Research and development project for food security and adapting rural production systems to climate change in Niger

Research and development project for food security and adapting rural production systems to climate change in Niger

The overall objective is to contribute to an improved, equitable food and nutrition security and revenue, through a more diversified and sustainable agriculture, to reduce vulnerability against climate change.


More about the project

The project objective is that by the end of 2020, 15 000 vulnerable smallholder farmers in 15 communes in Maradi, Tahoua and Tillabéry (Niger) have significantly increased their food & nutrition security, and household income.


Niger ranks among the last on the UNDP human development index; 76% of the population has an income of less than two USD per day.  Food security is a major issue and food crises have become recurrent in recent years. Even in a normal year, 20 to 30% of the population is vulnerable and in need of assistance.  Every second child suffers from stunted growth due to insufficient nutrition (UNICEF 2010) and 44% of children suffer from chronic malnutrition (Food Security Portal 2015). Climate change is a serious threat to agriculture production and food- and nutrition security in Niger. Temperatures in Niger have increased by 0.15o C per decade (USSG 2012) and the temperature in the Sahel is expected to increase by 4 to 5 o C during this century (IPCC 2014). Predictions of rainfall are uncertain. An increase in temperature in the Sahel will have dramatic consequences on food production as temperatures in the beginning of the growing season are already close to maximum temperatures for plant growth. At the same time, a more variable climate can be expected.

80% of the population in Niger is dependent on small-scale agro-pastoral production systems as its main economic activity. Smallholder farmers are particularly vulnerable to climate variability and change, and the adoption rate of new climate-smart technologies is low. Studies undertaken by CARE show that climate change particularly affects women, causing increased working burden on female small holders.

The main problems limiting the benefits to the smallholder agro-pastoral livelihoods are identified as:

    • Low food security, particularly serious for children.
    • Decreasing soil quality and increasing infestation of the parasitic weed Striga.
    • Limited availability of improved seeds and high price of seed.
    • Problems associated with erosion and flooding.
    • Irrigation potential not fully utilized.
    • Low biodiversity in rain-fed and irrigated agriculture.
    • Degrading pasture areas.
    • Limited support to poultry and small ruminant production.
    • Low labour productivity and limited access to any form of mechanization.
    • Limited market access.
    • Lack of employment opportunities for youth, particularly in the off-se
    • Unbalanced gender relations; Women have less access to means of production, further limiting possibilities for female farmers.

To address food insecurity and malnutrition the project aims to develop and implement a new participatory- and farmer-centred ‘research for development’ approach which aims to scale up the adoption rate of low cost-, climate-smart, gender sensible and profitable technologies developed by research, farmer innovation and best practice, to increase household economies and the food and nutrition security of rural households. 

To be able to achieve this aim, the project will initiate a close collaboration between national agricultural research (INRAN) and a development organisation (CARE Niger).

Institut National de Recherche Agronomique du Niger (INRAN) is an institute under the Nigerien Ministry of Agriculture and is the major agriculture research institute in Niger. The institute consists of the following sections: Irrigated Crops; Rain-fed Crops; Natural Resources; Economics, Rural Sociology and Transfer of Technologies; and Animal Production. INRAN has regional research centres in the major production regions. INRAN has developed many appropriate agricultural technologies, but a challenge is to make these technologies available and affordable to the farmers and to train farmers on the use of these technologies.

Over decades, CARE in Niger has implemented a range of projects and programs within the fields of agricultural development, natural resource management and food security and has significant experience in community development, including in the areas of food security, climate change, nutrition, Gender equality and women’s empowerment, Village Savings and Loan Associations (VSLAs), humanitarian-relief, advocacy, and civil society development. It also has substantial experience in working in national as well as regional consortiums.

The project represents a new experience, unique of its kind, in Niger. The collaboration between a national research institution and a development organization will facilitate dissemination of research results and increase adoption rate of new technologies to increase smallholder agricultural production and improve food- and nutrition security. 

The project is in line with national policies for agricultural development and food security; it will support the 3N program in its effort to promote food security across the country. The project has been designed for 5 years, but thought to take place in two phases – the first being for three years.