Sunday, April 22, 2012

Rio+20 should make sustainable land use a top priority

Luc Gnacadja in Severe droughts in Africa are a stark reminder of global unfairness. About 13 million people still struggle to have enough food in the Horn of Africa, and about the same number, most of them children, suffer from hunger in the Sahel region, which stretches across Africa below the Sahara.

...Now, the latest reports from early warning systems predict a crisis in both the Horn of Africa and Sahel again this year, when they have not yet recovered from the 2010 and 2011 droughts. [1] The question is, what are we going to do about it?

Farmers in the Maradi and Zinder regions of Niger know what to do. During the past 20 years they have protected trees on some five million hectares of farmland. Where they had no trees or only a few per hectare, they now have up to 120. These trees not only improve soil fertility but also provide about a million households with fodder, fruit and firewood.

A recent survey shows that the farmers who preserve trees are able to cope better with drought than other farmers in the same area. Some of them even produced a modest cereal surplus in 2011. ...We should not wait until the next food crisis emerges — we need to disseminate this experience and scale it up to national and regional levels....

Harvesting millet in Niger, shot by Curt Reynolds of the Agricultural Research Service, public domain

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