In the dryland tropics, like Niger, indigenous plants are hardy and natural survivors - they have adapted to tolerate drought.
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Using a bottle cap, they apply tiny amounts of fertiliser - about one-sixth of the quantities normally put on grain crops in Europe - directly to the plant roots. Research shows this increases yields in Niger by an average of 55%.
Drought in Niger has left about 8m people, more than half the population, needing food aid. But scientists say a simple farming method - fertiliser micro-dosing - could have averted the crisis. Farmer Seydou Boubacar and his wife Zaina use the technique.
Another method to counteract poor yields during drought, and the famine it brings, is known as bioreclamation of degraded lands: The exhausted soils of the Sahel are replenished using rainwater storage methods and planting indigenous trees and crops.
It is not the only agricultural method that could be practised to increase yields, the researchers say. Low pressure drip irrigation is very successful. Instead of taking hours to water a plot with watering cans, a drip kit takes 10 minutes to turn on.
Since using the method, Mr Boubacar has almost tripled his harvests and increased his wealth. "When I started micro-dosing in 2000, I had only two sheep, but today I have 20 sheep, 20 goats, two cattle and 10 donkeys," he says.  [Photos and words supplied by the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid-Tropics (ICRISAT)]
We find solutions to help communities cope with dryland stresses and adapt
to climate change. We do this through: understanding the impact of dryland stresses
on smallholder agriculture; undertaking crop simulation models; helping develop the value
chains for crops that are better adapted to the harsh and variable climate of drylands; better
farm management e.g. revitalize soils and conserve water, and crop and livestock diversity;
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