Stories tagged: farmer managed natural regeneration

Yaouza’s Story: How Forest Conservation Can Boost Incomes in Niger

Barrett Alexander, Program Manager for Food Security and Livelihoods at World Vision, explains how Farmer Managed Natural Regeneration can help empower farmers and boost crop yields in the Sahel.

In Niger, the encroaching Sahel is a daily constraint for farmers – the wind, sand, dust, soil degradation, water scarcity, and recurring drought make it hard for farmers to provide for their families.

In the northeastern part of Niger, in the Maradi Region, World Vision works with local farmers on Farmer Managed Natural Regeneration (FMNR) to combat the encroaching Sahel. FMNR is part agro-forestry, part environmental conservation, part Disaster Risk Reduction, and part economic driver. It works by finding indigenous tree species, once abundant in Niger but decimated by drought and human population pressure in the 1970s and 80s, and teaching farmers about pruning methodologies to allow those trees to regrow. The regrowth of the trees has shown to reduce surface wind speeds, increase soil fertility, increase ground water availability, increase yields, and reduce surface temperatures.

Since the inception of FMNR in the 1980s, its growth throughout the country cannot be understated. Currently, there is roughly 5 million hectares of land re-greened through FMNR, with approximately 200 million indigenous trees. In some of World Vision’s project sites, there is a 250 percent increase in tree/shrub density on FMNR sites and the average tree density increased from 35.57 trees per hectare in 2014 to 123 trees per hectare in 2017. This increase in density is helping farmers increase their staple crop production, primarily millet, by 58 percent due to soil revitalization, increased ground water availability, reduced wind speeds that take top soil away, and reduced surface temperatures in this very arid environment.

Champion Farmer Model

One farmer stands out among the rest – Yaouza Harouna. After incorporating FMNR on his 4.5-hectare rain-fed and 0.5-hectare irrigated land in 2013, he now can fully provide for his family. Yaouza has re-grown roughly 310 new trees, including 60 Sahel apple trees. By implementing FMNR, Yaouza increased the productive capacity of his land and became a sustainable farmer. In the Guidan-Roumdji district where he lives, the average millet yield is 547 kg/hectare,—he produced 937 kg/hectare by planting nearest the bases of his trees. He also produced 450 kgs of peanuts, 250 kgs of cowpeas, 375 kgs of sorghum, 2,000 watermelons, and 833 kgs of Sahel apples from his new trees.

Yahouza Harouna showing his millet stock at his house in the village of Tambara-Sofoua Yahaya

All of this production provided Yaouza and his family with approximately $2,534 in income generation on the staple crops and $943 in income for the Sahel apples. Furthermore, roughly 70 percent of the millet and sorghum were used for direct consumption and to provide food for his extended family. With all this income, Yaouza has provided his household with sustainable food and firewood provision, put his children in private school, supported relatives, branched out into more income generating activities (small trading, sheep fattening), purchased a motorbike, extended his land by two hectares, and employed a local man to help watch the land and tend the crops. In effect, our Champion Farmer, based on initial interest in FMNR, has rightfully gained his moniker.

Recommendations for FMNR Implementation

Based on the current trend of FMNR as a sustainable agriculture model and the usage of World Vision’s Champion Farmer Model, there are several recommendations for agriculture implementers.

The first, is engaging the community at the start. A deep explanation of FMNR, the requirements (including community by-laws and enforcement mechanisms), economic benefits, and social cohesion should be the first actions for new implementers

Next, it is important to identify key community actors that will take on promoting FMNR in the community and use their skills, land, and leadership in the community to become “Champion Farmers” like Yaouza. Farmers learn best and incorporate new practices when they see and learn it from other farmers – use this to your advantage and encourage the free exchange of information and site visits between your Champion Farmers and new, doubtful farmers

For more information on how to implement FMNR initiatives, you can visit World Vision’s FMNR Hub for training resources, research, and technical guidance:

How Farmers in Africa are Restoring Degraded Lands & Enhancing Resilience

27th October 2016

Washington D.C., USA

Join World Vision for a discussion with Tony Rinaudo and Robert Winterbottom of World Resources Institute  on Farmer Managed Natural Regeneration – a key strategy for restoring degraded lands, improving food security and increased the resilience of rural communities. Read more >>

Sheri Arnott: Everyday Emergencies – How Social Protection Schemes Can Build Resilient Children, Families and Communities

Our guest author, Sheri Arnott, Senior Policy Advisor for Food Assistance/Food Security at World Vision, continues our series of blog articles on resilience published in partnership with the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) ahead of the conference Building Resilience for Food and Nutrition Security” 15-17 May 2014.

While severe food crises depicted in the media account for the most visible violations of people’s  human right to food in the world, hundreds of millions more men, women and children across the globe experience a more silent ‘everyday emergency’ characterized by chronic poverty, hunger and malnutrition. The numbers are staggering: 868 million people chronically food insecure, one in four children stunted, and 100 million more children suffering from wasting.

These ‘everyday emergencies’ can be described as predictable hunger and need to be met with a predictable response.

While food assistance is best known for saving lives in emergencies, short-term emergency response is a rather blunt instrument to address this chronic food and nutrition insecurity.

Child-sensitive safety nets, as part of comprehensive social protection systems, are increasingly seen as valuable and effective interventions to strengthen the resilience of children, families and communities, mitigate the effects of poverty on families, strengthen families in their child care role, and enhance access to basic services for the poorest and most marginalized.

Safety nets are particularly important in fragile contexts where governance is weak, public services are mostly non-existent and where the context limits the range of interventions available to build livelihoods and improve child health and education outcomes in the long term.

Safety nets can take a variety of forms, from Brazil’s celebrated Bolsa Família which grants families a monthly stipend if their children are in full-time education, to Home Grown School Feeding programs that source food from local farmers to serve free at schools. These are just two examples of how safety nets can help poor households manage hunger and malnutrition risks while boosting community incomes. There still exists, however, a significant gap in how to best support more effective safety nets systems in fragile contexts — where they are most needed, least available and most difficult to deliver.

World Vision has had great success in leveraging food assistance safety nets to make real progress in beating hunger and building resilience for poor smallholder farmers through its use of Food for Assets to support their adoption of a simple, low-cost land regeneration system.

Called Farmer Managed Natural Regeneration (FMNR), it involves the systematic regrowth and management of trees and shrubs from felled tree stumps, sprouting root systems or seeds. From humble beginnings, today over five million hectares of farmland have been re-vegetated in Niger alone, largely by direct farmer-to-farmer exchange of information about this approach. This occurred in one of the world’s poorest countries with little investment in the forestry sector by either the government or NGOs.

FMNR has not only restored croplands, grazing lands and forests to meet further food and fibre needs, but has also transformed communities by providing more food and better nutrition for millions of people.

Today, World Vision is supporting FMNR in twelve other countries in Africa and Asia. Providing food safety nets helps farming families meet their immediate food and nutrition needs, allowing them the space and time to innovate and invest in improving farming practices, build soil health, diversify diets, and build social cohesion, and weather future shock and stressors to agriculture-based livelihoods systems.

This blog article is part of an ongoing series on resilience being published ahead of an upcoming IFPRI conference to be held in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia in May 2014. Building resilience means helping people, communities, countries, and global institutions prevent, anticipate, prepare for, cope with, and recover from shocks, not only helping them to “bounce back” but also to become better off. This conference aims to help set priorities for building resilience, to evaluate emerging threats to resilience, and to draw lessons from humanitarian and development responses to previous shocks.