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Roel Bosma, Pieter Windmeijer, Hans Komen
Wageningen University and Research Center
Wageningen, The Netherlands

Bosma, R., Windmeijer, P. & Komen, H. 2006. Wageningen University and Research Center's networks and the future role of INREF-POND in integrated irrigation and aquaculture in West Africa. In M. Halwart & A.A. van Dam, eds. Integrated irrigation and aquaculture in West Africa: concepts, practices and potential, pp. 165–166. Rome, FAO. 181 pp.


Wageningen University and Research Center (WUR) aims at contributing to international development through collaborative projects with partner institutes and networks in the South. The Interdisciplinary Research & Education Fund supports six research programmes with about 50 PhD projects. In West Africa, there are projects in Burkina Faso, Ghana and Benin. WUR is also involved in the Inland Valley Consortium and in research projects on sustainable management of inland valleys and wetlands. A project with particular relevance for integrated irrigation and aquaculture is the INREF-POND project which focuses on developing fish breeds and optimizing nutrient flows for integrated aquaculture systems.


Wageningen University and Research Center (Wageningen UR) consists of Wageningen University; the Dutch Agricultural Research Institutes, Laboratories, and Centers; and the International Agricultural Center. This last institute includes the newly-created North-South Center that promotes collaboration between Wageningen UR and partner institutes and networks in the South. This last institute is part of Wageningen UR's commitment to mobilise its knowledge and expertise in assisting the South to develop and improve livelihoods sustainably. One of the North-South Center's means to attain this overall goal is the Interdisciplinary Research & Education Fund (INREF). Currently INREF supports six research programmes with about 50 PhD projects.

Through education and research WageningenUR intends to contribute to the development of Integrated Irrigation-Aquaculture (IIA) and Integrated Agriculture-Aquaculture. The major network of WageningenUR consists of its MSc and PhD graduates. However, the best possibility for future support is through collaborative research projects. This paper lists the contacts of Wageningen UR in West Africa through projects and networks, presents the objectives and research-projects of INREF-POND and clarifies its future link to West-Africa.

Contacts of Wageningen UR in West Africa

At present Wageningen UR has contacts in West Africa through three bilateral research/education projects and three collaborative research networks. Some of these are related to the topic of IIA. Two of these bilateral research projects are INREF-funded from 2002 to 2006. In 2004, INREF-POND plans to start research in Cameroun. Details on the project can be found on the website of the North-South Center (

Currently WageningenUR participates in the projects:

  1. “Food technology and human nutrition” and “Centre d'études pour l'aménagement et la protection de l'environnement”, which are carried out with the University of Ouagadougou and funded through NUFFIC (Netherlands University Fund for International Collaboration).
  2. “Convergence of Science”, an INREF project that is a co-operation between two Wageningen Graduate Schools and various partners in Ghana (a.o. University of Legon, FAO, World Vision, and others) and Bénin (Université National de Bénin, Institut National des Recherches Agricoles du Bénin (INRAB), IITA, and others).
  3. “From natural resources to healthy people”, an INREF project conducted in Burkina Faso, Ghana, and Benin. This project is a co-operation between two Wageningen Graduate Schools and various partners in the region, for example Université National de Bénin, University of Development Studies in Ghana, and the Universities of Ouagadougou and Bobo Dioulasso in Burkina Faso.

At present WageningenUR participates in the following networks:

  1. The Inland Valley Consortium, which is a regional partnership of ten countries in West Africa and seven international research institutions, including Wageningen UR. This programme is financed by the Dutch and the French Governments from 2000 to 2004.
  2. “Sustainable use and conservation of the Wetlands of Mali, with a special focus on the Inner Niger Delta”, which is a project of Wetlands International and the Ministère de l'Equipement, de l'Aménagement du Terroire, de l'Environnement et l'Urbanisme (Mali). Some of the other partners are: Institut d'Economie Rurale (Mali), IUCN and Wageningen UR (Alterra).
  3. VINVAL, which focuses on the ecological and production functions of natural and fallow vegetation in inland valleys. It is funded by the European Union and the Dutch Ministry of Agriculture from 2001 to 2005. The project is carried out in Ghana and Burkina Faso. Partners involved are Alterra and LEI from Wageningen UR, and several institutes from Germany, Italy, Ghana and Burkina Faso.

The INREF-POND project

Available improved fish breeds and fish feeding strategies were mostly developed for high-input aquaculture systems. These feeding strategies are too expensive for small farmers and it is doubtful whether the improved fish breeds can perform optimally in low-input integrated farming systems using waste inputs. The INREF project “Program for Optimisation of Nutrient Dynamics” (INREF-POND), intends to contribute to the development of more sustainable integrated livestock-fish-crop farming systems in order to improve farm household livelihood and well-being. More specifically its goals are to:

  1. Quantify nutrient dynamics in such integrated agriculture-aquaculture farming systems, using fish breeds especially selected for high and low input environments.
  2. Identify the most optimal combination of components that contributes optimally to improved systems' resilience and ecologic, economic, and social sustainability.
  3. Contribute to the expansion of livestock-fish-crop farming systems in sub-Saharan Africa.

The partners in this program are the WorldFish Centre, through its Regional Center for Africa and West Asia in Egypt and the College of Agriculture, Can Tho University, Viet Nam. From Wageningen University the groups of Aquaculture & Fisheries, Animal Production Systems and Animal Breeding & Genetics from the Department of Animal Sciences, and the Laboratory of Soil Science and Geology from the Department of Environmental Sciences participate. At present five PhD projects are running:

  1. Selection of Tilapia (Oreochromis niloticus L.) in high and low input environments;
  2. Effect of partner choice on reproduction in natural mating systems;
  3. Quantification of the effect of high and low input systems on the nutrient cycle;
  4. Assessment of sustainability of integrated livestock-fish-crop farming systems in the Mekong Delta, Viet Nam;
  5. Oxygen as a determinant of fish production in aquaculture systems.

Two other projects recently started. The first will study the socio-economic context of aquaculture development in Egypt. The study on the adoption process of integrated livestock-fish-crop farming systems just started and plans to work in Viet Nam as well as in Cameroon. The work in Cameroon is the bridge of INREF-POND to sub-Saharan Africa.

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