Land use changes in Mali

Photo credit: Africa Rising

High resolution land use map for Koutiala Cercle in southern Mali (photo credit: Africa RISING).

New Africa RISING geospatial maps show cropping patterns and land use changes in Mali


Africa RISING and the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid-Tropics (ICRISAT) geospatial unit in Patancheru, India, have developed land use maps of Africa RISING project intervention sites in southern Mali.

The new maps, which were produced in mid-August 2015, will ease the process of identifying and visualizing different crop domains and possible natural resource management (NRM) sites within the Africa RISING intervention villages in Mali. The maps were produced using high resolution imagery from NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

‘These maps will help us know the areas to focus our sustainable intensification efforts in Mali; they will also guide preparation of country strategies for sustainable primary productivity,’ explains Birhanu Zemadim. ‘We will use the ground survey data they provide to prepare geospatial products associated with land use/land cover, crop intensity, length of growing periods, land use changes over the period and NRM technologies.’ he adds.

Read the full article: AFRICA RISING

Innovations that should be applied at the largest scale

Photo credit: CCAFS-CGIAR

Photo-story: Fair promotes farmer innovations in West Africa

by Sékou Touré and Maïmouna Fané (CCAFS West Africa)

To help promote local innovations, Burkina Faso hosted the Innovation Fair Farmers in West Africa.

Group photo with Jury members, the winners and organizers. -
Group photo with Jury members, the winners and organizers. –

Burkina Faso hosted on 15 and 16 May the Innovation Fair Farmers in West Africa (FIPAO). This event aimed to draw attention to farmer innovation and the role of peasant producers in agricultural research, and to facilitate interaction, linkages and learning between all relevant actors. It also helped promote family farming through the development of innovative farmers.

In addition to presenting the innovations, the Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Cooperation (CTA) sponsored a video contest to document farmer innovations in the face of climate change. Video-makers from Burkina Faso, Mali and Senegal prepared videos that were screened at the fair. See the videos.

Read the full article: CCAFS-CGIAR

Huge land deal halted

Photo credit: Africa Research Online

Mali – Land Deal Stalls

Huge land deal halted following regional political instability and security issues, leaving thousands of local families with uncertain futures

In 2008 exiled Malian President Amadou Toumani Toure signed a highly secretive lease with the then-president of Libya, Muammar Gaddafi, for a 100,000 hectare area of fertile agricultural land in the Office of Niger region, in the north of the country. The deal was granted to Malibya, a subsidiary of Libyan wealth fund the Libyan African Investment Portfolio, reported Reuters.

The agreement purported that the land would be provided rent free for 50 years and include water rights “without restriction” between June and December, on the condition that the Libyan  government constructed agreed agro-industrial infrastructure such as canals and roads, and cultivated the land across the region.

The Director of the Malibya project, Abdalilah Youssef, explained in a report by think-tank the Oakland Institute that the project will ensure food security for Libya in conjunction with, not at the expense of Mali; providing higher yields with the introduction of hybrid rice varieties, employment to local populations and facilitating resettlement for those displaced.

However  following Gaddafi’s demise in Libya and increasing regional security troubles, the project stalled.  Currently the tens of thousands of families cultivating the land are facing uncertain futures and according to Malian representatives whether the concession goes ahead or not is a decision for the Libyan government to take.

How to Keep Hunger At Bay in the Sahel?

Photo credit: ZOUBA

Irrigating an onion field

West Africa: Can ‘Down to Earth’ Innovations Keep Hunger At Bay in the Sahel?

by Jerome Bossuet


Poor soils means poor farmers

Echoing the Montpellier Panel conclusions in their “No ordinary matter” report, sustainable soil management is urgently needed because land degradation is a huge burden, particularly in developing countries. Nearly 3.3% of agricultural GDP in sub-Saharan Africa is lost annually because of soil and nutrient losses, estimated at over 30 kg/ha/year.

Agriculture in Mali -
Agriculture in Mali –

Malian agricultural policies do not precisely state preservation of soil fertility as a priority. The high population growth rate (2.9% per year) means the land under cultivation is continually expanding, but this cannot continue.


Inclusive innovation platforms

Whatever the strategies to adapt and restore soils, it is important to work through farmers’ organisations. Innovation can stem from NGOs, academics, the private sector and farmers themselves.

“Given that soil is the cornerstone to food security, better rural livelihoods and agricultural development; its conservation, restoration and enhancement must be a global priority,” says Ramadjita Tabo, Director of ICRISAT’s West and Central Africa Regional Hub and member of the Montpellier Panel.

Read the full article: allAfrica

COMMENT BY Josef Garvi

“This problem of soil erosion is precisely the reason why introducing tractors into the agriculture of the Sahel is a really, really bad idea. Look at any tractor-ploughed field and compare it to neighbouring hand-worked land, and you will see an immediate difference: tractor ploughed fields typically have no perennial vegetation left at all, and thus no protection for its top soil.

My conclusion is that desertification in the Sahel is currently far more man-made than climate-made. Rainfall since the 90’s onwards has been reasonable again, and the growth potential of trees and shrubs can easily be observed. But on most of the land, this growth is being suppressed by A) poor land management (keeping fields clear for annual crops), B) overgrazing (in pastoral zones one can see how many trees are clearly stunted from browsing, whilst for bigger trees, grazing animals provoke erosion around the tree trunks, exposing roots and provoking the trees to fall over with time), and C) firewood collection.”

Monitoring drylands’ forests, rangelands and agro-silvopastoral systems

Photo credit: Google

The Miombo dryland forests in northern Zambia

Drylands Monitoring Week Establishes Network for Sustainable Management of Drylands

Participants at the Drylands Monitoring Week, which was hosted by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN (FAO), saw the launch of a global assessment of land management in grassland and pastoral systems to enhance the sustainable management and restoration of drylands and developed the ‘Rome Promise on Monitoring and Assessment of Drylands for Sustainable Management and Restoration.’

The lush green of the rainy season Sahelian forest, along the Bamako-Kayes Road in Mali. The trees in the foreground are acacia. Note the large baobab tree. -
The lush green of the rainy season Sahelian forest, along the Bamako-Kayes Road in Mali. The trees in the foreground are acacia. Note the large baobab tree. –

The Week opened with a three-day workshop that discussed current technical tools and knowledge gaps in the area of drylands monitoring, and explored opportunities to fill capacity gaps through new technologies and policy commitments. The workshop concluded with a plan of action for initiating a collaborative process to promote large-scale and comprehensive monitoring of drylands, including through the improved integration of scientific data and traditional knowledge. Thereafter, an inception workshop took place for a participatory assessment of land degradation and sustainable land management in grassland and pastoral systems.

Read the full article : IISD



Chronic food and malnutrition crisis in the Sahel

Photo credit: UN NEWS Centre

Drought has affected residents of the Mbera refugee camp, Mauritania, in the Sahel region of Africa.

Photo: WFP/Justin Smith

UN, partners seek $2 billion to help millions of people across Africa’s Sahel region


The United Nations and its partners today launched an appeal for nearly $2 billion to provide vital humanitarian assistance to millions of people in nine countries across Africa’s Sahel region.

Some 145 million people in Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Chad, Gambia, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Nigeria and Senegal live in a region that is constantly challenged by chronic food and malnutrition crises, and is vulnerable to climate change, droughts and unpredictable rainfall.

The Sahel humanitarian appeal for 2015, launched today in New York and totalling $1.96 billion, is part of a regional multi-year strategy to respond better to the chronic challenges in the region by emphasizing early intervention and forging closer partnerships with governments and development actors.

Over 20 million people in the region are short of food, 2.6 million of whom need life-saving food assistance now; and nearly six million children under the age of five are expected to suffer from acute malnutrition in 2015.

Violent conflict and insecurity have worsened over the last 12 months in many of the countries. As a result, 2.8 million people have been uprooted from their homes, over one million more than this time last year.

Read the full article: UN NEWS Centre

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