Small farmers in Africa are being encouraged to venture into agroforestry to diversify their income and counter climate change by the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD).
“We are trying to promote this method to develop other food crops that palm oil on the same surface.Being diversified can better absorb economic shocks, “ said Amath Pathe Sene, coordinator IFAD, at a forum in Abidjan devoted to palm oil and rubber (Africa oil and rubber summmit).
“Many small farmers, whose long-term vision involves the transmission of heritage to their children, are starting or returning to agroforestry systems, particularly in Côte d’Ivoire, which is still a minority, but this fundamental movement is going grow, “says Patrick Jagoret, deputy director of a joint research unit at the Center for International Cooperation. in Agronomic Research for Development (CIRAD).
Some have never abandoned it, and in Cameroon and the countries of the subregion, for example, these ancestral practices have remained valid because farmers have seen the value of the systems.
IFAD believes agroforestry, a technique that involves planting trees, crops or animals on the same piece of land, will decrease the disadvantages of monocultures in agriculturre.
Small producers account for 40% of the world’s palm oil production, a product characterized by price volatility.
When prices fall, producers can sometimes no longer support themselves and are forced to go into debt or sometimes sell their land to survive. Having food crops or ancillary income reduces this dependence on world prices.
“There is very little information on the area already occupied by agroforestry in Africa, particularly because of the lack of an agricultural census,” says Patrick Jagoret, deputy director of a joint research unit at the Center for International Cooperation. in Agronomic Research for Development (CIRAD).
This specialist in agroforestry, however, observes a “reversal of situation, slowly but surely”, thanks in particular to the awareness on an institutional and local scale of the danger represented by the monoculture approach.
“Some have never abandoned it, and in Cameroon and the countries of the subregion, for example, these ancestral practices have remained valid because farmers have seen the value of the systems put in place by their parents and grandparents. “, he adds.
In Ivory Coast, the sector employs more than one million people, according to an estimate of the national center for agronomic research.
Agroforestry would also help to combat global warming.
“The Paris agreement imposes to stay below 1.5 degrees of global warming.If we continue to plant unsustainably, we will not achieve the objectives,” said Amath Pathe Sene.