In Chad, one of the world's poorest countries, the United States' aid organisation, CARE, has launched a national tree-planting project to counter the effects of a devastating drought.
In Chad, one of the world's poorest countries, the United States' aid organisation, CARE, has launched a national tree-planting project to counter the effects of a devastating drought. For five years, the country has been facing soil erosion and failed harvests which have crippled the national economy based on raw cotton and cattle.
The CARE agency has started a "food for work" scheme, rewarding farmers who co-operate with the tree planting project with wheat and soil.
SYNOPSIS: Faced with Chad's denuded soil and scanty vegetation, the CARE organisers decided to introduce the acacia albida tree. Eight nurseries have been established throughout the country, each with over 40,000 seedlings.
Fast growing yew and eucalyptus trees are also being planted in villages to provide firewood and shade. The acacia is to grow alongside crops in the fields, because of its unique agricultural value. It has a reverse deciduous cycle, giving humus and protection to the soil when other plants are leafless and dormant. Farmers receive a sack of wheat and a gallon (4.5 litres) of oil for every hectare (2 1/2 acres) of land given over to tree growing.
By next year it is expected that one million acacia trees will have been planted. The scheme has the backing of the Chad government and now involves over 3,000 farmers. The incentive of free food has persuaded many to join the project. The aim of land conservation in itself was hard to sell to farmers battling to survive from one harvest to the next. They are now beginning to benefit from increased crops while ensuring the future of their livelihood.