Trees for the Future’s Innovative Approach for Climate Resiliency and Food Security

May 10, 2018

Olivier Allongue, Trees for the Future

Across the developing world, poverty, hunger and deforestation are inextricably connected. We cannot permanently end hunger until we eliminate poverty and restore our natural environment. Nobel Laureate Wangari Maathai famously summarized the problem: “Poor people will cut the last tree to cook the last meal. The more you degrade the environment, the more you dig deeper into poverty.”

Your partners at Trees for the Future are cracking this nut and would like to offer a readily deployable solution developed with support of the USAID/TOPS Small Grant Program that your organization or community can start using today: The Forest Garden Approach.

Over the course of this 4-year training program, smallholder farmers learn to plant thousands of trees along with their food crops, and they learn to integrate all of the best sustainable intensification techniques into their farms. The Forest Garden Approach is an integrative agriculture system that prioritizes growing food, fuelwood, and fodder while restoring degraded soil.

After applying this approach across five countries in Sub-Saharan Africa and positively impacting the lives of thousands of farmers who participated in Forest Garden programs, the next challenge was to find a way to disseminate this life-changing methodology world-wide.

This challenge led to the creation of The Forest Garden Training Center (FGTC). Using the FGTC as an extension of our Forest Garden Approach, Trees for the Future developed an on-demand, anytime, anywhere online resource center and training certification designed to give practitioners across the globe an easily deployable and replicable solution to support their own work to end hunger, poverty, and deforestation. This training-of-trainers approach teaches practitioners and extension agents to engage groups of farmers to plant Forest Gardens.

To understand the potential impact and importance of the FGTC, it is necessary to look at the impact the Forest Garden Approach has already had on the food security of over 3,000 families in the program. Farmers were so successful that they achieved 4-year food security targets in half the expected time, and we are on pace to achieving #ZeroHunger by the end of the 4-year projects.

The graph above shows how food insecurity levels of farmers participating in the program falls year to year. The higher the index score, the more food insecure the participants are. Going from a score of 9.18 to 2.96 represents much more than the transition from high levels of food insecurity towards food security. For farmers and their families, the difference means they have food for breakfast, lunch, and dinner rather than skipping meals. We also measure each farmer’s ability to feed their families nutritious and diverse foods as well and are seeing dietary diversity, in addition to income changes where we are seeing increases up to 400% after year 3 in our program.

Trees for the Future’s goal is to enable more organizations to have similar impacts at ending hunger, extreme poverty, and deforestation by using Forest Garden Training Center. Currently, we have 240 practitioners registered for the certification from 54 countries around the globe.

Join the growing FGTC community, learn the approach, share your knowledge, and get certified. We can’t end hunger and poverty alone, and we hope to work together to build stronger hunger-and-poverty free communities across the globe!

Contact olivier@trees.org if you have any questions or would like more information.