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Adaptation and Mitigation through “produced environment” at the rural community of Sebikotane in Senegal

Submitted by Michael Rastall 17th September 2014 15:46

Photo 1a : ‘Produced environment’ system (Source: ENDA SYSPRO, 2004)

Project description

In response to the climatic adverse effects that lessened heavily the high productivity potential of the rural community of Sebikotane, ENDA SYSPRO had partnered with development researchers to implement a new farming system labeled ‘produced environment’ which combined an efficient localized irrigation system with a contour cropping system to protect against windstorms and to enhance the soil fertility. Empowered beneficiaries have substantially improved their livelihoods and transformed their erratic farming area into a ‘produced environment’.

Adaptation context

Since the 1970s, well-being of Senegalese farmers has been weakened continuously by the adverse effects of successive droughts combined with a progressive reduction and changes of rainfall and huge land degradation. Despite numerous efforts from local and national agencies, traditional rain-fed production and conventional assisted farming system cannot deliver acceptable productivity levels in order to ensure sustainable livelihoods of the farmers of Sebikotane. In fact, this study area is part one of the most valuable and productive agroecological zones named Niayes which is influenced currently by enormous climatic adverse effects that lessened heavily its high productivity potential. To overcome the environmental, technical and socioeconomic obstacles of the Sebikotane area, ENDA SYSPRO teamed up with support from Minnesota University and other researchers to set up and implement an innovative production system labeled ‘produced environment' 

Drawing from their competencies and an inclusive approach, empowered beneficiaries have managed to test successfully the ‘produced environment’ in a pilot farm of 5ha and have enlarged significantly their production area up to 40ha. In practice, the pilot included development of wind-break plants along the alleys and farm delineation to improve soil fertility and protect soils against erosion whilst also creating microclimates that stimulate crop production. Furthermore, drip irrigation is introduced as it is more efficient in terms of water and labor.

Key messages

1. Knowledge building. Sebikotane’s farmers have progressively implemented the novel generation farming system named produced environment which combined an efficient localized irrigation system with a contour cropping system to protect against windstorms and to enhance the soil fertility.
2. Community participation and inclusiveness. The commencement of the Sebikonte ‘produced environment’ system is mainly driven by the commitment of former horticultural technicians who were engaged in improving their dwindling livelihoods due to progressive harnessing windstorms and the failures of the big agribusiness farm in their community.
3. Political ownership, collaboration and approval. The results-based approach of the Sebikotane pilot farming system has been an impressive channel to merge interests of researchers and policy decision-makers.
4. Financial sustainability. The Sebikotane project team has initiated multiple schemes for sustaining and enlarging the produced environment.
5. Achieving co-benefits and balancing trade-off. In Senegal and in the rest of the Sahel, adapting the agricultural sector to climate change necessarily means adopting ‘complementary substitution’ of rain-fed agriculture by irrigated agriculture.
6. Building local capacity. Firstly, it’s of utmost importance to stress the reluctance of local populations to adopt agricultural innovations at the beginning of this project. From this respect, ENDA SYSPRO team, and the first committed women have emphasized strongly on the local building capacity in order to engage skeptical farmers. The role of early adopters was key in showing the other farmers the productivity gains which could be had.
7. Transferable. The scalability of the Sebikotane case study has followed two distinctive phases. Firstly, the success story of the first empowered group of farmers has led to a progressive interest of the rest of sceptical farmers. By the means of numerous field visits and awareness raising campaign with the local media (radio station), the strong commitment and the strength of their advocacy strategy had enabled the first trained farmers to scale up locally the pilot experimental farm from 5ha up to 40 ha. Secondly, it can be stated that the success story of the produced environment concept had inspired ENDA SYSPRO team and national authority to scale up and to enlarge the intervention area of the project at the national level even at the international forum.
8. Monitoring and evaluation. To comply with its internal and external accountability, a sound system of Monitoring and Evaluation were designed and implemented in a collaborative manner between the technical team of ENDA SYSPRO and local producer’s organisation of Sebikotane.

Lessons learned

Whilst this adaptation and mitigation project had gained strong and large commitment of researchers, elected leaders, women and young communities, it is important to mention the difficulties mostly due to the lack of political will and conflict of interests from the high national administrative level.