Lead Organization:

National Institute of Agronomic Research of Niger (INRAN)

Partner Organizations:

INRAN Regional Research Center of Maradi (CERRA Maradi) (Niger); University Dan Dicko Dankoulodo of Maradi (UDDM); FUMAGaskiya; and University of Hohenheim

Community of Practice:

West Africa






Niger’s high annual population growth rate (3.9 percent) (INS, 2021) is among the sub-region’s highest, which contrasts with the inherent problems of subsistence cropping, land degradation, degeneration of agricultural varieties, shortage of fodder, and declining soil fertility that lead to producers’ lower production and impoverishment (Kadri et al., 2019; Soumana et al., 2020). Isolated solutions have not always worked, and producers continue to be dependent on agricultural inputs that, often, are unavailable or unaffordable. 

The rural sector has always been an inseparable whole. The few studies addressing agriculture, livestock, forestry, and humans do so in an incomplete,fragmented manner. CATHI-Gao’s first phase attempted to integrate the four to understand beneficial interactions, particularly improved agroecological practices to optimize crop and livestock production, soil health, plant cover in the fields, waste recycling and valorization, and strengthened stakeholder interaction within the FRN, FUMA Gaskiya. One outcome was the establishment of three agroecological service delivery centers (CePreSa) along the existing climate gradient to facilitate co-learning, -creation, and -sharing among FRN members and CRFS project stakeholders. 

In addition to low-cost fertilization options (compost, human solid waste), which led to increased pearl millet yield, management options such as crop association and cropping in assisted natural regeneration (ANR) farms led to increased yield and soil fertility. Moreover, the production of the Maradi red goat breed by women was improved, leading to increased incomes.

The trees (Faidherbia albida, Piliostigma reticulatum, Acacia senegal, Balanites aegyptiaca) that  serve humans (food, timber, firewood, medicine), animals (fodder, shade), and the soil (erosion protection, nutrient source, microclimate improvement) in fields and agroforestry parks were capitalized upon. Tests were done on a limited scale of producers, so knowledge remains limited on the diversity and functioning of integration among producers at the farm-level as well as the analysis of tree integration trade-offs and agroecological and socioeconomic benefits. 

Grant Aims:

The overall goal is to move to an integrated “research farm” approach where research is done at the farm level, leading to whole farm modeling.  

Specifically, the project aims to:

  • Integrate the four components (crop, tree, livestock, and human) to complement other farm-level research (Shalander Kumar et al., 2021) and research institutions (ICRAF, ICRISAT) that work on integrating two components.

Outputs and Outcomes:


  • Survey on socioeconomic settings along climatic gradient
  • Inventory of biophysical properties of research farms and identification of trade-offs faced
  • Definition of options for research farms
  • Analysis of profitability, stability under variable rainfall patterns, and ecosystem services provided by selected AE option combinations for research farm 
  • Study of benefits and trade-offs of multi-purpose trees inclusion in crop production with regard to soil fertility 
  • Relations between research farms’ biophysical variables and socioeconomic settings of producers studied
  • Research farm approach jointly developed
  • Co-learning in research farm by researchers, extension workers, students, farmer federation managers, and household members
  • Research farm approach documented and supported by training


  • Collected data used to refine FUMA-typology and categorize households 
  • Biophysical data used to support household categorization and decide on households selected as research farms
  • Definition of diverse basket of agroecological options that foster crop-tree-livestock-human integration for Maradi region 
  • Support research-farm owners and other farmers to select combinations of options from basket to apply in their contexts
  • Co-validate selected combination of options in farm-level contexts and other farms to stimulate learning from other contexts
  • Profitability and potential adoption rates estimated of AEI options from predefined baskets and provided ecosystem services
  • Trade-offs known between millet production and multi-purpose trees in research farms
  • Trade-offs known between multi-purpose trees diversity and soil fertility in research farms
  • Causal relationships between biophysical variables and socioeconomic aspects understood
  • Research farms well-designed and -developed 
  • Research farm approach understood and implemented well by participants
  • Strong synergy with other CRFS projects created via joint activities planning, testing, and communication
  • Service delivery centers become component of FUMA FRN in research and training 
  • Structured pathway developed, allowing for more informed recommendations to policy regarding what is or is not feasible from agricultural system perspective