Sustainable soil management is key to improving soil fertility. In Benin, smallholder farmers have been able to increase their harvest yields of maize, cotton, yam and manioc by an average of 45 percent, with positive consequences for food security and income generation. The measures also support adaptation to climate change.
120,000 hectares of land are rehabilitated, and soil health is restored over an area the size of 160,000 football pitches – this is the latest assessment of the work of the Global Programme “Soil protection and soil rehabilitation for food security” in Benin. In the Zou-Collines and Borgou-Alibori regions, the project has been successfully promoting sustainable soil management and adaptation to climate change since 2015, as the humus layer of the soil is one of the most important carbon reservoirs.
So far, soil fertility could be increased in 465 villages in the project region. As a result, smallholder farmers in the region have been able to increase their harvest yields of maize, cotton, yam and manioc by an average of 45 percent, with positive consequences for food security and income generation. The project focuses in particular on women, who represent over 40% of the 100,000 smallholders and have been able to significantly improve their socio-economic situation thanks to the particularly high yield increases.
One of them is Madinatou Garba from Alibori, who has been applying the programme’s sustainable soil management measures for three years. These include the use of mucuna, a legume which increases soil fertility and prevents soil erosion and weed growth.
“I grow corn, sorghum and peanuts. As recommended in the training courses, I planted Mucuna on my plot and then cultivated maize. As a result, I have harvested 50 bags of maize instead of the previous twelve. With the proceeds, I was able to buy a mill. Now I grind for others for money. I also bought a draft ox and a goat for my husband. This year I will use Mucuna on a larger area,” says Madinatou Garba.
Over the next five years, the programme aims to reach around 550,000 farms in Benin by extending the activities, improving the availability of inputs and intensifying the exchange of knowledge.
Soil Protection and Rehabilitation of Degraded Soil for Food Security
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