Tree propagation; ‘Cheating’ Trees, Saving Forests

Farmers in the Mambonko village in South West Cameroon have been encouraged to use mostly grafted and marcotted trees in their farmlands as it allows trees with poor rooting systems and good quality fruits to be combined with those of the same species that have good rooting systems for better yields.

Grafted bush mango tree


With grafting, you cut a tree from the middle area and replaces it with another upper part and then nurture. In the course of time, the two parts will attach nicely and begin communication. They must, however, have the same genes.  Marcotting on the other hand, ‘cheats’ trees by taking advantage of their memory cells. The branch of a two-year-old tree, for instance, is cut, rooting ignited at one end and then planted. The plant takes some time to adapt to this new condition (acclimatization) and then continues growing like a two-year-old. As such. many plants can be generated from one tree. This method reduces the fruiting time of trees by up to half depending on the age of the marcotted mother tree.

Marcotted Dacryodes edulis (African plums)

“The most sustainable promise for agroforestry, forest gardening or any profitable tree planting endeavour is tree propagation.  People need some form of incentive. It is not easy to plant trees that take up to 10 years to start producing fruits. Humans are not that patient,” said  Mr.  Shu Jerome as he distributed marcotted forest and fruit trees for planting into the Irvingia forest garden in Mambonko village in Cameroon.

The forest garden is composed of crops (maize, various vegetables, cassava, potatoes, plantain), forest trees (bush mango, njangsang), fruits trees (African plum, oranges, avocado and mango)  and animals (goats, pigs and fowls). The crops are planted  10m2  from each other and trees in order to minimize shading.

Animals, on the other hand, walk around the farm freely and their dung serves as manure. This farm will enable Ecological Balance train 25 women every 6months on how to incorporate indigenous trees into existing farmlands.

The rationale of this forest gardening practice is to combine crops, trees, and animals of different fruiting cycles, hence, enabling women to harvest all year round. This reduces their vulnerability to market prices as surpluses can be sold offseason. Forest garden also reduces dependence on forest for timber and other forest products, while also ensuring land optimization.

By Ndimuh B. Shancho