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Case Studies

Growing Organic Pineapples in Tanzania

Location: Karagwe District, Tanzania

A collaborative project between farmers in northwest Tanzania’s Karagwe District, the development organization Community Habitat Environmental Management and Matunda Mema, an organic produce exporter, demonstrates that small-scale East African farmers can benefit from the growing demand for organic products.

Location: Mopti Region, Mali

Following a locust infestation and drought in 2004 and 2005, researchers went to Central Mali’s Mopti region to assist farmers. Local farmers identified witchweed as one of the most formidable threats they faced. Thereafter, farmer field schools were developed in Mopti and the neighboring Tominian area, where scientists introduced an integrated means of managing witchweed. Both farmers and scientists noted crop improvement and witchweed reduction upon first harvest.

Integrating Livestock, Agroforestry, Organic Vegetable Production, Farmer Cooperatives and Extension in Rwanda

Location: Kirehe, Buesera, Nyanza, Nyamagabe, and Ngororero Districts, Rwanda

To address food insecurity in Rwanda, NGOs and government bodies are collaborating on the Support Project for the Strategic Transformation of Agriculture Initiative to promote integrated garden-livestock systems to scale-up milk and vegetable production for sale and home consumption.

Legume Diversification to Improve Soil Fertility in Malawi

Location: Ekwendeni, Malawi

Unlike conventional “top down” technology transfer extension models, the success of this legume diversification project underscores the importance of participatory research and extension methodologies to address the complex social factors—community needs, gender dynamics, access—that influence new technology adoption in agriculture.

Low External Inputs Technologies and Biodiversity in Ethiopia

Location: Tigray, Ethiopia

A low external input approach has been successfully promoted in Tigray to improve local food security, restore soil fertility and reduce reliance on chemical fertilizer inputs. Farmers, researchers, and agricultural experts worked together to devise a system based on local inputs,biological diversity, and ecosystem services; this collaboration restored communities’ control and effective management of natural resources.

Mucuna Benin

Location: Mono Province, Southern Benin

Mucuna (velvetbean) is a regenerative plant that was introduced in Southern Benin in the late 1980s. Interplanted with corn and used as green manure, Mucuna fixes nitrogen, adds biomass to the soil, prevents erosion, and helps reduce weeds. Mucuna was successfully incorporated into farm systems in Benin through education of farmers, and rapidly resulted in higher maize yields.

Mulch and Seed Banks: Conservation Farming in Zimbabwe

Location: Nkayi District, Matebeleland North

Launched in 2006, a conservation farming project has transformed hundreds of farmers’ lives in Zimbabwe’s Nkayi District. Once food-aid beneficiaries, these farmers now produce enough maize to cover family needs, with some producing an excess for sale. Farmers produce their own maize seed each year, which are made available to others through the community seed banks they have formed.

Organic Cocoa in Sierra Leone

Location: Kailahun and Kenema Districts

Small-scale, resource-poor farmers organize fair trade grower cooperatives to market certified organic cocoa exports from post-war Sierra Leone.

Organic Cotton Production in West Africa

Location: Benin, Burkina Faso, and Mali

Cotton production presents a double bind for West African smallholder farmers, providing much-needed cash income through a chemically intensive production system that has a negative effect on human and environmental health. Global market volatility is also problematic, leaving many farmers saddled with debt when prices fall. In contrast, organic cotton production offers a safer and more profitable alternative, with up to two to three times more profit and safe, biological forms of pest control and soil fertilization.

Protecting Biodiversity and Traditional Agro-systems in Ethiopia

Location: Gamo Highlands, Southern Ethiopia

In the Gamo Highlands, traditional enset-based agriculture has been practiced for centuries, allowing farmers to cope with variable environments and making the region uniquely resistant to food insecurity. Rooted in biodiversity, Gamo Highlands’ traditional agro-system is a model of sustainability and resilience.