Notes to broadcasters
In the 1970s and 80s, much was written on the energy crisis in Sahelian countries and in other arid and semi-arid areas. There appeared to be a large gap between the population’s energy needs – almost exclusively provided by wood – and the capacity of trees and shrubs to meet that need. At this time, the Sahel had been struck by successive years of drought. Agricultural land extended further and further into marginal zones, whose vegetation was destroyed.
It appeared that the vegetation near cities in the Sahel was going to be completely destroyed due to the rapidly growing population’s need for fuel wood.
Currently, it is thought that vegetation in the Sahel is declining from overuse by the population. While this is obviously happening in some parts of the Sahel, there are many areas which are experiencing an increase in woody vegetation. For example, in Niger, increases in woody vegetation are taking place in the Tahoua, Maradi and Zinder regions. In Tahoua, tree planting has been organized by projects focusing on the rehabilitation of barren lands, while farmers also began protecting trees and shrubs which have grown back naturally. At the same time, livestock farmers are protecting natural vegetation such as the tree species, Acacia raddiana. In Maradi, NGOs helped farmers to protect and manage trees and shrubs which regenerated spontaneously on their farms. This process began in the mid 1980s. More recently, a project in the Aguié district supports the creation of village organizations to protect, manage and use on-farm trees. In Zinder, a large-scale farmer accomplished natural regeneration.
This script discusses Farmer Managed Natural Regeneration (FMNR). FMNR is a practice undertaken by farmers which consists of protecting and managing re-growth of trees and shrubs in fields. FMNR benefits farmers by bringing back woody vegetation. Farmers almost always concentrate on bringing back trees and shrubs with an economic value.
It is surprising to learn that farmer-managed and protected natural regeneration in crop fields has received little attention. Very few national and international decision-makers are aware of it, and there are only a few publications on the topic. But one study states that Farmer Managed Natural Regeneration has had a positive impact on at least five million hectares of cultivated land in Niger. If this is accurate, it is unique in the Sahel and probably in Africa as a whole.
This script is based on actual interviews. You could use this script as inspiration to research and write a script on a similar topic in your area. Or you might choose to produce this script on your station, using voice actors to represent the speakers. If so, please make sure to tell your audience at the beginning of the program that the voices are those of actors, not the original people involved in the interviews.
HOST: Welcome, listeners. Today we are going to talk about a farming practice called Farmer Managed Natural Regeneration or FMNR, which is practiced by many farmers in southern Niger. In FMNR, farmers protect and actively manage the regrowth of certain types of trees in their fields in order to bring back vegetation to an arid area and improve their crop yields and their income. The species they use are almost always those with economic value – in other words, those that produce fruit or firewood and other goods. The practice is called FMNR to distinguish it from tree planting and from the management of natural stands of trees. This program talks about the reasons that farmers in the Maradi region of southern Niger began to protect the natural regrowth of trees and shrubs in their fields, how they manage these trees and shrubs, and the impacts of FMNR on their daily lives.
FMNR in the Maradi region of southern Niger began with the work done by the NGO Serving-In-Mission or SIM in the 1980s through the Maradi Development Project. Following that, there was a project funded by IFAD in the Aguié district which concentrated on FMNR. In 1999, 88% of people surveyed in project villages and in villages beyond the scope of the project practiced FMNR to some extent in their fields. The result was that approximately one and a quarter million additional trees were added to the project zone every year.
I interviewed Mr. Ali Micko, who has been involved with the project in the Aguié district of the Maradi region.
Hello, Mr. Micko. My name is Lawali Mamane Nassourou from the NGO Le Micro Vert. Our interview today will focus on FMNR. Can you start by introducing yourself?
- Contributed by: Sanoussi Mayana, Prèsident de lONG RDD Le Micro Vert, a Farm Radio International broadcasting partner.
- Reviewed by: Chris Reij, Center for International Cooperation, VU University, Amsterdam.
Common names for tree species mentioned in the script
Acacia raddiana, also known as Acacia tortilis:
Arabic: talh, sayal, hares
English: umbrella thorn
Toucouleu: bakan tchili,
English: gingerbread tree. doum palm
Tigrigna: arkobkobai, kambash
Acacia albida, also known as Faidherbia albida:
Arabic: afrar, harac, haraz
English: winter thorn, apple ring thorn tree, apple ring acacia, ana tree, white thorn,
French: arbre blanc, kad
Portuguese: espinheiro-de-angola, espinneiro
Swahili: mgunga, mkababu
Tigrigna: aqba, garsha, momona
English: African locust bean tree, nitta nut, monkey cutlass tree
French: arbre à farine, mimosa pourpre, néré, néré (Senegal)
Hausa: dadawa, dawa dawa
Mandinka: nér, nété, netto
Swahili: mkunde, mnienze
Mooré: duaga or ruaga