Making money out of a thorny problem: Prosopis in Ethiopia
In the arid Afar region of Ethiopia, few plants can survive on the low and erratic rainfall. However, one plant that survives and thrives is Prosopis, a thorny tree that was introduced into Ethiopia in the 1970s to stabilise the soil and combat desertification but spread rapidly, eating up over 1.2 million ha of the region’s most essential resource: grazing land that is used by Afar pastoralists for their livestock. The animals eat the pods and thus become the main propagators of the tree. The further pastoralists go in search of new grazing land, the further Prosopis spreads, as the seed works its way through the animals’ digestive systems and onto the ground, ready fertilised. In the Afar Prosopis Management Project, pastoralists are collecting pods, crushing the seeds and selling the product as an easy-to-digest, high-protein animal feed. FARM–Africa helped them set up a cooperative, which runs a crushing mill. In other Afar communities, new cooperatives have also started to supply the mill. A scourge of the drylands in eastern Africa is being turned into a lucrative business. Read more.