The overall objective of SustainSAHEL is to enhance the resilience and intensification potential of smallholder agricultural farming systems to climate change through scalable innovations on crop-shrub-livestock (CSL) integration. SustainSAHEL aims to develop CSL systems through innovation platforms (IPs) in order to improve productivity and farmers’ income.
We will assess adoption and scaling potential of improved CSL integration, while simultaneously optimizing proven technologies, improving herder-farmer cooperation, tackling socio-economic constraints for adoption and contributing to local economic revival.
Our approach is embedded within the production systems of agro-ecology and organic agriculture, while comprising elements of conservation agriculture. Investigations on CSL, as well as soil quality and hydrology will be conducted through on-station and on-farm experiments and demonstration plots. We will identify drought resistant shrubs that are in synchrony with livestock requirements, and reduced tillage options that enhance the soil water capture and holding capacity.
At the regional level, landscape modelling scenarios will analyse the promoted systems’ resilience to climate change in West Africa. Dissemination activities will respond to the identified needs of youth and women and shall assure effective scaling of successfully tested innovations beyond the targeted regions.
Systems approaches are a core concept of SustainSAHEL and reflect the linkage of biophysical, socio-economic, cultural and political realities. The project examines long-term economic support to local communities and improvement of agricultural practices through close cooperation with farmer organisations. Working closely with existing Africa-Europe networks and programs, the established partnerships will quickly evolve into a model laboratory on CSL for the Sahel and institutionalize science-based practices of sustainable intensification under challenging conditions.