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Putting the community at the heart of agroforestry in Nigeria

In Nigeria, soil erosion, drought, and desertification hinder the nation’s economic stability and threaten people’s food, water security. The consequences leave people especially vulnerable to the effects of climate change.

In response to these challenges, Aerobic Agroforestry works to reverse this trend through agroforestry. The key is partnering with the community to bring its vision to life and restore the vitality of the landscapes.

Aerobic Agroforestry is a Nigerian company dedicated to restoring degraded forest reserves. The organization has embarked on a journey to use landscape restoration to mitigate the effects of climate change and transform the livelihoods of thousands of farmers across Nigeria. 

Through a low-interest loan from TerraFund for AFR100, an initiative of World Resources Institute, One Tree Planted, and Realize Impact that finances Africa's top restoration enterprises and projects, Aerobic Agroforestry is engaging more farmers to regenerate degraded ecosystems in Nigeria. The partnership has supported the organization to revive the country’s forests and has so far planted 450,000 trees across 350 hectares of land.

For years, the organization has grown and sold seedlings across Nigeria using soilless nurseries, with the goal of protecting the environment and providing economic benefits to local communities. Today, Aerobic Agroforestry has approximately 12,000 hectares dedicated to its plantations. The work of Aerobic Agroforestry is driven by its more than 100 staff, the majority being youth.

The organization also provides land and seedlings for farmers to plant, nurture and restore forests or increase fruit and crop production. When it’s time for harvest, farmers share the profit with the company. 

Owulabi Sule Adewumi, co-founder of Aerobic Agroforestry, reflects on the benefits of engaging the local community in the journey of restoration:

“We like working with the local community, and it’s really nice to see them own the project. For those who have initiatives on the side, like farmers who produce fruit or grow different crops, we don’t let our work hinder them. We instead compliment their work and sell seedlings to them whenever they want to grow something on their own,” he says.

The organization puts restoration and community at the center of their work. In addition to creating green jobs, planting trees and producing timber, the company ensures that the community has access to clean water, which also reduces water-borne diseases.

Community members see the project as an important step forward and appreciate how involved they are in the project. One of those is Friday Ephraim, a farmer and project beneficiary who lives in the Ala region. 

“I thank God that Aerobic came to the Ala community, because it has given me the opportunity to start my own yam farm using the seedlings they provided. I had been waiting for a long time to own a farm and contribute to the restoration of our landscape,” says Friday.

Today, Aerobic Agroforestry’s impact in Nigeria is growing and the organization is looking to engage more farmers to join the restoration journey - both in the country and across the continent. Aerobic Agroforestry is now working to restore 10,000 additional hectares of land and plant more trees. 

By collaborating with farmers and communities, this small business is demonstrating that land in Nigeria can be restored through agroforestry, helping to bring the environment back to life and improve livelihoods.