As the land dries up, so does peace.But it’s not just about livelihoods or even food security. In places like Nigeria, desertification is a threat to peace. It is here that competition between nomadic cattle herders and farmers for the land that is increasingly swallowed by the Sahara desert has resulted in a conflict between the groups that has killed more people this year than Boko Haram⁵. Similarly, in Ghana, Fulani herdsmen from neighboring countries who have been forced to migrate in search of pasture have been destroying property across local villages⁶. As the land dries up, so does peace. Desertification is not just their problem. It is all of ours. The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations estimates that by 2050, there will be one third more mouths to feed and that global food supply will need to increase by about 70% to feed them⁷. In a world where we are losing both agricultural land and people to urbanization, this means that efficiency gains will need to be made on the land we already have, that we cannot afford to lose any more, and that some of the land that has already been lost will need to be restored. Africa will be a key piece of the solution. In the semi-arid places of West Africa, such as in Senegal where Trees for the Future works, the Food and Agriculture Organization estimates that the Sahara Desert is encroaching at a rate of five kilometers per year.
These practices are inextricably linked to poverty, and so the solutions must be, too. Trees for the Future knows this…Trees for the Future knows this, and that is why it promotes solutions for farmers that are not only environmentally sustainable, but also economically smart. Through its Forest Garden Program, Trees for the Future works at the nexus of all of these drivers of desertification. By training farmers and giving them the tools to establish vibrant Forest Gardens, or agroforestry systems on 1 to 2 hectares of land, Trees for the Future provides families with the means to achieve sustainable food sources, secure sufficient livestock feed, grow products for market and improved livelihoods, enrich their diets, and thrive on land that had been previously parched and withered. These trees not only provide cover to help farmers retain the soil moisture content that the process of desertification tries to reap, but also supply a wealth of co-benefits, contributing to ecological and dietary diversity, carbon sequestration, and improved soil fertility for farmers facing expensive fertilizer markets. Trees for the Future truly works on behalf of the poorest farmers to create a socially, economically, and environmentally resilient world, protecting farmers and their families from crises of climate, personal finance, and health.
It’s time to stop treating our soil like dirtClick here to stop treating our soil like dirt, combat desertification, and support more farmers across Africa. Article Post Written by Amanda Grossi, Trees Contributing Columnist