Potential of Agroforestry to Enhance Livelihood Security in Africa


Agroforestry systems dot agricultural landscapes in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA), where they provide food, fuelwood, fibre, fodder and other products that are used at home or sold for income. Agroforestry also provides ecosystem services that are important and critical for improved livelihoods. By combining trees and/or shrubs with crops and/or livestock, agroforestry diversifies both farm and nonfarm activities. This creates diverse livelihood strategies that help households to deal with recurrent shocks, such as droughts and lean periods, and can make livelihoods more sustainable over time. Based on the literature on agroforestry in SSA, we describe major tree-based systems that are widely practised in SSA and that have received much attention in terms of their contribution to sustainable livelihoods. We show that agroforestry systems are typically multifunctional, although the type of goods and services produced vary depending on the components of agroforestry and the way these are managed in the landscape. Broadly, agroforestry supports food production, health and nutrition, wood-based energy and income. We discuss the current state of knowledge, present case studies to provide the evidence base and highlight gaps in knowledge and barriers to harnessing agroforestry-based livelihoods.