A collaboration among regional research institutes and National Agricultural Research Systems establishes strong partnership for upscaling the “farms of the future” approach.

In West Africa, climate change brings new challenges to agriculture. Among other things, it is straining the livelihoods of the rural population, given their high dependence on the climate.

Because these challenges cannot be addressed by one research institution alone, the CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS) tackles the problem through an intervention approach based on a worldwide strategic collaboration between CGIAR and Future Earth.

At the regional level, this strategy is based on an expanded partnership between regional CCAFS programmes and national agricultural research systems (NARS), sub-regional and regional institutions, NGOs and regional farmer umbrella organisations. These structures, which act as next user set, constitute a key pillar for the dissemination of approaches, techniques and options for adaptation to climate change developed by CCAFS.

It is within this context that a group of institutions realised the project for "Enhancing the Resilience and Adaptive Capacity to Climate Change of farmers in semi-arid West Africa (ENRACCA-WA)”. The project was implemented by the Sahel Institute (INSAH), a specialised institution of the Permanent Inter-State Committee on Drought Control in the Sahel (CILSS), in partnership with CCAFS.

Further partners include the West and Central African Council for Agricultural Research and Development (WECARD) and the national agricultural research institutes of Ghana (Council for Scientific and Industrial Research), Mali (Institute of Rural Economy) and Senegal (Senegalese Institute of Agricultural Research).

The ENRACCA-WA project has focused on two main elements:

1. Upscaling proven and most promising soil and water management practices and technologies on specific climate sites; and

2. Targeted capacity building for farmers, community organisations and other stakeholders to better understand and incorporate climate change and variability in agricultural management decision-making.

To achieve its objectives, the ENRACCA project has opted to use the "farms of the future" approach, which is an innovative approach developed by CCAFS to help improve the adaptive capacity of communities to climate change.

The "farms of the future" approach uses the climate analogues tool to connect rural farmers to their possible future climate through inter-community exchange visits between a reference site and its climate analogue site. It enables communities to anticipate and implement lessons learned from inter-farmer exchanges to improve their adaptability.

The first year of the ENRACCA-WA project was marked by technical and financial support from CCAFS West Africa to build the capacity of the project technical actors to implement the "farms of the future” approach.

To that end, training on the approach and its climate analogues tool was organised in Niamey (Niger) from 3 to 5 October 2013 by CCAFS and INSAH for national teams of the ENRACCA project (Ghana, Mali and Senegal) and two other pilot countries of CCAFS West Africa (Burkina Faso and Niger). About thirty agricultural services researchers and officers were trained in the approach.

After the training, the approach was put into action in the five countries between 2013 and 2014. Following implementation, CCAFS supported all the teams to organise national feedback workshops for promoting the use of the approach. This helped expose the approach to a greater number of structures (technical services for agriculture, livestock and environment, development projects, NGOs and local farmer organisations), and resource persons. Much interest was expressed in the approach and requests were made for the implementation manual in the various countries.

All in all, the collaboration between INSAH, CCAFS, WECARD and National Agricultural Research Systems (CSIR/SARI, IER, ISRA, INERA, INRAN) enabled five countries to include the "farms of the future" approach in the implementation of their climate change resilience building program for poor farmers. Three of these (Ghana, Mali and Senegal) are ENRACCA participants. The other two countries are Burkina Faso and Niger.

The following lessons can be learned from the partnership:

  • the pooling of financial resources made it possible to operate at several sites at the same time (two reference sites in each ENRACCA country);
  • the pooling of human resources helped to build the capacity of national teams through effective monitoring of implementation of the approach in the various countries;
  • the involvement of INSAH gave greater space visibility to the approach (CILSS space which as 13 countries).

The below documentary film was produced to build on the achievements of the implementation of the ENRACCA project in West Africa.

  • Mathieu Ouédraogo is a PAR Researcher at CCAFS West Africa.
  • Sibiri Jean Ouédraogo is a head of DREAM Department at the Sahel Institute/CILSS.
  • Sékou Touré is a Communication Officer at CCAFS West Africa.
  • Maimouna Fane is a communication Intern at CCAFS West Africa.
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