The Community Pharmacy and Valorization of Medicinal Plants of Tékane in Mauritania is launching a series of conferences and debates for pharmacy users from February 2024. The first conference was moderated by Mansour NDIAYE, Agroforestry Expert and Executive Director ofAVF-Sn association (Green and Fertile Africa Senegal) Saturday February 10. Below are the different elements summarizing his intervention.

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The Agroforestry System using 'Fertilitarian' Trees

Agriculture occupies 70% of the Sub-Saharan population. However, for almost three decades, the sector's contribution to Gross Domestic Product (GNP) has been evolving unevenly.  

The sharp drop in agricultural income, which is one of the consequences of poverty in rural areas, is linked to several factors including, among others: the severe degradation of forest areas, recurring rainfall deficits, the collapse of soil fertility. , the massive rural exodus of able-bodied workers (young people), the reduction of agricultural working hours.

Our unsustainable agricultural practices would therefore be at the origin of the ills noted above, which are not without serious consequences on the context. economic, social and environmental from the country.

Indeed, the permanent recourse to slash-and-burn agriculture even in natural woodlands in search of new cultivation land, the unreasonable application of inorganic fertilizers, the indiscriminate fight (based on chemical pesticides) against organic -aggressors, are all practices that urgently need to be abandoned in favor of more sustainable and lower-cost agricultural techniques for family farms.

Today, almost all of the levers of the primary sector on which the economic, social and environmental development of the country should be based are blocked, this is the case for: (a) agriculture, (b) agro -industry, (c) inland fishing, (d) livestock, (e) distribution of primary and processed products.

Agroforestry practices are closely linked to significant community issues, namely: food and nutritional security, socio-economic inequalities and the recognition of land rights, particularly for women and young people. It is therefore imperative to support this very active segment of players in the sector.

This support should seek to reorient agricultural systems towards new agro-ecological practices allowing recovery and sustainable diversification of agricultural production and productivity.

We must remember among the great diversity of agricultural systems on the scale of Senegalese family farms, cottage gardens in which trees, crops and small livestock have always played a leading role in food and nutritional security and the preservation of natural ecosystems.

Indeed, small-scale agricultural systems have much more diversified and resilient activities than large agricultural operations.

It is therefore appropriate, within family farms, to resurrect old practices while opening them up to innovation.

Agro-ecological intensification is indeed possible. It is time to break away from agricultural practices that are harmful to the environment and financially costly. In doing so, we would succeed in annihilating the negative effects of this type of (productivist) agriculture on the health of the farmer, the consumer and the environment.

The agroforestry system using fertile trees should be introduced in all agro-ecological zones with an agro-sylvo-pastoral vocation to support local productive activities.

Agroforestry comprises a set of processes and practices at the heart of climate resilience, due to the potential for carbon sequestration and contribution to the maintenance of biodiversity.

Agroforestry practices are therefore essential in terms of ecological transition, they also bring their potential to the two other pillars of sustainable development, which are social equity and economic viability production systems.

The realization of ecosystem services can thus find its full potential in the mastery and generalization of agroforestry techniques and practices.

Great thinkers define sustainable agriculture as that which “to meet the needs of the present without compromising the ability to meet those of future generations ".

As part of the development of agroforestry plots using 'fertilitarian' trees, agro-sylvo-pastoralism must be taken into account with a view to the simultaneous and holistic production of resources (cereals, fodder, wood, meat, milk, etc.).

It is to be regretted that small family farms, capable of embodying sustainable agriculture and innovation due to their capacity for adaptation, are not well taken into account in the agricultural policies of our states, which perceive them as unproductive and unspecialized. This poses a real challenge to the governance of agriculture.

Fortunately, a groundswell is developing at the local, national and international level to restore and promote peasant-inspired agroforestry. The next few years should be crucial in meeting the challenge.

Reminder of the definition of a 'fertility' tree

A 'fertilitarian' tree is a tree whose activity enriches the topsoil of land, improves its texture and promotes its structuring. To effectively carry out its function in the fields, it must be user-friendly, that is to say, he cannot enter into strong competition with species cultivated for their domestic or commercial production » Fertilizing trees mainly come from the leguminous family. (Dupriez and De leener, 1993).

In Senegal before the advent of agricultural machinery, inorganic fertilizers and even animal traction, rural households derived their livelihood from traditional agroforestry, an ancestral practice.

The tree was present in all village lands, even in agricultural plots. Each agricultural household farmed an average area of 1-2 hectares, largely sufficient to enable it to cover its annual cereal needs.

Agroforestry, as an ancestral practice to be renovated, is the basis of peasant agriculture systems which are characterized by their diversifications as observed throughout sub-Saharan Africa. The challenge is the preservation of natural resources and the consolidation of the activities of family farms (the majority in the sub-sector).

It has become necessary to promote an agroforestry system based on the planting of fast-growing and multi-use arboreal species in cultivated plots: defensive hedges against wandering animals, windbreak hedges, 'fertility' trees, fruit trees various, various agricultural crops between the curtains of 'fertilistic' and fruit trees.

This path (agroforestry using fertile trees) would be the best option to sustainably reverse the trend of decline in sub-Saharan agriculture and therefore create an activity bio-socio-ecological based on sustainable practices.

Summary of the services provided by the agroforestry system by fertile trees

  1. Reduction of anthropogenic pressure on natural afforestation,
  2. Natural land regeneration,
  3. Self-production of fodder/wood,
  4. Protecting crops against erosive factors (wind, water),
  5. Protection of crops against stray animals,
  6. Resilience of annual rainfall,
  7. Progressive recharge of groundwater,
  8. Carbon storage (carbon sink),
  9. Regulation of watercourses,
  10. Regeneration of natural ecosystems,
  11. Climate resilience,
  12. Rehabilitation of natural pastures.

According to the FAO: “Food security exists when all human beings, at all times, have the physical, social and economic opportunity to obtain sufficient, safe and nutritious food to meet their food needs and preferences for a successful life. healthy and active.

Each word in this definition is important and helps characterize the full complexity of hunger. It is not only a question of the quantity available on the planet or the level of production because we can produce enough calories globally to feed the entire population, but the difficulty lies in the incapacity of people with low income to access these products.

Another equally essential dimension of food security relates to the nutritional quality of what we consume. Indeed, you need to have access to a diet made up of nutritious and healthy foods.

We can have access to enough food every day but it can be of poor quality and lead to health risks: cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, etc. In this regard, we are taught that in the world, more than 2 billion people are overweight, 700 million of whom are obese.

The stakes are high, since more than 1.2 billion people derive a significant part of their livelihood from agroforestry in low-income countries. It is therefore appropriate to revalorize the often old, but very dynamic, practices, open to innovation, preserved within family production systems covering small areas.

Agroforestry (AF) and the 4 pillars of Food and Nutritional Security

Availability and AF : diversified production on small agroforestry plots of around 1 ha significantly suffices for the food supply (production of fodder, fruit, wood, vegetables, meat, medicinal products, etc.).

Accessibility and AF : the proximity of production and naturally inspired techniques limit transport costs, therefore making the satisfaction of food needs less costly (circular economy in the same single AF plot), this makes food more accessible.

Use and AF :

The diversified production of food from agroforestry activities within a plot allows members of the family farm to have sufficient nutrients in their diet.

The very design of the agroforestry system using fertile trees, due to its diversified functions and income, makes it possible to qualify it as a complete reference in terms of covering the nutritional needs of beneficiary families.

Stability and agroforestry :

In a sustainable food system, stability requires going beyond the management ofday by day' in which nothing is assured to provide daily food for the family.

Adherence to the agroforestry system through fertile trees, the diversification of the ecosystem services that it provides as well as the minimization of the risks linked to them, constitute all safety and security valves for sustainable food security which allows practitioners to be part of a more structural and sustainable dimension.

Acronyms:

AF= agroforestry

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Mansour Ndiaye, Agroforestry Expert
Executive Director AVF-Sn (Green and Fertile Africa Senegal)