Growing Trees and Lives for Farmers in Rufunsa

With grayish bark, and small dark oval leaves, the Faidherbia Albida tree, more commonly known as Musangu, an indigenous tree in Zambia. Rural farmers in Zambia know it as the “fertilizer tree.” Unlike many trees whose leaves grow back during the rainy season, Musangu, instead loses its nutrient rich leaves at the start of the rainy season in December. When the leaves fall to the ground, rhizobium bacteria living in the roots of the tree break down the leaves adding nitrogen to the soil. Farmers can plant their crops, like maize, under the Musangu trees, and naturally fertilize their fields.

Musangu is just one of the many trees species grown by the Forestry Department at their tree nursery in Chinyunyu, in Rufunsa District, located an hour and a half from Zambia`s capital city, Lusaka. This nursery was created to grow trees that will be used to replace the forest that has been cut down, while also providing nitrogen-fixing trees to help local farmers improve soil fertility to grow crops.

 

Started in 1989, the nursery has become popular within the local community, with a high demand for trees. So much so, that in early 2016 the Forestry Department requested assistance to expand its original nursery, in order to meet this growing demand. Within the same year, BCP was able to facilitate this support, as part of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID)-funded Community Forests Program.

 

Expansion of the Chinyunyu Nursery began in June of 2016, with the USAID Community Forests Program implemented by BCP, providing $7,000 for seed collection, the establishment of seedlings, and the renovation of the nursery. The upgraded nursery will allow the Forestry Department to greatly support and expand tree planting activities in Rufunsa District.

“We have done a number of tree planting activities with BCP. We requested BCP to help with expanding our nursery because we want to maximize the growth of trees to mitigate climate change and promote more tree planting because there is too much deforestation going on in Rufunsa. We already have a lot of farmers who have registered with the Department to collect seedlings and we will also be distributing trees to local schools” explained Mrs. Grace Daka, the District Forestry Officer from the Forestry Department in Rufunsa.

 

As a result of the support from the USAID-funded Community Forests Program implemented by BCP, the nursery’s size has grown, extending the nursery’s grass fence from 35 meters by 35 meters to 35meters by 65 meters, almost doubling its size. This extra space has enabled the nursery to house up to 120,000 seedlings and increase the variety of trees grown. Nursery seedlings now include fruit trees like Guava, Lemons, Peaches and trees like Jacaranda, Mulombe and Khaya nyasica. Additionally, the Forestry Department plans to introduce Grevillea trees, which are popular in East Africa as both a renewable source of timber and its ability to help restore and naturally fertilize soil. To make a modern nursery, other items provided by BCP under the Community Forests Program included fencing materials, polythene pots, and payment of logistics to contractors for labor and transportation.

 The Forestry Department staff run the nursery efficiently, collecting seeds in the forests, preparing plastic containers with soil and growing seedlings; Germination is rapid. Seedlings take one to three months to grow large enough to be distributed to local farmers for planting in their fields.

 

Already the expanded tree nursery expansion is beginning to pay off. Since works were completed in December 2016, over 100 local famers have been able to access trees for agriculture purposes. Mr. Muhau, a farmer from nearby Ndubula village, is one of the new beneficiaries, who already sees the value of trees and is able to plant Musangu, Moringa and Gliricidia. As he explains, “I get my seedlings from the nursery at the Forestry Department to help me grow my crops and keep the field fertilized. Currently I am also selling Moringa powder at the market and its giving me some income to take care of my family.”

This blog is made possible by the support of the American People through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). The content of this blog are the sole responsibility of BCP and do not necessarily reflect the views of USAID or the United States Government.

 

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