Photos of the Mbour incubator, Senegal, 2014

APAF Sénégal

Association pour la Promotion des Arbres Fertilitaires (Association for the Promotion of Self-pollinating Trees)

The Association pour la Promotion des Arbres Fertilitaires (APAF) helps promote and develop promising agroforestry techniques in the farming milieu in Sub-Sahelian regions. It revisits the traditional technique of “fertility trees”, which are multi-leveled “leguminous trees” with pivoting roots, whose bacterial and fungal surface activity greatly enriches the topsoil. This in turn favors water retention and considerably reduces input for companion crops.

This is a spectacular achievement that attests to the efficacy of agroforestry approaches applied in the appropriate context. Feedback from growers has been extremely positive. Notably, they cite 1) better crop yields, 2) greater resistance to drought and 3) additional resources from tree pruning (fodder resources and firewood).

Three key features characterize the site: the average annual rainfall is roughly 700-900 mm, the soil-type is presumably alluvial or colluvial and the field is located near lowlands (the land – for gardening purposes – is enclosed).

Thus it is not a transferable model for field crops (open fields) in northern areas (sub-arid, i.e. less than 400 mm).
However, the model could be highly useful in vegetable fields near lowlands, even in northernmost areas.

Let us also cite Mathieu Savadogo, agroecologist and director of ARFA in Burkina-Faso.

Agroforestry: there is great potential with self-pollinating trees (sp. Albizia, sp. Glyricidia, etc.), with which the APAF has much experience. But without fences, widespread range grazing risks jeopardizing the development of seedlings if adequate protection measures are not taken.

The photos and quotes by René Billaz and Mathieu Savadogo, renowned individuals working in the areas of agroecology and family agriculture, demonstrate the benefits of agroforestry with self-pollinating trees. Fields where these techniques (disseminated by the APAF) have existed in Burkina Faso for more than six years.

The APAF is currently working in synergy with other Burkinabe and French organizations on a project to promote agroecology in the Ouagalaise outskirts.

Within this framework, the association promotes the planting of self-pollinating trees and hedges. AFAP technicians also distribute enhanced compost and promote its use among the members of the Kadiogo farming cooperatives. Compost is made as part of the Tinga-Neeré project by APAF partners (BKB and Napam-Beogo). The complementary use of self-pollinating trees and compost ensures high productivity over time.

These self-pollination techniques can be directly employed in lowland fields in Sahelian countries, given that enclosures already exist in a number of these fields.

AFAP is working to develop a method using repellents and non-palatable vegetable matter in association with self-pollinating trees. It is also attempting to perfect hedge use and to spread the use of self-pollinating trees in lowlands on sloped banks and upper slopes, which are currently overrun to errant livestock, at the least cost.

The spread of self-pollination techniques and research-action is nonetheless hampered by a lack of resources and inertia, despite technicians’ willingness and intelligence and our struggle to meet the challenges of our times.
Once again, to quote René Billaz:

Four objectives for agro-ecological management are to optimize:

Water: fight runoff (levees, soil tillage with donkey traction, etc.); storage and use of water (micro-irrigation).
Nutrients N and P: rhizobia and trichoderma.
Organic matter in soils: agroforestry and self-pollinating trees.
Natural resistance to diseases and pests.

There is, of course, crossover and complementarity between the four objectives.

FDPR Intervention: agroforestry field-school and village agroforestry for field crops (Burkina), harvesting of seeds from self-fertilizing trees (Togo), biochemical and organoleptic studies for qualitative proof (for cacao and coffee) without input under self-fertilizing trees.

We are proud to support this very ambitious, concrete project. Led by field practitioners, it is complementary to the work done by Terre & Humanisme.

Bernard Chevilliat