Agriculture – Sustainable Land Management

The agricultural sector is critical to Africa’s economy. According to the FAO, it accounts for 65% of direct jobs and contributes 15% to Africa’s total GDP.

However, this sector is dealing with many challenges. Both political and border insecurity and demographic growth have resulted in a higher demand for food while the advanced degradation of some soils has affected agricultural yields. Strong current and future climatic variations are also factors affecting this sector, which is already struggling in some places. Climate change and water and soil management will likely pose major challenges given the reduction of arable land and water resources which has led to a reduction in yields in a context of greater demand. Africa’s agriculture will thus have to undergo a significant transformation to meet the many challenges facing it and to make this sector more resilient.

Farmland and grazing fields contribute 15% to Africa’s GDP. However, around 25% of its agricultural fields are highly degraded.  Contributing to this issue is deforestation for the sake of establishing new agricultural fields. Forests cover around one-quarter of Africa’s Sub-Saharan land and produce 65% of its energy needs, and yet Africa is the continent that reported the highest net deforestation loss from 2010—2015, with 2.8 million deforested hectares, a figure that corresponds to a deforestation area the size of Belgium.

It is thus urgent to establish agricultural policies that will promote, among other things, the agri-ecological intensification (water, soil, woods) of production systems in order to foster sustainable land management, reduce deforestation rates, and facilitate the climate change adaption capacities of farming operations.

The aim of sustainable land management is to increase production through both traditional and innovative systems and to improve resilience to various environmental threats. These practices enable farmers and rural communities to become more climate change-resilient, primarily through soil and water conservation, increased food security and the re-establishment of productive natural resources.

[1] FAO study, “Global Forest Resources Assessment” 2015

Africa4Climate

As part of its support to the GIC (Collines County Inter-municipal Group) in Benin, Africa4Climate helped promote best soil management practices. As a key regional stakeholder, the GIC manages inter-municipal projects, primarily sustainable management projects, through agri-ecological practices. For the Collines region, these practices consisted in helping small farmers restore their degraded soils and increase their vegetation cover rate (agro-forestry) by diversifying their crops and favouring those adapted to degraded soils, with restorative properties. The GIC mostly supported these producers by inviting agricultural advisors go to their farms in order to provide them with advice and track their progress.

In Northern Kenya, the project supported the Northern Rangelands Trust (NRT) and protected areas (conservancies) from the arid Marsabit district in leading effective land management initiatives by restoring grazing areas and improving access to water.