Trees for Food Security 2: Developing integrated options and accelerating scaling up of agroforestry for improved food security and resilient livelihoods in Eastern Africa

Project Timeframe:
Jan 2017 to Dec 2020

Related country(s)

Ethiopia, Rwanda, Uganda

A$ 5,000,000


Australian Centre for International Agriculture Research (ACIAR)


Rwanda Agricultural Board (RAB) | Ethiopian Environment and Forest Research Institute (EEFRI) | National Forestry Resources Research Institute (NAFFORI) | Mekelle University (Ethiopia) | Makerere University (Uganda) | University of Rwanda | IMBARAGA | Oromia Agricultural Research Institute (OARI/IQQO) | Mbale Coalition Against Poverty (Mbale CAP) | African Network for Agriculture | Agroforestry and Natural Resources Education (ANAFE) | Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) | World Vision-East Africa.


The ACIAR Trees for food security project-T4FS (FSC/2012/014) continue to demonstrate the importance of trees in fields and farming landscapes for enhancing and sustaining crop yield and food security in eastern Africa. A number of promising climate smart agroforestry practices were developed, improving crop yield and in the longer term soil health, water use efficiency, carbon storage and livelihood outcomes. The capacity to reliably predict tree and crop yields across a range of soil and climate was developed within CSIRO’s APSIM model. The project revealed that farmers want greater diversity of trees on their farms than had been previously appreciated. Key adoption constraints include access to appropriate knowledge and financing options, barriers to smallholders accessing markets, availability of water resources, mechanisms to control free grazing and weak local institutions.

This second phase of agroforestry research will continue and build on the activities from T4FS and focus on tree diversity as the cornerstone of smallholder system intensification and integrate tree management with value chain development, better water management and new approaches to govern livestock management. The project aims to improve food security and smallholder livelihoods through the widespread adoption of appropriate locally adapted agroforestry practices in key agricultural landscapes in Ethiopia, Rwanda and Uganda.

The objectives are organized in form of Work Packages (WP) and led by a work package leader.

The project has five main objectives.

  1. To enhance knowledge of the impact of tree cover change on crop productivity, water, nutrients and livelihoods
  2. To integrate appropriate water management technologies and sustainable grazing options with promotion of agroforestry
  3. To establish communities of practice in the promotion of locally adaptable agroforestry options supported by appropriate inputs systems
  4. To strengthen smallholders and other market actor’s ability to participate effectively and profitably in tree product value chains
  5. To strengthen capacity of academic institutions in developing and implementing innovative agroforestry curricula

Research strategy

The T4FS project has shown how farmers are interested in a much broader range of tree species than previously appreciated and highlighted the role that trees can play in system intensification. This is shifting the emphasis of agroforestry extension efforts in the region away from concentration on a few top-down priority species, towards balanced portfolios of trees for their products that underpin sustainable commercialization in the smallholder farming sector. In response to feedback from farmers within the previous research phase, the project will integrate specific components on water management, access to credit, and value chain development to address the needs of farmers for integrated solutions rather than only promoting single components (Research in development strategy below).

Figure 1. The research in development strategy adapted from the generic framework in Coe et al., 2014[1]. Green elements denote key new aspects in the present proposal that augment the core elements in pink.

[1] Coe, R., Sinclair, F. and Barrios, E. (2014). Scaling up agroforestry requires research ‘in’ rather than ‘for’ development. Current Opinion in Environmental Sustainability 6(2014):73–77.

Project progress and achievements.

  • Government support and commitment to project activities In Ethiopia, Dr. Eyasu Abraha, the Minister for Minister of Agriculture and Natural Resources emphasised that the ministry is committed to developing 30,000 RRCs, based on the T4FS model and redesigning state nurseries. In Rwanda, Dr. Patrick Karangwa, on behalf of the Director General of RAB guaranteed plans are underway to establish seven more RRCs. In Uganda the Director Agricultural Extension Services, Ministry of Agriculture Animal Industry and Fisheries (MAAIF), Ms. Beatrice Byarugaba, assured government’s support and commitment
  • Contribution to development of national agroforestry strategies and policy influence through engagement in policy formulation in all the countries.
  • Accreditation of the project in Uganda to the Queen’s Commonwealth Canopy (QCC) initiative
  • Successful project inception workshops in Ethiopia, Rwanda and Ethiopia
  • Successful Mid Term Review of the project by an internal reviewer Dr. Norah Devoe (ACIAR Forestry Research Program Manager) and an external reviewer, Dr. Yiheyis Maru (senior systems research scientist at CSIRO).

Norah Devoe appreciates model farmer- Emmanuel Tuyizere from Rwanda for his efforts in agroforestry technologies

T4FS-2 project Midterm review in Ethiopia

T4FS-2 project Midterm review in Uganda

  • Visit to the project sites in Ethiopia- Zeway by the ACIAR CEO, Professor Andrew Campbell accompanied by General Manager Global Program, Ms Mellissa Woods on 26 and 28 June and interacted with farmers and partners implementing the project. Visit to the Project sites in Rwanda by Dr. Peter Horne, ACIAR Country Program Director in September 2018

Dr. Peter Horne takes a with farmers, ICRAF DG- Tony Simmons and T4FS-2 project team

Prof. Andrew Campbell joins women in Batu RRC during potting activities

  • By January 2019, more than 12,000 households are participating in the project (5669 in Rwanda, 5609 in Uganda and 1337 in Ethiopia).

Ms. Mukandekezi Francoise, a private tree nursery owner

  • Establishment of 1307 participatory trials in Rwanda, 516 in Uganda and 985 in Ethiopia

Diogene Habihirwe- T4FS-2 model farmer poses next to Gliricidia sepium trees grown for biomass incorporation

  • Through the various capacity building initiatives such as training, demonstrations and sensitizations, the project has reached more than 448, 965, 480 community members in Ethiopia, Uganda and Rwanda respectively
  • The project is currently supporting 6 PhD students and 1 MSc student

Joel Buyinza, a PhD student supported by T4FS-2 project in Uganda

Sap flow installation by Awol Assefa (far left), a PhD student supported by the project in Ethiopia

  • Impressive progress at the RRCs in the three countries and commencement of activities at Bako RRC in Ethiopia where a group of 11 members has been formed to run the activities

Irrigation at the RRC nursery in Ethiopia

Karago RRc in Rwanda 

Kadahenda Innovation Platform members at Karago RRC, Rwanda

  • 101,295 seedlings tree seedlings have been produced at both Batu and Bako RRCs and Tigray nurseries comprising improved seedlings papaya, Avocado trees and multipurpose and ornamental trees. 199,005 tree seedlings have been produced in Rwanda from Karago and Karama RRCs as well as the five satellite nurseries in Bugesera. 199,005 were produced in Uganda at Mbale RRC and the two community nurseries established in Namanyonyi subcounty

Ongoing nursery activities in Uganda- Mbale RRC

Grafting activities in Batu RRC by Magarrisa group members

  • Establishment of a long-term trial in Uganda and ongoing management of long-term trials in Ethiopia and Rwanda.  Development of APSIM Eucalyptus tree model and validation which with will used for monocultures or agroforestry mixtures in Uganda, Rwanda and Ethiopia

Data collection on tree crop interaction in the Long-Term trial at Bugi-ZARDI, Eastern Uganda

In pictures

  • Discussions with Butta sub-county farmers participating in the project's long-term trials. Photo May Muthuri
  • Project team and reviewers posing for a group photo with Elgon Trust Women Group. Photo Catherine Muthuri
  • A farmer potting mangoes at the Mbale RRC. Photo May Muthuri
  • A farmer grafting mangoes at the Mbale RRC. Photo May Muthuri
  • A farmer demonstrates how potting tubes are made at the Mbale RRC. Photo May Muthuri
  • John, a champion farmer...
  • Longterm experiment at Bugesera managed by Rwanda Agricultural Board in Rwanda
  • Joseph Desiree Rugerero, a climbing beans farmer at Karago Sector
  • Clemena Mukarugwira, Tamarillo farmer from Karago Sector with Tony Barlett at her piece of land planted with tamarillo
  • Clemena Mukarugwira, Tamarillo farmer from Karago Sector holding her health insurance certificate
  • Clemena Mukarugwira, Tamarillo farmer from Karago Sector answers questions from the reviewers
  • Women working at the RRC plant seedlings
  • Shifarow Tadesse, Associate Researcher and Process Leader at Bako Agricultural Research Centre explains to the review team the work done at the longterm trial site.
  • Kuli Tiki, a champion farmer whose farm was used as a model farm for other farmers in her area shows the reviewers the different tree species on her farm
  • Edushe Guye, Model farmer from Gerbi Village, Batu Area stands by his newly dug well
  • Edushe Guye, Model farmer from Gerbi Village, Batu Area shares how a newly dug borehole has helped him plant more fruit trees
  • Batu RRC workers prepare seed beds for planting tree seedlings.
  • An RRC worker at Karama RRC
  • A diagram representation of the layout of the longterm trial at Bako Agricultural Research Center
  • Tree seedling fenced for protection- Bako Ethiopia