“A project to reforest areas of drought in Niger is helping to buck the trend of food shortage.”

I was looking for an update on The Great Green Wall that is planned to halt desertification in Africa by planting millions of trees in a 9 mile wide by 4,400 mile long forest corridor. I found an interesting article in The Guardian that describes an innovative project in Niger called Farmer Managed Natural Regeneration (FMNR). Tony Rinaldo of World Vision promotes pruning of trees to stimulate growth in addition to planting new trees. “Historically, farmers there removed any trees or bushes that sprouted up in their fields. But following a devastating drought in the 1980s farmers decided to allow the natural vegetation to grow and planted food crops around it. The result was a surplus of food and 12 million acres of trees, an area the size of Costa Rica.” Compare this low tech natural approach to the expensive approach being taken by Qatar.

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Comments

Reforestation project adds hope to food crisis — 14 Comments

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  5. The key component in the formula for success is working WITH the local farmers.

    When Westerners attempt to impose a commericalized system, or a western style system on the poor, it usually causes increases in poverty, famine, and disease.

    When attempts are made to work WITH the local farmers and their local culture, success tends to follow.

    The great news is that due to the efforts of local farmers at reforestation, large swaths of Niger are almost famine proof. I’m not saying that there is not poverty or struggle. Clearly that is still common. Way too common, sadly. However, the situation is improving dramatically in the areas where farmers are growing trees, especially fruit trees, on their land instead of cutting trees down.

    It this can be done in one of the poorest countries on the planet, it can be done anywhere when adapted to local conditions, climates, native trees, customs, and cultures.

    Imagine if EVERY house built everywhere had a stand of fruit trees surrounding it?

    Imagine if vegetable gardens were considered “sexy” or “attractive” in appearance instead of wasteful lawns? What if this became “trendy” and actually became competitive? Imagine if “Keeping up with the Joneses” changed its meaning from having an immaculate lawn to growing the best vegetables and fruit? What if the vast tracts of suburbia grew food around their houses and challenged their neighbors to donate more fresh produce to the local food pantry?

    Imagine how health care costs would plummet with everyone eating healthy food?

    • Improved health from eating way more fruits and vegetables: I’ve been reading about this and watching a lot of videos lately. We all know fruits and vegetables are healthy, so I got to thinking what if I ate a lot of them and cut out less healthy foods in search of a perfect diet. Well, 8 months later my plan is working great. YouTube videos in particular have been very informative and inspirational. Sites such as Nutrition Facts.org have helped guide my efforts.

  6. This project would not have been possible without the stellar research efforts of the Eden Foundation:

    http://www.naturalbuildingblog.com/eden-foundation/

    Without knowing and understanding the native trees, bushes, and other plants that provide food in the desert, no project of this type would have any idea where to start.

    He is doing great work to be sure, but as is the case with most efforts, we all build upon the work of others.

    Also, there is one factual error in the video. Trees CAN be planted from seed in the Sahel successfully. The Eden Foundation has proven that all over the region and farmers gladly come to the Eden Foundation to get more seeds.

    Clearly both planting from seed as well as regenerating old root stocks work great when done correctly.

    Great Post.

    • Just think of the huge impact this project could have on the region — jobs, improved health, increased food supply, tourism. That’s a massive shelter belt for sure. I love reading about positive solutions like this.

  7. The key concept is working with nature. Obviously there will be a very high loss rate of newly planted trees in the desert. Much better to save the trees that grow naturally and farm around them.

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