Niger has faced challenges of crop failures, extreme climate events and food insecurity for decades. The situation became worse as a result of rapid deforestation in the 1960s and 70s, which severely degraded the farmland. Faced with frequent and severe droughts, the degraded farmland was unable to provide sufficient food to feed the country's population. In order to counter this, the Government launched an initiative to plant 60 million trees, but this was not successful due to high (over 80%) mortality rates amongst the saplings.
In this context, the FMNR approach was developed, which made use of the extensive systems of living roots underneath the degraded land. Living tree stumps and root systems grow more quickly than saplings from seeds. Under the programme, farmers identified and protected tree and shrub wildlings found on farmland, and pruned away the weak stems, allowing the wildlings to grow into full sized trees rapidly.
Relationship to CSA
The FMNR programme contributes to all three CSA pillars:
- Productivity: Cereal yields on FMNR fields increased by an average of 100kg/ha. At the programme level, FMNR contributed approximately 500,000 tonnes of cereals, providing food for 2.5 million people. Tree products also provided fodder for livestock, allowing farmers to build an additional income stream. Tree products could also be sold for their medicinal qualities or as construction material, generating income for farmers.
- Adaptation: The increased tree canopy from FMNR protects crops from harsh Sahelian winds. The greater yields achieved through the less degraded, better quality soils permits the surplus in good years to balance deficits in years with poorer yields.
- Mitigation: Over 5 million hectares of land have been covered with approximately 4.5 tonnes of above ground biomass per hectare, in addition to over 200 million trees.
Impacts and lessons learned
In addition to generating CSA related impacts, the FMNR programme also provides lessons on strengthening social capital amongst farmers and farmer-to-farmer knowledge sharing.
Dinesh D, Frid-Nielsen S, Norman J, Mutamba M, Loboguerrero Rodriguez AM, and Campbell B. 2015b. Is Climate-Smart Agriculture effective? A review of selected cases. CCAFS Working Paper no. 129. Copenhagen, Denmark: CCAFS.https://cgspace.cgiar.org/rest/bitstreams/58510/retrieve Climate-Smart Agriculture (CSA) is an approach to address the interlinked challenges of food security and climate change, and has three objectives: (1) sustainably increasing agricultural productivity, to support equitable increases in farm incomes, food security and development; (2) adapting and building resilience of agricultural and food security systems to climate change at multiple levels; and (3) reducing greenhouse gas emissions from agriculture (including crops, livestock and fisheries). This paper examines 19 CSA case studies, to assess their effectiveness in achieving the stated objectives of CSA, while also assessing other cobenefits, economic costs and benefits, barriers to adoption, success factors, and gender and social inclusion issues. The analysis concludes that CSA interventions can be highly effective, achieving the three CSA objectives, while also generating additional benefits in a costeffective and inclusive manner. However, this depends on context specific project design and implementation, for which institutional capacity is key. The paper also identifies serious gaps in data availability and comparability, which restricts further analysis.
Pye-Smith C. 2013. The quiet revolution: How Niger's farmers are re-greening the parklands of the Sahel. ICRAF Trees for Change no. 12. Nairobi, Kenya: World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF).http://www.worldagroforestry.org/downloads/Publications/PDFS/BL17569.pdf
This book is timely as it addresses the role of trees in enhancing the resilience of livelihoods and economies in the drylands of Eastern Africa. The book begins by describing the rationale behind the initiative followed by a clarification on the background and approach taken. Chapter three then describes the Eastern African region and argues why there is a need to build resilience in the livelihoods of communities living in drylands. Chapter four builds on this by introducing an ecosystem services perspective as the conceptual framework to explore the resilience offered by trees. Chapter five reviews the ecology, distribution and use of trees throughout the Eastern African region. Chapter six uses an ecosystem service perspective to review the various benefits that people derive from dryland trees. Chapter seven draws on experiences gained in development practices and presents and reviews 11 case studies of natural resource management. Chapter eight presents reflections of the write-shop participants on how best practice in resilience-building could be scaled up. A review of knowledge and information gaps regarding the contribution of trees in building resilience is presented in chapter nine, which is followed by a plan for possible follow-up action in chapter ten.
Reij C, Tappan G, Smale M. 2009. Agro-environmental Transformation in the Sahel: Another kind of "Green Revolution". IFPRI Discussion Paper 00914. Washington, DC: International Food Policy Research Institute.http://core.ac.uk/download/files/153/6257709.pdf A farmer-managed, agroenvironmental transformation has occurred over the past three decades in the West African Sahel, enabling both land rehabilitation and agricultural intensification to support a dense and growing population. This paper traces the technical and institutional innovations, their impacts, and lessons learned from two successful examples. The first is the story of the improvement and replication of indigenous soil and water conservation practices across the Central Plateau of Burkina Faso. Rehabilitation of at least 200,000 hectares of degraded land enabled farmers to grow cereals on land that had been barren and intensify production through developing agroforestry systems. Additionally, rehabilitation appears to have recharged local wells. The second example is a farmer-managed process of natural regeneration, using improved, local agroforestry practices over an estimated 5 million hectares in southern Niger. This large-scale effort reduced wind erosion and increased the production and marketing of crops, fodder, firewood, fruit, and other products. In both cases, income opportunities were created, reducing incentives for migration. Women benefited from the improved supply of water, fuelwood, and other tree products. Human, social, and political capital was strengthened in a process of farmer-driven change. Fluid coalitions of actors expanded the scale of the transformation. These stories have important lessons for those who seek to create effective agricultural development partnerships and meet the challenges of climate change and food security.