Anique discovers Ethiopia
The horn of Africa reached a population of 133 million habitants in 2011 (FAO). The region is known as the world´s most food insecure place. More than 40 % of the people suffer from malnutrition. Ethiopia is with its 73 million habitants (measured in the 2007 census) one of the highest populated areas in Africa. Contrasting with global trends, most people live in rural areas. For this reason it is one of the less urbanized countries in the world (Central Statistical Agency Ethiopia, ICF International, 2012). The main occupation in the highlands is farming while the lowlands are mostly inhabited by pastoralist people. However this population pressure in rural areas leads to poverty and degradation of natural resources and consequent loss of flora and fauna. Poverty decreased overall in the 1990s but it now appears that agriculture growth is failing to keep pace with population increase (World Bank 2004). In the last food crises in 2011, 6 million people were affected in their access to food in Ethiopia according to World Vision UK. Further estimations say that cost of food in Ethiopia increased by 50% during this period. Alternative land use systems such as agroforestry can improve livelihoods and ensure nutrition whilst improving biodiversity (Schroth & Sinclair, 2003). That is why scientists and development agencies started recognizing the important way trees and agro biodiversity play a major role for generating income, food and fuel security for farmers (Cooper et al., 1996). Agroforestry includes practices that involve growing trees in a form of spatial or temporal combination with crops, livestock or pasture. This study focuses on a particular agroforestry system, the tropical homegardens. They are of high importance in various livelihood systems around the world to provide subsistence and income. In general this system of cultivation is defined as a silvopastoral agroforestry practice (Schroth & Sinclair 2003), where crops with shrubs are planted under trees. Appearance and management of tropical home gardens varies depending on the region. However, it is defined by a multistory structure garden with diverse species close to dwellings (Fernandes, Nair, 1986). In the study area of Gedeo three major practies are dominant: Enset-, Enset-coffee- and Fruit-coffee agroforestry. They all differ in size and structure and vary in altitudes between 1500 and 2400 metes above sea level. They are one of the oldest forms of land use and are highly sustainable (Kumar, Nair, 2004). These systems are a result of domestication of natural forests and intensification of agricultural systems centuries ago. Agroforestry in Ethiopia emerged together with agriculture 7000 years ago, when farmers settled in forests and selectively felled trees for cereal crop production. (Negash et al., 2011, UNESCO 2011). Enset (Ensete ventricosum) and coffee (Coffea arabica) were introduced as food and cash crops (Negash et al., 2011). To cope with poverty farmers start to canged from species diverse agriculture into intensive monoculture with the prospect of gaining more money, but in the long term forest loss and degradation of soils might be a cost full result. One viable sustainable option for a farmer could be multistrata shaded coffee agroforestry. Therefore the existence of native shade trees and further intensification to form the different plant layers is required. Traditional agro ecosystems and home gardens have received increased attention from scientists who recognize them as an in situ conservation of agro biodiversity (Perrault-Archambault & Coomes 2008). That is why they have recently been regarded as germ plasm banks for economic crops and a key site for the domestication of wild plants (Huai & Hamilton 2008). Regardless, homegardens in Ethiopia have not been the focus of research about their impact on livelihoods. There is a need to analyze in which ways coffee-shaded homegardens alleviate farmers from poverty and which trends regarding change to intensive systems are taking place in Gedeo. Finally it is concluded that recognition of coffee shaded homegardens as an option for ensuring food security and diversified income should be given more attention, to ensure rural farmers survival and to spread the idea into other regions