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Bioreclamation of degraded African lands with women empowerment

Pasternak D., Senbeto D., Kumar S., Fatondji D., Woltering L., Ratnadass A., Ndjeunga J.. 2009. Chronica Horticulturae, 49 (2) : p. 24-26.

The Sudano Sahel is a semi arid region south of the Sahara with a population greater than 60 million people. Its borders are delineated by the 300-800 mm/year rain isohyets (Fig. 1). The Sahel environment is very hostile. Air temperatures are always high. During March-June they can climb to 45ºC. The intensity of monsoonal rains can be higher than 100 mm/hr resulting in significant water runoff and soil erosion. The prevalent acid sandy soil is very poor in nutrients and it has very low organic carbon content (Schlecht et al., 2006). The soil is undergoing a continuous process of erosion, mostly by wind but also by water (Manu et al., 1998). Between 80-90% of the population lives from rain-fed agriculture, producing in the rainy season (June-September) a limited number of staple crops (millet, sorghum, groundnuts, and cowpeas). Droughts result in crop failure in two out of five years. Population growth rate is around 3% resulting in diminishing area of cultivated land per household. There is a need to identify innovative alternatives for increasing agricultural productivity and income generation in such a harsh environment. More than 50% of the Sahelian soil is degraded (Lal, 1988). Most of these degraded lands are crusted lateritic soils (Fig. 2). Both the cation exchange capacity and the water holding capacity of the degraded laterites are significantly higher than those of the predominantly sandy soils. Women in Africa, particularly in the Sudano Sahel, are a marginalized sector of the society. There they have no or only little inheritance rights for goods, they are not allowed to own land, they have no voting rights in community matters and have a higher percentage of illiteracy than men (Mulenkey, 2002). Yet women are bearing the burden to feed their families and to help their husbands in farm operations in addition to their daily chores. The lack of nutritional balance in the daily diets of rural Africa is becoming a matter of concern to the international community (World Bank, 1997). In dry West Africa between 13-15% of children are suffering from acute nutritional deficiency (USAID, 2006). The Bioreclamation of Degraded Lands (BDL) system developed by ICRISAT provides solutions to these constraints. The BDL is an integrated system aiming at increasing food production and income of women through the utilization of degraded lands for production of rain-fed fruit trees and vegetables. (Résumé d'auteur)

Mots-clés : moringa; ziziphus; famille; rôle des femmes; sahel; afrique au sud du sahara; soudan; moringa stenopetala

Thématique : Systèmes et modes de culture; Erosion, conservation et récupération des sols; Sociologie rurale et sécurité sociale

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