Action Against Desertification

The seeds of restoration in Niger

Community forest seed producers in Téra embrace the successful restoration model of FAO’s Action Against Desertification


Téra, Niger - "In the last ten years we have lost a third of our crop fields because of rainwater runoff. Now, we can no longer live off our land, “says Hassane Abdoulaye from Téra, a city 190 km to the northwest of Niamey in Niger.

Things started changing when community farmers from Téra were trained in the restoration of degraded land. In 2014 and 2015, they acquired skills in forest seed collection, the planting of seedlings and the direct sowing of seeds of native woody and herbaceous fodder species. Ten farmers became “village technicians” and started producing seedlings, harvesting forest seeds and preparing their land for restoration using a traditional rainwater harvesting technique known as half-moons. They started making an income by selling seeds to non-governmental organisations, associations and institutions in need of quality forest seeds for their own restoration interventions.

The village technicians also organized themselves in village management committees to look after the restored sites in 10 villages and eventually established a union called Toune-Bonsé Sadjo Ma Zada, (in Hausa) meaning “Let’s act for the regeneration of degraded lands”. Since the start in February 2018, the union now strong of 446 farmers, has experienced a rapid rise of its seed collecting and handling activities, the sale of quality forest seeds and the maintenance of restored lands. Today, it sells forest seeds beyond the borders of Niger.

" Between 2016 and 2019, we have sold about 18 500 kg of quality seeds of over 20 native forest species in Niger, as well as in  neighboring countries including Nigeria, Burkina Faso and Chad " says Moumouni Nouhoun, President of the Union, adding: “These sales represent a revenue of 83 250 000 CFA Francs.”

This amount, equivalent to USD 140 700, is a real contribution to the livelihood of rural families in a country with a minimum monthly wage of about USD 60. "Seed sales have enabled us to start other income-generating activities, to educate our children and to take better care of our families," says Zeynabou Mounkeyla, the treasurer of the union.

In five years, Action Against Desertification, in support of the implementation of the Great Green Wall, has restored more than 13 000 hectares of degraded lands in agro-sylvo-pastoral systems, produced over 50 tonnes of forest seeds used for direct sowing and reached 27 540 farmers in Niger.

For the union of Téra, the future is in land restoration. It intends to continue to mobilize and conserve seeds and wants to become a village forest enterprise. The first step has been taken with the construction of a warehouse for the storage of seeds.

"We are proof that it is possible to be self-sufficient by sustainably exploiting the resources of our environment” said Adiza Mounkaila of the Union’s management. “We will continue to produce and sell these seeds to generate income for our community and especially to save our land".