It’s quite amazing to find such a stark difference in tree population even within the same region in the Gambia.
Case in point – one of the project villages, Njau: the landscape is sparsely dotted with trees – bravely standing against the desert-like climate and environment. On the contrary, the riverside neighbours (less than 15 min away by car) are endowed with nearby water (and its favourable micro-climate) and can host a diverse variety of tree population.
Having a fruit and nut tree in your backyard is the wisest long-term investment for a family in this region. As part of our project work, we will introduce many fruit trees (25,000 trees over the course of four years) in the project villages (cashew, mango, orange, lime, papaya, etc.). However, the challenge is not about the number of trees – the number one problem is how to secure and ensure full protection against the long dry spell and grazing animals (goats, sheep, and cows). Mainly, because animals are roaming free during the dry season, it is almost impossible to keep them away from devouring our young trees. Fencing is the way, but it costs a lot. What to do? That’s my next task! To find a simple and affordable solution. I am still pondering though.