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Integrated Production and Pest Management Programme in Africa

Local capacities benefit rural communities in Mali

In the village of Bla in central Mali, trained farmers organized themselves into a network of facilitators, which they called “Réseau GIPD”; GIPD stands for Gestion intégrée de la production et des déprédateurs—the French language version of integrated production and pest management.

Siaka Dioni, in his forties and living in Bla, is a member of the Réseau GIPD. He became a facilitator two years after attending his first ‘farmer field school’ training in 2009. “I decided to participate in a farmer field school of the IPPM programme because my neighbours were saying that they were getting good results from it. I was curious to know more”.

Siaka is one of the 42 facilitators that have been trained so far by the IPPM programme in the Bla area, and who are now active members of the Réseau GIPD. IPPM first started in the area in 2002, with the training of a handful of facilitators in Sikasso, over 100km from Bla. Nowadays, the Réseau GIPD is developing at full speed and trainings are organized in Bla, making it cheaper and easier to build capacities in neighbouring communities. Since its creation, the Réseau GIPD has trained over 4 000 farmers, and numbers keep increasing. The IPPM programme continues to provide support to the network through new and re-refresher trainings for facilitators.

Better awareness

Using the ‘learning-by-doing’ approach of the FFS, the IPPM programme engages with farming communities to introduce discovery-based methods for field testing, adapting and eventual adoption of those improved farming practices, including the reduction of pesticide risks by using alternative ways of controlling pests. Therefore, farmers become experts in their own field and learn to take informed decisions.

“Before IPPM started here in Bla, everybody thought that pesticides were toxic to humans, only if they were swallowed” says Gaoussou Coulibaly, the president of the Réseau GIPD de Bla. “Now the trained farmers are well aware that this is not the only way to be endangered, and that intoxication can also happen by simply breathing the product sprayed in the air”. The IPPM objective is to raise that awareness, empowering the farmers and their communities to better protect themselves and the environment they live in.

For the communities

Siaka owns 10 hectares of land. Before receiving the FFS training, he was only growing fonio cereal on a small portion of it, mainly because of the degraded conditions of his land and its low yields. After the training, Siaka decided to apply the learned methods on a section of his fields. Since then, his progress has been impressive: year-by-year he has increased the area under IPPM practices from 2 hectares of cotton and half a hectare of sesame in 2010, to 3 hectares of cotton, 3 hectares of maize, 2 hectares of sesame and 2 hectares of hybrid sorghum seeds in 2014. In four years, harvested surfaces went from 2.5 hectares to 10 hectares and diversification improved substantially.

Benefits are easy to ascertain: Siaka now has a better income, in part due to the fact that he needs to purchase fewer pesticides. With some of his profits, he bought two motorcycles that allow him to travel faster between his fields; he can also go to the market or to the field of a neighbour to provide advice. With his diversified cropping system, Siaka can provide better nutrition for himself and his family, and has a higher chance of obtaining a good harvest in spite of the climatic challenges.

“But what makes me happiest is knowing that I now have a precise understanding of how a plant grows and how a field can be properly managed” Siaka explains. “I can now advise people and I have many more relationships than I used to”.

The capacities being developed by the Réseau GIPD and supported by the IPPM programme range across many topics including: environmentally-friendly approaches to tackling pest problems; adoption of improved cropping practices; adoption of early and resistant seed varieties; crop diversification; climate change adaptation practices, such as soil and water management; and the integration of pastoral and agroforestry aspects. Today in Bla, these capacities have been developed and are always at the farmer’s disposal, while contributing to the overall social-capital of the community.