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Projects and activities | 11 October 2019

RAMSES II - Roles of agroforestry in sustainable intensification of small farmsand food security for socIetIes in West Africa

Agroforestry is a form of agriculture “alternative” to conventional one, which provides multi-functional environmental, agronomic, economic and social benefits able to support sustainable improvement of food, nutrition and economic security of small farmers in West Africa. Locally, the woody cover constitutes fertility islands able, if suitably managed, to improve crop yields and provides complementary food and income to producers while mitigating climate change effects by buffering micro-climate variations and water and wind erosions. Globally, woody cover contribute to reduce greenhouse gases through carbon sequestration and regulation of water and nutriments cycles, a starting point to design more resilient and climate-smart farming systems from millennia practices in Africa.

However, tree density in parklands depends on balancing crop yield decline, due to competition with trees for vital resources, with advantages provided by trees according to the social, economic and environmental priority ranking that farmers give to parklands. Parkland management depends also on the user access facilities that are under the control of State and customary land and territorial rights on land and natural resources. In addition, Sudano-Sahelian parklands are located on a continuum of population density and depend on the duration of fallows between successive cropping cycles. Fallows must be long enough to support regeneration of woody species, biodiversity, and soil fertility. With current population increase (about 3%/yr), food crop production is currently improved by increasing cultivated land areas, since yields are still stable or decline, and by agricultural mechanization. The effects and impacts of these practices are variable on fallow dynamics, clearing, and woody species regeneration, consequently on parkland sustainability.

RAMSES II seeks to diagnose most of the aspects of the current drivers of the studied parklands trajectories and to quantify and model processes involved in crop-trees interactions. Results will be used in a participative modeling at farm and territory scales to simulate impacts of intensification scenarios chosen by stakeholders on economic, agronomic and environmental performances at the plot, farm, territory, and landscape scales

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