How can Sustainable Land Management in Sub-Saharan Africa save one village at a time?

Posted by on June 6th, 2014 | 0 Comments »

By Edona Dervisholli, Policy Intern

As the world is being pressured to increase food production to help feed growing numbers of people, it will be very important to pay attention to natural resource protection. Changing climate is a challenge for farmers across developing countries, and has an impact on how natural resources are conserved and used.

To help farmers adapt to climate change and to conserve soil and water resources, Access Agriculture has developed an innovative approach.  Access Agriculture is an international NGO that facilitates the production, translation, dissemination and use of agricultural training videos in developing nations. Through this model, they spread knowledge to help farmers practice conservation agriculture by employing simple skills. In the Land Management Practices video, farmers can learn about many strategies and practices to keep their soil and local resources productive for farming in the face of climate change. Videos produced by Access Agriculture have been watched by farmers in over 28 countries in Africa and Asia.

Access Agriculture videos in a Mobile Training Unit

Access Agriculture videos in a Mobile Training Unit

Access Agriculture has devised two very effective and unique techniques for farmers who reside in suburbs and urban areas. One specific technique known as Stone Lines, was forged for areas such as those in Burkina Faso that experience droughts leading to land degradation. Due to these difficult conditions, many farmers were migrating to other regions.  Despite eventual rainfall, there was a need to re-establish soil and restore the land.

The Stone Lines develops an effective water harvesting system, which aids farmers with their soil by decreasing erosion, and increasing water for the certain area where is being farmed. In order to do this, farmers need a water tube, to measure the level of their farming area, then construct lines with the stones, starting with the largest stones followed by smaller ones. This technique is low cost and it’s easy for farmers to learn the necessary skills to build stone lines. Due to Stone Lines practice, 300,000 hectares of farmland have been reclaimed in Burkina Faso.

A second set of techniques has been developed for farmers to use in urban contexts, known as Zero-Grazing and Biogas. Urban farming is a very common in many countries because it provides local food and proximity to market. To produce cow milk in urban areas with no access to land for grazing, farmers must use unused plants and vegetables leftover in the local market to feed them.  The technique includes capacity building for farmers to prevent the use of leftover waste that could cause harm to cows if used as feed.

Another technique that urban farmers have adopted is the biogas unit, which can transform the cow manure to domestic gas that can be used for cooking and lighting. By integrating Zero-Grazing with Biogas, the urban farmers are able to recycle their green waste to feed the cows, and provide biogas for cooking and light.

These practices are simple and easily adopted. Each farmer helps to spread the word to other farmers. Issues such as climate change and increasing food production can be addressed just by implementing practices that are low-cost, efficient, and simple.


Dana Brooks, of GHI member company, Elanco Animal Health, with Phil Malon, Access Agriculture, discuss how to provide access to innovative technology for smallholders.

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