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Cooperation in action

Adapting agriculture to climate change

A woman with a child on a maize field, on which soil coverings and other plants are grown for diversification and nitrogen fixation.

In six countries, the "Soil protection and rehabilitation for food security" programme is working with small farmers to spread conservation agriculture methods. In western Kenya, for instance, farmers are taught to plant cover crops and maize in the same field. Cover crops improve moisture retention, facilitating higher yields. Plant residues remain in the field after harvest. On demonstration fields, maize and bean yields (the main staples in the country) were increased by nearly 40 per cent in 2016.

In Benin and Burkina Faso, plants from the legume family are planted as part of agroforestry planting programmes to improve soil fertility through nitrogen fixation. Organic fertilising methods are used in all six countries in order to prevent nutrient depletion in the soil and reduce the use of mineral fertilisers in instances where this is harmful for the climate. Relevant activities are being pursued, for example, in Ethiopia, where the agricultural sector accounts for half of gross domestic product but many farmers still use inefficient farming methods.

In Mali, small dams are being built to make better use of rainwater, as rainfall patterns have become less predictable. This has enabled smallholders to continue to produce several harvests a year and thus withstand climate change. The extensive experience of German development cooperation has now been incorporated into a national small-scale irrigation programme in which the government and various donors are collaborating.

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