The Ecofarm research project is intended to test, verify and introduce technologies that could contribute to improving crops and livestock productivity and enhance the food security and income of the population, and reduce conflict over natural resources.
The sedentary farming system, as in most of the African Sahel, is characterized by a fragile natural resource base, and farming is carried out under risky environmental conditions. Farmers have limited resources, small size holdings, perform manual farming operations and use little or no external inputs such as fertilizers and improved seeds.
Average yields obtained from the crops grown are low. Rainfall variability, low soil fertility, poor crop establishment and poor crops genetic stock are among the principal factors for the low productivity.
In western Sudan, as in most drylands of Africa, crop and livestock production interact in the farming systems, requiring an integrated approach to agricultural research and development. The Ecofarm research project is intended to test, verify and introduce technologies that could contribute to improving crops and livestock productivity, enhance the food security and income of the population, and reduce the conflict over natural resources.
The Ecofarm Research Project has been carried out in three seasons in North Kordofan State and one season in South Kordofan State. Due to differences in the bio-physical and socio-economic conditions between the two areas, a second season is needed to continue the project activities in South Kordofan State.
The project objective is to find out means to to help alleviate poverty, improve the food security and the economic well-being of the farmers and agro-pastoralists in Kordofan Region and Nuba Mountains’ area through:
1. Testing, verifying and introduction of the ecofarm technologies in the area and extrapolate that to similar areas.
2. Testing of early maturing and drought resistant new crops and varieties and new dual purpose (forage and food) crops varieties.
3. Increase awareness; provide training to the farmers, agro-pastoralist and extentionists on eco-farm technologies.
Some of the eco-farm livestock activities will be carried out in both North and South Kordofan while others will be confined only to North Kordofan.
a. On-station trials
1. Seed priming, micro fertilizing trials on sorghum, sesame, groundnut, and cowpea.
2. Testing of early maturing and drought resistant new crops and varieties.
3. Increasing twining rate in Desert sheep using twin rams for breeding (mating).
4. Dual purpose crops (cowpeas, sorghum)
5. Strategic supplementary feeding of breeding ewes using cowpea hay instead of oilseed cakes
B. On-farm trials
1. Seed priming and micro fertilizing of sorghum, sesame, groundnut, and cowpea.
2. Increasing milk yields and fertility of lactating animals (particularly goats) through mineral (saltlick supplementation).
3. Testing and Introduction of dual purpose varieties (food and forage) of cowpeas.
4. Promotion of Moringa: through distribution of seedlings at household level for improving household and livestock nutrition.
5.Improving Desert sheep productivity:
§ Strategic supplementary feeding of breeding ewes.
§ Sheep fattening trials using cowpea hay, roselle seeds and watermelon residues.
c. Extension Activities
1. Development of Farmers Field Schools (FFS)
2. Field days, extension meetings and visits
1. Introduction and validation of the improved ecofarm technologies
2. Increasing awareness among farmers on improved ecofarm technologies that improve productivity.
3. Improving crops and Livestock productivity and enhance food security in the dry areas.
4. The economic effect of the ecofarm technologies are assessed.