in particular areas.
This training fortnight consisted in a scoping trip focusing on how the national/regional policies have been implemented on the site, two series of semi-structured interviews with farmers and a general feedback session to let farmers appreciate the students’ findings and provide feedback about them.
The farmers enjoyed the participatory nature of the training and particularly the feedback session. Altogether, such participatory approaches will be stimulated in other Africa RISING activities to increase the relevance of research and local ownership on the research results from the program.
The Africa RISING program comprises three linked research-for-development projects, funded by the USAID Feed the Future Initiative, and aiming to sustainably intensify mixed farming systems in West Africa (Southern Mali and Northern Ghana), the Ethiopian Highlands and East and Southern Africa (Tanzania, Zambia and Malawi).
To produce some short-term outputs and to support the longer term objectives of the projects, in 2012 Africa RISING funded several small, short-term projects in each of the regions. More information.