Agroecology in West Africa
West African countries are highly dependent on small-scale agriculture, where farmers in rural areas usually practice subsistence farming. They are highly vulnerable to food access and nutrition insecurity, affecting mainly women and youth. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) estimates that crop growing periods in West Africa may shorten by an average of 20% by 2050, causing a 40% decline in cereal yields and a reduction in cereal biomass for livestock. This has been attributed to the expected 5% decline in rainfall and frequent, long-lasting and intense droughts, which is likely to increase the area of arid and semiarid land by 5-8% by 2050.
To support the transition to more sustainable and resilient food systems in West Africa, agroecological-based farming is emerging as a compelling response to the region’s challenges. This approach has gained recognition in the European Union as a means to address environmental and social issues within food systems while meeting the growing demand for food. In this way, agroecological approaches contribute to improving landscape quality and biodiversity while enhancing ecosystem resilience.
CIRAWA is working with small-holder farmers in West Africa to improve food nutrition, livelihoods ecosystem health. CIRAWA is developing new agroecological-based practices that build on existing local and scientific knowledge to help create more resilient food supply chains in 8 regions across Cape Verde, Ghana, Senegal, and The Gambia. The project’s proposed practices put people and the ecosystem at the center, taking ecosystem health as a starting point to unlock multiple natural services and benefits and working closely with small-holder farmers to ensure their needs are met. CIRAWA’s agroecological-based practices demonstrate how working together with nature provides us the opportunity to improve water quality, climate resilience, agricultural yields, and invigorate local communities and economies by creating new bio-based products and markets.
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– Silvia Gómez, CARTIF
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