Roundtable on NRM and Food Security: Key Barriers and Pathways to Scale Up Proven Successes


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Presentation by Bob Winterbottom (Director, Ecosystem Services Initiative, WRI) at the May 15, 2013 event "Natural Resource Management and Food Security for a Growing Population". For more information visit:

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Roundtable on NRM and Food Security: Key Barriers and Pathways to Scale Up Proven Successes

  2. 2. The African Sahel in the 1970s and 1980s
  3. 3. Niger: A rural landscape transformed Photo: L. Mahamane (AFF)
  4. 4. Niger: Then and now 1970s • State ownership of trees • State forest agents: “Police” • Focus on law enforcement by forest agents • Plantations of fast-growing exotic species promoted for fuelwood • Clean-field agriculture From 1990’s • Management rights devolved to farmers • State forest agents: “Trainers” • More farmer-to-farmer visits • Native species used for fuelwood, nitrogen fixation, fodder and more • Agroforestry via “farmer managed natural regeneration”
  5. 5. Burkina Faso: National Workshop on FMNR, climate change adaptation and food security Photo: L. Mahamane (AFF)
  6. 6. Key barriers to replicate re-greening successes • Insecure tenure (#1 issue cited in Burkina Faso AF workshop) • Land grabs – by elites and powerful – seeking short term gains from crop production • Forestry laws – ambivalence about ownership and rights to manage trees on farms • Counterproductive regulations - designed to protect natural forests and control forest products trade • Weaknesses in institutional mandates and priorities: • Agriculture overlooks soil conservation, agroforestry • Forestry focused on tree planting, protecting natural forests
  7. 7. Recent positive developments • Improved practices of innovative farmers are relatively low-cost • Making a difference among the poorest households • Champions are emerging to support replication and scaling up • Growing recognition of the relevance of sustainable land management to resilience, adaptation as well as food security
  8. 8. Agroforestry (Niger): Grain yields increase as tree density increases No trees Source: Adapted from Mahamane, L. (AFF). Farmer Managed Natural Regeneration in Niger. Presentation to the United Nations, February 2011.
  9. 9. Barriers being addressed by smallholder innovations Rainfall variability Weathered soils Fertilizer cost Source: McGahuey, M. “Africa’s Regreening: Its Integral Role in Increasing Agricultural Productivity and Strengthening Resiliency”; Reij, C. “Climate Smart Agriculture, Food Security and Water in Africa’s Drylands: Lessons from Experience”. Both are presentations at WRI Symposium on Regreening, March 1, 2012. • Using stone lines, zai, ridge tillage to harvest rainwater, reduce runoff and erosion • Replenishing soil organic matter to increase soil moisture • Increasing use of manure, compost • Increasing density of trees on farms • Increasing incomes through intensification and diversification • Increasing fertilizer use efficiency through ISFM
  10. 10. Effects of soil and water conservation practices and microdosing on sorghum yields in Burkina Faso (2009 - 2011 averages) Average kg/ha Sources: Sawadogo 2012 375 750 1125 1500
  11. 11. Sources: Sawadogo 2012. Effects of NRM and micro-dosing on sorghum crop yields in Burkina Faso (2009-2011) Average kg/ha Without micro-dosing With micro-dosing
  12. 12. What hurdles remain to scaling up? • Preference for large investments in top-down conventional approaches to “modernize” (agricultural mechanization) • Poor appreciation of land degradation costs and missed opportunities to address root causes (declining soil organic matter) • Simplistic emphasis on external inputs to increase crop production
  13. 13. What are conditions for success? • Motivate farmers to change behaviors • take stock of drivers, reduce barriers and reinforce incentives (enabling legislation for decentralized NRM) • target areas with favorable conditions: high population density, low tree cover, sandy soils, +400 mm rainfall, secure rights, market access, innovative farmers / producer groups • Facilitate and support • access to information – menu of options to intensify and diversify • empowerment of village institutions – locally enforced rules • awareness raised and “case made”
  14. 14. Potential for scaling up Source: WRI analysis using the following datasets. Population: AfriPop Precipitation isohyets: UNEP/DEWA/GRID- Geneva. Protected areas: World Database on Protected Areas (UNEP/WCMC). Croplands – IIASA/IFPRI (Cropland for sub‐Saharan Africa: A synergistic approach using five land cover data sets. Fritz et al.
  15. 15. Pathways for scaling-up Work at the grassroots with farmer innovators: - Support farmer to farmer visits, peer to peer learning to innovate, adapt, adopt improved practices (intensification) - Support associated enterprises (diversification) - Strengthen local institutions (governance) - Promote community / producers organizations (gender) - Reinforce economic benefits (strengthen AF value chains) - Recognize achievements with awards - Encourage networks of local experts - Stimulate a movement of champions
  16. 16. Working at the grassroots to scale up Photo: L. Mahamane (AFF)
  17. 17. Pathways for scaling-up (2) Top-down meets Bottom-up - Field visits for decision makers; dialogue with local champions - Mobilize evidence of innovation, impacts and benefits, and present at national workshops - Identify needed policy, legal and institutional reforms (secure management rights, market access, changes in extension messages) - Advocate for shifts in program strategies and priorities (integrated approaches, mainstream agroforestry, NRM, SLM, Climate smart EverGreen Agriculture)
  18. 18. Pathways for scaling-up (3) Expand Communication and Outreach - Investigate what’s working, where, how, lessons learned - Build content – expand access to knowledge platforms / hubs - Support radio coverage, TV documentaries - Enable voices of local champions, innovators, producer groups (W4RA) - Mobilize local and international media - Address knowledge gaps
  19. 19. Addressing knowledge gaps • Increased monitoring and reporting of farmer innovations • Fuller accounting of benefits from improved practices: impact on crop yields, and more • Improved understanding of production system dynamics • Contributions of trees and shrubs to soil organic matter and nutrients • Impact on hydrology • Resilience to climate change, other shocks