Potential of improved fallows to increase household and regional fuelwood supply: evidence from western Kenya uri icon

abstract

  • Fuelwood is the main energy source for households in rural Africa, but its supply is rapidly declining especially in the densely populated areas. Short duration planted tree fallows, an agroforestry technology widely promoted in sub-Sahara Africa for soil fertility improvement may offer some remedy. Our objective was to determine the fuelwood production potential of 6, 12 and 18 months (the common fallow rotation periods) old Crotalaria grahamiana, Crotalaria paulina, Tephrosia vogelli and Tephrosia candida fallows under farmer-managed conditions in western Kenya. Based on plot-level yields, we estimated the extent to which these tree fallows would meet household and sub-national fuelwood needs if farmers planted at least 0.25 hectares, the proportion of land that is typically left under natural fallows by farmers in the region. Fuelwood yield was affected significantly (P < 0.05) by the interaction between species and fallow duration. Among the 6-month-old fallows, T. candida produced the highest fuelwood (8.9 t ha(-1)), compared with the rest that produced between 5.6 and 6.2 t ha(-1). Twelve months old T. candida and C. paulina also produced significantly higher fuelwood yield (average, 9.6 t ha(-1)) than T. vogelli and C. grahamiana of the same age. Between the fallow durations, the 18-month fallows produced the most fuelwood among the species evaluated, averaging 14.7 t ha(-1). This was 2-3 times higher than the average yields of 6 and 12-month-old fallows whose yields were not significantly different. The actual fuelwood harvested from the plots that were planted to improved fallows (which ranged from 0.01 to 0.08 ha) would last a typical household between 11.8 and 124.8 days depending on the species and fallow duration. This would increase to 268.5 (0.7 years) and 1173.7 days (0.7-3.2 years) if farmers were to increase area planted to 0.25 ha. Farmers typically planted the fallows at high stand densities (over 100,000 plants ha(-1) on average) in order to maximize their benefits of improving soil fertility and providing fuelwood at the same time. This potential could be increased if more land (which fortunately exists) was planted to the fallows within the farms in the region. The research and development needs for this to happen at the desired scale are highlighted in the paper.
  • Fuelwood is the main energy source for households in rural Africa, but its supply is rapidly declining especially in the densely populated areas. Short duration planted tree fallows, an agroforestry technology widely promoted in sub-Sahara Africa for soil fertility improvement may offer some remedy. Our objective was to determine the fuelwood production potential of 6, 12 and 18 months (the common fallow rotation periods) old Crotalaria grahamiana, Crotalaria paulina, Tephrosia vogelli and Tephrosia candida fallows under farmer-managed conditions in western Kenya. Based on plot-level yields, we estimated the extent to which these tree fallows would meet household and sub-national fuelwood needs if farmers planted at least 0.25 hectares, the proportion of land that is typically left under natural fallows by farmers in the region. Fuelwood yield was affected significantly (P < 0.05) by the interaction between species and fallow duration. Among the 6-month-old fallows, T. candida produced the highest fuelwood (8.9 t ha~1), compared with the rest that produced between 5.6 and 6.2 t ha-1 Twelve months old T. candida and C. paulina also produced significantly higher fuelwood yield (average, 9.6 t ha-1) than T. vogelli and C. grahamiana of the same age. Between the fallow durations, the 18-month fallows produced the most fuelwood among the species evaluated, averaging 14.7 t ha-1. This was 2-3 times higher than the average yields of 6 and 12-month-old fallows whose yields were not significantly different. The actual fuelwood harvested from the plots that were planted to improved fallows (which ranged from 0.01 to 0.08 ha) would last a typical household between 11.8 and 124.8 days depending on the species and fallow duration. This would increase to 268.5 (0.7 years) and 1173.7 days (0.7-3.2 years) if farmers were to increase area planted to 0.25 ha. Farmers typically planted the fallows at high stand densities (over 100,000 plants ha-1 on average) in order to maximize their benefits of improving soil fertility and providing fuelwood at the same time. This potential could be increased if more land (which fortunately exists) was planted to the fallows within the farms in the region. The research and development needs for this to happen at the desired scale are highlighted in the paper

publication date

  • 2008
  • 2008
  • 2008