Farmers in Niger benefit from letting trees grow in their fields

| January 20, 2019

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This week’s Farmer story from Ethiopia presents the benefits of home garden agroforestry. Our Script of the week also focuses on the kinds of benefits that farmers can expect when they skillfully care for trees in their fields.

In the 1970s and 80s, much was written on the energy crisis in Sahelian countries and in other arid and semi-arid areas. There appeared to be a large gap between the population’s energy needs—almost exclusively provided by wood—and the capacity of trees and shrubs to meet that need. At that time, the Sahel had been struck by successive years of drought. Agricultural land extended further and further into marginal zones, where vegetation was destroyed.

It appeared that the vegetation near cities in the Sahel was going to be completely destroyed due to the rapidly growing population’s need for fuel wood.

Currently, it is believed that vegetation in the Sahel is declining from overuse. While this is obviously happening in some parts of the Sahel, there are many areas where woody vegetation is increasing. For example, in Niger, these increases are taking place in the Tahoua, Maradi, and Zinder regions. In Tahoua, tree planting has been organized by projects focusing on the rehabilitation of barren lands, while farmers also began protecting trees and shrubs that grew back naturally. At the same time, livestock farmers are protecting natural vegetation such as the tree species, Acacia raddiana. In Maradi, NGOs helped farmers to protect and manage the trees and shrubs that regenerated spontaneously on their farms. This process began in the mid-1980s. More recently, a project in the Aguié district supports the creation of village organizations to protect, manage, and use on-farm trees. In

This script discusses Farmer Managed Natural Regeneration (FMNR), which is a practice undertaken by farmers that consists of protecting and managing re-growth of trees and shrubs in fields. FMNR benefits farmers by bringing back woody vegetation. Farmers almost always concentrate on bringing back trees and shrubs with an economic value.

Farmer-managed and protected natural regeneration in crop fields has received little attention. Very few national and international decision-makers are aware of it, and there are only a few publications on the topic. But one study states that FMNR has had a positive impact on at least five million hectares of cultivated land in Niger. If this is accurate, it is unique in the Sahel and probably in Africa as a whole.

This script is based on actual interviews. You could use this script as inspiration to research and write a script on a similar topic in your area. Or you might choose to produce this script on your station, using voice actors to represent the speakers. If so, please make sure to tell your audience at the beginning of the program that the voices are those of actors, not the original people involved in the interviews.