Eranet LEAP Agri - Eranet LEAP Agri

Roles of Agroforestry in sustainable intensification of small farMs and food Security for Societies in West Africa – RAMSES II

More trees, higher resilience ?

Agroforestry, a promising option for the design of agricultural systems that are sustainable and resilient, particularly in West Africa which is highly vulnerable facing global changes.

Background, Questions and Objectives

Currently, in West African parklands, tree density depends on balancing crop yield decline due to competition for light, water and nutrients with the multipurpose products and other services provided by trees. Furthermore, this density varies according to the social, economic and environmental weights priorities that farmers and communities give to the products and other services provided by parklands. Despite the multiple benefits trees provide, and even if the environmental carrying capacity supports more trees in crop fields, this knowledge alone does not convince small farmers to plant and protect trees if they face heavy constraints (such as insecure land tenure) and/or if they have other, often short-term food and income, priorities. Access to parkland tree resources depends on how parklands and trees are governed as part of political, cultural, economic and social systems.<br />Being aware of these two axes in agricultural agroforestry intensification, RAMSESII aims at providing Innovative Scenarios for Managing Sustainable Intensification (ISMSI) of agroforestry parklands co-built with stakeholders on two scales to maximize and sustain their adoption: <br /> • farm scale, <br /> • village territory scale.

1. The project approach :
Capitalizing on decades of data and ongoing research partnerships in four parklands representative of their diversity in West Africa to facilitate extrapolation and replication of findings. RAMSESII adopts a holistic, transdisciplinary and multi-scale approach to assess and take into account the parklands management drivers translated into action research by:
a. Collaboration within an “extended peer community” of scientists: social, political and economic scientists, foresters, agronomists, soil scientists, geographers, biophysics, ecologists, remote-sensing experts, modellers, with farmers and other agroforestry stakeholders to share scientific and endogenous knowledge on most of West-African agroforestry issues;
b. Analysis of farmer’s priorities, attitudes, skills and assets (Bandura 1977
Faye et al. 2012, Sanogo, 2014) to adopt scientific and local evidence-based intensification scenarii developed with- and selected by stakeholders;
c. Evaluation of intensification scenarii impacts on farm income and ecosystem services, mainly provisioning as a prioritiy for food security;
d. Characterisation of the stakeholders, governance frameworks, and institutional arrangements, and policies impacting parkland management,
e. Co-building with stakeholders realistic scenarios of land tenure and governance that enable farmers to sustainably intensify parklands;
f. Development of a monitoring & evaluation framework of the project impacts.

2. The four agroforestry systems building on existing research :
RAMSESII capitalizes on existing equipments and results in four parkland types. Investigations are on parklands drivers at landscape, territory, and farm scales, socio-ecosystem services provided by the trees, and modelling using variables not yet addressed such as management (e.g. tree density, rotation, pruning…), expected changes in climate, land use, demography and market prices will be innovative on the four parklands. The following researches have been conducted on each parkland:
a. Millet-Faidherbia albida (nitrogen-fixing tree) at Niakhar, Senegal, benefiting from the Health Demographic Surveillance System observatory since 1963 which tracks on social and demographic changes and relations between people and their environment.
b. Millet-Guiera senegalensis in Thiès-Keur Matar, Senegal. Interactions between millet and this dominant shrub in the Sahel region have been studied since 2011.
c. Shea (Vitellaria paradoxa) near Koumbia, Burkina Faso, is an income provider with strong gender and international trade issues. “Cluster” dissemination tree regeneration techniques have been conducted since 2012 by INERA. Diagnosis and modelling of agronomic and environmental performances of crops were conducted in 2010, 2014 and 2016, but have not included shea trees.
d. Sorghum-Piliostigma spp. in Kamboinsé-Yilou, Burkina Faso. Sorghum-shrub interactions and improved existing management practices have been monitored since 2013.

The results of the project are available online on the project's public website:
Parks trajectories : In Burkina as in Senegal, the parks are undergoing a very heterogeneous degradation due primarily to anthropic factors: extension of agricultural land, reduction of fallow land, mechanization, extension of urban occupation; aggravated by climatic factors: repeated droughts, excessive winds, excess water. The nature, density and size (age) of the trees, the composition of the park, its health, management and functions depend on the ethnic groups who manage them and their history (natives vs. migrants), the age of the villages, the distance to the houses, and the other sources of income and food products (livestock, value chains, work in the city) available to the farmers. In Senegal, the high socio-economic value chains identified are Baobab, Tamarind, Faidherbia albida, Balanites aegyptiaca. In Burkina Faso, there are many such products, with shea nuts and butter being the most important. However, the bush villages are places where new types of parks are emerging. The initial results raise questions about the possibilities and value of agricultural intensification, in relation to workers employment, the place of agriculture in the structure of household income, or the usefulness of agroforestry in production systems.
Provisioning services: The effect of Piliostigma shrubs on straw and grain yield of sorghum at harvest is not significant. The interest of Piliostigma lies more in the practices of spreading twigs in Yilou, Burkina. Proximity to shea has little or no effect on sorghum yield. The ratio of root biomass to above-ground sorghum biomass was higher under the trees (roots favored by the proximity of the tree), suggesting that a shading effect was involved in the yield reduction. The effect of the F. albida canopy has a favorable effect on millet yield (twice as high under the canopy than halfway up the trunk). The effect is visible on litter and LAI by drone up to about 18 m from the trunk. Its effect is, however, not significant on peanut yield, probably more independent of fertility as a legume than millet. The ratio of root biomass to above-ground biomass increased with distance from F. albida, for both millet and groundnuts, indicating a decrease in resources with distance from the tree. The main uses of the trees are: timber and fuel, almonds and fruits, edible or fodder leaves for food or health purposes. 3 methods converge to estimate that the growth of the rings of F. albida is about 1cm / year at 130 cm from the ground, thus after the stem has reached this height. Finally, the highest biomass of Piliostigma was recorded with 976 shrubs/ha.

The prospects mainly concern the analysis finalisation of the data collected in the field within the framework of WP 1 (park trajectory factors) and WP 2 (ecosystem services), the finalisation of the parameterisation, and the validation of the socio-economic and biophysical models (WP 3) and, finally, the implementation of the innovation platforms in Senegal and Burkina Faso (WP 3).

Seghieri Josiane, Droy Isabelle, Hadgu Kiros, Place Frank. (2021). Introduction to the special issue ‘‘scaling up of agroforestry innovations: enhancing food, nutrition and income security’’. Agroforestry Systems, [Early access]. p. [5 p.]

Seghieri Josiane, Brouwers J., Bidou J. E., Ingram V., Droy Isabelle, Bastide B., Sanogo D. (2020). Research and development challenges in scaling innovation : a case study of the LEAP-Agri RAMSES II project. Agroforestry Systems, [Early access], p. [12 p.].

Roupsard O., Audebert A., Ndour A. P., Clermont Dauphin Cathy, Agbohessou Y., Sanou J., Koala J., Faye E., Sambakhe D., Jourdan C., le Maire G., Tall L., Sanogo D., Seghieri Josiane, Cournac Laurent, Leroux L. (2020). How far does the tree affect the crop in agroforestry ? New spatial analysis methods in a Faidherbia parkland. Agriculture Ecosystems and Environment, 296, p. art. 106928 [14 p.].

Seghieri Josiane. (2019). Shea tree (Vitellaria paradoxa Gaertn. f.) : from local constraints to multi-scale improvement of economic, agronomic and environmental performance in an endemic Sudanian multipurpose agroforestry species. Agroforestry Systems, 93 (6), p. 2313-2330.

Project main question: ”How does the intensification of agroforestry practices can contribute to sustainable agricultural production and food security in West Africa ?”.
Objectives and approach:
Agroforestry is a form of “alternative” agriculture which provides multifunctional environmental, economic and social solutions to sustainably contribute to food and income security, while directly mitigating climate change by buffering micro-climate variations. Tree density in parklands depends on
balancing crop yield decline, due to competition with trees for vital resources, with advantages provided by trees, according to the social, economic and environmental weights priorities that farmers give to parklands. Parkland management also depends on the user access facilities that are under
the control of State and customary institutions governing rights on land and natural resources. Consequently, to maximize their adoption, RAMSESII aims at providing Innovative Scenarios for Managing Sustainable Intensification (ISMSI) of agroforestry parklands that are co-built with Senegalese and Burkinabe stakeholders on the four most common parklands in Africa. A first group of participants works on diagnosis of their dynamic drivers. A second group works on modelling processes controlling tree impacts on farm provisioning and income, associated crop and environment. A third group works on intensification scenarios proposed by farmers at farm scale. To help farmers to select “the best” scenarios, a bio-economic model provides scenario impacts on farm income and environmental performances. Another participative approach at territory scale provides realistic arrangements of parkland and tree governance that favour and sustain farmers who intensify their parklands. A fourth working group uses previous group results in order to co-build with stakeholder’s strategies of ISMSI diffusion at national and sub-regional (West Africa) scales as well as indicators to monitor their impacts.

Project coordination


The author of this summary is the project coordinator, who is responsible for the content of this summary. The ANR declines any responsibility as for its contents.


Association pour la promotion des arbres fertilitaires de l agroforesterie et la foresterie internationale
Global Shea Alliance
ISRA - Institu sénégalais de recherche agronomique
Birdlife International
Wageningen University & Research
CIRAD - UMR Eco&Sols Centre de Coopération Internationale en Recherche Agronomique pour le Développement, UMR Eco&Sols

Help of the ANR 249,996 euros
Beginning and duration of the scientific project: August 2018 - 36 Months

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