How Agroforestry Beats Climate Change, Drought and Poverty, reviving Kenyan Farming Economy

by Vins
Published: Last Updated on

As climate change worsens and Kenyan farmers struggle to make a reliable income from food crops alone, agroforestry—the practice of growing trees in fields to protect the crops and soil from harsh weather – is bringing life back to the Kibwezi village, thanks to the Melia Volkensii tree. Called mukau by the locals, this thrives in drylands while its leaves and branches also protect the fields from scorching sun and winds, and provide crops with moisture from nightly dew.

Agroforestry helps farmers to grow crops and provide for their families in times of drought. Mung’ala, 63, planted 100 of these trees ten years ago, and now has over 7,000 trees. Not only do these trees help his crops, but because they are so prolific, he can harvest some of the trees for lumber to pay for family expenses. “I never worry that my children will miss an education for lack of school fees,” he said. “This tree makes money for me all year round.”

Kenya is one example of regions throughout Africa, South America, and Asia where communities seek to adapt to the systemic impacts of climate change and deforestation. Agroforestry can help prevent or mitigate the poverty, famine, and environmental destruction related to these realities.

This topic was not covered in any recent corporate media, except for an opinion piece published in the Washington Post in September 2018.


Kagondu Njagi, “The Tree Helping Kenyan Farmers Beat Drought and Poverty,” Thomson Reuters Foundation News, March 25, 2019,

Petra Heid, “Fighting Climate Change and Poverty with Agroforestry,“ World Cocoa Foundation, January 22, 2019,

Ruth Ogendi, “Synergizing climate change mitigation and adaptation in Cameroon,” Agroforestry World, June 12, 2018,

Student Researcher: Sarah Proffitt (San Francisco State University)

Faulty Evaluator: Kenn Burrows (San Francisco State University)