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Wageningen University (2016)

Evaluation of biomass enhancing practices in the Yatenga region of Burkina Faso

Bremer, Jori

Titre : Evaluation of biomass enhancing practices in the Yatenga region of Burkina Faso

Auteur : Bremer, Jori

Université de soutenance : Wageningen University

Grade : Master of Science (MS) Plant Production Systems 2016

Résumé partiel
In the Yatenga region of Burkina Faso agriculture is the main source of livelihoods. However, farmers are poor and vulnerable due to erratic rainfall. This leads to the need to produce food while thinking of the maintenance or improvement of soil quality, to ensure future food production. For the project ‘Realising the full potential of mixed crop-livestock systems in rapidly changing Sahelian agro-ecological landscapes’ (WLE Volta and Niger Focal Region), several suggested interventions are evaluated based on their impact on food and feed production and on soil fertility. The adoptability of these interventions for farmers is also assessed, as this influences the reach and impact of the project. The aim of this thesis was to build a decision-tool to help (among others) extension agents in choosing the right interventions to promote per farm. Six farm types are distinguished based on their resource endowment, as resource endowment influences farming constraints and goals and alters the impacts of interventions on the farming system. For the impact evaluation of the interventions, the NUANCES-FARMSIM (Nutrient Use in Animal and Cropping systems – Efficiencies and Scales, FARM SIMulator) model was used, an integrated crop livestock model adapted to African smallholder farming systems. The model was adapted to the local situation (e.g. rainfall, soil and household characteristics) and a baseline scenario was run for 12 years. The different interventions were then simulated and the model was run again. The indicators taken into account were total farm calorie production (averaged over the years), livestock productivity (milk production and cattle weight, averaged over the years) and farm average soil organic carbon (SOC, for the last simulation year). The outcomes for the different interventions were compared to the outcomes of the baseline scenario to monitor changes. For all farm types the outcomes for the different interventions followed the same trends, although the magnitude of the impacts varied. This depended mainly on the crops grown and on the area of farm land available per cattle head. Farmer constraints, goals and attitudes were assessed through conducting interviews in the villages Ziga, Ninigui and Thiou in the Yatenga region. Per type the strength of the constraints limiting agricultural production (cropping land, pasture area, livestock, capital, education and technology) were measured and combined to expert opinions on the inputs of these elements needed for the implementation of interventions. From there it was possible to retrieve which interventions had the least constraints limiting adoption and which interventions had the strongest constraints limiting adoption. A difference in strength of present farming constraints was discerned based on resource endowment. Farmers were also asked about their farming goals, which also influence adoption potential. Farmer goals turned out to be dependent on resource endowment, similarly to the farming constraints. It was hypothesized that farmer attitude (positive or negative view on farming) would also influence intervention take-up. In this thesis it was however impossible to discern clear attitude groups.

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