The quiet revolution

The quiet revolution

Until recently, Niger has tended to make headlines for all the wrong reasons. One of the poorest places in the world, with a low life expectancy, high infant mortality and meagre public services, it has suffered from frequent droughts, crop failures and malnutrition. However, there is good news too. During the past 20 or so years, farmers in two regions on the southern fringes of the Sahara have been responsible for the re-greening of approximately 5 million ha of once degraded farmland. By encouraging the regeneration of trees and shrubs, tens of thousands of households have helped to restore the environment and improve their own welfare.This booklet tells this remarkable story from the perspective of local farming families. It also examines the growing body of scientific evidence which makes a compelling case for expanding ‘farmer-managed natural regeneration’ across the Sahelian region. These practices have helped to increase crop yields. They are also providing fodder for livestock, fuelwood, medicines, fruits, cooking oil and much else. A recent study by scientists from the World Agroforestry Centre found that the value of tree products among sampled households amounted to around US$1000 each per year – a considerable sum of money