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General remarks

ILCA's task is to study the animal production systems of tropical Africa in order to propose either improvements or new systems for increasing production.

Within this general framework, the first meeting of the Board of Trustees gave its approval in principle for meetings to be held that would deal with current problems and would permit participants to exchange information and techniques, co-ordinate their activities, and also outline the best means of measuring the production factors essential to the evaluation of systems.

The recent droughts that have ravaged the Sahelo-Soudanian zone of Africa, as well as the United States, Australia and the USSR, have accentuated the need for a knowledge of the productivity of rangeland, one of the fundamental factors of nomadic and transhumant livestock raising.

In view of the severity of the drought problem, when many attempts are being planned by research teams to assess and improve methods of rehabilitating Sahelian rangeland, it was thought to be opportune to convene without delay a seminar on the evaluation and mapping of rangeland in tropical Africa.

The decision was justified on the grounds that several teams of researchers were working on the subject, and that although there was some convergence in methods, the presentation of the results was such that specialists in planning and integrated development were not always able to make unequivocal choices. In addition, there was a need to evaluate with complete objectivity the reliability of certain new methods of remote sensing.

Tropical Africa was an obvious choice for the venue of the meeting. This choice fell on Bamako, and the Government of Mali extended generous hospitality to the participants of the meeting; they were able to enjoy very favorable working conditions and accommodation at the Hotel d'Amitié. In addition an excursion to the Niono region enabled the participants to visit the hydro-agricultural facilities of the Office du Niger and to note, on the spot, the quality of the Sahelian pastures during the driest part of the year. They were able to discuss, in the field, their methods of evaluation and mapping.

The application of active working methods in groups with rapporteurs and discussion leaders led to fruitful discussion; we have to thank the FAO in Accra for their loan of simultaneous interpretation equipment. After the general debates, limited-size discussion groups drafted conclusions on each of the themes.

In most cases participants arrived on Sunday, March 2, 1975, attended the opening session chaired by H.E. the Minister of Production of Mali, and participated in the working meetings, the programme of which is given below, until Friday, when H.E. the Minister of Production formally closed the Seminar.

Saturday the 8th and Sunday the 9th of March were devoted to a scientific visit to the inland delta of the Niger.

Before presenting in this report, Proceedings of the Seminar, the speeches, reports, communications, discussions and conclusions of the seminar, we would like to take the opportunity once again to extend our thanks to the Government of Mali and to all the people of Mali, who through their warm hospitality have provided excellent memories of Africa for, we venture to hope, all those who participated.

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