Sahelian farmers are among the world’s poorest. In Niger, for example, smallholders produced an average of only 318 kg of cereals per hectare (ha) from a mean farm size of 2.17 ha. Much of this low productivity is explained by poor soils, small farm sizes, loss of traditional soil restoration systems, and erratic rainfall. This article presents the positive side, researchers, practitioners and farmers have made progress in developing approaches to restoring soils, reducing vulnerability to climate shocks and building a foundation for greater productivity.
This article was submitted for inclusion in the forthcoming edition of ETFRN News 60 - Restoring African drylands, due for release in December 2020, containing 25 articles plus interviews and boxes describing farmer-led, NGO, private sector, government and international initiatives. These highlight the roles of varied policies and stakeholder interests, and identify opportunities to encourage smallholder and community participation in scaling out successes and meeting national, regional and global commitments.