Use of Ngitili, a traditional silvo-pastoral system that maintains standing vegetation for use during peak dry season, reduces feed stock shortages, combats parasite infestations affecting humans and cattle, and contributes to the restoration of degraded lands and soil.
Ngitili is a silvo-pastoral system that requires maintaining, and often closing off from livestock, centered around an area of standing vegetation at the end of the rainy season. Thus, during the peak of the dry season, when feed stocks are low, these areas are opened back up for use when necessary. This farmer-led and farmer-managed vegetation restoration practice has evolved after years of traditional grazing management in Tanzania. Five villages currently using 2.2 out of 12 hectares for Ngitili, participated in interviews and studies about the benefits of the practice. Despite being a small proportion of total land, the cumulative effect of these restored standing vegetation patches was found to have sustained the otherwise degrading landscapes. The practice has been reported by farmers themselves to restore degraded lands, reduce the risk of feed stock shortages, and improve soil quality and land productivity.
Although no mitigation impact was measured or reported, Ngitili has been cited as a useful way of restoring soil carbon and is thus likely to contribute to a greater carbon sequestration potential in the area.
Although not quantified, farmers in the area expect vegetation restoration to contribute to controlling soil erosion, reducing land degradation, and improving soil fertility, functions which had been undermined by prior land clearing efforts. Anecdotal evidence suggests that farmers embrace Ngitili for its increased economic returns to livestock production, a better supply of animal feed, and higher land productivity.
Farmers who had several years of experience with Ngitili expressed their belief that tree-based land use systems have conservation value and positive impacts on ecosystems and livelihoods.
The Ngitili system was reported to serve a safety net function by increasing feed stocks and land productivity, thus reducing the risk of losing animals for lack of feed resources. Crop cultivation and animal rearing are the main sources of income for the villages in the area and such a safety net therefore likely bolsters income security for farmers.