Participatory research to support sustainable land management on the Mahafaly Plateau in southwestern Madagaskar

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Work package: Agronomy
BMBF (2011-2015), Dr. Katja Brinkmann

In many regions of the world current unsustainable land use practices are driven by rational decisions on management options. The relationships and effects on interactions of ecosystems and their biological diversity with in situ land management are often poorly understood or neglected. To make matters worse population pressure, poverty, lacking capacities and effects of climate change aggravate non-sustainable land use. The SuLaMa project focuses on this problem by providing land use alternatives for a sustainable improvement of livelihoods of present and future generations in combination with maintaining and enhancing ecosystem biodiversity and related ecosystem functions and ecosystem services (ESS/F).

In the Mahafaly region agricultural activities are constrained by very low precipitation and low soil organic matter and nutrient contents. Current crop production consists of rainfed, subsistence oriented cultivation of sorghum, cowpea and cassava in scattered small depressions. Traditionally, no soil amendments such as cow manure are applied in the field while crop residues are intensively grazed. Furthermore, due to low productivity and recurring droughts in the last years, increasing charcoal production for income puts stress on the natural vegetation.
To enhance farmers' income from crop production and to reduce pressure on the natural environment, this workpackage tries to evaluate and implement options of intensive gardening based on a better coupling of pastoral livestock keeping and agriculture (recycling of ruminant manure) as well as on the use of locally available mineralization inhibitors and soil conditioners such as "Biochar" to maintain Corg levels and improve soil chemical, physical and biological properties.


Oxen-cart, bushland and sand dunes with huts
Project region in Southern Madagascar