Sahel: innovation serving agriculture

APA - Dakar (Senegal)

A series of initiatives are being taken in the Sahel for sustainable agribusiness systems that are resilient to climate change.

Adapting and innovating to be resilient. In the Sahel-Saharan region, agricultural practices are being reinvented to better cope with the effects of climate change. The “DeSIRA” (Developing Smart Innovation through Research in Agriculture) Initiative, launched at the One Planet Summit in Paris in 2017, is funding nine projects to boost innovation in agriculture and the transformation of food systems in partner countries.

The first, called “ABEE (Empowering West African Breeding and Extension Networks),” aims to implement a more coordinated approach to varietal selection at the national and regional levels, placing breeders of five target crops (millet, sorghum, fonio, groundnut, and cowpea) from three countries (Burkina Faso, Niger, and Senegal) at the center of the effort. The objective is to improve and modernize their breeding practices and better respond to market demand.

The second project seeks to adapt access to agro-pastoral resources in a context of mobility and climate change for pastoral livestock in Chad (ACCEPT). The third project aims to improve crop productivity and climate resilience for food and nutritional security in Mali (APSAN-Mali).

To support the development of the region's small-scale economy, the “BIOSTAR” Initiative will supply sustainable bioenergy to agribusiness SMEs in the Sahel.

Carbon sequestration and greenhouse gas emissions in the agro-forestry-pastoral ecosystems of the member countries of the Inter-State Committee for Drought Control in the Sahel (CILSS), is the 5th program of the “DeSIRA” Initiative. Its overall objective is to improve the assessment of the carbon balance of these ecosystems. This will help better quantify their impacts on climate change for the development of livestock policies adapted to the Sahel.

Among the nine “DeSIRA” projects, there is also the “FAIR Sahel” Program, which focuses on agro-ecological intensification in order to promote the resilience of farms in the region.

The Innovations for Sustainable Intensification of Irrigated Agricultural Systems Resilient to Climate Change in Niger (INV-Niger) focuses on participatory action research in the field of irrigated agriculture. It should contribute to improving the resilience of Nigerien families to climate change through innovation in irrigated agricultural systems.

The Intensification of agricultural production through the scaling up of innovative and adapted irrigation practices and technologies (IRRINN) and Health & Territories (S&T) are the other two projects funded by “DeSIRA.”

The first one aims at developing a clear, simple and cost-effective platform to support innovation in small-scale irrigation. The platform will include technical, organizational and financial components and will be tested in real life with farmers.

The second aims to jointly improve human health, agricultural production systems and the environment, and then positively and sustainably impact the livelihoods of people in given territories.

All of these projects, with an overall budget of 55 million euros, “are in the start-up phase,” said Robin Bourgeois, coordinator of the “Dissemination of Innovations in the Sahel (DISSEM-INN)” Project.

DISSEM-INN proposes these nine “DeSIRA” initiatives to capitalize on their practices and to collectively reflect on the scaling up of their innovations by creating spaces for multi-stakeholder dialogue.

“All the projects are based on participatory action research, which is a way of working that allows us to get closer to the people we work with, to understand their needs, to see for themselves the solutions they have developed and how research could improve them or propose alternative solutions," explained Mr. Bourgeois.

From 2023, the results of these various projects will be shared for national application in the countries concerned, said the researcher, Thursday in Saly, Senegal, where the regional workshop has been taking place since May 10, in order to share the methods used in these various projects.


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