Thursday, October 27, 2011

African agroforestry needs better quality seeds

A study has found that poor farmers in Sub-Saharan Africa could benefit from wider distribution of certified tree seeds to boost the quality of agroforestry schemes. Agroforestry — the practice of integrating trees into agricultural landscapes — can improve the livelihoods of small-scale farmers. But many of the trees planted do not reach their yield potential because of the poor quality of seed germplasm, say the authors of research published in the September issue of Agroforestry Systems. Their research found that just three countries in Sub-Saharan Africa — Burkina Faso, Madagascar and Rwanda — have seed certified according to the international standard from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). Although countries such as Kenya and Zimbabwe have national tree seed centres, they lack legislation that determines which seeds can be used for agroforestry. Compulsory certification is not in place partly because it would increase the cost of seeds for farmers, say the researchers.

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