WEST AFRICA – The European Union is funding a project by CIRAWA that is aimed at developing new agroecological-based practices that will make food supply chains in West Africa more resilient to climate shocks.

The project will specifically focus on building existing local and scientific knowledge to create more resilient food supply chains emphasizing food security and putting people in the center of West Africa.

Led by CARTIF Technology Centre the project brings together 14 partners from 9 countries in Europe and Africa to work with small-holder farmers to improve food nutrition, local livelihoods, and ecosystem health starting in January 2023 and ending in June 2027.

Agroecological farming is emerging as a compelling response to the challenges West Africa faces particularly in 8 regions across Cape Verde, Ghana, Senegal, and The Gambia.

It is a scientifically validated alternative to conventional farming with the potential to transform food systems making them more sustainable whilst meeting the growing demand for food, contributing to landscape quality, and enhancing biodiversity and climate resilience.

The outlined proposed strategies aim at supporting farmers to manage land, soil, water, and nutrients in more efficient and sustainable ways, emulating nature to unlock ecosystem service benefits.

The project also will provide tools for farmers to gain access to competitive markets and increase income generation activities, invigorating local economies, with a focus on engaging women and youth.

Cereal yields in West Africa may shorten by 40%

Prof Saa Dittoh, Adjunct Professor of Food Systems at WACWISA said that despite the EU Green Deal advocating for a forward-looking agricultural sector, the current production in west Africa doesn’t take future consideration.

He added that 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.

With the region highly dependent on small-holder agriculture, the threat to livelihoods and lives posed by climate change must be addressed.

CIRAWA will work in close collaboration with farmers to gain a good understanding of their needs and limitations, Prof. Dittoh emphasized.

 “The bottom line for farmers was whether agroecological solutions will be economically viable. Solutions will therefore have to not only be adapted to the specific regional characteristics and ecosystem needs but must be economically viable for farmers to adopt them.”

The project will work with more than one thousand farmers and local stakeholders from across the case study regions.

To facilitate the uptake of agroecological solutions, CIRAWA plans to appoint key stakeholders as members of an advisory board to provide ongoing input on the project’s activities and results.

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