Shimbwe Juu Kihamba Agro-forestry Heritage Site, Tanzania
The Upland Agro-forestry system in the Northern Tanzania is found in the Usambara Mountains, the Pare Mountains and other areas of the Eastern Arc and in the slopes of Mt. Kilimanjaro. The Uru-Shimbwe Juu village is located on the foot slope of Mount Kilimanjaro, covering a surface area of 619 hectares. The Kihamba (Chagga home garden) is characterized by the unique feature of multilayered vegetation structure similar to a tropical montane forest. A typical Chagga home garden is composed of four vegetation layers. The uppermost layer is formed by sparsely spaced trees which provide shade, medicine, fodder, fruits, firewood and timber for some species. Under this layer more than 15 varieties of bananas are grown. Under the bananas there are coffee shrubs and under these, vegetables of variable species including climbers are grown.
This multilayer system maximizes the use of limited land, by combining crops with livestock rearing, where the components interact synergistically to sustain productivity. While the crop residues and fodder provide animal feed, the manure and litter of the livestock provide renewable sources of organic matter and plant nutrients. They help reduce dependence on inorganic chemical fertilizers and maintain soil health, resulting in a high degree of organic recycling. As a result, soil fertility in the Upland Agro-forestry System is higher than in other systems. The system is agronomically productive, economically sustainable and efficient, and environmentally safe.