Bringing land back in: Changing strategies to improve agricultural production in the West African Sahel

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Boulder, CO: Westview Press

The chapter examines the difficulties encountered by programmes of the Niger government and development assistance organizations to increase agricultural productivity among peasant smallholders, when such endeavours lack a satisfactory understanding of the context and conditions of agricultural production. Following an overview of the harsh yet varied physical conditions of rainfed production in Niger, the strategy of the Niger government to effect improvements in rainfed agriculture, particularly after the serious drought of 1968-74, are discussed. This strategy took the form of large regional rural development projects, referred to as productivity projects because of their goal of increasing land productivity in agriculture. The productivity project strategy is critically assessed and a specific project in western Niger is examined in some detail. The project's lack of positive impact on agricultural productivity is considered, and possible reasons are given. The chapter closes with a discussion of current endeavours by the Niger government to devise new, more effective, strategies to improve agriculture in the country. (CAB Abstract)

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Rural development, Dryland farming, Agriculture, Agricultural development, Dry farming, Rural development, Regional planning, Niger, Farm/Enterprise Scale Governance