Integrated cropping systems for sustainable production in the face of climate change

A simple observation in the Sahelian and Sudano-Sahelian areas is the low level of primary productions essentially due to the combined effects of severe climate conditions, the low level of fertility of the soils (particularly in organic matter), the poor management of an already fragile ecosystem, and an amplified condition of poverty in the populations.

In the light of such complexity, there appears an absolute necessity to gear research efforts towards coupling between climate and agriculture following the systems approach. This involves the recognition of two essential elements of the production system: the environment and the system management and their interrelations (interactions). Environment is meant to be the exogenous elements (physical, climatic, institutional, and socioeconomic) that the system receives without being able to modify them, at least in the short term. System management is meant to mean the endogenous elements (technical itineraries, speculations, use of resources and use of generated products) of the system which one can modify (Zandstra et al., 1981).

Following this principle and contrary to ecofarm and plant establishment projects which have reached completion, this new activity, with the benefit of past experiences, will mostly focus on the creation of a soil-water-plant environment where the (organo-mineral) fertility, the hydro-dynamic soil conditions and climate conditions get improved through integration of proven techniques which can mitigate at the same time the negative impacts of climate change in crop fields. It is recognized at the agricultural level that such negative climate impacts get worse on soils without nutrients, organic matter/carbon, and having poor water harvesting capacity. This is true for most soils in the Sahel and Sudano-Sahelian areas (PIRT, 1983).

Activities in the form of trials and tests will be conducted respectively in station and on farm, on techniques such as carbon sequestration through mixed crops and basin techniques. This involves introducing techniques which give to the soil-water-plant environment at the farm level, some stability in the growth and development of the crops. Such techniques focus on improvement or even enrichment of soil conditions (physical and chemical properties) which fight against warming and lack of soil water. These constraints are partly responsible for the immediate and critical effects of the climate change phenomenon which are experienced by male and female farmers.

Develop integrated farming systems for a sustainable production in order to improve and preserve food security in the face of climate change in the Sahelian and Sudano-Sahelian areas.

Specific goals

  • Test techniques for mitigating risks related to agricultural production in Sahelian and Sudano-Sahelian areas;
  • Test Faidherbia albidaAcacia senegal, Acacia tamia and other trees in soil protection, fooder production and carbon sequestration;
  • Improve the management of crop residues;
  • Develop mechanical and simultaneous sowing of soaked seeds and fertilizer microdoses ; -Test grain harvesting against physiological maturity for improved fodder quality for animals ;
  • Conduct monitoring – evaluation through farmers’ perceptions (in the first year 2010) and the CPS in other years.
  • Testing cropping systems for improved soil quality and reduced agricultural production related risks
  • Development of mechanical sowing of soaked seeds and fertilizer microdoses.
  • Monitoring-Evaluation, training on the conduct of activities and review of results.

The immediate impacts expected from farmers (test participants and their assistants) are improvements of crop productivity. Other positive consequences will be noticeable in the socio-economic conditions.

The results dissemination and enhancement strategies which will be used are as follows:

  1. First, in the form of technical and scientific reports disseminated to development workers and researchers. The results in these reports are either presented or discussed in scientific commissions of the IER and published in collaboration with the university of Ås, Norway. This constitutes a form of scientific co-validation and information;
  2. Secondly, in the form of fact sheets for research results users. In this case, the beneficiaries are the extension agents and farmers who are willing and open to innovations;
  3. Thirdly, in workshops/seminars for review of research results or training, male and female farmer partners, member NGOs, government extension agents, the national commission of research results users (CRU), and the chamber of agriculture also are special targets at this level.
  4. The project impact indicators will be the adaptation of technologies by farmers and the number of development structures utilizing the technologies.