Action Against Desertification

Nigeria is getting ready for the 2024 planting season

FAO kicks off “training of trainers” in large-scale land restoration techniques to restore 350 000 hectares of degraded agro-sylvo-pastoral lands across 20 States


Abuja, Nigeria. FAO delivered a “training of master trainers” in large-scale restoration techniques from 20-28 February in Abuja, kick-starting field implementation activities of the Agro-Climatic Resilience in Semi-Arid Landscapes (ACReSAL) project. The training, delivered to over 350 participants from 19 northern States and the Federal Capital Territory, covered community surveys and consultations for restoration objectives and species prioritization; land preparation techniques for efficient rainwater harvesting; quality restoration seed mobilization; planting and direct seeding techniques, restored sites maintenance and innovative field and digital monitoring and reporting on progress, successes and failures. 

Participants had the opportunity to familiarize themselves with the large-scale restoration model developed through AAD, including land preparation, native seed collection and handling, planting, community mobilization, non-timber forest products value chain development, digital household survey techniques and innovative biophysical monitoring approaches through the GGW restoration monitoring App. Trainees included members of the ACReSAL management units State Project coordinators, staff of the Federal Ministry of Environment, Federal Ministry of Agriculture, Federal Ministry of Water Resources, technical/forestry agents, extension officers, M&E officers, Great Green Wall officers and NGOs from the beneficiary states. With each State defining its plans, an ambitious estimated total of 139 500 ha will be prepared mechanically in this first phase of the project, by animal traction and/or manually and plant for restoration and rehabilitation this season.

During the training workshop (20-28 February), Mr Abdulhamid Umar, National Project Coordinator for ACReSAL reiterated that the act of landscape restoration requires serious drive and capacity building: “Internationally, FAO is known to be an agency of the United Nations that has actually delivered severally on issues addressing challenges brought about landscape degradation.”

The country and state teams aim to be fully operational for the coming planting season in June and July. “The capacities being built today and techniques taught will provide a vital skill set for selected colleagues from States and at the community level, as trainees pass their skills on to communities” Umar added.

The ACReSAL project is a three-ministry endeavor launched last year to address the challenges of land degradation and climate change in Northern Nigeria on a multi-dimensional scale of environment, agriculture and water resources. The project seeks, at an unprecedented scale, to ultimately restore 350 000 ha of degraded agro-sylvo-pastoral lands and improve the livelihoods of rural communities in the 20 dryland northern States of the country. A formal agreement was signed with FAO in November 2023.

The Federal Government of Nigeria selected FAO for a technical assistance and guidance for ACReSAL implementation, after taking stock on the successes and lessons learnt through the Action Against Desertification (AAD) experiences in support of the Great Green Wall (GGW). Between 2016 and 2020, FAO led restoration interventions in the States of Bauchi, Jigawa and Sokoto,successfully covering 4 266 ha of degraded lands planted with mix seeds and seedlings of woody and grass fodder species, which benefitted 22 000 people in 35 villages. The main activities alongside large-scale land restoration included capacity strengthening of communities in managing and taking care of restored plots. Field and innovative digital monitoring systems were developedto benefit the GGW National agency and government staff and community associations, as well as the creation of income-generating activities.