Conclusion of Kologan Agroforestry Project – Togo
This project was to develop a sustainable system of agriculture by planting trees in alleys, alternated with crops, to improve soil quality, improve water retention, prevent erosion, provide wood, and prevent deforestation.
This project was completed by the Sitchope Cooperative of Kologan.
An agro forestry system takes at least two seasons to reach production capacity. Although the system is not yet at capacity, all trees are planted and have established themselves. The cooperative therefore views the project as a success. As the trees continue to grow they will begin to fix nitrogen into the soil, and create compost to improve soil quality, water retention, and prevent erosion.
The ally cropping will increase field production, and within 6 months provide wood for fodder and fuel. As the trees grow, labor input—in the way of land preparation and wood collection—will decrease. The farm will become increasingly more productive, producing more grains and vegetables.
The community also completed cisterns to expand their irrigation system.
Primarily Luceana, Semmia Samman and Lebbeck trees were planted in the alley cropping farms, though Albezia Chevelerie did not grow well in the local environment, and was thus limited in its use.
The cooperative did not plant the cabbage they originally intended to plant, or do some gardening they normally do. This is because the first rainy season was very irregular and they needed to water the grain alley cropping field by hand. Bringing water to the field created a large amount of unexpected labor.
Despite the extra labor created by irregular rains, the cooperative installed extra fruit and fodder trees to line the gardening field. The trees reinforce the agro forestry system. The trees will protect the cisterns and riparian zones from erosion, increase agricultural output, and create fodder.
Members of the cooperative have gained experience and understanding in implementing an alley cropping agro forestry system from seed to tree. They have gained an understanding of the amount of labor involved, how to install the system, when to plant, and what species to use. The cooperative will become a source for alley cropping seeds, and has contact with a seed supplier. All of these experiences can be passed on to other farmers in the area.
There should be very limited cost to sustaining the project in the future. Now that the trees have established themselves there will be very limited labor associated with the trees. Members of the cooperative have visited a functioning alley cropping field and therefore have enough experience to maintain the fields. If there were to be some sort of crisis, the members have contact with a seed supplier in a nearby city. The group is able to access co-op funds to pay for seeds. The cooperative has increased their field production capacity exponentially. Through implementing new farming techniques and transforming their farm, the cooperative members now have a better understanding of agricultural science, (i.e. soil quality and sustainability.)
We again wish to thank The Soneva SLOW LIFE Trust for providing the funding for this project.