Work Package 2

Traditional and innovative agricultural practices

The overall goal of this WP is to enhance the sustainability and productivity of local farming systems by analysing specific impediments, points of intervention, and pathways towards the sustainable intensification rediscovering and improving traditional crops and agricultural practices that will be tested in pilot demonstration areas within the study areas.

Tasks and role of the Partners

Partners involved: KDC, UNISS, ACRA, CRAN, IRD, AUTH, UNB, INERA, UNIMAK, CSIR-SARI, KALRO, UoN, NM-AIST, TARI, HU, JU, ICRAF, CIRAD

WP Leader: James Mantent Kombiok

WP Co-Leader: Adeline Barnaud

Task 2.1: Most performing crop varieties/ecotypes identification (M2-M44)

Lead partner: IRD; Participants: ACRA, CIRAD, CSIR-SARI, KDC, UoN, TARI, HU, JU

Sub-Task 2.1.1: Selection and preliminary assessment of Neglected and Underutilized crop Species (NUS) in West and East Africa

Sub-Task 2.1.2: Field participatory assessment of NUS

Sub-Task 2.1.3: Genomic studies of adaptive traits in the crops

The task will identify what is currently known in terms of environmental, agronomic and quality aspects of Neglected and Underutilized Species (NUS) and their potential uses in Africa through a literature review and surveys and interviews with outstanding food writers. This will be used to create a public database to make the findings accessible to multiple stakeholders. Factors to be evaluated will be determined in collaboration with farmers’ groups and other actors in the food chain to ensure they are of direct practical and economic relevance to farmers. Where more than one partner is involved with a crop, trials will be coordinated so that data are taken following common protocols and recorded on common datasheets. All trials will be randomized with a minimum of three replicates, including appropriate controls or a benchmark crop. Genomics and spatial modelling will be used to scan for crop diversity-environment associations.

 

Task 2.2: Modification of the soil, nutrient and water environment (M4-M46)

Lead partner: UNB; Participants: UNISS, ACRA, CRAN, AUTH, INERA, UNIMAK, CSIR-SARI, KDC, KALRO, NM-AIST, TARI, HU, JU, ICRAF

Sub-Task 2.2.1: Land recovery

Sub-Task 2.2.2: Sustainable soil management

Sub-Task 2.2.3: Sustainable water management

This Task will focus on the recovery of abandoned land that will be brought back into sustainable production.

  • Identification and mapping of abandoned land through reconnaissance surveys aiming to collect and process soil management, cropping systems and socio-economic data (characteristics of agricultural holdings, access to factors of production and the market, etc.);

  • Assessment of soil fertility traits in selected FFRUs with abandoned lands.

Farmers Field Research Units (FFRU) will support field trials. FFRUs will be selected according to information coming from surveys and maps produced in Sub-Task 2.2.1. The differences on soil typologies will be the main criteria to identify FFRUs (at least four per soil type), as well as unit dimension (about 1.5 ha) and accessibility during the season.

The following methodologies will be tested:

  • Integrated soil fertility management through the use of composts, biochar and techniques such as the dynamic kraaling;

  • Intercropping cereals and legumes, rotating cereals with legumes;

  • Feeding the available small ruminants with crop residues and using the dung to fertilize the soil to support crop production;

  • Conservation agriculture techniques such as tie-ridging, mulching, cover-cropping, zero tillage or minimum tillage.

The goal is to address the improvement of agricultural practices by tackling water management, also by testing some technical improvements of traditional water harvesting techniques, in order to assess the impacts on water retention in soil. Based on the results of the investigation, cost effective and easily adoptable modification of the traditional water harvesting technique will be proposed and realized, in order to increase soil water retention and augment possibility to bridge dry spells. The improved availability of “green water” due to the modified water harvesting technique application will be then checked by comparing soil hydrological dynamics monitored before and after the intervention.

 

Task 2.3: Improvement of agri-livestock integrated management (M4-M47)

Lead partner: UNIMAK; Participants: ACRA, UNB, INERA, CSIR-SARI, KDC, KALRO, TARI, HU, JU

Livestock feeding is an essential component for the completion of the human food chain due to the large amount of protein deriving from these animal productions. Considering the lack of sufficient feed resources available for this productive sector, it is fundamental to redesign and carry out within the FFRUs an integrated research of both livestock and agricultural productions embedding of suggestions coming from traditional knowledge (harvesting of cereals and grazing). Agri-livestock practices will be then investigated by engaging farmers in new “Integrated Agricultural Approach” (e.g. mixed cropping systems integrated with livestock grazing systems) to discover the relevance of such methods in terms of food security, soil fertility and yield in limited land surface areas (both rural and peri-urban areas) within the SI framework.

Objective