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Farmers in southern Niger have reclaimed 5 million hectares of land and increased food production by more than 500,000 tons per year by managing naturally-occurring trees and shrubs with Farmer Managed Natural Regeneration (FMNR). The FMNR movement began in the early 1980s, and in recent years has spread to many other countries in Africa and beyond. CFGB-supported projects have begun incorporating FMNR alongside CA principles, recognizing that the two approaches are highly complementary.

Near-complete deforestation in semi-arid Niger in the 1950s to 1980s led to recurring drought, strong winds, high temperatures, and infertile soils. Combined with rapid population growth and poverty, these problems contributed to chronic hunger and periodic acute famine. Millions of dollars were spent on conventional forestry approaches, transplanting nursery-grown trees, but drought, pests, weeds and destruction by people and animals left very few live trees and very little impact.

In the early 1980s, farmers associated with World Vision Australia began recognizing that tree cover was better re-established by managing existing stumps of trees and shrubs rather than transplanting new plants.

Neil Rowe Miller, Agriculture and Livelihoods Technical Advisor, Eastern Africa

Canadian Foodgrains Bank June, 2019 Conservation Agriculture Newsletter.