Agroforestry - CATS Banks Project (ICRAF) 2010

Duration: 2010-2013

Budget: 319.709,77 euro

Through this agroforestry project the World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF) will develop a sustainable, cost-efficient way to contribute to greater food security and poverty reduction for millions of farming families in Sub-Saharan Africa.

Duration and budget

In 2010, a grant of 319,709.77 euros was allocated to the project "Community Agroforestry Tree Seeds Banks (CATS Banks): Building Agroforestry Scaling up Platform for Diversifying Livelihoods Opportunity in Malawi and Mozambique". This project ends in 2013.

Problem definition

Today, two-thirds of the people living in Sub-Saharan Africa derive their livelihoods from agriculture. Yet, only a limited share of public expenditure is spent on this sector. About 75% of the land area has degraded and soil erosion and water scarcity are the main causes of the reduced agricultural production. The fact that in southern Africa agriculture has always been practised without adjusted soil management measures further aggravates the problem of soil degradation and erosion.

Looking for sustainable and cost-efficient methods to guarantee food security and poverty reduction for millions of farming families in Sub-Saharan Africa poses a great challenge. One of these methods is agroforestry. ICRAF itself defines it as follows:  "Agroforestry is a collective name for land-use systems and technologies where woody perennials (trees, shrubs, palms, bamboos, etc.) are deliberately used on the same land-management units as agricultural crops and/or animals, in some form of spatial arrangement or temporal sequence. In agroforestry systems there are both ecological and economical interactions between the different components."

Practical implementation

Agroforestry has several benefits.

Ecological benefits:

  • enhanced biodiversity
  • efficient use of natural resources and soil nutrients
  • microclimate for agricultural crops
  • higher resistance to pests and diseases
  • protection against erosion and improved water quality

Socio-economic benefits:

  • income diversification
  • risk spreading (the income does not depend on monoculture)
  • the production of agroforestry systems is economically advantageous due to higher revenues and the combination of short-term revenue and long-term investment

In Malawi, it was decided to start up the project in the districts of Mzimba and Kasungu, where FICA is already active. In Mozambique the project is running in Tsangano and Angonia, two districts in Tete Province where FICA also has been supporting projects for quite some time now.

One of the main obstacles to the implementation of agroforestry is the shortage of germplasm (seeds) in sufficient quantities at the right time. This project wants to provide an answer to this problem. It has three main starting points:

  • integrating several options for the implementation of agroforestry may improve the livelihoods of smallholder farmers
  • new ways of developing seed banks (CATS banks) will help remedy the seed shortage, which will lead to an upgrading of agroforestry
  • agroforestry practices will be more widely applied as a result of a better availability of tree seeds to smallholder farmers and small investments in an improved dispersal system


World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF)