Indigenous and exotic fruit trees: why do people want to grow them?
The ENDA-Zimbabwe 'Community management of woodland project' operates in 4 areas in Chivi and Zvishavane districts in southern Zimbabwe. This is a dryland agricultural area with average rainfall between 500 mm and 650 mm p.a. The project approach is based on a process of community planning at village level. Community workers carry out research with farmers and develop a village plan for planting and woodland management. Village level research highlighted 3 key issues that formed the basis of the project: trees were essential for maintenance of the local ecosystem; they were a multipurpose resource; and indigenous woodland management was perceived by farmers to be a necessary strategy. In the first few years (1987-89) of the project between a quarter and a third of all trees planted were fruit trees. These included both indigenous and exotic species. The reasons for this local enthusiasm for planting fruit trees are explored and include historical factors, marketing and transportation, local preferences, seasonal roles and economic value. Each of these issues is examined with comparisons between project areas. It is concluded that in order to understand why people plant fruit trees it is necessary to address a full range of factors and take account of local conditions.