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What happens to food supply when agroforestry parklands degrade?

Published: 20 December 2017

Hugues Bazie works on parkland systems in West Africa. In his research, he is investigating what the best option for integration of crops and trees are in order to boost food supply. AgriFoSe2030 met with him during his visit in Sweden.

Hugues Bazie is a lecturer at Ouagadougou University in Burkina Faso since 2011. He is an agronomist engineer that has a M.Sc. on agroforestry and ecophysiology. Hugues Bazie's thesis work were on the topic interaction between tree, crop and service ecosystem in parkland systems. In addition to lecturing, he is involved in training smallholders on new technologies around production in agroforestry systems together with NGOs.

What have you been doing during your visit in Sweden and in the AgriFoSe2030 programme?

- Many smallholder farmers in sub-Saharan Africa are facing difficult challenges and must put up with low living standards. Using natural resources productively and sustainably is often difficult due to the farmers’ socio-economic conditions and struggle to generate a household incom, says Hugues.

– In the Sahel countries, particularly in Burkina Faso, parkland systems are increasingly becoming the only resource base for many farmers and is covering most cultivated areas. However, very few studies have investigated the role of this system on food supply at the landscape level. Furthermore, fewer are briefing policy-makers on the importance of them. Today we do not have any information about decreased food supply in relation with parkland degradation, continues Hugues.

Agroforestry parkland, the most common production system in West Africa.
Soil sampling with farmers in a groundnut field.

Generating knowledge on landscape scale processes

One possible way forward could be the use of remote sensing to generate knowledge on landscape scale processes in parkland systems. Thus, during the exchange Hugues were writing a project proposal together with Linköping University about how to use remote sensing to generate landscape scale datasets of food supply in agroforestry parklands.

He was also involved in producing a policy brief on the importance of parklands for supply food in the Sahel. This brief is aimed at helping policy-makers in their work of creating regulations and strategies for better management of these parklands.

– I also got the change to participate and present my research at the National Agroforestry Conference in Alnarp November 16-17th, says Hugues.

What are your expectations of what the programme will be working on?

- I really appreciated what I learnt at the course “How to enhance capacity to transform science into policy and practice in the field of food security” in Nairobi earlier this year and the scholarly exchange in Sweden, organized by AgriFoSe2030 is an amazing opportunity for researchers like me. It has given me the time to reflect on my research, do progress and become reminded that I need to consider how to link between research and food security in practice.

– This program is unique; because it focuses on how to translate our science to practical ideas and options for increased food security. So, it is aiming at scientists as well as farmers and policy-makers. That is great!

Research and policy to improve food security

-Food security is so important to us in developing countries. Most statistics point to food insecurity in most African countries. In addressing food security, I am keen on two issues. First is the research itself, that ultimately helps smallholders improve their production and income. Secondly, I think it is crucial to communicate to policy-makers on the progress of science on food supply in parkland systems, for policy-makers to develop strategies for the protection and development of these systems, concludes Hugues.

Interview by Anneli Sundin, AgriFoSe2030 Communication and Engagement.

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