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Agriculture for food and nature: Sustainable intensification of African farming systems in North and West Africa

09 November 2020

As global population grows, agri-food systems face numerous complex challenges. These challenges are further exacerbated as accelerating global warming, and other human activities, impact upon the adaption capacity of agricultural production and ecosystems. These factors are predicted to have the most serious impact on the African continent.

In North and West Africa current farming systems face multiple challenges affecting agricultural productivity. Agronomic systems and practices have caused the large-scale degradation of soils and agro-ecosystems, which has reduced their capacity to store water and nutrients, and therefore their ability to support farming and maintain plant health.

To help address these challenges, The Natural Resources Institute Finland (Luke) is now coordinating an EU-funded project on Sustainable Intensification of food production in West & North Africa (SustInAfrica). By developing resilient and sustainable farming systems in West & North Africa SustInAfrica aims to empower smallholder farmers, small and medium-sized enterprises and various government and non-governmental organizations in Ghana, Burkina Faso, Niger, Egypt and Tunisia, to intensify food production and deliver ecosystem services in a sustainable and resilient manner.

“The project will strive to attain this by providing a comprehensive analysis of local ecosystems, in addition to offering soil, water and plant health management strategies. It will also provide business models and policies and help develop related technologies that support farmers in their decision making”, says project coordinator Nils Borchard.

CIHEAM Bari's contribution to the project will draw on previous experience acquired in assessment and analysis of sustainability, resource efficiency and rational use of natural resources in two different fields of expertise:

  • Technical skills related to the application of new technologies for optimization of water and nutrient inputs in agriculture, by adopting water management tools (BLUELEAF), which will be tested in Ghana, Burkina Faso, Niger, Egypt and Tunisia according to country-specific guidelines and requirements.
  • Experience gained in assessing project inoovations’ replicability. As an intergovernmental organisation, CIHEAM is strongly committed to promoting multilateral cooperation in the fields of agriculture and inclusive rural development, and is therefore specifically focused on ensuring scalability and transferability of the project's innovative outcomes.

CIHEAM will also collaborate on training of project's stakeholders and communication of project results.

SustInAfrica consists of 16 partner organisations from 11 countries. The project started in 1.9.2020 and will continue for five years.  Funding for the project comes from European Union’s Horizon 2020 program.

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