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CTA. 1997. Improving diguettes. Spore 68. CTA, Wageningen, The Netherlands.
Permanent link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/10568/48675
A diguette is an earthen ridge or line of stones built for water and soil conservation in parts of West Africa. The problem with traditional earthen diguettes is that within a few years they are rendered ineffective due to the damage caused by uncontrolled grazing of animals. In order to discuss ideas for improving the effectiveness of diguettes a Collaborative Technology Development Workshop was organized by the International Program for Arid Land Crops (IPALAC) with the intention of incorporating two agroforestry techniques with the diguette technology: living fences and alley cropping for mulch production. Twelve participants from Mali, Burkina Faso, Senegal, Ghana and Nigeria attended the workshop with technical support provided by Wageningen Agricultural University, the Central Arid Zone Research Institute (CAZRI) based in Rajasthan, India, the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) and the International Centre for Research in Agroforestry (ICRAF). Protection of the diguettes against grazing animals can be achieved by using a living fence of prickly pear cactus (Opuntia ficus indica). The species was recommended because of its low water requirements, its compact root system, and most importantly, its effectiveness as a barrier. Additional benefits include its production of tasty and nutritious fruits and that it is an effective firebreak. To help prevent water loss in Sahelian farming systems the participants were persuaded that many of the causes for this problem could be reduced by the application of mulch. Currently there is a lack of sufficient material available for mulch but this can be solved with the use of alley-cropping. Two species have been identified by researchers as meeting the criteria necessary for the conditions in the Sahel: Melaleuca lanceolata and Olearia axillaris. Several participants felt that some indigenous species may be just as effective for mulching and they were encouraged to investigate these further and to share their findings on the newly formed improved diguette 'network'. Workshop participants were involved in several hands-on exercises which proved to be very successful, including collecting and handling seed and grafting techniques. These culminated in a field day exercise where an improved diguette was created using all the technologies and species discussed. At the end of the workshop participants left with sufficient plant seedlings andcuttings to help set up and evaluate the improved diguette projects in their home countries. Arnie Schlissel, Administrative Coordinator IPALAC Ben-Gurion University of the Negev Ernst David Bergmann Campus POB 653 Beer Sheva 84105 ISRAEL