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Summary of national workshops held for the Désertif’Actions 2022 Summit
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Summary of national workshops held for the Désertif’Actions 2022 Summit

As part of the International Desertif’actions Summit, CARI has invited its partners and civil society organizations involved in sustainable land management and the promotion of agroecology to join forces and draw up common positions ahead of the Desertification Convention COP15 in May 2022.

From January to March 2022, workshops were held in several participating countries. These workshops enabled civil society from different countries and their partners to develop shared positions and recommendations.

Read the full workshop reports on the right.

Summary of the national workshop in Tanzania

Photo du groupe ayant participé à l'atelier pays en Tanzanie Desertif'actions 2022
Group attending the national workshop in Arusha (Tanzania)

Around thirty people took part in the workshop held on Wednesday, March 9, 2023 in Arusha, Tanzania. This workshop was co-organized by the NGO Iles de Paix, the PELUM network and the French Embassy in Tanzania, around the theme: “Agroecological solutions to combat desertification and inspire the transition to sustainable food systems”.

Although there is currently no specific national policy in Tanzania to support agro-ecology, a number of initiatives in this field have been developed by civil society players. The first were launched in the north-east of the country, by the Chagga communities, who developed forest gardens.

The workshop participants decided to focus the discussion on three themes:

  • desertification and biodiversity,
  • desertification and food security,
  • and desertification and climate change

After noting the exponential loss of national biodiversity, the growing proportion of the population suffering from food insecurity, and the increasing frequency and intensity of extreme climatic events affecting communities and ecosystems, the participants recognized the relevance of agroecological practices as relevant solutions for combating these scourges.

Agroecology minimizes the impact of human activity on biodiversity, giving it room to develop. Agroecology also increases food availability through the production of a wide variety of food crops, vegetables, fruits and legumes. Finally, agroecological practices enable the storage of large quantities of carbon in soils, as well as increasing the ability of populations, particularly smallholders, to adapt to climate change, by diversifying food production and income options.

Participants at the Tanzanian national workshop called for :

  • The removal of all technical, structural and political barriers to the development of agroecological practices in the country;
  • The integration of agroecology and its principles into Tanzania’s national policies and strategies;
  • The development and funding by the Tanzanian government of training courses and communities of exchange and practice between farmers, to enable them to be trained in agroecological practices;
  • State commitment to granting and securing farmers’ land rights for sustainable land management;
  • The development of a standardized, harmonized monitoring and evaluation framework for agro-ecological practices, so that the performance of projects implemented at different levels can be tracked.

Summary of the national workshop in Mauritania

Groupe ayant participé à l'atelier national en Mauritanie dans le cadre de Desertif'actions 2022
Group attending the national workshop in Nouakchott (Mauritania)

On Thursday March 17, 2022, the Mauritanian national workshop was held in Nouakchott as part of Désertif’actions 2022 activities, in the run-up to the UNCCD COP15 (May 2022, Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire) and the international Désertif’actions summit (October 2022, Montpellier, France). International civil society is thus gradually building a common plea on the links between land, biodiversity and climate around agroecology.

Around twenty people attended the workshop held on Thursday March 17 in Nouakchott (Mauritania). Discussions focused on two main themes, which seemed the most relevant in view of Mauritania’s challenges: the contribution of agroecology to adaptation to climate change, and the restoration of degraded land and natural resources.

Reflections were based on several areas of action, including distribution channels and communication between producers and consumers, farming know-how, the use of water resources and the dissemination of governing codes, and finally, access to land.

Different results have been achieved, but all favor capacity-building, synergies and support for the stakeholders concerned, the establishment of technical and financial support mechanisms, the development of hydro-agricultural schemes, political support from government institutions, and awareness-raising among the general public as well as the stakeholders concerned through concrete actions.

Participants in the Mauritanian national workshop called for :

  • Productive land and communities that enjoy living resources sufficient for their well-being;
  • Effective means of collaboration between the different actors involved in the intensification of agroecological practices that facilitate the scaling-up of agroecology;
  • Flexible funding to support long-term initiatives designed to reach the grassroots;
  • A qualitative rather than quantitative approach to results.

Summary of the national workshop in India

Groupe ayant participé à l'atelier national en Inde dans le cadre de Désertif'actions 2022
Group attending the National Workshop in Jaipur (India)

On Saturday March 26, the national workshop in Jaipur was coordinated by CARI and Gram Bharati Samiti (GBS), the Indian partner of the AVACLIM project. Thirty-five people from 9 different states took part, including farmers, members of civil society and researchers. The participants decided to focus on the theme of drought.

No less than 30% of the sub-continent’s land is currently degraded, i.e. almost 100 million hectares, in a country where 2/3 of the population derives its income from agriculture. Droughts and floods are frequent, and the agricultural sector is already hard hit by climate variability. By 2030, India is set to become the world’s most populous country, and will need to produce an additional 100 million tonnes of food grain to feed an ever-growing population.

Although agro-ecology is the scientific basis of India’s ancient agricultural practices, there are currently no precise statistics on the proportion of land cultivated according to these practices. However, a 2020 study by the International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements states that India is the country with the highest number of organic farmers. In 2016, the state of Sikkim was even declared “100% organic”. Yet only 7.5% of sales of these organically grown products are destined for the domestic market, due in part to high foreign demand, particularly in European countries. In the face of the agrarian crisis, local producers have identified the opportunity of connecting to local markets, thereby strengthening local food security. On Saturday May 14, 2022, the Indian Prime Minister even banned the export of Indian wheat, in an attempt to contain soaring prices and ensure the country’s food security.

Drought is a significant and sensitive problem in India. The variability of rainfall (low or extreme depending on the geography), the scarcity of irrigation facilities (including water resources), crop failure and productivity problems, shortages of fuel, fodder and animal feed, all add to an already high level of water stress. Of the country’s 742 districts, 246 (33%) are already facing the major challenge of drought.

Various programs and initiatives to combat drought have been deployed in recent years by local organizations, including the Udyama and Nirman Foundation’s Bhubaneshwar Odisha program, which promotes drought-resistant farming practices among 2,200 farmers in two districts, including millets, mixed paddy cultivation and more. Another initiative, called Vaagdhaara, currently being developed in Rajasthan, involves the establishment of natural disaster management plans, as well as desert development programs, rain-fed agriculture development programs and watershed management plans.

Agroecology is relevant in a number of ways to meet the challenge of drought:

  • The use of plants that are more resistant to the climate and therefore require less water.
  • Responsible, adapted management of water resources, enabling local communities to better collect available resources (through water harvesting techniques, local ponds, retention dams, recycling of grey water, etc.).
  • Constant soil coverage with meadows, crops or mulches, to prevent soil erosion and retain water in dry conditions.
  • Better use of resources and by-products, resulting in greater overall system resilience to extreme situations such as drought.

By reducing external dependence, agro-ecology enables local communities to be more resilient in the event of unexpected events (drought, market fluctuations, etc.) that have an impact on supply. It is also a means of providing healthy food in large quantities for local populations, even in drought conditions. It therefore helps to combat hunger and malnutrition, particularly in dry areas.

Summary of the national workshop in Cameroon

Groupe ayant participé à l'atelier national au Cameroun dans le cadre de Desertif'Actions 2022
Group attending the national workshop in Yaoundé (Cameroon)

A national workshop was held in Yaoundé on Tuesday March 29, 2022. In Cameroon, agroecology is mainly practiced by small-scale producers, using traditional farming techniques or with the support of local NGOs. Initially developed in Cameroon to address the sustainability of family farming systems, agroecology could also be a solution to other problems.

During the workshop, discussions focused on three themes: food security, climate change and ecosystem restoration.

Several conclusions and proposals were extracted, including:

  • Agroecological practices such as natural soil fertilization and crop associations, including leguminous plants, can increase agricultural productivity, improve food diversity and reduce malnutrition;
  • The use of green fertilizers (biochar) and the implementation of erosion control measures would reduce greenhouse gas emissions and increase soil fertility by improving water retention in arid zone soils;
  • Agroforestry and agroecological practices for sustainable land management would help regenerate degraded land and preserve its quality.

The advocacy messages to be conveyed are as follows:

  • Develop local land tenure security mechanisms;
  • Improve access to land;
  • Advocate the finalization of local land use and sustainable development plans;
  • Democratize agro-ecological knowledge;
  • Strengthen agricultural extension of agroecology;
  • Integrate agroecology into Cameroonian legislation;
  • Integrate agroecology training into curricula;
  • Document and share agroecology success stories;
  • Establish incentives for agro-ecology professions;
  • Strengthen national and international movements promoting agroecology;
  • Mobilize sustainable funding for agroecological initiatives;
  • Encourage research into agroecology and disseminate the results.

Summary of the national workshop in Côte d’Ivoire

Groupe ayant participé à l'atelier national du Cameroun dans le cadre de Désertif'actions 2022
Group attending the national workshop in Abidjan (Ivory Coast)

Around 60 people took part in the national workshop in Abidjan (Côte d’Ivoire) on Wednesday March 30, 2022, around the theme: “Agroecological solutions to combat desertification and inspire the transition to sustainable food systems“.

In Côte d’Ivoire, there are still a number of problems to be solved. Food shortages, impoverishment of the population, insecurity, price inflation, etc., are caused by shortcomings in production, but above all in cash crop farming systems, which favor synthetic products and exports over the establishment of local, ecological and egalitarian agriculture.

Following exchanges and discussions focused on food security, participants came to the conclusion that agroecology can counter these shortcomings through the following actions:

  • Sustainable land management that favors extensive over intensive cultivation;
  • Setting up stocks to ensure seed availability;
  • A reduction in prices thanks to the establishment of agricultural land reserves and the creation of short supply circuits;
  • Raising awareness and training people in agroecology techniques and good farming practices (compost and manure, biopesticides, etc.).

These actions are to be taken at all levels: state, government, civil society and private sector, populations…

Participants also called for :

  • Awareness-raising and training in the use of agricultural practices;
  • Financial and technical support for farmers;
  • Promotion and popularization of agricultural work and techniques;
  • A monitoring and evaluation mechanism;
  • A reorientation of policies towards food self-sufficiency;
  • Synergy of action between stakeholders.
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