Box 3.5 Acacia nilotica in Djibouti


Acacia nilotica subspecies tomentosa, known locally as Kassal-to, occurs naturally on silty clay soils in intermittently flooded valleys in north-west and south-west Djibouti. It is planted in gardens throughout the country and is appreciated for its tolerance of drought and high levels of salinity.

In the Madgoul Valley, A. nilotica is a highly valued forage source for milking goats, but also for fat-tailed sheep and dromedaries. The optimum density of trees is 100 plants/ha. The branches are lopped and leaves, pods and flowers are collected and fed. The foliage is much sought after by small ruminants and camels even though the leaves and especially the pods are rich in tannins. Flowers are especially palatable and are reserved for young goats and young lambs. Camels eat whole pods while goats eat green pods but do not relish the seeds.

In fact, the pods (80 to 100 kg per adult tree) are used to tan the hides of goats to be made into water containers. The skin is filled with crushed, wet pods for 48 hours.

The pods, ground in water are also used medicinally for treatment of diabetes and ulcers. The wood is currently not used despite a scarcity of fuelwood.

The Djibouti Government, with foreign assistance, wishes to develop livestock production by transferring this indigenous system to the vast alluvial plains which are flooded twice per year.

Source: Audru et al. (1992)

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