Honduran agroforestry withstands harsh climate

Farmers in Honduras who practice Quesungual agroforestry have been able to withstand Central America’s periods of extreme drought and intense rain.

As Neil Palmer from the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT) explains in an article on Reuters Alert Net, Quesungual has the potential to “help smallholders adapt to the kinds of extreme weather expected to become more frequent as a result of climate change”.

In a Quesungual system, various tree species are integrated into croplands at a density of up to 1,000 per hectare. The trees help to stabilise hillsides, minimise soil erosion and improve nutrient recycling from deeper soil layers.

The trees are pruned, with cuttings laid around crops to provide mulch which helps retain soil moisture during dry periods and encourages earthworms that break down the organic matter, move nutrients around, aerate the soil, and improve soil structure. The farmers use fertilisers in place of the ash that would have provided nutrients through slash-and-burn techniques. Fields are not ploughed or tilled which further helps to preserve soil structure.

The article goes on to quote soil scientist, Steven Fonte, from CIAT on the science behind Quesungual and explain how the technique could be applied to other parts of Latin America and the Caribbean, sub-Saharan Africa and Asia.

Read the full story: Climate Conversations - 'Quesungual' cuts disaster losses for Honduran farmers