Agroforestry Systems

Agroforestry Systems: Enhancing food security through agroforestry systems while improving households’ biomass webs

Problem statement:

The concept of food security comprises the availability, economic access, nutritional value and prices stability of food; which by its complexity hampers implementation, in particular in the rural world where these tend to occur simultaneously.

Alternatively, integrative agendas are proposed. These include cultivation of micronutrient-rich crops, divulgation of information on food and nutrients; improvement of sanitation, increase of farmers’ purchasing power, plus adequate policies on food trade, science and technology.

Locally developed agroforestry systems (AFS) by integrating perennial species (trees, shrubs, bamboos, palms, etc.) with cash, food, and non-food crop species are capable to increase the social, economic and environmental benefits of livelihoods, such as human nutrition. Moreover perennial species, are the most efficient producers of raw biomass, and hence providers of wide uses, e.g., wood, construction, handcraft, fuel, etc. widening the possibilities of new and existing biomass webs.


To evaluate the potential of locally developed agroforestry systems to contribute to the food security of smallholders’ livelihoods, and to explore the benefits of participant species in a larger and more efficient usage chains.

Research questions:

‘Which are thecurrent and potential roles of local AFS to assure human nutritional security in deprived African rural households?’

  1. Which are suitable local or safely introduced species, and their production, processing and consumption parameters and means?
  2. What are the present and potential (postproduction) nutritional values of the species to identify?
  3. What is the peoples’ nutritional status that can be met by contributions from species, and what is their cultural standpoint towards them?
  4. Which are the existing and potential benefits and side-benefits of the participant species cultivation?
  5. How do postproduction (processing, storing, etc.) and/or non-food uses (construction, handicraft, firewood, etc.), sustain smallholders livelihoods, e.g. by generation of additional income?


  1. Identification of relevant species and characterization of local AFS: food and non-food uses, and management.
  2. Evaluation of the nutritional qualities of the identified species, macro and micronutrients and energy provision
  3. Evaluation of peoples’ diets, energy demand, nutritional status and prevalence of illnesses derived of malnutrition
  4. Identification of existing and potential postproduction alternatives for the species identified
  5. Integration and analysis of outputs.

Countries of field research:

This research will be carried out in the montane rainforest of SW Ethiopia. The small farming household will be the unit of analysis, but also cross-scale evaluations will be considered at larger geographic and institutional levels, according to the scope of the utilization of AFS products and byproducts.

Involved partners:

  • Center for Development Research (ZEF), University of Bonn
  • Environment Coffee and Forest Forum (ECFF)
  • Biology, Chemistry and Nutrition, University of Hohenheim
  • Agricultural Sciences and Resource Management in the Tropics and Subtropics (ARTS), University of Bonn
  • Ethiopian Institute of Agricultural Research (IEIAR)


  • Dr. Daniel Callo-Concha (leader)
    Senior Researcher
    Center for Development Research (ZEF)
    Department: Ecology and Natural Resources Management (ZEFc)
  • Dr. Muhammed Abdella Usman
    Young Post-Doctoral Fellow
    Center for Development Research (ZEFb)
    Department: Economic and Technological Change
  • Omarsherif Mohammed Jemal
    Junior Researcher, doctoral candidate
    Center for Development Research (ZEFc)
    Department: Ecology and Natural Resources Management (ZEFc)
  • Habtamu Seyoum
    Junior researcher, MSc candidate
    Agricultural Sciences and Resource Management in the Tropics and Subtropics (ARTS), University of Bonn
  • Dr. Tadesse Woldemariam Gole
    Senior Researcher (Ethiopia counterpart)
    Environment and Coffee Forest Forum (ECFF)