Tree crops for long dry season environment

Does anyone have experience in Malawi or southern Africa with Acacia colei. Malawi has a long dry season (April to Nov/December) and food security is low during the rainy season.

We are thinking of planting acacia colei for its nutritious seeds and supply of firewood and moringa olifera for their edible leaves as part of an agro-forestry / GMCC system.

Would anyone be able to tell me about yourexperience with A Colei. What time of the year might Acacia colei’s pods be ready for harvested? What other things might be useful to know?

If you have any other tree crops recommendations for a long dry season environment, that would be helpful too.

What would the benefits over pigeon pea be? We use that here a lot (Central Tanzania, 7-8 months dry season as well, ~500mm of rain)…

Benefits include environmental, food and firewood. See full explanation over many years of experience of these Australian Acacias in Niger, ECHO Technical Note 60 TN #60 The Farmer Managed Agro-forestry Farming System (FMAFS) |

Agroforestry in Dryland Africa
“Trees planted in cropland also provide several products of value to
farmers. Acacia albida provides pods for supplementing livestock feed
during the dry season when forage is scarce, branches for thorn fencing
and wood for utensils, such as bowls, water troughs and large mortars
used for cereal pounding in many parts of the Sahel. A. albida wood
is also used in Northern Kenya for bowls and water troughs. This
species has the added advantage of shedding its leaves during the crop
growing season. Thus it does not shade the growing crops, yet provides
shade to the soil during the dry season.
In many areas, the Borassus palm furnishes the only available construction
material that resists termites and rot, used to build the flat
roofs traditional in much of the Sahel. Borassus also provides food: Not
only are different portions of the fruit consumed at different stages of
ripening, but the young shoots, which grow underground, are considered
a local delicacy and can be sold at a good price. The fronds are
used for woven mats, roofing, fencing panels and walls for houses, while
Borassus frond stems make excellent fencing material because they are
sturdy, long lasting and thorny.
Farmers report that these palms do not interfere with crops growing
underneath during the first 5 to 10 years of growth. If the crowns
grow too large and shade the crops, a few fronds can be cut from each
tree and used for weaving. Over the next 10 to 15 years, when cropping
is impossible directly underneath the trees, a grass cover becomes
established that makes excellent pasture for animals. After the trees have
grown taller and certainly once they are 40 years old or older fanning
underneath them can take place completely unhindered and without
any loss in yields. In fact, crops planted near Borassus palms seem to
give higher yields even in areas where tree densities are in the order of
300 to 400 stems per hectare, such as Borassus stands in the Bana forest,
near Gaya, Southern Niger.
Acacia senegal provides gum, fuelwood and fodder. The fodder is
especially important in years when grass cover is sparse because of poor
rainfall. A. senegal also fixes nitrogen, improves the condition of the soil
and its wood is regarded as one of the best available in dry areas.
Parkia biglobosa and Butyrospermunm parkli both produce fruits
that are used extensively as a staple food in substantial areas of Senegal,
Cameroon, Chad, Guinea, Ghana, Ivory Coast, Togo, Benin and
Nigeria. Butyrospernum parkii produces a butter that is appreciated as
far away as Japan, while the pods from the Parkia biglobosa tree are
used in a sauce that accompanies the staple cereal dish in extensive
rural areas.
Markhamia platycalyx provides high-quality wood for construction
and furniture, as well as a limited quantity of fuelwood as a by-product.
Its leaves are used as fodder in times of drought. Many farmers in Siaya
District, Kenya, are willing to give up some cropland space to grow
these trees on the basis of the economic returns from their products.
Some evidence also suggests that this species may have a beneficial
effect on soil fertility.
These six tree species are a mainstay of life in the Sahel and other
dry areas of Africa. Aside from these well-known species, there are
scores of other trees occupying similar niches in site-specific land-use
systems throughout the continent. These local trees may be better
suited to people’s needs and conditions than any of the exotic species
mentioned in this manual. It might be worthwhile to compare different
species, using a mix of widely used trees with local ones. Chapter 2 and
Appendix III provide some suggestions on how to identify likely candidates for trials.”
Agroforestry_in_dryland Africa ICRAF 1988.pdf (8.1 MB)

“Trees, shrubs and palms which originally occurred on part of the land and occasionally
regenerated during the fallow periods or survived on unutilized spots, were soon discovered
to have multiple uses, many of them as food. Prominent species with edible fruit or seeds,
leaves, shoots, flowers and gums are Acacia Senegal, Adansonia digitata, Annona
senegalensis, Balanites aegyptiaca, Borassus aethiopum, Butyrospermum parkii, Cordyla
pinnata, Detarium senegalense, Dialium guineense, Ficus spp., Hyphaene thebaica,
Lannea spp., Parinari spp., Parkia biglobosa, Phoenix dactylifera, Sclerocarya birrea,
Sterculia setigera, Tamarindus indica and Ziziphus mauritiana. In addition, other species
were used to provide leaves for teas, spices and condiments. Usually these trees, shrubs and
palms were carefully protected but rarely actively regenerated and maintained. This was
different with “imported” species from other regions of the world, many of which quickly
became fully integrated. Species such as Anacardium occidentale, Artocarpus spp., Citrus
spp., Cocos nucifera, Mangifera indica, Moringa oleifera and Persea americana were
planted, bred, selected and grafted, and sometimes fertilized, irrigated and pruned. That is,
a more or less pronounced arboriculture was practised even in early times within the
agrosilvopastoral systems.”
in: “Agroforestry in the dry zones of Africa: past, present and future”, H.-J. von Maydell in “Agroforestry
a decade of development”, 1987, ICRAF
Agroforestry Decade of Development 1987 ICRAF.pdf (4.6 MB)

Agroforestry’s contribution to livelihoods and carbon sequestration in East
Africa: A systematic review

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“Climate-Smart Agriculture? A review of current practice of agroforestry and conservation agriculture in Malawi and Zambia” Kaczan, David,Lipper, Leslie, 2013

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