Agroforestry in Africa
Agroforestry is not a new idea; it is merely a new word used by scientists to describe ancient land use practices operated by farmers in many parts of the world. Other names stressing different aspects of the same technique include forest farming, forest interculture, layered gardening, and multistorey farming. The latter word has been used in West Africa to refer to a system where crops are produced from the same area of land at several levels or storeys, ranging from tops of trees (oil palms, for example), to ground crops beneath the trees, and to root crops below ground (yams, cocoyams, cassava).
Rediscovery of such farming methods during the last third of the twentieth century was linked to a realization that imported western techniques in tropical Africa had often led to soil erosion and loss of fertility. Cleared fields planted with single crops in the western manner left the soil acutely vulnerable to damage by heavy seasonal rainfall. By contrast, trees gave protection against...
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