Championing Sustainable Agriculture in Niger

SERVIR WA Supports Land Restoration Initiatives

The journey towards sustainable agriculture and land restoration in Niger has taken a significant leap forward by leveraging SERVIR West Africa’s innovative geospatial tool to empower communities while safeguarding the environment.

Niger is renowned for its success in reclaiming 3 million hectares of land through Farmer Managed Natural Regeneration (FMNR)—a cost-effective land restoration method that empowers farmers to regrow trees and shrubs from existing tree stumps, roots or seeds.

The regrown trees and shrubs help restore soil structure and fertility, inhibit erosion and soil moisture evaporation, rehabilitate springs and the water table, and increase biodiversity. However, until now, the selection of application sites was largely guided by the degraded state of the land, often leading to wasted resources and efforts.

As part of the USAID and NASA, joint SERVIR West Africa (SERVIR WA) program, the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) has developed a geospatial model to assist in selecting sites suitable for FMNR practice, as well as complementary socio-economic and ecological actions.

The offline model was implemented with the support of the GIRMA project (USAID’s Food for Peace project. GIRMA means ‘dignity, prestige and growth’ in the local language). After being tested and validated offline, the online platform was launched during a workshop at ICRISAT-Niamey campus in Niger from 28-29 March 2024.

The two-day workshop, attended by 35 stakeholders from national agricultural research systems, NGOs, and partners, focused on training a community of practice in utilizing the platform. Participants explored its features and discussed strategies for data access and sharing, crucial for overcoming challenges in FMNR practice.

“If this platform did not exist, it would have to be created,” shared Mr Moussa Hassan, representative of the RNA departmental committee of Magaria, highlighting the importance of collaboration and the creation of synergies among stakeholders.

“This platform will play a pivotal role in streamlining the coordination of land restoration activities, providing support to partner networks and the land restoration working group,” added Mr Moussa Marou, representative of Catholic Relief Services.

Dr Bouba Traore, ICRISAT Researcher and FMNR Service Manager, hailed the workshop’s impact on increasing awareness and interest in the platform’s potential for decision-making and coordination.

The need for FMNR service was identified through consultation and needs assessment during first phase of SERVIR WA. The service caters to end users by facilitating evidence-based decision-making for scaling FMNR, guiding complementary actions on the ground to sustain land restoration via FMNR. End users encompass local authorities, non-governmental organizations, technical and financial partners, and farmers’ organizations.

Moving forward, SERVIR WA and partners aim to strengthen collaboration among stakeholders and enhance the platform’s capabilities in mapping interventions, facilitating stakeholder networks, and standardizing data collection and sharing, among other critical areas. The potential impact includes enhancing food and livelihood security and diversification through the conservation of on-farm trees and climate mitigation, aligning with the overarching goal of FMNR practice.

To learn more information about the FMNR platform, click here.

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