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Effects of farmer managed natural regeneration on livelihoods in semi-arid West Africa

Abstract

This paper used a multivalued treatment framework to assess the effects of farmer managed natural regeneration (FMNR) on selected outcomes among 1080 rural household farmers in the Sahelian and Sudano-Sahelian ecozone of West Africa Sahel. The results indicate that keeping, protecting and managing trees in the farmland have significant effects on the livelihoods of the rural poor in the Sahelian countries. If 1000 households in a community decide to practice the FMNR continuously, it results in an increase in the gross income by US$ 72,000 per year. Noticeable changes are also observed on the value of tree products, with an observed significant increase in the value of the products harvested from tree by about 34–38 % among those actively practicing FMNR as compared to their counterparts. The results also lend support to the household resilience hypothesis of FMNR in that it leads to a significant increase of the dietary diversity by about 12–14 %. However, it also appeared that several factors impeded the regeneration of trees on farms. To foster the widespread dissemination and enhance the capacity of farmers to increase, diversify and sustain tree-based production systems, an enabling institutional, technical and policy environment needs to be promoted.

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Fig. 1
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Notes

  1. For more details on the decision tree, see the Appendix.

  2. The number of tree species recorded in the different farms owned or managed by a household divided by the maximum number of tree species found in the village.

  3. As with any type of estimator, we must make some assumptions to use treatment-effects estimators. The particular assumptions we need for each estimator implemented by the multi valued treatment effect framework and for each effect parameter vary, but some version of each of the following is required: The conditional-independence (CI) assumption restricts the dependence between the treatment model and the potential outcomes. The overlap assumption ensures that each individual could receive any treatment level. The independent and identically distributed (i.i.d.) sampling assumption ensures that the potential outcomes and the treatment status of each individual are unrelated to the potential outcomes and treatment statuses of all other individuals in the population.

  4. The linear scaling up method is valid at least in the Niger case because the data are based on a practice that is newly spread on millions of hectares.

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Acknowledgments

The authors are grateful to the International Funds for Agricultural Development (IFAD) through the Free University of Amsterdam, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) who provided financial support for this study. The INERA, IER, INRAN and ISRA were invaluable resources during the collection of the field data. Finally, we indebted to the thousands of households from rural communities in Burkina Faso, Mali, Niger Republic, and Senegal, whose experience, knowledge, perseverance, and friendship provided the foundation for our understanding and interpretations. We are also thankful to John Weber and Judith Oduol for their constructive comments and suggestions which helped improve an earlier draft of this paper. We definitely wish to thank the two anonymous reviewers and the editor who provided very insightful comments and suggestions that helped strengthen our manuscript.

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Correspondence to Joachim N. Binam.

Appendix: Methodology used to classify farmer managed natural regeneration groups

Appendix: Methodology used to classify farmer managed natural regeneration groups

Five different sets of variables were collected during the survey to help categorizing farmers in different group according to their level of implementing farmer managed natural regeneration practice.

Ownership of farmland This information was collected to capture whether or not the household owns a farmland and also the total size of his farmland was estimated

Tenure arrangement Because the preservation of and care for naturally regenerated trees on farm as well as deliberate tree planting can be influenced by the tenure arrangement, the surveys tempted to capture information on tenure arrangement. A summary of tenure arrangement and related rights is provided in the table below:

Tenure arrangement Rights
Inheritance Full rights (access, withdrawal, management, exclusion, alienation). After the death of the family founder, the field commonly used by the family is passed to the children. The land is divided on the basis of the existing law. Each married male heir becomes a head of his household and of the share of land he inherited
Purchase Full rights (access, withdrawal, management, exclusion, alienation). All ‘bundles of rights’ to the land, including exclusion and alienation, are sold from the land owner to the buyer. The buyer becomes owner of the land
Lease Access, limited withdrawal and management rights (in accordance with Owner). The land is transferred in exchange for either money or any other ‘security deposit’. It remains at any time the property of the initial owner who holds exclusive alienation rights. The person leasing has certain management and usage rights. This tenure arrangement is valid as long as the deposit is not repaid
Loan (temporary borrowing) The land is loaned for a temporary or undefined period, without any security deposit or monetary transaction. Borrowed land stays at any time the property of the initial owner who holds exclusive alienation rights. The land may at any time be resumed by the owner

Adapted from Mikulcak (2011)

Based on this it is obvious that household under lease and loan tenure arrangement are less likely to practice farmer managed natural regeneration.

Awareness/knowledge of FMNR practices Because a new practice or a technology cannot be adopted if someone is unaware or has no knowledge of it we also attempt to capture the level of awareness and knowledge of the respondent on FMNR practices. A score (score 0 for poor knowledge to 10 for a very good knowledge) was then affected to each farmer based on the answers they provided with regard to the technical itinerary follows while practicing the FMNR

FMNR in practice
1. FMNR depends on the existence of living tree stumps in the fields to be revegetated. New stems which can be selected and pruned for improved growth sprout from these stumps. Standard practice has been for farmers to slash this valuable re-growth each year in preparation for planting crops
2. With a little attention, this growth can be turned into a valuable resource, without jeopardizing, but in fact, enhancing crop yields. Here, all stalks except one have been cut from the stump. Side branches have been pruned half way up the stem. This single stem will be left to grow into a valuable pole. The problem with this system is that when the stem is harvested, the land will have no tree cover and there will be no wood to harvest for some time
3. Much more can be gained by selecting and pruning the best five or so stems and removing the remaining unwanted ones. In this way, when a farmer wants wood she can cut the stem(s) she wants and leaves the rest to continue growing. These remaining stems will increase in size and value each year, and will continue to protect the environment and provide other useful materials and services such as fodder, humus, habitat for useful pest predators, and protection from the wind and shade. Each time one stem is harvested, a younger stem is selected to replace it
Trees that do not hinder crop growth are the most acceptable species for farmer managed natural regeneration (FMNR).

Tree diversity The important determinants of which species to use will be: whatever species are locally available with the ability to re-sprout after cutting, and the value local people place on those species. It is expected that a farmer practicing natural regeneration must normally keep and manage on farm a big proportion of dominant trees found in the parklands within the village. This variable was captured by identifying in each farmer’s field the different tree species natural regenerated and managed.

Tree density The density of trees managed on farm is an important indicator of the level of intensity of FMNR practices. This was done thoroughly by collecting information from each plot on the number of trees/size kept and managed by the farmer. The parameters collected from each plot were the diameter at breast in cm as well as the number of trees. To differentiate the very young, young, mature, old and very old trees, the number of trees/farm was summarized according to five different sizes as follows:

Households ID Diameter <10 cm Diameter (10–20 cm) Diameter (20–40 cm) Diameter (40–60 cm) Diameter >60 cm
i n i1 n i2 n i3 n i4 n i5

Since it is possible to establish a relationship between the diameter at breast and the age of tree (Loewenstein et al. 2000; Lukaszkiewicz and Kosmala 2008), the diameter was used as a proxy of the age of trees as it was not possible to get suitable information on age.

Based on the number of trees with different size and that of the farm, it was able to obtain the density of trees in each farmland. Different cutoff levels for low, medium and high density were then used to reflect differences in parkland systems.

This led us finally to evaluate the regeneration index (RI) needed to categorize farmers according to their level of implementation of FMNR.

The regeneration index \({\text{RI}}_{i} = \frac{{\mathop \sum \nolimits_{j = 1}^{2} n_{ij} }}{{\mathop \sum \nolimits_{j = 3}^{5} n_{ij} }}\); \(i \ne j \, \rm{and} \, j = 1 \ldots{,}5.\;n_{ij}\) is the total number of trees on farm with different diameters, kept and managed by a farmer.

Decision rule RI i  = 1 indicates that the farmland is equitably populated with trees of different sizes including very young and old trees leading to the conclusion that, we are dealing with a continuous practitioner of farmer managed natural regeneration.

In other words, a continuous practitioner of farmer managed natural regeneration is a farmer who: (1) owns at least one farmland under a given tenure arrangement (in most case inherited or purchased); (2) has a good or very good knowledge of the practice; (3) keeps and manages at least 70 % of the dominants tree species generally found in many parklands within the village/community; (4) belongs to the category of farmers with a regeneration index equal to one (R = 1).

RI i  < 1 indicates that the farmland is mainly dominated by old trees dealing with the conclusion that we are dealing with a low practitioner of farmer managed natural regeneration.

As such, a low practitioner of farmer managed natural regeneration is a farmer who: (1) owns at least one farmland under a given tenure arrangement (in most case inherited or purchased); (2) has a good or very good knowledge of the practice; (3) keeps and manages at least 70 % of the dominants tree species generally found in many parklands within the village/community; (4) belongs to the category of farmers with a regeneration index less than one (RI < 1).

RI i  > 1 indicates that the farmland is mainly dominated young trees indicating that we are dealing with a young practitioner of farmer managed natural regeneration.

This indicates that a young practitioner of farmer managed natural regeneration is a farmer who: (1) owns at least one farmland under a given tenure arrangement (in most case inherited or purchased); (2) has a good or very good knowledge of the practice; (3) keeps and manages at least 70 % of the dominants tree species generally found in many parklands within the village/community; (4) belongs to the category of farmers with a regeneration index greater than one (RI > 1).

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Binam, J.N., Place, F., Kalinganire, A. et al. Effects of farmer managed natural regeneration on livelihoods in semi-arid West Africa. Environ Econ Policy Stud 17, 543–575 (2015). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10018-015-0107-4

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Keywords

  • Agroforestry
  • FMNR
  • Livelihoods
  • Multivalued treatment
  • Sahel