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Contributions of homestead agroforestry during the war in Tigray, Ethiopia

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Authors: Mitiku Haile, Desta Gebremichael, Halefom Gebrekidan, Dawit Gebregziabher, Girmay Darcha and Woldemariam Gebreslassie

General - 2024

ISSUE No.: 62

DOI: http://doi.org/10.55515/QTQO6781

Language: English

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Rapid population growth and unplanned settlement and resettlement has increased agricultural development in Ethiopia's Tigray Region, causing forest and land degradation. Governmental and non-governmental organisations have responded to this by establishing exclosures and communal grazing lands to foster natural regeneration. Their efforts have significantly enhanced environmental recovery, reduced soil erosion and increased water recharge, but challenges remain. Transplanted seedlings have low growth and survival rates, and economic gain is hampered by biased benefit sharing and ownership. Additionally, the war that began in Tigray in 2020 has made it difficult to implement watershed-level communal plantations. Farmers and their families have, therefore, adopted homestead agroforestry, an integrated tree-crop-animal production system. The Relief Society of Tigray (REST) assessed farmers' experiences with homestead agroforestry practices and found that, in addition to providing beneficial ecosystem services, homestead agroforestry had contributed significantly towards income generation, food production and energy supply, which proved especially vital in times of war and extreme poverty. The tree species Ziziphus spina-christi was even named "the tree that saved lives" as its fruit became a staple food for those affected by the war. Homestead agroforestry also reduced pressure on forests by meeting people´s increasing need for biomass energy, helping to curb deforestation. Despite its many benefits, there remain challenges to developing homestead agroforestry, but available remedies and recent advancements have led district leaders to commit to making homestead agroforestry their priority agenda. Regional strategic documents, technical and financial support, and capacity strengthening are now needed to propel homestead agroforestry to improve more people’s livelihoods and further mitigate forest degradation and land loss.  

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