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Key lessons from international experiences about conservation agriculture and considerations for its implementation in dry areas

Lahmar R., Triomphe B.. 2008. In : GTZ, federal ministry for economic cooperation and development, ACSAD, FAO, UNEP, AAAID. Conservation agriculture for sustainable land management to improve the livelihood of people in dry areas, Damascus-Syria, 07-09 may 2007. s.l. : GTZ, p. 123-140. International workshop on conservation agriculture for sustainable land management to improve the livelihood of people in dry areas, 2007-05-07/2007-05-09, Damas (République arabe syrienne).

Land scarcity and soil degradation in dry areas are increasingly recognized and being documented. Their impact on the livelihood .of people and the resilience of ecosystems is a source of growing concern. Alternative land management practices and strategies are needed to mitigate/reverse currènt negative trends. Conservation agriculture (CA) may contribute to this goal. Indeed, CA emerged historically in response to soil erosion crises and their negative economic consequences. The adaptation of CA in diverse situations, inc1uding small-scale farming, ·of rainfed and irrigated agriculture has given way to developing various CA systems spanning a wide array of practices ranging from reduced tillage (RT) to no-tillage (NT) with varying degrees and means of soil coyer. CA is perceived as a powerful tool of land management in dry areas. It allows farmers to improve their productivity and profitability especially in dry years while conserving and even improving the natural resource base and the environment. However, CA adaptation indrylands faces critical challenges linked to water scarcity and drought hazard, low biomass production and acute competition between conflicting uses inc1uding soil coyer, animal fodder, cooking/heating fuel, raw material for habitat etc. Poverty and vulnerability of many smallholders that rely more on livestock than on green production are other key factors. This paper builds on selected lessons from a wealth of international experiences with the development, fine-tuning and dissemination of CA-based systems, their known drivers, constraints and impacts, to address the potential and challenges of CA in dry areas. It suggests ways and means that may he1p in designing and shaping alternative programs, tools and strategies aimed at sustainable land management in dry areas.

Mots-clés : zone aride; agriculture; agriculture de conservation

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