Re: Forests and trees provide benefits for food security and nutrition– what is your say?

Mr. John Ngatia FAO, Kenya

Trees and food security!

A critical issue particularly for the arid, semi arid and savannahs of sub Sahara Africa. Trees and woodlands provide fruits, livestock feeds and also incomes (charcoal, honey etc) and land/soil protection from degrading forces. Indeed trees on our land are far more important than economists make us believe.

To address regional diversity, it may be important to ensure that regional specific conditions and seasonality’s are thoroughly understood including traditional coping mechanisms associated with trees. It would make sense to probably allow room for adaptable policy frameworks for diverse application. Trees and tree products come in handy when nothing else is capable of supporting livelihoods in the semi dry land woodlands. In Kenya for example, the Baobab tree provides not only food supplements during drought but also enhances the nutritional value of the starch (maize) which is usually the most easily available food. Incorporating small livestock like rabbits and poultry in Agro forestry systems can greatly enhance nutritional value of the food as it addresses food security issues. 

Harnessing tree crops for production such gums, frankincense, resins etc can further increase local incomes and so improve food security. This coupled with potential for carbon sequestration can provide additional income and incentives to ensure more are planted and more are conserved.