Overview of the project
I am from a farming family (Father and mother). My father was a hunter with a lot of knowledge about nature. My mother was a traditional birth attendant with a lot of knowledge about herbal therapy. Both of them initiated me from a young age. For more than 25 years, I have been a member of the national federation of hunters in Mali. I am also a member of the ethnobotanists (phytotherapy) of Niger.
Six (6) factors condition the success of agriculture in Mali at the farm/field level:
- Soil – more than 60% of the soil is poor and deficient – it is necessary to ensure its fertilization/restoration
- Water – is a limiting factor – its use must be rationalized
- Plants/seeds: seeds or varieties are not generally productive – care must be taken to ensure the right choice
- The climate is dry – it must be softened at the plot level by controlling wind and humidity
- Agricultural techniques are rudimentary – they must be improved
- Public policies are unfavourable to farmers, even though they are in the majority
The challenges of agriculture in Mali at the global level:
- To have a good agricultural policy that secures financing (loans to producers and applicants) and land and climate risk insurance
- To have good agricultural advice (extension service) provided by the State to farmers
- The Sahelian climate is fragile – the challenge of having a reliable climate information system for farmers
- Mali’s tropical soils are largely degraded -a challenge to generalize good agricultural practices that preserve soil production potential
- Water resources are limited in the Sahel – challenges to generalize good agricultural practices that consume less water
- Challenge of educating the public on sustainable agriculture and environmental education for adults and especially for youth.
Demonstrate that climate-resilient smart agriculture is possible and profitable in the Sahel.
06/21/2021 - project still in progress
- There are about 100 species of trees and domestic animals in and around the field, including about 15 fruit trees (for soil conservation, medicinal and/or fodder plants and wood production).
- The plantation produces at least 60 tons of fruit per year of different species, 95% of which are citrus fruits only (oranges, mandarins, grapefruits, pomelo).
- Conservation of the soil against erosion due to wind and heavy rain through water catchment systems
- Thick hedge (living fences) around the farm creating a microclimate inside
- Prohibition to cut the feet of the trees. Only the branches can be cut down to make firewood (domestic energy) and the leaves as fodder for the animals.
- Catch basins around the trees to reduce water consumption and to make better use of organic manure
- Mulching around each tree foot to reduce soil drying and reduce water needs
- Mixing several species on the same row to reduce the spread of tree diseases
- Use of organic manure (biological production) instead of chemical fertilizer (existence of a 60 m3/year compost pit)
- Use of biological insecticides (leaves of certain plants) instead of chemical products
- Use of fertilizing plants (legumes) in the plantation to allow the natural reconstruction of the soil fertility
- Installation of beehives around the field to ensure pollination by bees of the flowers for better production of honey and fruits.
Personal funding from my salary as a development officer and reinvestment of production revenues.
Mamby’s biodiversity garden, an example for the “farmers of the future”. An experimental centre for climate-friendly agriculture, research and learning. The small plot of degraded land acquired in April 1994 is only 1.7 hectares. This piece of land, which was a red soil of African dust, has been transformed into fertile soil and forest! Today, the farm is home to more than 80 plant and animal species. More than 100 students in agriculture, animal husbandry, forestry and economics have spent their internship time studying taxonomy, population dynamics, the relationship between soil, water and plants, etc. Acting as a social marketing centre, I receive at least 20 new visitors per month (in addition to the usual 10 visitors on Saturdays) including researchers, development practitioners and policymakers. The farm has been visited by various development cooperation colleagues, members of national and international NGOs present in Mali, as well as by candidates for innovative agriculture and school children. It acts as a centre of inspiration and positive behaviour change towards biodiversity and sustainable agriculture. I published a 500-copy farm practitioner’s manual in 2003 entitled “Peri-urban sustainable Agriculture- a Practitioner’s manual”. The type of farming system used is agroforestry, which is one of the sustainable food production systems that increase productivity and production, maintain ecosystems, build resilience to climate change and other disasters, and improve land and soil quality. Agroforestry helps to improve farm microclimates, retaining soil and increasing the water available to plants. Over time, the trees not only generate diversified products for food and sale but also help increase the water supply to nearby ponds and wells by providing shade and reducing erosion. Combined with composting and other soil improvement practices, I have been able to reclaim previously unusable land for cultivation. The government of Mali used the farm at COP 17 in Durban as a source of inspiration for sustainable land resource management. GIZ also used the farm as a reference farm in its projects and presented a film about it at a side event at COP 23 in Bonn, Germany, November 6-18, 2017! Drivers of success Success came through agroecology/agroforestry, sustainable farmland and water resource management methods, use of alternative energy sources like solar panels through a long perspective drive. The secret came from conservation agriculture and agroforestry: intercropping, zero tillage. Lessons learned/prospects: Agriculture is one of the main economic sectors emitting green gas in Mali and in the world. Moreover, the development of agriculture in Mali is done at the expense of forests (carbon sinks) because agricultural production grows on average by 3% per year through the expansion of cultivated areas and not through increased yields. Today, the good news is that agriculture can help mitigate climate change, reduce biodiversity loss and that climate-friendly practices can benefit farmers. This is a win-win relationship between farmers and nature. Farmers can lead the way in finding solutions to climate change. Some are already changing the way they plant, control weeds, manage soil health, plough, and use energy and fuels on the farm. Others are changing the way they raise and graze livestock or experimenting with composting and other manure processing techniques that not only increase nutrient availability but also reduce greenhouse gas emissions. They can also improve water quality and management, promote better soil health, and preserve biodiversity, all of which are critical to long-term food security and help farmers produce healthy sustainable crops. These solutions are the pathway to positive change that I have embraced for the past 27 years by promoting practices that help mitigate and adapt to climate change and have other benefits. Low-input, low-emission practices can increase farm profitability by reducing costs. In other words, addressing climate change is an opportunity for farmers to create productive systems that provide sustainable livelihoods and protect the environment. Solutions are slowly emerging on Mali’s farms, but much remains to be done. To achieve economically successful farms and a healthy environment, farmers need support. Governments and international development organizations like Sida can support the rapid diffusion of sustainable low-input farming systems by involving farmers as stakeholders and allies in these change efforts.