“Farming in the Sahel, without water, is possible!” says the Non-governmental organisation Autre Terre. It was created in 1982, and is based in Liège. It wants to be part of a program to put a new type of farming in the Sahel in place. It’s an innovative technique that offers a new opportunity to stop the region becoming a desert, and green it up.
The technique is based on the use of Nguiguiss (scientific name: pilostigma reticulatum), a shrub that can draw out water buried deep in the ground, so it can be used by other plants. “It all started when our new African partner, Agrecol, told us about a famer’s innovation which was discovered in the 90s”, explains Luc Lambert, who is in charge of the strategic marketing mission at Autre Terre.
“At the time, local famers noticed that mango trees planted near Nguiguiss did better and grew quicker than the others”. Using this information, the Non-governmental organisation Autre Terre has provided technical and financial help to provide famers with the shrub from 2011 onwards.
In 2012, 3,012 cuttings of Nguiguiss were replanted on an area covering more than 15 hectares. In September 2014, Autre Terre and its partners continued to support the project and 2,700 mango plants were replanted near Nguiguiss so they could benefit from its water and nutrient supplies. “A year later, we have a success rate of above 70% (of plants that took)”, says Luc Lambert. “The next step is to test this technique with other types of plants. Dakar University is in charge of the next experiments”.
The Liège non-governmental organisation says the discovery offers unimagined perspectives for this region: the possibility to “green up” the Sahel” and “block the violent wind”, and increase the number of shaded zones, which are good for farming.
Maria Novak (Source: Belga)