Ecofarm - an integrated approach for agricultural development and adaption to climate change

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Reporting Entity: Drylands Coordination Group - Norway

Clarify if the technology described in the template, or a part of it, is covered by property rights: No

Completeness: 80%

General Information

General Information

Title of best practice:

Ecofarm - an integrated approach for agricultural development and adaption to climate change

Reporting Entity:

Drylands Coordination Group - Norway

Property Rights

Clarify if the technology described in the template, or a part of it, is covered by property rights:



Prevailing land use in the specified location

  • Cropland

Dryland agriculture

Contribution to Desertification, land degradation and drought (DLDD) measures

  • Adaptation

Contribution to the strategic objectives

  • To improve the living conditions of affected populations
  • To improve the conditions of affected ecosystems


Section 1. Context of the best practice: frame conditions (natural and human environment)

Short description of the best practice

The purpose of the Ecofarm is to create an integrated farming system in order to improve the food security of farmers in the drylands. This is done through testing and refining a series of low-cost technologies in order to increase the total production on the farm. The testing is done by the farmers, on their own lands. The final result is that the farmers themselves, after succeeding and/or failing, eventually find the best combination of technologies that will improve their food security. This is of course based on their own economic, natural and human resources as well as the local agro-ecological conditions. The most successful technologies are seed priming (soaking seeds for 8 hours in water prior to sowing) and microdosage of fertiliser. Seed priming and 0.3 g fertilizer per seed pocket increases yields by up to 70 %. The project also includes technologies related to human nutrition (multipurpose trees) and livestock (fodder). |


The Ecofarm research project has been implemented in Mali (Mopti, Ségou and Koulikoro regions.|

Brief description of the natural environment within the specified location.

Since the project was implemented in three different regions in Mali, it is difficult to generalize on the natural environment. All sites are zones where drylans agriculture is possible and practiced, but with the associated problems of for ex low soil fertility.|

Prevailing socio-economic conditions of those living in the location and/or nearby

The people living in the area are mainly small-scale farmers, living off the land. The main income is low and unstaible.|

On the basis of which criteria and/or indicator(s) (not related to The Strategy) the proposed practice and corresponding technology has been considered as 'best'?

There is an increased focus on a multifunctional agriculture which can contribute to reducing poverty, preserving the environment, increasing the adapation capacity to climate change and improve health. The Ecofarm approach has shown that it can contribute to fullfil these objectives and facilitate the transition from an emergency situation to sustainable development in the drylands.   |

Section 2. Problems addressed (direct and indirect causes) and objectives of the best practice

Main problems addressed by the best practice

High variability in rainfall
Low soil fertility
Low availability of drought restistant crops and varieties
Weeds and pests
Lack of fodder and low fodder quality
Farmers are continously expanding the cultivated area
Mainly cereal production producing low quality food. Lack of vitamin A,  C,  and iron

Outline specific land degradation problems addressed by the best practice

Low soil fertility

Specify the objectives of the best practice

The objectives of the Ecofarm approach is to:
1. Increase farmers income
2. Reduce farmers risks
3. Improve human nutrition
4. Preserve the environment.

Section 3. Activities

Brief description of main activities, by objective

The approach in the ecofarm project to improve nutrition
Increase farmers income through higher crop and livestock productivity
Stimulate cultivation of micronutrient rich crops such as Moringa, baobab, and fruits
Promotion of grain legumes for protein production
Promote milk production |
Reducing farmers risks through diversification of crops, livestock production and increased yields.
Increased livestock production:
More fodder through priming and microfertilization
Improved fodder quality through intercropping and harvesting grains at physiological maturity.
Improved fodder mix|
This is an integrated approach, so the technologies tested contribute to several objectives.
Increasing farmers income through increased yield.
Agricultural technologies:
Seed priming
New crops (fingermillet, rice)
Striga resistant sorghum
Conservation tillage
Preserving the environment
All the technologies are contributing to a sustainable managment of the natural resources and preserves the environment.

Short description and technical specifications of the technology

The Ecofarm research project is an integrated approach offering a basket of different technologies to the participating farmers. Each farmer makes his or her own choice when it comes to which technologies that are in the end adopted. The multitude of technologies related to agriculture, livestock production and human nutrition mutually reinforces each other in achieving the four objectives. |

Section 4. Institutions/actors involved (collaboration, participation, role of stakeholders)

Was the technology developed in partnership?


List the partners:

ICRAF-Sahel (International Centre for Research on Agroforestry), IER (Institute of Rural Economy), the NGOs AMAPROS, Kilabo, Care Mali, ADRA Mali and ADAF/ Gallée, Noragric (Department of International Development and Environment Studies) at the University of Life Sciences in Norway.  |

Specify the framework within which the technology was promoted

  • International initiative
  • Programme/project-based initiative

Was the participation of local stakeholders, including CSOs, fostered in the development of the technology?


List local stakeholders involved:

The local stakeholders were national reserach institutions and NGOs as listed above, in addition to farmers participating in the project. |

For the stakeholders listed above, specify their role in the design, introduction, use and maintenance of the technology, if any.

The project has been locally adapted and "owned" by farmers, the researchers have contributed with the scientific approach and made the results relevant beyond the local specifications, and the NGOs have functioned as a mediator between the local communities and the researchers and have continued using the technologies in new projects. Extension workers has also been an important stakeholder in this project.|

Was the population living in the location and/or nearby involved in the development of the technology?


By means of what?
  • Participatory approaches

The farmers were a crucial part of the project by conducting on-farm trials of the different technologies.


Section 5. Contribution to impact

Describe on-site impacts (the major two impacts by category)

The combination of seed priming (soaking seeds in water) and microfertilizer have increased yields by up to 70%
Analysis show that investments in Ecofarm technologies (particularly fertilizers) have a rentability of 20-165 Francs CFA back for each franc CFA invested.
Farmers need less land to cultivate when using Ecofarm technologies.
Evaluations confirm that housholds previously considered as poor, have improved their food security and are now considered as average on a wealth scale.|
Nutrition/human health
The use of Moringa and Baobab leaves (rich in vitamines A and C) are contibuting to improved nutrition and health according to the participating farmers.

Impact on biodiversity and climate change

Explain the reasons:

Soil conservation techniques leads to increased carbon sequestration in soil. If practiced on a large scale it can have a mitigating effect.
The Ecofarm is an integrated approach with a goal to increase farmers adaptive capacities to a changing environment. With simple low-cost technologies local communities in the drylands can move from an emergency situation with little income, malnutrition, a weakened labour force, loss of productive assets and a degraded environment to a situation of sustainable development with more secure income, apropriate nutrition and a sustainable use of natural resources.|
The Ecofarm project is promoting agrobiodiversity

Has a cost-benefit analysis been carried out?

Has a cost-benefit analysis been carried out?


Section 6. Adoption and replicability

Was the technology disseminated/introduced to other locations?

Was the technology disseminated/introduced to other locations?




Can you identify the three main conditions that led to the success of the presented best practice/technology?

The project represents an integrated approach, aiming at improving several factors in the livelilhoods of the farmers, and leaving a large degree of choice and flexibility to the farmer. This approach is replicable|
Good collaboration between research, NGOs and farmers. This can be replicated elsewhere.|
The project was locally adapted to each location. This is replicable, but requires time and resources to to the adaptation to each new project area.|


In your opinion, the best practice/technology you have proposed can be replicated, although with some level of adaptation, elsewhere?


Section 7. Lessons learned

Related to human resources

Implication of multiple stakeholders at all levels are crucial for the success of such a project.

Related to financial aspects

The Ecofarm is not a costly project, but the combined efforts of researchers, NGOs and farmers have led to results. The technologies introduced are also low-cost and facilitates adoption.|

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