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Future of farming in Mali
September 5, 2017, 3:49 pm
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Nouhoun Tigana, a farmer in Kolondialan, a rural village in central Mali near the southern fringes of Africa’s Sahel zone, has some idea of what conditions might look like in his village 30 years from now. This follows a recent visit he, along with 30 other farmers from his village, made to the Mopti region that lies to the northeast of his village.
 
Kolondialan, like many villages in central Mali, is grappling with recurring periods of drought which destroy crops and make it increasingly difficult to work in soaring temperatures often reaching 45 to 50 degrees Celsius. Experts believe that the conditions currently existing in Mopti is what farmers in Kolondialan and elsewhere in central Mali can expect in the next three decades as the impact of climate change increases in the region.
 
Although they are only a few hundred kilometers apart, a village like Kolondialan in the Koulikoro region receives on average about a third less rainfall than Bankass in Mopti and that  makes a significant difference to what crops each village can grow and when they can grow it. Following their visit to Mopti, Tigana and other farmers in Kolondialan are now working on ways to adapt to the changing conditions, such as experimenting with new crops and trying to find additional sources of income beyond crop farming, to build their resilience to worsening harvest losses. 
 
Over the past year, with the help of climate experts and an online weather prediction tool, Tigana and other local farmers are learning to adapt their farming to that of a hotter climate, for example through smarter farming techniques and new ways of sharing weather information. The online weather tool used by the farmers, called Climate Analogues and developed by CGIAR — the global partnership that brings together organizations engaged in research for a food secure future — allows users to locate areas whose current climate is similar to the projected future climate of their own area, based on precipitation and temperature data.
 
The International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics, one of the organizations piloting the ‘farms of the future’ project in Mali, believes that farming communities with different climate conditions can learn from each other by visits such as the one they organized for Tigana and other farmers in his village. The initiative is part of the Building Resilience to Climate Extremes and Disasters (BRACED) program, supported by the UK’s Department for International Development. 
 
John Riley, project director at International Relief and Development (IRD), a charity managing the BRACED project in Mali, said the "farms of the future" approach aims to "help communities grow more independent in the long term, rather than rely on external assistance".
 
 
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