The Eastern Africa Regional programme of the World Agroforestry Centre covers South Sudan, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Somalia, Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi and Tanzania. The region’s agenda is closely interlinked with regional programmes on other continents and the Centre’s global scientific projects. The region has a diverse international staff specializing in forestry, agriculture, economics, genetics, ecology, hydrology and other domains.
Our vision is for the use of trees and tree-based technologies on farms and agricultural landscapes, coupled with improved policies and institutional innovations, to make significant contribution towards alleviating poverty and improving food security and environmental conservation. By 2010, we expect a significant proportion of the agricultural poor in the region to have been reached, and benefiting from the outputs of the programme: strengthened institutions, improved policies, and appropriate technologies.
To develop agro-forestry interventions with partners and farmers that will intensify smallholder production and produce tree products and services for use and sale;
To promote research–development linkages and pathways, facilitate dissemination and extension of agro-forestry interventions, and ensure the smooth flow of feedback from farmers and other partners;
To support capacity building and institutional development of national programmes in agro-forestry and natural resource management principles and practices;
To collect and synthesize knowledge on agro-forestry and other complementary disciplines, and facilitate their production and use by different stakeholders including research and development , private sector and policy makers.
As poverty levels in the region continue to rise, the challenges facing ICRAF-EA program continue to increase. The program will continue looking for new innovations, opportunities and areas to tackle the problem. While maintaining focus on core mandate – research and development of agroforestry – we shall strengthen linkages with institutions with comparative advantage in key complementary areas that affects the impact of Agroforestry. This includes the HIV/AIDS crisis facing humanity.
By involving farmers and development partners through the research-development continuum, the program aims at enhancing the relevance of the products and process, thus reducing risks associated with the utilization and wide-scale dissemination of agroforestry technologies. It emphasizes enterprise orientation to agroforestry research and development through sustainable natural resources management.
The success of the regional program in delivering on its promise will, however, depend on its ability to fully operate as a demand-driven partnership program. In this regard, the program is continuously re-inventing itself to become fully professional, market oriented and accountable to its stakeholders. The regionalization process now covering 6 countries
(Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Rwanda, Burundi and Ethiopia) will be expanded to other countries in the region with identification of resources, relevant partners and networks in the region.
At present, focus is on the problem domains. These are the:
- High potential highlands focusing on problems of intensification and sustainability;
- Lake Victoria and its basins focusing on environmental problems of the lake , and its interaction with the land use in the lake basin;
- Buffer zones around forests focusing on on-farm tree domestication and biodiversity;
- Semi-arid environment focusing on agro-forestry systems for tree products and ecosystem services;
- Peri-urban environment focusing on agro-forestry systems for tree products, income and ecosystem services for urban communities.
ICRAF-Eastern Africa has had significant achievements in the following areas of research:
- Identified and integrated into smallholder farming systems high valuable fodder tree species;
- Identified over 10 leguminous trees and shrubs such as Sesbania sesban that can improve the ability of natural fallows to enhance soil fertility and improve maize yields;
- Identified Tithonia diversifolia (Mexican sunflower) as a rich organic fertilizer that smallholder farmers can use and at least double their crop yields;
- Developed fodder technologies based on species such as Calliandra calothyrsus that smallholder farmers in Kenya, Rwanda and Uganda are now using either as substitutes or supplements to commercial feeds, and are saving 100–120 US$ annually;
- Trained over 200 scientists, technicians, and development agents from both research and development institutions. This capacity has helped institutionalise AF R&D in the region;
- Trained 70 teaching staff in the planning, organization and implementation of short courses on introductory agro-forestry and provided support to a number of national institutions for the development of extension materials and the organization of national agro-forestry workshops.