Mutoko district is one of the districts in Mashonaland East Province where Forestry Commission programs are being implemented to a large extent. The Commission, together with various non-governmental organisations have been educating the community on Agro forestry. Agro forestry is aimed at increasing food security, income nutrition and thereby alleviating poverty.
Agro forestry is a deliberate management of trees with other crops on the same land area to gain benefits from the mutual interactions of the whole growing system. It can also be defined as the management of trees , crops and livestock on the same piece of land for both ecological and economic benefits.( L.Tapfumanei, 1999).
Another school of thought defines agro forestry as an integrated approach of using the interactive benefits from combining trees and shrubs with crops and/or livestock. It combines agricultural and forestry technologies to create more diverse, productive, profitable, healthy, and sustainable land-use systems
The major agro forestry techniques used are; improved fallow, alley cropping, relay cropping, home gardens, trees in soil conservation and reclamation and live fences.
Below is a table showing practice, description of arrangement of components and the tree species that can be used.
|Agro forestry Practice
|Description on arrangement of components
|Woody Species planted and left to grow during the fallow phase, this is much better than shifting cultivation
|Woody species in hedges, agricultural species in alleys between hedges
|Intimate multistory combination of various trees, tree components and crops around homesteads
|Trees in Soil Conservation and reclamation
|Trees on bunds, terraces for soil reclamation
|Trees around farmlands
Potential impacts of agro forestry can include:
- Reducing poverty through increased production of agro forestry products for home consumption and sale
- Contributing to food security by restoring farm soil fertility for food crops and production of fruits, nuts and edible oils
- Reducing deforestation and pressure on woodlands by providing fuelwood grown on farms
- Increasing diversity of on-farm tree crops and tree cover to buffer farmers against the effects of global climate change
- Improving nutrition to lessen the impacts of hunger and chronic illness associated with HIV/AIDS
- Augmenting accessibility to medicinal trees, the main source of medication for 80% of Africa’s population