Agroforestry Reseach for Symbiotic Relationships
Darfur Region, Sudan, Africa


     The Darfur region of Sudan is a complex environment, characterised by extreme environmental variability and frequent droughts, a diverse ecology and a system of livelihood integration between farming and pastoralism that has existed for centuries. The region has a long experience of conflict, including wider civil wars, transnational conflicts, inter‐tribal conflicts and the Darfur conflict of the past 20 years, which prompted a huge international humanitarian aid programme from 2004. After more than a decade of protracted humanitarian action in Darfur, the government of Sudan and international actors shifted their attention to building resilience and early recovery of communities.
    Farming and pastoralist systems are often associated with particular ethnic (tribal) groups. The term ‘nomad’ in the Darfur context is linked with both a cultural identity and the practice of camel and cattle pastoralism.

Farming and pastoralism sub‐systems are seasonal by nature, with periods of intense work, with all other livelihood activities fitting around the livelihood specialisation. Some communities emphasised the seasonal changes linked to rain‐fed cultivation; others described their changing environment in relation to the needs of livestock for food and water, and where these could be found, again revealing their specialised knowledge.

The extreme inter‐annual rainfall variability gives rise to fluctuating harvests, with good and bad years.     Even within a localised area, production can be very uneven, with some farms receiving adequate rain while others might fail.

    Thus, communities are very familiar with extreme rainfall variability, including the possibility of a late start to the rains; gaps of several days without rain; heavy downpours or floods; and the uneven or patchy distribution of rains. Both farming and pastoralist communities could describe in detail how rainfall variability, high winds and excessive heat might affect the quality and productivity of their crops or the health of their livestock. They also described their own specialist practices for managing environmental variability.

    Most developing countries exploit the multipurpose use of livestock to produce meat, milk, fibre, draught energy and manure. Further, the bioenergetic efficiency of multipurpose livestock production is often overlooked by livestock planners and, consequently, misplaced development objectives are often pursued.
    In South Darfur, because of their skills they frequently rely on paid agricultural labor to work their farms. The pastoralists are also changing the composition of their livestock herds, from camel and cattle, which are traditionally favoured, to include sheep, which are valued for their quick economic returns in the context of a thriving regional and national market. The existing species that the communities of South Darfur currently rely on are cattle, sheep, camels, donkeys and horses. Because of South Darfur’s extreme climate conditions these species have accustommed to the harsh environment.


    In conclusion, an integrated system was designed within the agriculture realm of in South Darfur. The system took into consideration existing conditions of the community as well as it studies the possibilities of incorporating innovative systems.
    The agriculture system later on gets tied and connected to the other systems being discussed in the seminar as a whole, this allows for the creation of an integrated system beyond agriculture and allows for a wholistic ecosystem that begins to function as “Ecoindustrial park”.

Agroforestry and animal husbandry will be addressed in the form of alley cropping with the incorporation of outdoor freely roaming livestock to maximize animal production and use of animal waste as fertilizer and biogas. Trees utilized in this system will focus on native species already accustomed to harsh environmental conditions yet yields the maximum amount of productions for other industries to use such as tannin for tanning industry and leaves for basketweaving.
Aquaculture and horticulture this relationship will be addressed in the form of a greenhouse where new crops such as tomatoes and cucumbers will be introduced to the system as well as existing crops such as maize (corn), whear and millet (within others) within a system of groundwater extraction for irrigation of crops. These crops can later on be used as feed for livestock and also to feed digesters during the anaerobic digestion process to produce biogas.

Biodigestion process (inputs animal waste - more specifically bird droppings from concentrated pigeon house) results in biogas. Biogas can directly be used as fuel or digestate (liquid remnants) can be used as fertilizer for agroforestry and horticulture systems.


01 - Animal Husbandry + Agriculture

This system begins to describe the relationship between agroforestry and its opportunities and potentials for expansion within. Trees can be used as shelter for animals as well as food and enrichment of the nutrient-poor nature of the site. Within this integrated system the production of crops such as the crops previously described can thrive.
    To add a level of security and an extra layer of inter-relationships within, beehives (commonly seen all throughout Africa as used as natural deterrents for the common problem of theft in the area. Bees also act as natures most efficient pollinators that will later on reflect and benefit crop production within this system.

    The outputs of this such as tannin and textiles can be used in other industries such as tannery, basketweaving, furniture making and others.

The Greenhouse proposed for the necessities discussed in South Darfur, follows the model of the existing seasalt water greenhouse but it adapts its design to utilize water from Wadis as opposed to oceanwater to be efficient.
    Underground water goes through an evaporator, this water is then used to irrigate the plants housed inside the greenhouse. These crops are not original or traditional of the site, these crops include species such as cucumbers and tomatoes to help buffer food production during harsh climate conditions such as drought to help feed the community when outdoor crops fail to meet demand. The water then goes through a condenser and acts as purified water, safe for drinking. Left over water can be taken back to the Wadis.

    Pigeonhouse as diagrammed below begins to take advantage of wasteful outputs such as animal droppings and uses natural yet complex systems such as anaerobic digestion to create energy and fuel.

    The pigeonhouse is envisioned to be one of the few elements within the agriculture system that will be 3D printed. 3D printing the house will allow for the utilization of soils within the site to construct a system that will later on give products for other uses. The liquid and solid outputs of anaerobic digestion are rich fertilizers that can be used within the agroforestry and horticulture systems. Biogas is also a resultant of the system and this can be easily turned into electricity, fuel or even thermal energy.

    The pigeon droppings would be collected in a system of pots that can come from the basketweaving industry or could be potentially 3D printed as well.

It is important to note that outside systems are not discussed in depth in this report. Tannery industries, light industries and energy systems can be further expanded on.

Ecosystems within all realms of relationships of nature and man made inventions can all be incorporated to benefit the communities of South Darfur without losing the cultural identity of traditional systems of the community as a whole.

- Collaboration with Wanchen Cai and James Zheng - 


All Darfur site images were provided by Logman Arja.

Climate Change in Darfur

Animal Husbandry


Resiliency in Darfur Region