Script 55.10

Notes to broadcasters

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You may want to begin or end this script with a short story about a popular multi-purpose tree used by farmers in your region. A multi-purpose tree is a tree with many uses. These trees have leaves, flowers, fruit, bark, and wood that are useful to farmers. There are different kinds of multi-purpose trees in different countries and regions. Some examples of multi-purpose trees are: calliandra (Calliandra calothyrsus), tamarind (Tamarindus indica), banana (Musa spp.), certain species of palm trees, loquat (Eriobotrya japonica), Gliricidia sepium, Erythrina spp., and Mitragyna inermis. There are hundreds of other examples — too numerous to list here.


Part I – How the calliandra tree can start a forest


Mr. Mahendrarajah lives in Sri Lanka and works at the Gnanammah Integrated Research Farm.

He has some interesting observations on one of his favourite multi-purpose trees—the calliandra tree.

Have you heard about the calliandra tree?

This is a tree with many uses.

Farmers use it for fuelwood, for animal fodder, and for honey production.

And the calliandra tree can even start a new forest.

Here’s how.

The flowers of the calliandra tree attract bees and bats.

Bats drink the nectar from the calliandra tree.

When the bats come to feed on the trees, they leave droppings on the ground.

In the droppings are the seeds of new trees.

The leaves of the calliandra tree fall to the ground, building a thick layer of mulch.

The mulch, together with the shade from the trees, provides a perfect place for earthworms and other creatures to live.

The earthworms and other creatures break the leaves into smaller pieces—this is the beginning of the new soil.

It’s quite possible now that some wild boars will arrive to feed on the earthworms.

While they are feeding, the wild boars till the soil.

They move the soil around.

They cover the seeds on the ground with soil.

Soon small tree seedlings begin to sprout all around.

After some time, you will see a new grove of trees —a valuable storehouse of fruits and firewood.


Part II – Calliandra as chicken feed





I mentioned earlier that the calliandra tree has many uses.

If you keep chickens or ducks, you’ll be interested in the following information from Mr. Mahendrarajah at the Gnanammah Integrated Research Farm in Matale, Sri Lanka.

You can use the leaves of the calliandra tree for poultry feed.

Cut some leafy branches from the calliandra tree.

Leave the branches on the ground in the shade for about a week.

During this time, the leaves and stalks will separate from the main branch.

Remove the leaves and place them in a sand sieve.

Sift the leaves through the sieve to make them into very small pieces.

Placing a stone in the sieve will speed up the sieving process.

Once they are ground up, the leaves can be used as feed for your poultry.

Use one portion of calliandra leaves for every twenty portions of poultry feed, and mix them together.

In other words, use one can of calliandra leaves for every twenty cans of poultry feed.

Chickens that eat calliandra leaves with their feed will have nice yellow yolks!



Calliandra calothyrsus is a small leguminous tree. It is native to Mexico and Central America. It is a multi-purpose tree used by farmers as a shade tree, for fodder, for firewood, and for honey production. It is also planted on steep slopes to stabilize soil. In Cameroon, farmers are using it to restore soil fertility. They plant it in a 2-3-year short-term improved fallow system as an alternative to traditional slash and burn agriculture. Some farmers use it to produce stakes for climbing beans. The tree produces prolific flowers and is often planted for its beautiful flowers alone.

In Kenya and other parts of the world, calliandra is valued as fodder for dairy cattle, poultry, and other livestock. Experiments feeding it to dairy cattle as a substitute for commercial dairy meal show that it increases the butterfat content of milk.


Contributed by: E.S. Mahendrarajah, Gnanammah Integrated Research Farm, Matale, Sri Lanka.

Reviewed by: Dr. Peter Cooper, International Centre for Research in Agroforestry, Nairobi, Kenya.