Box 1.1

The value of forage tree legumes in agriculture:

For livestock:

  • Valuable source of high quality, protein rich forage, for subsistence and commercial livestock production
  • Able to supply foliage during dry periods when herbaceous species are not available
  • Deep rooted drought tolerant leguminous trees often present the only options for introduction of exotic species to improve forage diets in arid and semi-arid regions
  • Used as living fences for livestock
  • Some species used as anthelmintic in mono-gastric livestock 

For farming systems:

  • They are a source of N-rich mulch for cropping systems
  • They can enhance the sustainability of farming systems due to longevity, fertility enhancement characteristics, and physical stability in the landscape
  • They often supply trellises or support for climbing crops, and shade for plantation crops,
  • They can be a valuable source of fruit, vegetables and herbal medicines for human consumption 

For people and the environment:

  • Their use offers opportunity to intensify agricultural production sustainably
  • Forage trees are used to stabilize sloping lands and sand dunes against erosion due to their deep rooted habit
  • Forage trees are often the principal source of timber, fuelwood, and charcoal for domestic consumption 
  • They provide habitat for wildlife, and as woody perennials, act as a sink for CO2 with positive effects on climate 
  • Tree legume foliage, whether sold as fresh forage or pelletised and exported, is a source of cash income for farmers
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