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PART I - Tree seed education at agricultural and forestry colleges: Report of an interactive needs assessment

1. Background

Agroforestry has been accepted as a tool for sustainable land use and natural resources management (Steppler and Nair, 1987; Nair, 1991). Indications are that what used to be considered as old practices and concepts are now being considered as having a national, regional and global impact on sustainable management of natural resources and the environment as a whole and warrants attention at all levels (Hytonen (ed.), 1995; Tikkanen and Pajari (eds.), 1998). Nair (1991) (op cit.) expresses the importance of agroforestry in the world: "Agroforestry systems are many and varied. So are their functions, roles and outputs, not only in the developing countries of the tropics but also in the industrialized countries. The magnitude of benefits derived from these systems could be vastly increased by scientific management."

In eastern and southern Africa, agroforestry initiatives, for example, have been adapted for improving soil fertility (improved fallows, relay cropping, tree/crop mixed intercropping), soil and water conservation (contour tree planting, contour hedges and grass/tree strips), woodlots, trees along farm boundaries and around homesteads for fuelwood, poles and timber, live (green) fences and fodder banks (CTA, 2002).

Fundamental rationale for this study is that though tree seed is taught to foresters in forestry colleges, forester involvement in frontline extension is quite limited. Graduates of agricultural colleges form the bulk of employees of governments and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) involved in frontline extension. Thus the rationale for this survey was to establish the extent to which agricultural programmes at colleges include tree germplasm management on farm and related issues, and whether or not there was a need to introduce and/or improve tree seed education in colleges.

The value of trees on farms has attracted much interest recently and quite interesting results of surveys have been achieved (Temu et al., 1999). A comprehensive survey conducted in Nakuru and Nyandarua Districts in Kenya by Njuguna et al. (1993 and 1998) indicated that by 1993 the number of trees per farm had increased by 73 percent from 656 to 1,137 trees per farm, while tree density had increased from 250 trees per hectare to 397 trees per hectare in 1998 (an increase of 59 percent). The role of trees in smallholder farming systems in Kenya (high, medium and low potential areas) was studied by Njenga et al. (1999) between 1995 and 1997 in Nyeri and Mwingi District of the eastern province of Kenya. Their results revealed that the income derived from tree crops in high, medium and low potential areas of Kenya was 51 percent, 40 percent and 18 percent of the total farm income, respectively. This shows that tree crops function as a major source of income for farmers in the different farming systems. Fuelwood production from trees planted on farms accounts for over 70 percent, 80 percent and 85 percent of the total fuelwood consumed in the households in the high, medium and low potential areas, respectively. Further, in these areas, fruit production was recorded as 1.7 tonnes in Nyeri, 1.9 tonnes in central Mwingi and 0.04 tonnes in Tseikuru Mwingi of mixed cropping. Trees are seen as playing a major role in the different farming systems and that there is a need to improve awareness among research, extension and policy planners of the benefits of growing trees on farms to support the development of the tree sector.

Apart from the upward trend of tree planting on farms, trends and developments in tropical and subtropical forestry have an influence on tree seed demand. FAO (1997) paints quite a grim picture in its account of the world's forests. It is indicated that all tropical countries have lost forest cover during the period 1990-95, whereby it is highest in Central America and south-east Asia where it ranges between 1.2 and 1.7 percent annually, while in most other parts of Africa, and in South America, it is between 0.5 and 0.8 annually. West Africa has an annual deforestation rate of about 1 percent. And in some countries, such as the Philippines and some Central American countries, it is as high as 3-3.5 percent. Put more grimly, in many countries the deforestation rate has declined simply because there is little left to destroy! Many countries have realized the dangers of loss of forests and large afforestation programmes have been launched all over the tropics by government departments, private companies, NGOs and donor-supported projects. This surge in afforestation has a direct effect on tree seed demand.

In the late 1990s, a good number of national tree seed centres were established in eastern and southern Africa with the main objective of supplying quality tree seed for afforestation. This came about as a result of realizing that one of the main bottlenecks of speeding up tree planting was lack of sufficient tree seed in terms of quantity, as well as poor quality of supplied seed (Albrecht, 1993; IUFRO, 1995). Despite the existence of the national tree seed centres, experience at the National Tree Seed Programme (NTSP) in Tanzania shows that sales were heavily dependent on a few large domestic customers who numbered only about 20 and contributed to 73 percent of domestic sales (DANIDA, 2003). It is stated further in this report that "The main direct beneficiaries from NTSP's seed sales are private companies, aid donors and NGOs and mainly ones that are located in the same districts as NTSP or nearby and that there are farmers who use seed purchased from NTSP, but they constitute a very small minority of farmers in Tanzania". Aalbǽk (1999), in a study of farmer tree planting in Tanzania, found that the average tree planting per household during the past 10 years for Tanzania was 126 ± 14 trees and average desired tree planting for the next 10 years was 259 ± 21 trees. Aalbǽk concludes that nearly all farmers (92 percent) claimed to have planted trees during the past 10 years and yet more farmers (97 percent) would like to plant trees in the coming 10 years. This has resulted in the speeding-up of planting multipurpose trees on farmland. However, the demand for planting materials, particularly `tree seed', has increased without matching the supply.

In most countries traditional forestry focused on fast-growing plantation tree species, whereby nurseries were centralized and under government financing and management. It has been observed that, although there is really no lack of information on tree seed procurement, extraction, storage and planting, this information has not been used to create an impact on farmers, especially those practising agroforestry. Concern has been focused on whether this shortcoming has something to do with the type of training in forestry and agricultural colleges in eastern and southern Africa. Gibbon and Pain (1991) strongly assert "as with research systems, colonialism has left its mark in many developing countries in the form of education and training systems for agriculturists and foresters that are frequently inappropriate to present needs. This makes the university or college graduate singularly unfit for understanding, let alone solving, problems of the poor households who constitute the majority of the farming community". Temu et al. (2003) point out that of training agricultural professionals in sub-Saharan Africa is predominantly based on curricula adopted from the countries that had colonies in Africa. The curricula were founded on agricultural philosophy and policy that aimed at the production of cash crops for the colonizing countries and colonial governments placed a low priority on the needs of local communities. Few opportunities, therefore, emerged for broad-based development of the agricultural sector and mostly products from natural resources were exported in their raw form. In addition, extension services were segregated according to discipline, and did not reflect a system-based approach to problem solving. System-based approaches are now recognized as being more in line with farmers' decision-making, and there are efforts to develop more system-based approaches to extension. In line with the linear and disciplinary approaches to technology dissemination, tree seed training has been conventionally provided to foresters and not to agriculturists.

FAO, in collaboration with ANAFE at ICRAF, carried out a study on the curricula in Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Ethiopia, Malawi, Zambia, Zimbabwe and Botswana to see whether there were any shortcomings in the tree seed education offered in agricultural and forestry colleges. From the foregoing, it is quite clear that the value of trees on farms is being realized, and that tree planting on farms is gaining ground. However, there are many areas where intervention could speed up the process. Such areas include provision or easing accessibility to planting materials, including tree seeds, and enhancing or building on local knowledge of communities where such knowledge already exists.

In many countries, the management of tree germplasm is entrusted entirely to the ministry responsible for forestry. Likewise, crop germplasm is managed entirely by ministries responsible for agriculture. Any private involvement is normally closely connected to control mechanisms established and supervised by the respective ministries. Formal supply chains are established, but there are many informal arrangements among farmers that facilitate distribution and use of germplasm. This presents problems in the acquisition and management of quality tree germplasm on farms, particularly because the formal systems for tree germplasm have very limited contacts with crop germplasm managers and crop seed supply systems. Thus, tree germplasm reaches farmers largely from informal channels, where the quality is difficult to control. Established tree seed orchards are largely focused on government and corporate needs and rarely deal with species suitable for smallholder farmers. With the expansion of extension functions to include roles of the private sector and NGOs, there is a need to consider and support decentralized tree seed access. Centralized tree seed procurement, or government procurement and distribution of seed, is no longer considered a viable option for reaching smallholders, although aspects of quality control, training and monitoring require some form of centralization.

Temu et al. (2003) propound at length on the importance of education in the African development perspective. The agricultural system having been tailored to enhance agricultural production geared towards income generation and export cash crops, the wind of change and desire to rid the African farmers of poverty, and concurrently the greater recognition that constraints and solutions are not only technical, but that institutional, social and economic constraints are as, if not more, important in enhanced agricultural production and improved livelihoods. Professionals' actions need to be shaped by these demands. In other words, needs that will realistically rid the farmer of poverty, and which are intertwined in the landscape, define the type and competency of professionals that are needed. There is a need to go beyond subsistence agriculture, individual and institutional capacity in order to respond, create and nurture agricultural business and at the same time ensure agricultural sustainability through conservation measures managed by farmers. An extension expert should therefore grasp most, if not all, of the technologies required to solve farmers' problems. Rudebjer et al. (2001) have expressed the rapid change of land use in south-east Asia and the need to incorporate agroforestry education and training in their training programmes to provide knowledge, skills and attitudes to contribute to the sustainable development of upland and lowland agro-ecosystems. This endeavour was undertaken in serious consideration of the important role of trees on farms and the grassroots demand to enhance the speeding-up of tree planting on farms.

2. Objectives of the survey

The objectives of the survey were to:

3. Methodology

Seven colleges (four agricultural and three forestry) were visited between 16 November and 2 December 2003. Questionnaires were administered to college staff and students, followed by interactive discussions with both groups. A similar approach was used for extension staff and farmers. Different questionnaires (Appendix 9) focusing on tree seed issues were administered. Agricultural and forestry colleges in southern Africa were not visited but had the opportunity to fill in similar questionnaires. Due to time limitation only one college (Botswana College of Agriculture) had responded by the time of compiling this report. Two agricultural seed companies were also visited (Kibo Seed Company and East African Seed Company, both in Tanzania) to draw on their experience in seed distribution pathways and potentials for tree seed markets.

The data collected were summarized and synthesized to identify the strengths and weaknesses (among other things) of the education currently offered. Where possible, curricula for the certificate and diploma courses offered in these colleges were studied to identify the amount of tree seed education being offered. New tree seed modules were then developed, based on the knowledge and advice gathered, to suit the existing conditions. Consideration was also given to the fact that development is a dynamic process and that the modules should be revised from time to time to fit into the developmental dynamics

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