New approaches: an example from Niger
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CTA. 1993. New approaches: an example from Niger. Spore 47. CTA, Wageningen, The Netherlands.
Permanent link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/10568/49214
The IFAD-funded soil and water conservation project in Niger`s Illela District is a model for the restoration of degraded and abandoned land, based on simple and replicable methods which are implemented by the local people. The project started in...
The IFAD-funded soil and water conservation project in Niger`s Illela District is a model for the restoration of degraded and abandoned land, based on simple and replicable methods which are implemented by the local people. The project started in 1988 with deliberately modest targets. In 1989 a group of local farmers made an exchange visit to the Central Plateau of Burkina Faso. They recognized that the traditional planting pits (zay), which are used in the Yatenga to rehabilitate degraded land, resemble the (tassa) planting pits used in their region. But their tassa were smaller and they did not fill them with organic matter. Upon return 3 hectares of degraded land were treated with improved tassa. In 1990 this rose to 70 ha, in 1991 to 450 -500 ha and in 1992 to about 1,000 ha. The rehabilitation of barren, degraded land using improved traditional planting pits is a profitable activity. The costs of pitting one hectare, using hired labour, is about US$40 If a yield of 500 kg of millet/ha is obtained (compared to 0 kg in the 'without' situation), the value of the crop is about US$160. This partly explains the rapid adoption of the technique by the fanners in this region. Another explanation is that successful rehabillation of degraded land allows the expansion of the resource base for the growing population. Even if the IFAD funded soil and water conservation project in Niger stopped its activities today, farmers would continue digging improved traditional planting pits. A growing number of farmers from other parts of Niger come to Illela District to see for themselves what is happening and it is quite likely that these techniques will soon be transferred to other semi-arid regions characterised by high population densities, extreme degradation and a considerable pressure on available land resources.