Roles of Agroforestry in sustainable intensification of small farMs and food SEcurity for Societies in West Africa

Project consortium and fund






Project PI 

Institut de Recherche pour le Développement (IRD, France)

Dr. J. Seghieri



Partner institutes

Institut Sénégalais de Recherche Agricole (ISRA Sénégal)

Dr. D. Sanogo




Centre de coopération Internationale en Recherche Agronomique pour le Développement (CIRAD, France)

Dr. C. Jourdan




Wageningen University & Research (WUR, The Netherlands)

Dr. V. Ingram




Institut de l’Environnement et Recherches Agricoles (INERA, Burkina Faso)

Dr. B. Bastide




West African Science Service Center on Climate Change and Adapted Land Use (WASCAL Burkina Faso)

Dr. S. Sanfo



Associated partners:

Association pour la promotion des arbres fertilitaires, de l’agroforesterie et la foresterie (APAF)

P. Humbert





J. Garcia Moreno




Global Shea Alliance (GSA)

M. Veyrier



Thematic and geographic area of the project:

The project addresses the following question: How does the agroforestry practises can be intensified in order to contribute to sustainable increase of agricultural production and economic and food securities in West Africa? It is based on existing research sites, participatory approach, multidisciplinary process-driven researches, and multi-stakeholder platforms.

  • Agroforestry systems
  • Sustainable food security
  • Soil science and remote sensing
  • Plant sciences
  • Animal sciences

Project’s summary/abstract:

Agroforestry is a form of agriculture “alternative” to conventional one, which provides multi-functional environmental, agronomic, economic and social benefits able to support sustainable improvement of food, nutrition and economic security of small farmers in West Africa. Locally, the woody cover constitutes fertility islands able, if suitably managed, to improve crop yields and provides complementary food and income to producers while mitigating climate change effects by buffering micro-climate variations and water and wind erosions. Globally, woody cover contribute to reduce greenhouse gases through carbon sequestration and regulation of water and nutriments cycles, a starting point to design more resilient and climate-smart farming systems from millennia practices in Africa.

However, tree density in parklands depends on balancing crop yield decline, due to competition with trees for vital resources, with advantages provided by trees according to the social, economic and environmental priority ranking that farmers give to parklands. Parkland management depends also on the user access facilities that are under the control of State and customary land and territorial rights on land and natural resources. In addition, Sudano-Sahelian parklands are located on a continuum of population density and depend on the duration of fallows between successive cropping cycles. Fallows must be long enough to support regeneration of woody species, biodiversity, and soil fertility. With current population increase (about 3%/yr), food crop production is currently improved by increasing cultivated land areas, since yields are still stable or decline, and by agricultural mechanization. The effects and impacts of these practices are variable on fallow dynamics, clearing, and woody species regeneration, consequently on parkland sustainability.

RAMSES II seeks to diagnose most of the aspects of the current drivers of the studied parklands trajectories and to quantify and model processes involved in crop-trees interactions. Results will be used in a participative modeling at farm and territory scales to simulate impacts of intensification scenarios chosen by stakeholders on economic, agronomic and environmental performances at the plot, farm, territory, and landscape scales.

Project’s main objective(s):                             

To maximize their adoption, RAMSES II aims at providing Innovative Scenarios for Managing Sustainable Intensification (ISMSI) that will be co-built with all the stakeholders involved in the four most common Sudano-Sahelian agroforestry parklands based on cereals food crops : Piliostigma and shea (Vitellaria paradoxa) parklands in Burkina Faso; Guiera seneglensis and Faidherbia albida in Senegal.

Theory of Change and Impact Pathway

Summary ToC with assumptions                         

Assumptions are:

  • Short term yields undermine long-term agricultural productivity factors;
  • Other ecosystem services are under pressure (health, food, incomes) and maintaining natural resource base;
  • Climate change exacerbates causes;
  • Insufficient knowledge of what works in sustainably intensifying parklands on farm and landscape level;
  • Disenabling environment to support change towards sustainable intensified agroforestry parklands;
  • Specific stakeholder groups often excluded from decision- making in agroforestry/agricultural innovations (e.g. women and youths) and traditional knowledge from elders often not incorporated.

Research Questions are:

  • Identify and quantify social, economic and environmental factors that drive priorities of farmers and communities;
  • Identify and quantify trade-offs between ecosystem services provided by trees/shrubs;
  • Identify innovative scenarios for managing sustainable intensification of agroforestry parklands that sustain food and income security;
  • Identify with farmers modalities for out-scaling and upscaling successful innovative practices.

Expected outcomes and impact:                          


  • Sustainable intensification of agroforestry products that are part of the resilient farm, territory and landscape systems;
  • More resilient agroforestry landscapes;
  • Collaborative parklands intensification management involving key stakeholders and new institutional governance arrangements;
  • Increased contribution of parklands to food and income security.

Our dream (impacts):

  • Agroforestry landscapes prosper and regenerate ecologically;
  • Food security is improved; 
  • Poverty is significantly reduced amongst farmers in the selected project areas;
  • Migration trends are slowed down (rural – urban and regional).