Farmers and NGOs in West-Africa are experimenting with ways to let the vegetation on their soils regenerate, and with the cultivation of traditional, drought-resistant crops and seeds. In a process facilitated by ILEIA and Groundswell International, they analysed and documented effective ways to spread these practices.
In Burkina Faso, ANSD supports farmer-to-farmer learning about soil and water conservation.in Mali organised an exchange visit between communities about Farmer Managed Natural Regeneration. And in Ghana, and women farmers organisation RUWFAG use Food Fairs to promote local, nutritious crops and the use of manure rather than chemicals to deter insects. As a result, various agroecological techniques are now much more widely practiced.
Factors of success
In May 2013, representatives from these organisations gathered in Ghana to document and systematize their experiences with these strategies. They analysed the factors of success and difficulties. They drew lessons about what worked and what didn’t, and why.
For example, in Ghana the early involvement of traditional authorities turned out to be crucial for changing community mindsets about what is ‘good food’. In Burkina, the competence and capacities of farmers with regards to integrated soil fertility management was a major factor of success. And in Mali, a major lesson learned evolved around the importance of taking into account not only technical aspects of spreading agroecological practices, but also the institutional side, such as organisation and legislation.
The lessons learned in scaling up agro-ecological practices were captured in four stories.