Growing Trees without Water


It might sound like an impossible task to grow trees without water but in practice it is proving to be very possible. ADRA Malawi is partnering with Nationwide Quiz Programme, Sustainable Environment Projects to spread this technique throughout Malawi, within its target areas. The aim is to combat deforestation and to curb the impact of climate change.

Stems Sprout with no water

So how does it all work? The planting technique is called “Truncheon” and it involves using the branches/stems (truncheons) of indigenous trees, like Mlombwa trees and planting them during the dry season in 30cm deep pits of soft soil. A diagonal cut is made to the top of the stem where it will ooze red sap; this is done to prevent the rotting of the stem as it grows. The next step is to not water the plant and to regularly check sprouting. Each year 15-25 new shoots grow at a rate of 1 meter.

Stems grow 1 meter in length each year- this stem was planted in August


This technique is proving to be very effective and communities are in awe that trees can grow without water. The “Truncheon” method provides many benefits to communities, firstly there is very little effort needed in planting and taking care of the stems, carbon dioxide is stored more effectively improving the effects of climate change, the most barren land can be ‘dressed’ up, the water table rises and soil fertility increases this improves crop production and even allows for boreholes to be sunk. The “Truncheon” method also means that trees grow quicker and are better able to replace those cut for firewood, providing a more sustainable source of wood for communities that rely on wood for many daily functions.
Mr. Benjamin Chirwa

Mr. Benjamin Chirwa, the implementer of this innovative programme is very passionate about this method and is excited to partner with ADRA Malawi who will use its communication channels of TV and radio to educate people about the value and importance of the “Truncheon” method. Community groups that ADRA Malawi works with will also be trained to use this method.

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