Agroforestry and Water harvesting for food security : New project in Senegal

by Rachel Nisbet | 8 January 2019

Senegal’s rural communities live in rapidly changing natural environments. 22 % of Senegalese (13 million people) inhabit areas where soil fertility has been dramatically reduced in the past three decades, mainly through water erosion.[1] Located in Sub-Saharan Africa, the country’s grasslands increasingly experience annual bushfires, compounding the erosion of their soils. Additionally, between 2001 and 2009, the area of cropland increased by 175 %, with large areas of this zone becoming depleted in soil nutrients. IRHA’s joint agroforestry programme with APAF will enable sixty farmers in the region of Fatick and Thiès to improve the fertility of soil on their farmlands. This region of Senegal experiences a sub-humid climate, and receives a mean yearly precipitation of between 700 – 1200 mm. Thus, rainwater harvesting offers a viable means of crop irrigation, once soil erosion has been limited, through the planting of tree species that increase the organic content of soils and improve their texture. APAF plants leguminous trees of the Mimosaceae family.[2] These trees have tap roots that can extend 30 m and their growth develops the amount of nitrogen fixing bacteria and mycorrhizal fungi associated with their root mass. As a result of these symbiotic associations, soils within the forest islands become enriched in essential crop nutrients, including nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium.

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Below is a photo of a Gum Arabic (Senegal Gum) in the Mimosaceae family, growing in the subtropics. Photo: Marco Schmidt (Source: https://www.feedipedia.org/node/342).


[1] Snow, 2015, Online: https://link.springer.com/

chapter/10.1007/978-3-319-19168-3_19

[2] http://ong-apaf.ovh/quest-ce-quun-arbre-fertilitaire/


     

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