Theme: Use of Sustainable Natural Resource Management Strategies to Enhance Water and Food security for Sustainable Livelihoods of Smallholder Farmers
Component Lead: Dr. Patrick Kisangau

Activity One

Activity Title: Ecological assessment of High Value Multipurpose woody species diversity within the Traditional Agroforestry Systems in South Eastern Kenya

Activity Rationale

The proposed activities focus on ecological survey to establish diversity of high value multipurpose woody trees and shrub species(HVMTs) in traditional agroforestry systems in South Eastern Kenya, while contributing to the overall ASALI thematic area on Use of Sustainable Natural Resource Management Strategies to Enhance Water and Food security for Sustainable Livelihoods of Smallholder Farmers. High value multipurpose woody trees and shrubs are trees that are used for either one but very “important” purpose and/or has more than one use, and can either be planted or wild. They form a vital part of the ecosystem especially in the arid and semi-arid areas (ASAL) in Kenya and elsewhere in Africa. They support a variety of local livelihoods, providing a wide range of goods and services. HVMTs on farms help build farmers’ resilience to environmental, climate and weather-related stress by supplying additional food, fodder and alternative sources of income.

Population growth and environmental degradation on forest ecosystems lead to loss of forest area, habitat fragmentation, soil degradation, and biodiversity losses. Of international concern is to find alternative farming systems that are ecologically and economically sustainable as well as culturally acceptable to local communities. Agroforestry systems are known to bring about changes in edaphic, microclimatic, floral, faunal, and other components of the ecosystem through biorecycling of mineral elements, environmental modifications, and changes in floral and faunal composition. Traditional agroforestry practices which include crop shade tree systems, scattered trees on the farm land, home gardens, woodlots, farm boundary practices, and trees on grazing lands form a critical component of preserving and managing plant biodiversity and a source of livelihood to many local communities.
The main objective of the activity is therefore to determine ecological diversity of HVMTs within the traditional agroforestry systems in south eastern Kenya.

Sub-Objectives

  1. Determine the status of use of high value woody tree and shrub species in South Eastern Kenya
  2. Establish in ex-situ, selected high value woody species germplasm at the university botanic garden
  3. Determining diversity and encroachment levels of HVMTs
  4. Adopt into farming systems priority high value woody tree species

Sub-Activities

  1. Interviews with local farmers on important high value woody plant species occurring in their farming systems
  2. Botanical inventories to determine plant diversity
  3. Geospastial mapping on distribution of the identified high value woody species
  4. Collection of voucher specimens
  5. Taxonomic identification in the herbarium
  6. Cultivating the collected high value woody species in the university botanic garden and in the community gardens
  7. Contacting sensitization workshops on high value woody species
  8. Farmer exchange visits

Dissemination

Dissemination of findings will begin by sensitizing farmers in selected pilot localities within the project area of Kitui, Machakos and Kajiado counties. This will be guided by participatory-based prioritization of high value woody plant species by the local community in the study area. Dissemination will also be strengthened by setting up demonstration plots of high value woody species at the university and community gardens. These will act as hands-on skill and technology transfer contact points on matters of good agronomic practices, including sustainable harvesting techniques for the selected priority high value woody species. Farmer exchange visits to established tree planting nurseries like KEFRI, Kitui station among others will be encouraged. Other dissemination channels will include scientific papers, exposure to field experiments, workshops and seminars, radio and television, print media, news releases, pamphlets and brochures.