The homegardens of Soqotra island, Yemen: An example of agroforestry approach to multiple land-use in an isolated location

  • Ceccolini L
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Abstract

This paper presents an example of how agroforestry is practised to satisfy the local people's basic subsistence needs in the isolated Indian Ocean island of Soqotra, Republic of Yemen, south of the Arabian Peninsula. Combined with an arid tropical climate, the harsh seasonal conditions and annual period of isolation have moulded the culture of the Soqotra population, and fostered a traditional approach to land-use, based on the seasonal cultivation of homegardens and ranging of livestock (mostly goats). The homegardens contain many species of cultivated plants, composed of a wide diversity of plant groups. In addition to food, some cultivated plants provide medicine (mostly endemic plants such as Aloe perryi, Jatropha unicostata, Commiphora ornifolia), forage for domestic goats, cattle and camels (e.g., Paracalyx sp., Thespesia populnea, Pennisetum purpureum), shade and other aesthetic values (e.g., Cordia sinensis, Parkinsonia aculeata, Pithecolobium dulce). Most gardens are located around the periphery of towns and villages, with aspects of location, climate, and other ecological parameters carefully considered in their establishment. Homegardens are mostly worked by women, and to a lesser extent by children and men. At present, only a small proportion of Soqotra's population cultivates homegardens. Historically, and up to the present day, there has been little commercial utilisation of the cultivated species. Considerable potential exists for the development and / or expansion of local markets, although the recent increase in supply of produce from the mainland via commercial air delivery may limit such expansion.

Author-supplied keywords

  • Biodiversity
  • Cropping patterns
  • Fruit trees
  • Horizontal layers
  • Indigenous knowledge
  • Sustainability

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Authors

  • Lorenzo Ceccolini

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