In the first year of the Common Pastures project (March 2015-March 2016), more than 3,000 fertilizer trees were sourced and planted in Mali, West Africa. A one-hectare demonstration site was set up at Katibougou, a village located approximately 67km from the capitol city of Bamako. The site was fenced with a well, pump and irrigation for the integration of vegetables during the dry season. Three tree species of the family Leguninosae (legumes) were planted, including Gliricidia Sepium, Albizia Lebbeck, and Leucaena Leucocephala, along with Moringa oleifera.
In November 2017, Common Pastures Project Director Bara Kassambara visited the Katibougou site with cooperative President Amadou Diaby and two other cooperative members, to check in on the activities in the field.
Kassambara discovered that from the 100 forage trees planted during this rainy season, only 25% survived, because this year in many locations the rains didn’t start in time and stopped prematurely, leaving staple crops in some areas immature. Additionally, termites affected the trees. Results show that while the glyricidia tree is slow to grow, it is more drought resistant; the leucaena is the most attacked by termites; and the moringa also struggled with severe drought.
At the end of the forage trees visit, Kassambara had a meeting with Diaby and the coop members to analyze the reasons for the trees’ failure to grow and to plan next steps. Together, they agreed to continue watering the surviving plants twice a week to prepare ahead of the rainy season next year (by themselves, without any additional financial support). After discussions, Kassambara proposed them to start nurseries in April-May and plant at the very beginning of the rainy season when the soil is wet. This will allow them to benefit from the most rain, grow fast during the remaining rainy season, and be resilient for the dry season.