The CCRP supports a portfolio of collaborative projects in Niger and West Africa that implement participatory approaches. Farmer and academic organizations work together to improve cropping systems through co-learning and co-creation processes suited to local contexts. In the global context where food system resilience and agroecological transition are recognized as key issues, these projects contribute developing options of AEI at different levels, including plot (crop management), cropping system, and territory.
Options and solutions addressing the plot and, to some extent, cropping system level are the most advanced. The territory level needs further effort. Synergies among CCRP projects, and among these projects and non-CCRP initiatives supporting agroecological transition in Niger and West Africa, could help achieve more impact and make changes more empirically operating and visible at the territory level. This could create a wider space of exchange, co-learning, and co-creation to support the full-scale transformation of agricultural and food systems held by smallholder farmers.
Considering the complexity of the problems to be tackled, the impact or agroecological options will be greater when the options are integrated. While different participatory research projects develop innovative baskets of options suited to local contexts, integration is lacking to combine, for instance, options for varietal diversity and management with options of pest management or soil fertility management in the same plots. There is also weak consideration of the territory level to make the positive changes operate at full scale.
In 2020 and 2021, CCRP projects in Niger co-developed a pilot experience of designing integrated trials at plot and village territory levels. The design consisted of combining, in a unified trial, innovative agroecological options already tested individually by the existing projects, including Cowpea Square, Women’s Field, Food Processing, CATHI-Gao, and Sahel IPM. This activity was supported by the Agropolis Foundation and led by members of CCRP hubs in Niger. The experience was successful: It included joint participatory evaluation with different project teams and farmers from the concerned villages and neighboring control villages.
The overall goal is to support valorization, continuous co-development, and sharing of evidence-based solutions for agroecological transition in smallholder farmers’ contexts at the territory level in Niger.
Specifically, the project seeks to:
Support implementation and functioning of agroecological hubs led by CCRP-supported projects.
Support co-conception and implementation of integrative trials combining agroecological options developed by different collaborative research projects to enhance agroecological transition at territorial scale.
Organize training and capacity building activities based on results and co-learning experiences achieved by CCRP-supported FRNs.
Promote communication with larger audience on achievements and public goods developed by CCRP projects in West Africa, and facilitate more linkage and synergy with non-CCRP initiatives.
Outputs and Outcomes:
Reinforcement of existing agroecological hubs supported by the CCRP at Maradi (UDDM) and Niamey (Mooriben) through implementation of new satellite centers (Imaan Research and Fuma Gaskiya) with complementary target audiences and documentation rooms
Realization of annual joint planning and activities of synergy among CCRP projects in Niger
Co-design, empirical implementation, and co-learning of methodology for integrative trials combining in two rural territories and two peri-urban territories the best locally suited agroecological options developed by the different CCRP projects in Niger
Development of training framework and material that values the experience of CCRP project experts (researchers and farmers) and reinforces capacity of a diversified audience with interest in agroecological transition
Reinforcement of students and national universities capacity in transdisciplinary and farmer-centered research
Creation of communication tools and material (website, newsletter, documentary film) to share knowledge and experience with diversified audience for impact in agroecological transition
Visible impact on local food systems at rural and peri-urban territory levels through continuous synergy, results integration, and evidence documentation among different projects and initiatives
Support initiatives bridging gap between academy and farmers through capacity reinforcement and inclusion of transdisciplinary research and AE in training programs and cultures of academic and nonacademic institutions
Scaling-up of suitable option by context processes of co-learning/co-creation supporting agroecological transition and food system resilience in West Africa and the world through CoP synergy; other partners sharing close values and interests