With agriculture in the Sahel under threat from desertification, soil degradation is one of the greatest stresses for the environment and life in the region. It is reflected in declining soil fertility and productivity, but also in the loss of biodiversity. In some countries of the Sahel like Niger, more than 50% of agricultural land degradation is due to an extensive agropastoral system that destroys the soil.
The Climate Resilience for Sustainable Agricultural Development support project (PARC DAD), funded by the European Union through the GCCA+, is implemented in Niger in the provinces of Zinder and Dosso. The project’s activities to recover degraded land often go hand in hand with social progress.
Among the project’s activities in rural areas, the Bioreclamation of Degraded Land (BDL) stands out due to its experimental component. Implemented by the ICRISAT, this involves the application of a whole series of agricultural techniques (RTD, RNA, etc.) on degraded lateritic soils that have become unsuitable for agriculture.
Targeting female beneficiaries, the activity starts off with the establishment of social engineering actions aimed at ensuring cohesion and a shared vision among a group of women who have volunteered to carry out the activities and development work. The women undertake to reclaim the land and receive food support while the work is underway. The reclaimed site is then secured through donations or loans.
Depending on the organisation of the work, the land reclaimed by the women is treated with organic manure until sowing or planting can begin with the first rains. Moringa and jujube (‘pomme du Sahel’) seedlings from the nursery can be planted in the holes prepared for this purpose in half-moons and trenches. Okra, Lucena, sorrel, chilli and other seeds are planted in the Zaïs holes.