Challenges and Opportunities for Nutrient Efficient Agriculture in West African Cities

Integrated Research Network Project supported by Volkswagen Stiftung, Hannover, Germany
in response to the call:
"Resources, their Dynamics, and Sustainability – Capacity-Development in Comparative and Integrated Approaches"

Project Summary
Urban agriculture (UA) increasingly supplies food and non-food values to the rapidly growing West African cities. However, with its typically heavy use of fertilizers, agrochemicals, municipal wastes and sewage as inputs to the production of crops, vegetables and livestock feeds, UA bears severe risks of environmental pollution and food contamination.
This project therefore aimed at quantifying nutrient inputs, transfers and potential problems of UA activities in the three West African cities of Sikasso (Mali), Bobo Dioulasso (Burkina Faso) and Kano (Nigeria), which differ in their population density and biophysical conditions.
The project coupled process-oriented biophysical research and the use of bio-economic models with a north-south transfer of knowledge in the quantification and modeling of nutrient fluxes and a south-south transfer of expertise on soil and product contamination with fecal pathogens, pesticides and heavy metals.
The project thereby aimed at (i) minimizing negative side effects of UA on food safety and environmental health and (ii) in cooperation with local research bodies developing scientifically sound recommendations at the producers' level to enhance the resource use efficiency and productivity of the UA production systems.