The Quezungual System: an indigenous agroforestry system from western Honduras

Authors: Hellin, J.1; William, L.2; Cherrett, I.2

Source: Agroforestry Systems, Volume 46, Number 3, November 1999 , pp. 229-237(9)

Publisher: Springer

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Information about traditional and unreported agroforestry systems could be useful as a basis for developing adoptable innovations. The Quezungual System, found in the department of Lempira in western Honduras near the border with El Salvador, is one such indigenous system. The distinctive feature of the system is the existence of various naturally-regenerated trees and shrubs that are pollared to a height of approximately 1.5 metres. Farmers also leave taller trees in the fields and these include Cordia alliodora (laurel) and various fruit trees such as Psidium guajava (guayabo). A variety of crops is grown within the System including Zea mays (maize), Sorghum bicolor (sorghum) and Phaseolus vulgaris (beans). Advantages of the System, identified by farmers, include retention of soil moisture, production of fruits and timber, and the fact that plots can be cultivated for longer periods than is normal practice before being left in fallow. One of the prerequisites for the establishment of the System is that farmers abandon the practice of burning their fields prior to the beginning of the rains in April. Those practising the Quezungual System are smallholder farmers living in areas with a scarcity of land. Farmers have customary but not legally-recognised title to their land and many of them have fewer than 2.5 ha of land, much of it on slopes from 5% to 50%. There is growing adoption of the System because of the direct benefits to the smallholder farmer.

Keywords: land husbandry; land scarcity; market opportunities; natural regeneration

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1: Geography Department, Oxford Brookes University, Oxford, OX3 0BP, UK, Email: 2: Proyecto Lempira Sur, Apartado Postal 1808, Tegucigalpa, Honduras,

Publication date: November 1, 1999

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