A new study, conducted by a team of 21 researchers from World Agroforestry (ICRAF) and London’s School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, reveals agroforestry’s impacts on food and nutrition security in sub-Saharan Africa.
Agroforestry is a method of integrating trees with crops and livestock and is linked with more benefits for human and planetary health. The findings also highlight the impacts of growing trees along with crops on migration, non-communicable diseases and infectious diseases.
The lead researcher from the study, Todd Rosenstock, told Food Tank in an interview how agroforestry provides stability in food production. Specifically, it increases the availability of micronutrient-rich fruits, seeds and nuts during lean growing periods.
Agroforestry influences “the growth and production of companion crops and animals … affect[ing] food security by generating cash from sales of tree products that enable the purchase of other products,” he said. Tree products make up 6% to 17% of annual incomes in Ethiopia, Malawi, Nigeria, Tanzania and Uganda, which the report points out may help keep young people in rural areas.
The study reports that agroforestry provides an opportunity to combat disease due to the antioxidant-rich, disease-fighting benefits of fruits—70% of which come from trees. Added benefits include prevention of both air pollution and heat exposure for farmworkers and regulation of solar radiation and wind.
Studies also report considerable improvements in water permeating through soil by up to 81%; an increase in crop and livestock production 68% of the time; and a reduction of air temperatures by up to 6 degrees. Certainly a new farming methodology that is worth more research.
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