Ibrahima Diedhiou, Univ. of Thies, Senegal Nathan Bogie, Univ. of California, Merced, USA Teamrat Ghezzehei, Univ. of California, Merced, USA Amanda Davey, Ohio State Univ., USA Richard Dick, Ohio State Univ., USA
More than 4 million people in the West African Sahel are facing hardship following dry spells and increased food prices. In June, the FAO sent nearly $10 million in aid for drought-stricken farmers in the region, who depend upon rainfed agriculture. Recurring drought, increased populations, and degraded landscapes are ongoing threats for the semi-arid region. Throughout the Sahel, total production has dramatically decreased over the last 50 years, leading to a loss in resiliency for farming communities. The land consists of nutrient-poor soils with low fertilizer inputs. Farmers desperately need agricultural systems that can improve yields and conserve soil using locally available resources.
Fortunately, a shrub-intercropping system has been scientifically validated that meets the ecological and food security challenges of the Sahel. The system is based on two shrubs that dominate and co-exist with crops throughout the Sahel.
ECHO’s 25th Annual International Agriculture Conference was held in November 2018. Below are brief descriptions of a few of the morning plenary sessions. For these and other talks, video and slide presentations are available on ECHOcommunity.org.
The ECHO Online Seed Catalog is offering an addition to our collection of Annonas, which are in the pawpaw/sugar apple family, Annonaceae. Rollinia mucosa, commonly called biriba, rollinia, or wild sugar apple, can grow in either sun or shade and is a larger tree than many in this family. Biriba’s fruit turns yellow when ripe, unlike the light green color of other Annonas.The fruits’ white flesh is sweet, juicy, and creamy. However, it rapidly over-ripens, causing the flesh to turn clear and slimy; this limits its use for home consumption.
In recent years, much attention has been given to the connections between agriculture and nutrition in the development sector as a whole. These connections may seem obvious: we get nourishment from the food we eat, and we eat food produced by agriculture. However, the claim that agriculture interventions (e.g. home gardens) can improve nutrition has come under scrutiny, because of the lack of evidence to substantiate it (Masset et al. 2012; Girard et al. 2012).
At the same time, recent efforts have helped us to better understand these linkages and to begin to close the evidence gaps. Agriculture plays an indispensable role in development, and though it doesn’t automatically improve nutrition, its potential to do so is undeniable. The recent efforts have provided important frameworks for program design and for implementing agriculture interventions that aim to improve the nutrition of vulnerable populations. These frameworks for “nutrition-sensitive agriculture” interventions help us make sense of complex problems and identify pathways to solutions.
These “new ways” compel us to better understand the problem of malnutrition, to learn about the complexity of improving nutritional outcomes, to understand the role agriculture can play, and to collaborate across disciplines and sectors in order to design and implement interventions that can truly make an impact in improving the nutrition and well-being of the people we serve.