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Observations on indigenous and modern agro-forestry activities in west Africa

Marilyn W. Hoskins

Agro-forestry is a new term, but the practice of resource management which includes trees and crops is certainly not new to farmers in West Africa. Despite pressures by agricultural extension agents and foresters towards monoculture production, many subsistence farmers have persisted in agro-forestry practices, modifying them in relation to changing resources and demands.

Conflicts which had arisen between the indigenous agroforestry system and modern forestry and agriculture activities were clearly discussed by women of Upper Volta during a 1978 conference held by the Société Africaine d'Etudes et de Developpement, dealing with the impact of development on women. A highly emotional discussion arose during which these women expressed anger at both plantations and farming production schemes.

An example of forestry projects that they gave was a plantation near the capital. Local government officials and forestry advisers selected a tract of land described by the project directors as "useless bushland." They designed to plan to clear off the brush, scrub and gnarled trees, and to plant fine straight rows of fast-growing exotic fuelwood species. However, neither the project designers nor the foresters had realized that this useless-looking brushland fallow was actually a part of a delicately balanced indigenous agro-forestry system.

Local women helped their husbands in the grain fields and they raised gardens. But beyond these more visible activities, they collected shea nuts (Butyrospermum paradoxum) from which they made cooking oil, they gathered leaves and seeds essential for the nutritional sauces they put over their starchy staple grains, they searched for grasses and bark for weaving and dyeing mats and elaborate baskets, concocted home remedies from leaves, pods and roots, and let their goats browse on the shrubs and bushes in this unused looking area. Women also piled their heads high with dead branches and sticks to carry home for cooking fuel. Their children ate the nutritious monkey bread or baobab (Adansonia digitata) fruit or hunted small animals in the undergrowth. Their husbands cut chew sticks (the local substitute for toothbrushes) and stripped and twisted bark into ropes. The whole family picked and ate "desert raisins" (Ziziphus mauritiaca Lam) and other fruits and nuts, and various family members earned small sums selling firewood or other surplus items which the bushland provided. The land was not - as it had seemed - useless: its use was essential to fulfilling subsistence needs of local populations. With the coming of the project the land was cleared of the natural growth, and what had been everyone's land was planted for fuel for the urban market, becoming off-limits to local residents. This project plantation later was burnt and residents believed the fire started because local traditional land-use rights were overridden by leaders and project managers. Residents had lost access to needed forest products essential in their indigenous agro-forestry system.

An example of the type of agricultural projects which conflicted with indigenous subsistence agro-forestry activities was a resettlement irrigated rice scheme in the Valley de Kou, Upper Volta. Project managers made rice plots available to families on the basis of the number of active family members (adults or older youth) who were all expected to work in the project fields. There was no other land for women's gardens or nearby forest or bushland made available to family members. Although the project reported higher than average incomes, social workers and teachers clearly demonstrated that the standard of living and the nutritional status of family members were much lower.

In Mali, a forestry officer designed a soil and water conservation project near Bamako in which he planned to make berms and plant rows of trees on a hillside which was used for gardening. It was to be a demonstration project which he hoped would show modern techniques of conservation to local farmers. He had not even noticed that although women were gardening on the hillside, that they had left some selected trees standing, and had planted some fruit tree species (mainly mango) along rock walls they had built for soil and water retention. The proposed activity would have cut through the walls and gardens, and would have ruined, not enhanced, these local agro-forestry and conservation efforts. In Guinea, project designers were planning a high-risk project to introduce fodder trees into pastures on land which was burnt yearly. Designers almost failed to note that men and women residents had independently started planting some fodder trees in fence rows around their homes and gardens. A new project could easily begin by simply supporting local efforts if before designing new activities the "specialists," both the farmers as well as the technically trained scientists, would share their information.

Shifting cultivators in Sierra Leone cut trees in field clearing operations at various heights from the ground, to favour regrowth of selected species when the fields are again fallow. Men in a grain-producing rural village near Bo, Sierra Leone, listed eight, and women listed thirty-one products which they they harvested or produced from bushes and trees near their village. They distinguish between items they harvest from growth in fallow land and those which came from the high forests. They speak of the need to preserve trees on hillsides and along waterways. They also practice planting certain crops such as pineapples, peppers, coffee and cocoa under shade trees, and they distinguish certain natural species of trees which offer the best type of shade and those which offer secondary products as well as shade. Though they are farmers, the forests are an essential aspect of their "resource management." The land used one or two years for grain produces forest products until it is again needed for grain.

Throughout Senegal, Upper Volta, Niger, Chad and other areas of West Africa where Acacia albida grows, farmers selectively preserve it in their fields because they value its beneficial effects on surrounding crops, as well as the protein-rich pods they use for fodder. Many other trees, such as Shea (Butyrospermum paradoxum), Néré (Parkia) and Baobab (Adansonia digitata) - which offer oil-rich nuts, leaves essential to traditional dishes, fruit and/or other important products- are left in the fields despite the fact that they take up space in the crop land. One tree, Moringa oleifera, is sometimes found planted around the edges of gardens, because its leaves are considered choice ingredients for stews. Studies by Okafor, Reeser, Weber and Hoskins, and Smale among others, clearly demonstrate that a large part of the subsistence needs of West African farming and herding families is provided by secondary and tertiary tree products from trees growing in fields, fallow or pasture lands.

These products are so essential that their potential loss, with the accompanying risk if a monoculture fails, form the major reasons why extension agents have found such resistance to the introduction of "modern" agriculture and forestry.

Even agro-forestry techniques, which sound good on paper, must be applied with an understanding of the specific locale. For example, one type of forestry project, which by its very nature is designed to incorporate both agriculture and forestry, is the taungya system. This approach, which involves planting crops between trees during the first few years of tree plantations, has met with uneven success in West Africa. Successes and failures are, however, understandable when viewed from the perspective of the farm family. When plantations are far from the farm plots, when required labour falls due at the same time as farmers are needed in their own plots, or when participants identify other labour investment as more advantageous, taungya projects may be abandoned or sabotaged. Trees may be killed because residents find the planted species undesirable, because they do not wish to be required to participate further, because they identified tree planting as a prerequisite to land ownership and viewed the project as an effort of the forestry service to take their land, or because they valued the land for crops and knew that when the trees were older they could no longer farm the area. Most of these problems could have been predicted had project designers worked more collaboratively with potential participants during the project identification, the land and species selection, and in the design of the activities.

In other cases where people were land hungry this taungya system opened up desired new areas (often on a shifting basis so that more land was available as the trees grew in successive plots). It is often very popular with the landless who find this the only access to land in some projects. Where farmers have identified the trees as benefiting themselves, they have gladly planted crops during the first few years before the trees were economically productive. However, in some cases, even with local demand, foresters have resisted taungya planting in fear that farmers would damage trees or try to claim classified forestry land, or because forestry regulations categorically forbid crops being planted on plantations.

As trained foresters and agriculturalists consider approaches to combining their skills and introducing "modern agro-forestry," West African farmers will be deciding whether these new practices will reduce risks, allow them to manage their resources more effectively, or offer other special advantages above their traditional practices. They will judge new ideas in light of the advantages of their present systems and the growing pressure on their resources from population increases, demographic changes, increased technology, and rising expectations. Local men and women farmers are keenly aware that their systems need to change. They speak of shortening fallow, more dust in the air, soil becoming "tired" or "sick," and pressure to cut trees even on hills and along waterways. They are asking for help in managing their resources more effectively.

Wherever technical specialists can identify currently perceived local constraints and pressures they will find an audience ready to hear their ideas. Where project planners can take into consideration strengths and rewards from existing systems and build upon them, they will find their task much easier. On the contrary, where economic or political changes result in a total package less desirable than the current system, little positive response will be found. The challenge for the new agro-forestry agents is to identify potential conflicts between the new and traditional methods of resource management, to analyse when these systems may reinforce each other and when one or the other may offer specific advantages to local residents in their total physical and social environments. Beyond technical issues, socio-economic values, institutional needs, legal regulations and educational requirements will need to be examined.

Socio-economic Values

When project planners fail to study local labour demands or division of activities by sex, age or class, they may plan activities when a certain group or when all available labour is already overburdened. Indigenous agro-forestry practices allow for these constraints.

Local taboos on certain species, activities or the use of certain tools or land are seldom considered by project planners. Some of these beliefs are deeply rooted; others are not. Some are based on historical observation and on understanding of the local ecosystem and are technologically sound. Whatever the basis of local beliefs, they can have a great impact on project success. In projects where local people are directly involved in species selection, location and activity design, the probability of avoiding problems arising from these types of issues is greatly enhanced.

Priorities of various people and groups involved in agroforestry activities may be vastly different. Programmers may want to increase foreign exchange or raise regional cash crop or fuelwood outputs. Local residents on the other hand may want to spread economic risks and produce food and other products. Economic profit may be only one of a complex of values. In general, traditional practices have been far more successful in spreading risk for the individual and the group. While modern plans may focus on potentially larger production, often for a limited number of the more wealthy farmers, traditional systems have allowed for more economic protection for all local groups, something urgent in areas such as the Sahel. This fact alone should encourage caution in altering the traditional system until the benefits of that system and the new system are carefully considered.

Project planners cannot know all the local socio-economic values of each project area. It follows that local experts on these issues, namely male and female residents, need to be involved in project identification.

Some projects have found great socio-economic success in West Africa. For example, a six-year-old CARE windbreak project in Niger has been found to use 10 per cent of the cropland for trees but to increase crop production by at least 30 per cent. Neighbouring farmers have seen the results and are eager to extend the project to their field.

Institutional Needs

Modern programmes are usually based on much more elaborate institutional support than were the traditional practices. Modern programmes frequently fail when donors are late in producing promised goods or personnel, or when local agencies are unable to provide the required services. There are numerous examples of villagers preparing land for seeds or seedlings which arrive late, half-dead, or never at all.

Residents whose former approach allowed for quite predictable support from neighbours, leaders and merchants find reliance on outside agencies often disappointing. More careful consideration should be given to identifying institutions that can relate to local residents and can organize the appropriate follow-through. In general, smaller projects with committed agents living in the area, such as was the case in the successful integrated project in Lagbar, Senegal, appear more successful.

Another institutional problem presented by current practices is the unrealistic time period of project cycles which allow support for two or three years even though the activities involved are well recognized to be long-term ventures.

Legal Issues

Legal Issues currently arise over conflict between traditional and modern land-use or usufruct rights. It must be recognized that modern regulations do not come into a vacuum. Herder and farmer groups have complex regulations not only for land use but for access to water and to products coming from the vegetation. In some areas dead wood is a common good; in neighbouring communities it is not. Fruits from specific trees may belong to certain classes of families. Planting of trees may change land ownership and thereby tenants are not allowed to plant on land they have used even for generations.

Modern land-use planning programmes tend to legally privatize land ownership, placing priority on intensive landuse. Indigenous sustained-use of natural vegetation by forest-dwelling, farming, landless, or herding peoples is seldom incorporated into the land title programme. Titles are made available to male heads of farming households for farming land only. Among others, the large number of women farmers who also head households no longer have their land use protected by traditional custom.

No project can succeed in obtaining local support unless residents are willing to accept its definition of land-use rights. Projects will fail to provide assistance with equity until the less visible uses of land which form the basis of indigenous agro-forestry systems are acknowledged and addressed in the new planning.

The Senegalese formalized land-use regulations along traditional patterns. A number of positive-looking programmes are based on this reform and it will certainly bear watching.

Educational Issues

Indigenous agro-forestry relied on fathers teaching sons, mothers teaching daughters, and wise elders being consulted for more detailed information when a farmer had a question. The new approach is more fragmented, and sometimes quite irrelevant to the local rural family's needs. Male agricultural extension agents work mainly with men on production of agricultural cash crops; female extension agents work with women mainly on consumption issues. Extension agents may not speak the local dialect or know localized problems.

The agro-forestry agent will need a new type of training to be able to offer more responsive information in local activities. In West Africa neither forestry nor agriculture programmes are known to focus on subsistence produce, the very items upon which the survival of most rural African families depend. Foresters who concentrate on maximum wood production from forest areas are trained to protect their trees and land from local residents. Education of these agents has not focused on the need to understand or respect indigenous knowledge or on an effort to build upon the systems already in place. Agents are given "answers" to provide residents without being trained to be sure they know urgent local questions.

In an international workshop on community forestry in Francophone Africa, national planners said they saw the need to add some social science and/or agriculture to the forestry curriculums. However, they were shocked at the idea of leaving out military training or any other coursework in the current curriculum to allow for such additions. To succeed in agro-forestry there must be a genuine commitment in the new training to collaborative programming between the technical services and the local community and between the agricultural (including livestock) and forestry services themselves. There must be a recognition that since local needs and resource availability are not constant, the real goal of extension should be to give the farmers information and skills upon which they themselves may make wise choices in their ever-changing environment.

Concluding Remarks

In West Africa, there are a number of isolated agro-forestry project successes. There are projects in Senegal in which local residents have co-operated eagerly in planting trees to stabilize sand around their garden plots, planting trees on fallow land in order to raise building poles to sell, planting leguminous trees in fields to enrich the soil, and planting gum arabic (Acacia senegal) in the pasture lands. In Niger, farmers and foresters are cooperating to develop management plans in crop lands as well as the national forest reserves to maximize the yield of secondary or tertiary products desired by local residents. Farmers in a project in the Gambia are practicing taungya in their own village woodlot and are planning to establish new lots each year so they will have some crop returns until the time the building poles or fuelwood potential of the trees is ready to exploit. These projects are encouraging.

However, the success rate could be improved with the development, not of ready solutions, but of tools which could allow technical specialists, government officials, donors and local residents to work out the programmes together. One group planning tool which is currently being tried in one form or another in several West African projects is a collaborative management agreement. This type of approach gives all parties concerned a voice in designing the activity. Ideally such plans contain the following sections: (a) identity of all participating parties; (b) long- and short-term goals of all parties; (c) adjudication of the selected land; (d) identification of timing required, and responsible party for all required inputs; (e) agreement on how, when, and to whom all potential benefits will be distributed; and (f) plan for monitoring and evaluating in which all parties can participate. This type of written and signed agreement could help all parties concerned to think through their responsibilities and rights and would allow for more active consideration of conflicts in demands on institutions and individuals. It would also allow for more local input in the planning, and more local confidence in the eventual distribution of benefits to participants.

Designers and implementers of agro-forestry activities in West Africa have a good resource in the indigenous agroforestry activities which still exist in many traditional societies. Various aspects of the indigenous systems are almost always strained and some may be dysfunctional. However, the rewards given by the systems already in place will be used by local residents to measure the desirability of any new idea. A new technology can readily succeed when it offers a better all-round return to the rural family than the technologies they are already using. However, only when benefits and shortfalls of the current system are understood can one be sure to address real questions, offering solutions with confidence that the "advanced" ideas, though perhaps marvellous on paper, are not irrelevant in the real world.

Agro-forestry as a technical academic field is new. Leaders have the potential of focusing its efforts in a variety of ways. One major choice will be to select between an emphasis on production, as current forestry and agriculture service programmes tend to do, or concentrate on local development, as do community forest activities. It is not an issue as to whether new technology will be forbidden to one group or another or that high production will be discouraged. But obviously, for example, money spent on developing more efficient wood-fuel stoves would benefit a different audience than would research on micro-wave ovens. No one would, however, suggest denying the rich and powerful access to wood-fuel stoves. It is more the issue of whether research will focus mainly on high- or low-input technologies and of the minimum resources needed for a participant to benefit from the programme.

This selection of perspective will obviously greatly colour the way socio-economic, institutional, legal and educational issues are viewed. If agro-forestry is to become a useful tool for development with equity, efforts will be strengthened which help those who can least help themselves. Perhaps a "trickle-up" approach could be taken, assuming large agro-businesses can better afford to adapt useful conservation and production research to fit their needs, than vice versa.

In these days of limited funding many hard choices will need to be made about specific programmes and activities. It is now that the leaders forming guidelines for the future of agro-forestry must consider how to start the field along the most effective path.


Some policy implications of agro-forestry: a Ghana viewpoint

J.G.K. Owusu


The current world-wide interest in agro-forestry is, in many respects, only one manifestation of a growing awareness of the need to make forests serve people and, in particular, sustain and enhance the socio-economic development of the often economically deprived rural populations.

This awareness it at one level illustrated in the choice of theme for several national, regional and world forestry conferences, seminars and workshops, e.g. "Forests for People" (Eighth World Forestry Congress. Jakarta, Indonesia: October 1978); "Forestry in Rural Community Development" (FAO/SIDA Regional Seminar, Chiang Mai, Thailand: December 1979); "The Contribution of Forestry to Social and Economic Development" (Eleventh Commonwealth Forestry Conference, Port of Spain, Trinidad: September 1980). It is illustrated also by the increasing interest of international research and financial and donor agencies in community forestry programmes.

At the field level, the desire to utilize forests for the welfare of local communities and not merely for the production of industrial cellulose has found expression in several types of social forestry projects. The objective of these projects, which embrace agro-forestry, farm forests, community forests, village woodlots and urban forestry programmes is generally to supply to local communities all, or some, of the following:

- Products in the form of food, fuel, timbers, forage and secondary or minor forest products;
- A means of restoring exhausted agricultural and derelict lands; Employments;
- Raw material for rural or cottage industries;
- Avenues for people's involvement and participation in utilization and conservation of a major part of their habitat.

For many countries. this new concept of forestry would represent a major shift in emphasis or an added dimension, and would consequently have important policy, legal, institutional and other implications which would require at least as much consideration as choice of appropriate tree crop and food crop, spacing, and so on,

Where Shall Agro-foresery Be Practised?

The terminology of systems that combine food and wood production is at present much confused. In this paper, agroforestry is used to describe those sustainable systems that combine wood, arable crop, tree crop and livestock production over long term, as contrasted with earlier models, such as taungya, shamba and agrosilviculture in its original meaning, which were only temporary systems for the establishment of forest plantations.

The current National Forest Policy of Ghana which, like those of many other developing countries, heavily emphasizes forest influences and industrial forestry, has so far seen forestry as consisting in the creation and management of a permanent estate of legally reserved forests, and the temporary protection and control over the utilization of the timber resources outside the reserved enclaves. forested lands other than the reserved forests have been only as temporary reservoirs of timber, to be converted to "non-forestry" forms of land use after logging.

If agro-forestry is seen principally only as a means of increasing total national food production, then the location of agro-forestry projects would matter only in so far as it affected distribution and marketing. If it is, however, seen as it should be - to be principally a means of enabling rural communities to meet their needs for wood, food and other products from the land while maintaining environmental stability- then it will necessarily have to be practiced close to these widely dispersed communities and therefore largely outside the reserved forests.

Besides, although there is considerable pessimism about the chances of the wet tropical forests surviving in many countries (Spears 1979) and doubts about the economic justification for tropical natural forest management (Leslie 1977), it is also widely believed that the ecological consequences of the large-scale disappearance of the tropical moist forest may be incalculable. While our knowledge of the natural tropical moist forest ecosystem, of the future of man-made forests in the tropics, and of the long-term success of large-scale settlement based on conversion of the tropical moist forest to agriculture remains as sketchy as it now is, it would seem the wiser course for foresters, such as those in Ghana, who have control over substantial areas of natural tropical moist forest to opt, for the present, for those management methods that cause as little permanent change as possible to the forest.

Thus the suggestion is that, in countries that are in a similar situation to Ghana, agro-forestry (as a permanent system of land management and utilization) should as far as possible be practiced on lands outside the reserved forests, and where it has to be employed within forest reserves it should be restricted, for the time being, to the savannah and the savannah-closed forest transitional zone. The use of tree crops such as the Shea butter tree (Butyrospermum paradoxum subsp. parkii) or even mango (Mangifera indica) as part of the agricultural component wherever agro-forestry is practiced within a forest reserve ought to be seriously considered in view of the major rationale for creating forest reserves, namely that forest growth ought to be maintained on land in reserves for the protection of this land.

The Supporting Role of Forest Reserves

Even when agro-forestry has been largely excluded from the reserved forests, the bulk of the forest land permanently dedicated to "forestry" will have an important role to play in supporting peasant agriculture and in increasing the prosperity of the rural peoples.

First, wherever reforestation is considered desirable the taungya system should, if possible, be employed during the early establishment phase. To make the necessary impact, the agricultural component of the system will have to be taken seriously by the forest manager. The farmers will have to be given such assistance as is provided to farmers under other farming systems (e.g. access to agricultural extension officers, improved planting materials and shortterm credits) to enable them to optimize their benefits from the farm. So far the taungya farmer has been seen by the agriculturist as forming part of the forestry system and therefore lying outside his responsibility, while the forester has seen him largely as a cheap source of labour. Indeed all rural development efforts would succeed better if the supporting public institutions were organized as a team instead of as separate, often rival, units.

Second, the possibilities of underplanting or interplanting young plantations or open natural forests (savannahs) with trees and other vegetation whose leaves may be fed to livestock should be seriously pursued. The very imaginative approach in Indonesia described by Atmosoedarjo and Banyard (1978) and the grazing of sheep and cattle on pastures developed beneath Pinus radiate and Araucaria stands in New Zealand and Papua New Guinea (FAO 1973; Tustin et al. 1979) provide interesting examples.

Third, management of forest reserves ought to include actions to support rural industries such as the vegetable dyeing, the chewstick and the cane-weaving industries; the extraction of vegetable oils from such trees as the shea butter, Pentadesma butyracea. Tieghemella heckelii and neem (Azadirachta indica); bee-keeping and sericulture. In the Attebubu area of Ghana. APPLE, a nongovernmental organization working closely with the people, has shown how the destructive tendencies of honey-gathering hunters could be canalized into a thriving bee-keeping industry.

Organizational Implications

Three dimensions may be recognized: (a) organizational developments within the public forest services; (b) institutional structures to promote interagency cooperation; (c) the identification and promotion of village institutions with which, and through which, the forestry service can work.

Forest Service Organization

In the developing tropics, forestry has been quicker to recognize the potentialities of agro-forestry than have other public agencies. In the absence of the forester, therefore, agro-forestry is much less likely to be identified by the rural peoples or by other extension agencies as a possible solution to the problems of rural land use and rural development. The general acceptance of the necessity for forest services to develop extension entities within their organizational structure is thus understandable.

The size and role of the extension unit deserves consideration, however. Among governmental agencies working in the rural areas, the agricultural services provide the most widely known example of a service with a welldeveloped extension branch. The Agricultural Service model, however, would be the wrong one for forest services to adopt. In the first place, agricultural services traditionally do not engage in farming beyond maintaining a few hectares of demonstration farms and research stations. The extension officer therefore often provides the immediate visible presence of the agricultural service in the rural areas. Forestry departments, on the other hand, traditionally manage at least the public forests. Even where they are said not to maintain extension units, therefore, the forest services have a physical representation in the villages in the technical officers, forest guards and analogous grades. In addition to their duties in the reserved and non-reserved forests, these officers have provided fairly general, even if inadequate, extension services to the rural communities.

The second reason for caution in adopting the agricultural extension services model is the widely commented-upon failure of these officers to reach the peasant farmer. By and large, even with their present limited concept of the objectives of forestry, the territorial forest officers are in fairly close contact with the people. Might it not be better to utilize the territorial forest service and give its personnel the re-orientation (from the benevolent landlord attitude prevalent under the taungya system to a commitment to develop a self-reliant people; from a "my-forest" to a "yourproject" approach; from a wood production to a development goal) and the skills to perform better as extension officers;

The suggestion then is for a small extension/social relations unit to be responsible for extension policies, planning, training and general guidance. The ultimate territorial unit (the range, in Ghana) will be kept small and the field officer, living among and in intimate contact with the people he is supposed to serve, will be responsible for all general forestry activities, industrial or social, on reserved lands or outside.

Inter-Agency Co-ordination

In theory nothing appears simpler and more irrefutable than the requirement that forestry for local community development should be integrated within an overall ruraldevelopment framework, supported by the co-ordinated effort of the public developmental or support agencies. In practice, nothing appears more difficult to achieve than a true integration of the plans and actions of the several governmental agencies. With the trend towards making national forest services semi-independent commissions (e.g. Ghana 1980; Guyana 1979) the co-ordination of the forester's efforts with those of other governmental agencies is going to become more, not less, difficult.

The co-ordination problem arises from a complex of factors: over-centralization of governmental organization and decision-making; imbalance between the power and resources of central government and local authorities; lack of a development for people philosophy; a lack of national commitment to rural development; a fear of true democratization at the grass-roots level. In the light of such overwhelming constraints arising from causes external to the forestry organization, the forester will have to set out actively to cultivate inter-agency coordination. A highly effective tool is the multi-agency field work-shop. Even this, however, requires careful handling to prevent the other agencies seeing the agro-forestry effort only as "the forester's problem" and therefore doing no more than contributing well-meaning advice directed at the forester. University and research institutions are often anxious to participate in such field projects and workshops, and can make useful contributions.

Local Institutions

If it is accepted that agro-forestry is largely a means to a larger end of "development" and a liberated, self-reliant community - and if it is accepted that a people cannot be developed from the outside, then the local institutions for promoting change become the most important factor in a successful community forestry programme.

Three types of local institutions may be distinguished:

- The formal local development institution: e.g. the Village Development Committee in Ghana (the agency that officially co-ordinates developmental effort at the local level);
- Local forestry associations: e.g. organizations set up purposely to carry out a village programme with a "forestry" content. In Ghana there has always been a requirement that the farmers making up a taungya unit should be organized. The recognition given to the Village Forestry Associations of Korea in the forest law makes them an interesting model.
- Local voluntary associations. including some that may not originally have had a development orientation. The Village Development through Non-Formal Education (VIDED) Project operated by the People's Educational Association (PEA) of Ghana brilliantly points out the potentialities of local voluntary associations.

The PEA is a private voluntary adult education movement that has closely collaborated with the Institute of Adult Education of the University of Ghana since 1949. The aims of the VIDED Project were to train rural leaders in techniques of participatory planning, implementation and evaluation of village development projects and to provide support for self-sustaining integrated village development projects. Using a technique which involves a "one-day school" of discussion by the entire village, and playlets developed and staged by the local cultural groups that are a refreshing feature of most Ghanaian villages, a village is helped to identify its most urgent problems, the resources available in the village for solving the problem, the best approaches to seeking assistance from, for example, governmental agencies outside the village, and finally to plan and implement the project. An interesting account of how the programme operated in one village is given in Frankel (1981). The project has provided financial and material support to a co-operative unit of small-scale soap manufacturers, has an adult literacy component for villages that identify literacy as a felt need, has provided a forum for rural women to talk about their problems and learn about nutrition, baby care and cottage industries, and has pioneered community farms which are used both to generate income and to teach new farming practices or to try out little-used crops. In all cases, the Association works through not only its own local branches, but also through other appropriate voluntary organizations such as church and cultural groups.

The success obtained in this project amply reinforces the lessons that Clark (1980) believes forestry can learn from the small farmer development projects in parts of SouthEast Asia, namely that: (a) small groups organized initially for income generation, and meeting regularly for discussion and group action can quickly develop into multi-functional, self-reliant groups; (b) small groups that successfully solve their most immediate problems quickly develop into planning groups open for discussion and long-term action; and (c) non-governmental and non-departmental agencies often do a good job of organizing the rural poor for increased self-help and self-reliance.

Forest services would do well to learn these lessons and harness the potential of the many varieties of voluntary associations already operating in the rural communities.

Legal Implications

The legal implications of large-scale agro-forestry and other community or social forestry projects vary widely from country to country. Among the most important implications would be an examination as to whether these forests would require additional legal protection against theft, illegal felling, malicious damage, etc. and whether the institutional structures identified above would require some form of legal recognition.

In Ghana, since timber utilization contracts are granted for up to twenty-five years, some agro-forestry projects may fall within areas that are subject to unexpired contracts. The clause in the standard lease agreement that grants the lessee the sole and exclusive right to cut not only the trees now growing but also those that shall thereafter be planted will need revision (Owusu 1978).

Social Implications

By keeping the land permanently under privately owned forest agricultural crops, agro-forestry is likely to accentuate the trend towards de facto individual ownership of, or permanent usufructuary rights over, communal land. (Community forests and village woodlots more likely will be communally owned and should have little effect on land ownership.)

There used to be a tendency under the taungya system in Ghana (personal observation) and in Nigeria (Olawoye 1978) for the farmers to be "stranger elements." The traditional allegiance of the farmers to the land-owning community will have to be carefully considered in order not to give rise to undesirable social consequences.

Educational Implications

Changes in knowledge and skill requirements always have educational and training implications. Among others, Roche (1974), del Castillo (1980) and Roche and Cooper (1980) have discussed the educational implications of the widening concept of forestry for people.

Professional Forestry Education

As far as the training of the professional forester is concerned, the main implication is that forestry is no longer the largely biological and technical subject known to previous generations of foresters. The dilemma for university faculties of forestry, faced with transplanting this general implication and the bewildering array of subjects being prescribed for the "new forester" into a practical programme, is how to continue to emphasize the "scientific roots of forestry" (which lie in the biological and physical sciences, economics, and an increasing number of other sciences) - Harley 1977; to orientate the student towards the broad field of renewable natural resources management; and to continue to emphasize the vocational and applied technological aspects (forest measurements, ground and aerial survey, harvesting and processing of wood, etc.); how, in effect, to produce a graduate who is supposed to be "a forester, an agriculturist, a sociologist. and a community development worker rolled into one" (del Castillo 1980) - all in the three or four years of an undergraduate programme.

Imaginative attempts are clearly being made by university faculties of forestry, e.g. in the increasing emphasis on renewable natural resources as at Ibadan and Kumasi. Nevertheless as agro-forestry and other social forestry programmes multiply, and increasing demands are made on the forester, the time has perhaps come for a Second World Consultation on Forestry Education and Training or for smaller workshops on the educational implications of non-industrial forestry.

The "Barefoot Foresters"

The necessity for training "people's foresters" to supervise the community forests has been well established. The concept of non-formal training of local people, perhaps nominated by the community itself, to provide specialized services within the rural communities has been pioneered by the Public Health Services from whom the forester can learn. The "barefoot forester", the local leadership and institutions, the territorially based forester rendering extension and other services, and a determined approach to the co-ordination of all support services, form an integrated whole designed to ensure that an agro-forestry programme starts as (and remains) the people's own programme.


Atmosoedarjo, S. and S.G. Banyard. 1978. "The Prosperity Approach to Forest Community Development in Java." Commonwealth Forestry Review. 57 (2): 89-96.

Clark, G.C. 1980. "Appropriate Extension and Communication Systems for Promoting and Sustaining Forestry in Rural Community Development." Report on FAO/SIDA Seminar on Forestry in Rural Community Development, Chiang Mai, Dec. 1979. FAO, Rome. pp. 115-120.

Del Castillo, R.A 1980. "Education and Training Needs in Support of Forestry for Local Community Development." Report on FAO/SIDA Seminar on Forestry in Rural Community Development, Chiang Mai, Dec. 1979 FAO, Rome. pp. 127-143

FAO. Forestry Dept. 1973 Forestry for Rural Communities. FAO. Rome. 56 pp.

Frankel, L. 1981. "Small-scale Catch Monkey: Non-formal Education and Public Health in Ghana." Reports Magazine, No 23, April 1981. World Education Inc.. pp. 3-5.

Harley, J.L. 1977. "Forestry Education and Research Unasylva, 29(118): 10-11.

Leslie, A. 1977. "Where Contradictory Theory and Practice Co-exist." Unasylva, 129(115): 2-17

Olawoye, O.O. 1978. "The Agro-silvicultural System in Nigeria " Commonwealth Forestry Review, 54 (3 and 4): 229 236.

Owusu, J G K. 1978 "The Law Relating to Forest Utilization Contracts in Ghana: A Historical Appraisal " Ghana Forestry Journal, 4.

Palin, D. 1980. "Institutional Arrangements to Foster Rural SelfReliance " Report on FAO/SIDA Seminar on Forestry in Rural Community Development, Chiang Mail Dec. 1979. pp. 153167.

Roche, L 1974 "Major Trends and Issues in Forestry Education in Africa." Bulletin No. 4, Department of Forest Resources Management, University of Ibadan (Also Commonwealth Forestry Review, 54: 166 175.)

Roche, L. and R. Cooper. 1980 "Forestry for Local Community Development: Manpower, Training and Education Requirements " Commonwealth Forestry Review, 59(2): 163179.

Spears, J S 1979. "Can the Wet Tropical Forests Survive?" Commonwealth Forestry Review, 58(3) 165-180

Tustin, J.R., R.L. Knowles, and B.K. Klomp. 1979. "Forest Farming: a Multiple Land-use Production System in New Zealand. " Forest Ecology and Management, 2: 169 189


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