Wonder Tree Gliricidia Sepium being researched in Guro, Mozambique
DIVAGRI researchers in Guro, Manica Province – Mozambique, are experimenting with intercropping Gliricidia Sepium trees and maize to see if they can improve their farm management and overall productivity in the area.
“This has not been done before in Mozambique, it has worked in Brazil and other countries, but we have not tried it here,” says DIVAGRI researcher Dr Cláudio Gumane from Instituto Superior Politechnico de Manica (ISPM) who specialises in forest engineering.
The small-scale farmers in Guro struggle with poor quality soils and a lack of sufficient fodder for their cattle. “We have planted a field of Gliricidia in the area to demonstrate its benefits for both soil health and as animal fodder; and are inviting farmers to come and observe the impact on maize production,” Dr Gumane.
Gliricidia fixes the nitrogen from the air and distributes it to the root of the maize plants. This improves soil health and allows farmers to plant for longer periods of time in one place without the soils becoming nutrient deficient.
The small tree, which grows up to 12 metres, has multiple uses, including:
- It is used to make living fences by planting trees between 10cm and 20cm apart and interweaving their branches.
- The wood is used for furniture, poles, and agricultural implements.
- It is used as a fuel for fires.
- Some animals eat it as fodder.
- It can be a shade plant for other crops.
- It reduces the incidences of fungal and insect attacks on crops.
- It reduces weeds and keeps the soil moist around crops.
- And it is used to make medicines.