Developing a climate resilient agricultural sector in Mali

Community training for contour boundaries design in Koro village. (Inset) Farmer explaining plastic rain gauge use in Toumboka village. Photo: M Petri, ICRISAT

Innovative climate-resilient technologies developed specifically for Mopti, Mali, were implemented in 458 ha to demonstrate that climate change adaptation is achievable. Key to it was merging appropriate local expertise with science-led interventions.

Interventions such as the development of a community-based agro-meteorological forecast system including crop-recommendation bulletins; sharing of information through various media; introduction of climate-smart crop technologies suited to the region; and development of Technology Parks for diffusion of these innovations, are aimed at creating a climate resilient agricultural sector in Mopti.

Agro-meteorological forecast system

This system enables farmers to collect weather information. Decadal crop-recommendation bulletins are produced by local level technical services and shared over local radio reaching approximately 190,000 people.

This activity included more than 100 institutions and formal groups that have been involved in agro-meteorology activities at different levels.

Information sharing

Besides sharing of primary information, knowledge sharing happened through platforms that included science and technical service providers, farmers, herders, fisher folk and decision makers. Information is also shared through systems enabling stakeholders to provide community level recommendations and influence decision making through village planning meetings, farmers’ local committees, and farmers’ councils.

Capacity building

Field visit to an agroforestry food bank managed by the women group in Toroli village. Photo: M Petri, ICRISAT

Field visit to an agroforestry food bank managed by the women group in Toroli village. Photo: M Petri, ICRISAT

A key aspect of developing endogenous resilient capacities was capacity development for crop, agroforestry and crop-livestock cycle technologies. These were based on locally driven needs and applied local adaptation approaches that were tailored for a single commune or village.

In the crop sector, the training included both innovative horticulture systems and dryland cereals technologies such as improved varieties, soil fertility management, and crop/legume systems.

Crop and livestock systems have been supported by the improvement of fodder cropping and with the implementation of fodder banks.

In agroforestry systems, the training included a wide range of technologies including grafting, tree food banks, exclusion of areas from direct production to rehabilitate degraded land, and farm-based natural regeneration.

To support innovation diffusion Technology Parks have been created and improved practices have also been tested by farmers in their fields. Scientific data is being collected through ‘mother-baby’ trials. Rural Resource Centers for agroforestry production and training have also been set up.

The ‘learning agenda’ approach: One of the main objectives of the project is to develop a learning agenda for smallholder farmers. The learning agenda is a research effort designed to inform the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) projects about how to build a more effective climate resilient agricultural sector in Mopti. The learning agenda focuses on a learning process stimulating education, changing, and adapting to climate change.

What it does: It sets the foundation of the entire capacity development process. All actors and stakeholders can have a clearer understanding of the ongoing capacity development, facilitating partnerships and collaborations in the context of climate change

The approaches

Bottom-Up learning approach: Information from the agro-ecological and socio-economic setting allows researchers and practitioners to depict the specifics – adaptation successes, endogenous resilience processes, and the needs of a specific community or zone. The analysis (under publication) depicts the existence of a multiple set of agro-ecosystems functions that include food production and a variety of environmental services management of the territory and its conservation, employment, human resources and work, local investment potential, and animal management.

Amalgamating local knowledge with technical and scientific innovations: This approach is adopted to develop endogenous resilient capacities to cope with changing climate. It includes the development of strong community linkages to take collective action and generate internal answers to common issues. To undertake these actions, a wide set of community development activities were put in place such as community group discussions, focus groups, early warning system committees repeatedly visiting the project area during the cropping season, and local-level innovation debate groups. This involved the participation of all potential actors including farmers, civil society institutions and private sector.

In addition, community awareness was raised and facts and figures about climate change were widely diffused through media, film screenings, teacher sketches, exchange visits, etc. In this context, some of the methods such as screening short films through pico projectors and teacher sketches were not only cost effective but also had a high impact.

The project trained 8,580 individuals, of which 36% were women, through the Farmer Field School approach. The systems approach adopted ensured that the adoption level was high.

Project: Disseminating learning agenda on resilient-smart technologies to improve the adaptive capacity of smallholder farmers in Mopti

Investor: United States Agency for International Development (USAID), Accelerated Economic Growth Program (Add on), Global Climate Change (GCC)

Partners: The World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF), Aga Khan Foundation, World Vision Mali and ICRISAT

CGIAR Research Program: Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS)


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