The Integrated Production and Pest Management (IPPM) programme in West Africa was established to improve farming skills and raise smallholder farmers’ awareness of good agricultural practices. The main objectives are to increase yields and incomes through environmentally-friendly methods, improve food security and poverty reduction in rural areas, and to reduce risks associated with agrochemicals.
In West Africa, encouraging sustainable production intensification is one of the region’s main challenges in agriculture. Poor yields often result from a lack of knowledge of soil management, which has led to sub-optimal cultivation methods, choice of poor quality seeds and highly toxic pesticides. These factors have contributed to a decline in environmental quality and human well-being, through unnecessary costs of synthetic, toxic contamination of food-chains and disruption of ecosystem services. Monitoring of human and environmental health is a critical element in any functional agricultural system, but these elements are most often missing in developing countries. The IPPM programme endeavours to help farmers reverse these negative factors.
The first full-scale IPPM programme in the region was implemented in 2001, covering Senegal, Mali and Burkina Faso, followed by a second phase in 2006 to include Benin. In 2009, IPPM expanded to Guinea, Mauritania and Niger. The programme continues to increase farmers’ awareness and training across the continent, with future additions of Tanzania and Zambia in 2013.
The programme uses a Farmer Field School (FFS) approach, whereby farmers build new skills and knowledge through discovery-based learning and hands-on field experiments. The programme seeks to help farmers explore, modify and adopt their own set of «good agricultural practices»: better understanding of the mechanisms and how things work can greatly improve their decision-making skills. The programme also works with ecotoxicology laboratories to build capacity for monitoring of indicators of human and environmental health.
Since inception, the programme has worked with smallholder farmers and developed strong partnerships with local governments and agencies, farmer organizations, NGOs, universities and research institutions, the private sector and donors.
The programme is carried out with the financial support of the Royal Government of the Netherlands; the Global Environment Facility (GEF) and the U.N. Environment Programme (UNEP); and the European Union. The governments of Spain, Canada and Norway have also provided significant support.
Regional IPPM interventions include:
- Integrated production and pest management [Regional];
- Persistent Organic Pollutants reduction and monitoring in Niger and Senegal Rivers [Regional];
- Pesticide, environmental and human health monitoring [Guinea, Mauritania, Niger];
- Improved marketing of horticulture produce [Regional];
- Improving rice production in response to soaring food prices [Regional]; and
- Improving the cotton value chain [Regional WA, Regional EA].
National IPPM interventions do/will include:
- Integrating climate resilience into agricultural production [Mali, Senegal, Burkina Faso, Niger]; and
- Increasing food security [Senegal].
The IPPM programme is guided by the principles of agro-ecology, promoting diversification in cropping systems, use of adapted varieties, use of organic amendments and alternative methods to chemical pesticide use, such as conserving and enhancing the population of beneficial insects.
IPPM has made a difference
Since 2001, the IPPM programme has resulted in substantive reductions in pesticide use by farmers who undertook FFS training. Specifically, FFS data in Senegal showed a 92 percent reduction in the use of synthetic pesticides of farmers trained in vegetable production systems, with large shifts towards the use of botanical and biological pesticides.
In Mali, tens-of-thousands of cotton farmers have reduced their use of synthetic pesticides by more than 90 percent as a direct result of FFS training.
In Burkina Faso, cotton yields increased from between 14 to 70 percent, thanks to IPPM training. In Mali, a survey conducted in 65 villages of trained cotton farmers showed 400 percent increase in the use of organic materials like compost and manure, which can reverse declines in soil fertility.
By mid-2012, the programme had trained more than 147 000 smallholder farmers and 3 500 facilitators from local government, farmer cooperatives and civil society organisations. By 2017, 400 000 additional farmers are anticipated to participate in FFS training.
Countries share knowledge
Key to the programme’s efficiency and sustainability is FAO’s ability to work with governments in the region to facilitate movement of trained personnel into neighbouring countries so they can lay the foundations for new initiatives.
This “south-south” collaboration reinforces the skills of trainers and by developing a regional Farmer Field School network, it forges important personal, technical and political links among countries.
IPPM in West Africa.pdf (2MB)
The West African Regional Integrated Production and Pest Management (IPPM) Programme, a case study, 2011 (1.68 MB)