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Non-wood Forest Benefits and Agroforestry Practices in the Fouta Djallon Highlands of Guinea - page 3 / 12





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Non-wood Forest Benefits and Agroforestry Practices

farmers who have some livestock. The villages studied were mostly self- sufficient in food production. When needed, it was possible to buy the products not grown in a household’s garden or field, at the market or from a neighbour. This self-sufficiency, however, appeared to be always dependent on the harvest.

The data for the study was collected by semi-structured interviews and participant observation when the researcher joined villagers with their daily activities during a three-month stay in the area in 2004. Altogether 21 villagers were interviewed, 12 women and 9 men. Most of the interviewees were from 20 to 60 years old, but also some high school students and older people were interviewed; the youngest person was 17 years old the oldest was 82. The development association Indigo provided support for the field work through its connections with the inhabitants of the region. The Indigo Association is a Guinean-Finnish non-governmental organisation (NGO) that works in partner villages for the development of the prefecture of Mali.

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Three interviewees related that their lives were harder than their parents’ lives because the agricultural yields had decreased. They said that their parents got better harvests of maize (Zea mays L.) and the millet crop known as, fonio (Digitaria exilis (Kippist) Stapf), and their parents had cultivated smaller fields and used more modest inputs. Although leaves collected from the forests were being used as an important fertiliser, this did not stop the soil in the fields from degrading. Due to the decreased agricultural harvests the importance of women’s home gardens increased. Orange (Citrus sinensis (L.) Osbeck), mango (Mangifera indica L.), and avocado (Persea americana) were described as being the most common and most appreciated cultivated fruit trees. Other common cultivated tree, tree-like, and shrub plants described included papaya (Carica papaya L.) and coffee (Coffea robusta Linden, Coffea arabica L.). The small- scale exporting of fruits, especially oranges and mangoes, to Senegal provided an income for some people. Unfortunately, this business was restricted by the lack of vehicles, as well as the bad roads from the villages to Senegal. About third of men interviewed did not highly value the money that women earned from selling fruits. However, for nine of the twelve women this was the only money they could earn with which to purchase many important needs, like children’s shoes and clothes.

During the interviews, a total of 48 wild fruit tree species were mentioned as growing outside home gardens. The most valued species described were the néré (Parkia biglobosa (Jacq.) R. Br. Ex G. Don, the shea butter tree (Vitellaria paradoxa Gaertn. f.), the baobab (Adansonia digitata L.), the lemon (Citrus limon L), the bumme (Vitex doniana Sweet), and the sungala (Harungana


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