Agricultural Encroachment on Forest

•    Due to poor resources and knowledge, communities are cutting down vast tracts of forest in order to clear fields to plant their staple crops such as maize, sorghum etc. This agriculture is both on a subsistence and commercial level (small commercial level).  The trend within such communities is to move from one field to the next at very regular intervals (1-2 years) subsequently cutting large areas of forest down for the new fields.

Our feasibility study showed areas that are demarcated for this year’s clearing and it became obvious the area of ground that can be lost to this practice and the speed in which this can happen. As a result of this practice, deforestation levels in the area are particularly high (1.30% per year) and agricultural encroachment is the primary driver.

•    There are several methods by which CGI aims to reduce the deforestation as a result of this agricultural encroachment. However for most of the community, agriculture is their culture, livelihood and provides their staple diet and in some cases income. Hence alternatives have to be provided to the communities, and working in a close and sensitive manner with them is the key to success.

•    Education of techniques that will increase their productivity substantially and eliminate or greatly reduce their need to cut down more fields is essential. Each year CGA initiates training per area covering Conservation Farming, Nutritional Gardening and Beekeeping through entities who are experts in such training. Resources such as fertilizers and seeds are being made more available for the communities. If such education and provisions can double the yield of their crop, which is very realistic and sustainable, the need to encroach on further forest areas will diminish to a large extent.

•    Providing alternatives for the community’s source of income and staple diet is also a key activity. In the potential alternatives we must provide options that are realistic and that due to their nature require that the forests/vegetation are not cut down to such an extent. One of such projects is beekeeping. This practice which has already showed success in small pilot areas within the communities provides both a strong income and incentive not to cut into the vegetation and forest areas as the bees require as much vegetation as possible in order to yield the required honey. Once educated on how the hives are built and provided with the necessary materials, one hive can produce 20kgs of honey. Each hive when running correctly can be harvested every 3-4 months. This alternative vocation can provide both a healthy income and strong incentive to stop the deforestation.

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