Emergent and small-scale farmers face constraints that limit their profitability

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Small-scale soya farming can outperform large-scale agricultural investments

Read the full article: IIED

Agriculture is an important engine for economic growth in Africa, but effective agricultural strategies to support rural development and poverty alleviation are scarce. State investment in the small-scale farming sector is minimal and the entrepreneurial family farm sector remains underrepresented. Meanwhile, large-scale land investments are advocated as means to bring capital to rural areas and stimulate development. However, the investigation of soya production in Central Mozambique presented here suggests small-scale farming can produce similar profits to large-scale operations and better social outcomes. Concentrating only on large-scale investments can mean forgoing opportunities for rural development and poverty reduction. With the right support, poorer households can develop market-oriented farming that contributes to local value chains at many levels.

A common narrative about the expansion of deserts is fundamentally misguided


Photo credit: IIED

A key characteristic of dryland environments is their variability. Rural dryland communities have learned how to endure and exploit this (Photo: IIED)

The end of desertification?

Two experts with long experience of drylands research argue that a common narrative about the expansion of deserts is fundamentally misguided.

Decades of low rainfall and severe drought in the Sahel from the late 1960s to the 1990s were the most dramatic example of climate variability in the 20th century. Until recently one word – desertification – summarised the causes and effects of these droughts.

From the 1970s onwards, it was the Horn of Africa and Sahel droughts that introduced desertification to a worldwide audience. Eventually this created political pressure to forge an international convention and permanent United Nations agency to combat desertification, the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertificiation (UNCCD).

This effort to combat desertification continues today. The UN Environment Assembly – the highest level of governance of international environmental affairs in the UN system – is currently processing a major policy statement on combating desertification, land degradation and drought, and promoting sustainable pastoralism and rangelands (PDF).

But all this work poses a problem. There is now overwhelming evidence that neither local land mismanagement nor overpopulation caused the Sahel droughts at the end of the 20th century, nor did these activities set in motion a self-reinforcing process of environmental decline.

Read the full article: IIED




Traditional Soil and water conservation

Traditional soil and water conservation on the Dogon Plateau, Mali (1990)

Posted by Prof. Dr. Willem VAN COTTHEM

Ghent University – Belgium

Having participated in all the meetings of the INCD (1992-1994) and all the meetings of the UNCCD-COP, the CST and the CRIC in 1994-2006, I had an opportunity to collect a lot of interesting books and publications on drought and desertification published in that period.

Book Nr. 28

Please click: 


or see Traditional soil and water conservation

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