FRW news in brief

    | November 11, 2013

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    1- Managed regeneration of trees helps farmers’ crops in Sahel

    Tindamo Lanoaga is a farmer who uses innovative agricultural techniques in Diamdiara, Burkina Faso. The village lies in the Sahel region of West Africa. He is one of the first farmers in his area to practice Farmer-Managed Natural Regeneration of trees, or FMNR.

    Mr. Lanoaga selects shoots growing from tree stumps on his land and allows them to grow into new trees. Choosing to leave some trees standing is a key component of FMNR. The practice creates many benefits for communities, including reduced land erosion, improved soil fertility, and increased food production.

    By experimenting, Mr.  Lanoaga has deepened his understanding of natural regeneration and willingly shares what he has learned. He says, “During the first dry season, I leave multiple sprouts to help the plant survive the lack of water, and [the] animals. Once the rains come and [the tree] will survive, I will prune it to one shoot so it will grow faster.”

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    2- What does the future hold for pastoralists in the Sahel?

    Harsher droughts and increasing conflict with farmers are threatening the future of pastoralism in the Sahel. But experts say that integrating crop and livestock systems can help sustain the livelihoods of both herders and farmers.

    According to experts, practices such as rotational grazing, regenerating land and trees, intercropping, and agroforestry can help herders continue to feed their animals while avoiding conflict with farmers over the shrinking amount of productive land.

    Farmer-Managed Natural Regeneration, or FMNR, encourages the regeneration of tree varieties that serve multiple purposes. Wondimu Kenea is the West Africa regional food security adviser for World Vision. He said that small-scale farmers and agro-pastoralists in Niger, Mali, Ghana and Senegal have benefited from FMNR.

    Mr. Kenea said, “[Pastoralists and small-scale farmers] have been able to regenerate trees in their farm [and] improve soil fertility, farm productivity and reliable access to fodder for their livestock, as the trees that are rehabilitated are perennials that can be used all year round.”

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    3- Genetically modified maize to spread through Africa

    The African Centre for Biosafety, or ACB, recently released a report showing that genetically-modified maize, or GM maize, will now be grown in Africa through, in their words, an apparent ”sleight of hand.”

    The report says that, according to Independent scientists, African stem borers have developed resistance to the genetically-introduced toxins in Monsanto’s GM maize variety, MON810. This variety is being withdrawn from the South African market after Monsanto chose to compensate South African farmers who were forced to spray their crops with pesticides to control pests.

    Field trials with MON810 are already operating in Kenya and Uganda, and the governments of Tanzania and Mozambique are being lobbied to change their laws to allow the seeds to enter their countries as part of the Water Efficient Maize for Africa project. GM maize is set to be approved for commercial production in Tanzania and Mozambique by 2015.

    The Director of the ACB, Mariam Mayet, is on record as saying: “Monsanto got the science completely wrong on this one. Independent biosafety scientists have discovered that … insect resistance management strategies that Monsanto developed, and [that were] accepted by our regulators … were utterly ineffective.”

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