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We deliver actionable evidence and solutions to transform how land is used and how food is produced: conserving and restoring ecosystems, responding to the global climate, malnutrition, biodiversity and desertification crises. In short, improving people’s lives.

The quiet revolution: how Niger's farmers are re-greening the croplands of the Sahel

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“If you’d come to Dan Saga in the early 1980s, you’d have seen how we were struggling,” says Ali Neino. “Every year, we had to sow our crops three or four times, because the wind would blow the seeds away.” This was a virtually treeless landscape and there was nothing to prevent the wind from ripping away soil and seeds. “Then we began to notice something unusual,” continues Ali. “Many of the migrant workers from here didn’t have time to clean their fields when they returned to sow their crops. And they did much better than us – they only had to sow their seeds once.” This was because the shoots which sprouted from underground roots – the remnants of an ancient forest cleared during the 1960s and ‘70s – were protecting the soil. This was the villagers’ first experience of an agroforestry practice which became formalised over the coming years and is now known as ‘farmer-managed natural regeneration.’ Instead of treating trees and bushes as imposters, farmers in southern Niger now see them as an essential component of their production systems. “This practice has totally changed our way of life,” explains another farmer from Dan Saga, Ali Miko. Families have more wood to sell; women spend less time gathering firewood; there is more fodder for livestock; household incomes have risen. “Thirty years ago, there were very few carts in the village. Now almost every family can afford to buy one,” says Ali. Their parents used to carry everything on their heads – grain, manure, fodder, firewood; now, carts drawn by donkeys and oxen do much of the hard work.
    Publication year



    Pye-Smith, C.




    drought, farming systems, small scale farming

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