Improved food security through FMNR

August 25, 2014

Can tree regeneration through FMNR contribute to improved child nutrition? Yes, it can and it does. There are numerous anecdotal accounts of how communities practicing FMNR have experienced the direct and indirect impacts of tree regeneration on food access and availability.

  • Children and families have access to more wild fruit, edible leaves, nuts, fungi, honey and wild meat, often coming from a situation where none were available, or they were very scarce, or long distances had to be travelled to obtain them.
  • FMNR practiced on farmland increases yield of annual crops. In Niger it is estimated that crop yields have doubled, producing an additional 500,000 tons of grain every year across the nation. (there are an estimated five million hectares of FMNR on farmland in Niger).
  • Domestic animal products increase: milk and meat production increase because of increased availability of fodder – from tree leaves, seed pods and grasses (communities usually stop burning the bushland and grass when they begin practicing FMNR). Spectacular increases in milk production have been recorded in Kenya; in Offaka, Uganda, farmers have substantially increased their goat and cattle herd sizes.
  • Greater disposable income due to sale of wood and non-timber forest products (honey, medicines, dyes…) means that families have greater purchasing power and can buy more food and more nutritious food if they choose. In Niger it is estimated that increased income due to FMNR is in the order of $1,000 per household per year, totalling $900 million nationwide.
  • There have been specific cases of FMNR reducing the impact of famine/ food shortages as families have been able to draw on FMNR ‘reserves’ and sell wood in order to buy grain etc. see attachment. Additionally, in times of drought many farmers would have to sell their animals at low prices, or watch them die. Where FMNR is practiced the need to sell cheaply is greatly reduced because trees continue to produce edible leaves and seed pods even during drought.

If our parents kept destroying the environment at the rate that they were, when we grow up, we would not be able to have children of our own, because we would not be able to feed them.

School boy, Senegal

We eat [fruits] any time we want to, and if our parents have not prepared food we can just go to the bush. I have had some fruit every day this week, since the beginning of the wet season. In the past … we did not bother to look … to check if there are berries or not. But now, it is a routine practice. Any time we are passing by, we make a brief stop-over to look for red berries to eat.”

Yameriga children, Talensi, Ghana

[Community members] can get wildlife from there now that bush burning and destruction of forest has disappeared. They are even coming back to breed. This means meat. Animals include rabbits, partridge birds, antelopes, native rats, monitor lizards, snakes … Before the land was so bare, there was nowhere for these animals. Now that there is natural regeneration of the shrubs, it is returning to how it was 100 years ago: forest.

Edward Agumah, Ministry of Food and Agriculture, Ghana

Adults and children eat and collect many varieties of wild fruits ochaa (black fruit), lade (a small red fruit similar to mango, with milk in it), aste, mullaho and boyniboyee (one of children’s favorite because of its sweetness). Most of the time children collect these fruits between May and August when they go to the forest to get firewood and cut grass.

From Humbo, Ethiopia

Some years ago you are considered as a lazy person if you do not till your land before sowing. Trees, grasses and shrubs are cut and burnt letting the soil bare.  Thanks to the new techniques based on pruning the branches of the trees and scattering throughout the field, a change was noticed because the production was doubled. There is a good crop production, the soil is protected from erosion and heat and women can always have wood fire when the pruned branches dried up.” 

Ndilmbaye Mbayo, Farmer, Krim-Krim, Chad

This year is very exceptional for me because I have been able to get enough sorghum. I cultivated 1 hectare and harvested 15 bags of sorghum. Generally, I could get 3 to 5 bags when working in this land in the past. This would have been impossible if I was not taught the new FMNR technique of land management.

Khadidja Gangan, 35 year old mother of 6 living in Birlime village, Chad

Everything should not be just for food. Other things should have a right to live too. There is something (good) deep  inside of us when we see nature (birds, animals, trees).

Francis Lelenguya, FMNR volunteer extension agent, Kiambogoko, Kenya

Tony Rinaudo is Natural Resources Advisor in the Food Security and Climate Change Team at World Vision Australia. Tony pioneered FMNR in Niger during the 1980s and his tecniques have been adopted by farmers all over the world