Food trees for diversified diets, improved nutrition, and better livelihoods for smallholders in East Africa

Despite advances in overall agricultural production, approximately one billion people globally are chronically hungry; two billion regularly experience periods of food insecurity; and just over a third of the global population are affected by single or multiple micronutrient deficiencies. However, food trees (trees providing edible fruits, vegetables, seeds/ nuts and edible oils) when integrated as part of the agroforestry systems, have huge potential to provide a wide variety of foods and can contribute substantially to food and nutrition security to the affected populations. Food trees presents a rich nutrient source from local ecosystems, and have traditionally been used to complement and diversify the typical staple based diets for some communities/ consumers thus preventing nutrient deficiencies and contributing to better health.

To generate sound evidence and proof of application, the Food tree project plans to employ the use of nutrition-sensitive agroforestry research for development approaches and tools during the implementation of planned activities and interventions. The project, is being implemented in partnership with national research institutions and development organizations in several counties in Kenya and scoping case in Uganda. The project targets to work with smallholders and other resource poor families, especially young women, mothers and children, with the aim of diversifying their highly energy-based and monotonous staple diets, improve livelihoods through diversification of agricultural production and enhancing landscape resilience against climate change through adoption of agroforestry practices.

Project Goal:

Food tree project overall goal is to harness the role and contribution of agroforestry and food trees for improving nutrition directly through increased availability and consumption of nutrient-rich foods and indirectly through the diversification of livelihood opportunities for smallholder farmers to attain long-term, inter-generational benefits for communities.

Project Objective:

The objective of this project is to diversify diet and livelihood options for improved nutrition for smallholder farmer communities in East Africa by effectively implementing a climate smart agroforestry approach by integrating food trees that provide nutrient-dense foods (fruits and nuts, seeds for protein and oils, leaves as vegetable etc.) into the existing mixed crop farming systems.

Project main outputs and expected outcomes:

The Food tree project activities are geared towards achieving the following specific outputs/ outcomes;

  1. Identify and document short and long nutrition-sensitive food tree value chains within smallholder farming and food systems including documenting the bottlenecks faced by actors in this field.
  2. Develop and disseminate nutrition awareness and agroforestry campaign tools and IEC content and materials for an Empowering Future Farmers school and community programme and Seeds of Nutrition Kits.
  3. Agroforestry-Nutrition Innovation Hubs established and IEC tools developed and used for training and dissemination of agroforestry and nutrition information to reach wider audiences.
  4. Nutrient-retaining processing technologies for model priority food tree product(s) developed with actors and stakeholders along the value chains including NARS and development partners.
  5. Project coordinated, partnerships formed and consolidated and findings widely disseminated to all relevant stakeholders; local and national government, national research institutes, universities, development partners, private sector, policy experts and donors.