Agri-silviculture community growers in Mpumalanga Province, South Africa


Authors: Phokele Maponya

General - 2024

ISSUE No.: 62


Language: English


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Agriculture and forestry play a crucial role in the South African economy, contributing to poverty alleviation and economic growth. Combining the two, agroforestry is a land-use system that integrates agricultural crops with woody perennials to achieve beneficial ecological and economical interactions for food, fiber, and livestock production. A study conducted in the South African provinces of Limpopo and Mpumalanga demonstrated the positive impact of agroforestry on food security and community livelihoods by integrating crop production (groundnuts) into forestry plantations (eucalyptus trees), as a type of agri-silviculture.

Referred to as the ´intervention´, this agroforestry initiative monitored the food security status of community growers. Before the intervention, all the community growers were moderately food insecure, facing insufficient and monotonous diets. After the intervention, food accessibility increased significantly, as 88% of the community growers indicated that they now had access to food from their land, and 62% no longer went hungry, children included. The agri-silviculture community growers were additionally able to sell their groundnuts at formal and informal markets, increasing their income and improving their livelihoods.

The environmental and socioeconomic success of this study was made possible, and continues to be improved upon, thanks to the ongoing collaboration between the Agricultural Research Council and Mountain to Ocean. Public-private partnerships such as these must be prioritised, as they are instrumental in promoting, financing and developing agroforestry initiatives. Agroforestry proved to be a viable solution to enhance food security, generate income, and improve livelihoods in South Africa, but high transportation costs and the lack of transportation infrastructure need to be addressed to provide community growers easier access to their agroforestry sites. It is recommended that agroforestry be intensified across South Africa to help achieve Sustainable Development Goals of the United Nations, particularly zero hunger. 

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