Agroforestry systems for growing nutritious local trees and crops for feed and fodder, and contour bunding technologies for preventing soil erosion caught the attention of farmers attending field days in two districts in Mali. The events were organized by two technology parks to showcase and review innovations and technologies developed and tried over a period of two years.
Women farmers like Ms Mariam Sarah from Sirakele village were interested in technologies related to nutrition. Mr Kalifa Coulibaly, the Mayor of M’Pessoba, stressed on encouraging women to be more involved in the nutrition program. “The nutrition research of the Africa RISING project is very important to help our district address the problem of malnutrition. The technology park is a learning school that will help promote local crops and the nutrition field schools offer an opportunity to enrich and diversify the household diet,” he said.
Two farmers from M’Pessoba village in Koutiala district, Mr Daouda Diallo and Mr Dramane Dembélé, were impressed by the contour bunding technology and said they were ready to adopt it on their fields. Mr Diallo wanted to use the technology on his one-hectare barren plot and transform it into a silvipasture (combining forestry and grazing pastures). Mr Dembélé wanted to try contour bunding to control soil erosion in his field as heavy rains often wash away the top soil taking away with it nutrients and the seeds that are sown. He also plans to implement crop-livestock integration on his farm.
Apart from featuring the above technologies, presentations on trials of sorghum, groundnut, cowpea, maize and vegetables; land and water management technologies; food banks and adapted trees species were made. Over 300 participants, mainly farmers, development and extension agents, students and local authorities, actively took part in the discussion sessions on the technologies, the challenges and opportunities for their implementation and possibilities of scaling out.
“We have gained knowledge that will help us in our studies. Visiting this park is a great learning opportunity on various technologies that we have learnt in the classroom,” said Mr Abdoulaye Keita, a student of the Centre d’Apprentissage Agricole (CAA) that specializes in training extension agents.
Dr Ramadjita Tabo, Research Program Director, West and Central Africa and Country Representative, ICRISAT-Mali, emphasized on the role of youth in agricultural development. Mr Oumar Samake, interim director, AMEDD (Association Malienne d’Eveil au Développement Durable) reiterated the need for encouraging youth. “I am glad to see the involvement of participants in the park’s work and the interest it creates among visitors. This demonstrates that we are prepared for tomorrow’s agriculture. The future belongs to the youth and this park is an opportunity they can take to prepare themselves better. In this park which proved to be a platform for mutual sharing, we are currently laying the groundwork for tomorrow’s agriculture,” he said. Other important participants at the event included Mr Elisé Goita, representative of Bougouni agriculture office and Mr Siriki Sidibé, Vice-president, District Council, Bougouni.
The field days were organized on 28 September in Flola, Bougouni district and on 12 October in M’Pessoba, Koutiala District.
Dr Irmgard Hoeschle-Zeledon, Manager, Africa RISING West Africa and East/Southern Africa Projects and many members of the project-managing group attended the visits.
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